Exactly what it says on the tin - skinny white boy does reggae.
Elle J Small 2007
What Jay Kay did to funk, Eminem did to hip hop and Joss Stone did to soul, Bobby Kray is attempting with reggae. In other words, he’s applying –intentionally or otherwise- his commercially viable and thoroughly bankable, white face to a black roots sound. Ready and aimed at any cynic who dares to dismiss him as a gimmick though, Kray has even gone so far as to call his debut LP Tales From A Skinny White Boy. We could debate Londoner Bobby Kray’s credibility and authenticity till the cows come home, but the question is: is this album any good?
On initial listen, the music is incredibly easy to digest; Kray’s high-pitched, Justin Timberlake-styled vocal glides over catchy melodies and rolls effortlessly through gentle drums and chilled bass. “Silly Games” leaps out as an obvious highlight. That is until the reggae connoisseur sitting to your left informs you it’s a cover of Janet Kay’s 1979 lovers rock classic and the original is far better. Kray also covers well-known reggae anthem “Bam Bam”, made famous by Sister Nancy, and the result is far more pleasing. Well, more pleasing than Chaka Demus & Pliers’ version, anyway. Digs aside, slow burner “Help Me” is a beautiful, sensitive track, and possibly the most natural of the album. Meanwhile, “Mr Otty” hears Kray’s vocal at its best; hitting both low and high notes over a contagious, head-nodding, reggae backing track. Sadly, tracks “Mary Jane”, “I Love You” and “Wait Up” have ‘album filler’ written all over them.
Overall, Kray’s debut offering, entirely produced by UK dub master Dennis Bovell, is totally inoffensive; which is possibly the ultimate insult to any self-respecting musician.