July 17, 2011
from 5 (excellent) to 1 (poor)|
|Vocals : 4/5||Backing : 4/5||Production : 5||Sound quality : 5||Sleeve : 3|
Nkululeko Madolo aka Black Dillinger, was born in a township called Guguletu, in the rough ghettoes of Capetown, South Africa. As child, he grew up in the midst of black resistance in South Africa, culminating in the release of Nelson Mandela and the abolishment of the Apartheid system. As a youngster, this tradition of resistance also inspired his love for music and soon he began to make himself a name among a powerful new generation of reggae artists in the townships.
In 2004, Black Dillinger's talent was recognized for the first time internationally, when a song called "Big Trouble" was featured in the German Riddim Magazine. Soon, the young Rastafarian was invited to play his first gig in Europe It took just one performance at Berlin's famous Yaam Club to convince producer Ganjaman of the potential of the young African artist.
Black Dillinger decided to extend his stay, the two became friends, and soon he began to record his debut album. In April 2007, his first full length album called "Live And Learn" was released. In the meantime, the upcoming reggae star had managed to establish himself in the European Reggae scene with a number of successful single releases, most notably his anti-Bush anthem "America" ("Gangstalaw" riddim) and the lovers tune "It's Alright" ("Grow With Me" riddim). Some two years after his debut album hit the streets, Black Dillinger released his second album "Love Life". Besides production works from Imperial Music's Frederic Palzer and Marius Kuhn, it also featured tunes produced by respected Jamaican producers such as Bobby Digital and Syl Gordon (Cellblock).
To promote this album Black Dillinger did the "Love Life" tour in 2010, which eventually also brought him to Austria, where he first met young and fresh musician/producer Richard 'King Richman' Kratky of Richvibes Records. The next day they reunited together with Zimbabwian born singer I Jahson at Richvibes Records and recorded the song "You Must Be". Consequently Black Dillinger missed his flight and so together they decided to see it as a sign to start working on a bigger project, a brand new Black Dillinger album called "Better Tomorrow".
Black Dillinger's third album contains 18 tunes -- including 2 intros, 1 interlude, 1 outro and 2 remixes -- and brings the listener a mixture of modern roots reggae and contemporary dancehall, spiced with a bit of hip-hop. Over the years Black Dillinger has gained much experience, not least because he lives and works many months of the year in Europe, and thus has grown naturally. Listening to his musical efforts it's instantly clear that he's doesn't sound like most reggae artists from the African continent. He has developed his own, more Jamaica related singjay style, which is reminiscent of artists like Lutan Fyah, Jah Mason and certainly Sizzla. Just like Sizzla he can use a high-pitched singing style, and besides that he seemingly effortless switches between velvety soft melodies and rough, rapid-fire flows. Also lyrically Black Dillinger shows he's an exceptional talent, who can easily hold his own against his Jamaican contemporaries.
With "Better Tomorrow", Black Dillinger delivers his best album so far. It's a powerful, entertaining collection of tunes from a mature artist who fully shows that he has the skills and talent to become a household name in the international reggae scene. After the nicely done intro, "Walking In The Rain", and the hard-hitting "Trust No Politician", it's time for hardcore dancehall with the conscious "You Must Be". The latter, done in combination with I Jahson, is the first highlight of the album, followed by another standout called "Anzania". Coming across the wicked "Marley Davidson" riddim, Black Dillinger tells us about his the place where he was born and raised. With "Volcano Erupt" he returns to the hardcore dancehall territory in a convincing way. The full version of the hip-hop fueled "Walking In The Rain" comes next, followed by the title track, the solid reggae tune "Better Tomorrow". "The Richvibes Anthem", featuring Ward 21 & Tifa, drops twice, with the original version being the slightly better effort.
The "Sing For Joy" interlude heads the second part of this "Better Tomorrow" album, which instantly starts with another standout tune, "Be Grateful". It's followed by a next big tune, the fire blazing "Burn Dem Out", and the matching "Babylon Boy". It seems that no reggae album can do without a ganja tune, and thus we're treated to "Good Sensation". However the latter isn't the obligatory ganja tune, which not only makes it more interesting to hear, but also turns it into a real big tune. The semi-acoustic "Streets Of Mbare" once more displays Black Dillinger's vocal prowess and lyrical ability. The album rounds off with three tunes that earlier on were heard in different versions.
"Better Tomorrow", a highly enjoyable album for modern roots and dancehall aficionados alike, is certain to propel Black Dillinger's career several steps forward.