Reggae music needs to charm its way back into a position of respect, and Natty King's...
Simon Coates 2005
Whilst dancehall music has never been at the vanguard when it comes to diplomacy it does have an inbuilt ability to change emphasis when the going gets rough. The popularity of the 'new conscious' movement in the early nineties (headed by the likes of Luciano) was a direct reaction to the adverse publicity that the slack, violent side of dancehall was attracting at the time.
Likewise, the recent approbation given to a clutch of newly-arrived artists preaching tolerance and understanding rides in on the back of dancehalls public keel-hauling for its homophobic content. Thus roots singer Natty King, and his debut No Guns To Town set, is welcome both as part of the antidote and as a strident piece of work in its own right.
The fact that Natty King can produce a strong album after just a few singles bucks a trend for low quality assembly line production in much modern reggae. Those artists who churn out tracks as if they're getting paid by the hour (stand up Elephant Man and Sizzla) would do their fans a favour by taking a look at King's quality control manual.
If the "No Guns To Town" single was King's introductory handshake then its follow-up, "Mister Greedy", was his warm embrace. Number one in theJ.A. and U.K. reggae charts, here was music from a new artist who brought positivity without resorting to cliché and whose singing style was just different enough to stop him being marked down as another Dennis Browncopyist.Thankfully both tracks are included here.
Also featured are previous singles "Love Me" - on the same Treasure rhythm that spawned Tanya Stephen's "Bring It On" - as well as sound system favourite "When The Money Done". New cuts like"Environmentalist" and "Easy Officer"keep up the high standard, with not a filler track in sight.
Reggae music needs to charm its way back into a position of respect, and Natty King's debut is exactly the kind of album that's required to help clear the path.