CD / LP / Digital Release
January 26, 2014
from 5 (excellent) to 1 (poor)|
|Vocals : 4||Backing : 4/5||Production : 5||Sound quality : 5||Sleeve : 3/4|
Five years after the release of their "Genesis" album, Ward 21 is fully back on track with their fifth studio album entitled "Still Disturbed", digitally released in co-operation with one of Europe's foremost dancehall labels, Germaica Digital outta Germany. The real hardcore Dancehall fan probably doesn't need to be introduced to Ward 21, but it's good to tell something about this crew for those who only occasionally listen to this Jamaican music form.
The four youths Kunley McCarthy, Andre "Suku" Gray, Mark "Mean Dog" Henry and Ranaldo "Rumblood" Evans, known collectively as Ward 21, were responsible for the revitalization of King Jammy's studio at the end of the past millennium. The reason for their success probably had something to do with the fact that they were not just gifted singjays/deejays, but equally capable musicians, engineers and producers, who created their own distinctive hardcore Dancehall riddims. The resurgence of King Jammy had much to do with their uncompromising riddim tracks giving hits to others as well as themselves. Their single "Haters", for instance, was a strong contender for the Dancehall tune of 1999, with its "Bada Bada" riddim also producing best-selling discs for artists such as Bounty Killer, Beenie Man, Zebra and Mr. Vegas. Howver it was their "Bellyas" riddim that then got the ball really rolling for King Jammys studio.
In 2001 Greensleeves released their debut set "Mentally Disturbed", which was followed in 2003 by "U Know How We Roll" on the same label. Then, in 2007, their "King Of The World" set was put out on a Japanese imprint called Jamdown Records. When member Ranaldo "Rumblood" Evans decided to leave the group in 2008, Ward 21 was reduced to a trio. The next year the aforementioned "Genesis" album was released by DHF Records from Austria. And now, at the beinning of 2014, there's the brand new "Still Disturbed", a reference to their exceptional debut album "Mentally Disturbed".
After having disappointed with "King Of The World" and then also not having made a serious impression with the decent "Genesis", this 15 track album sees Ward 21 return to top form. In the first track, the 1 minute lasting "Intro", the crew mentions some of their biggest hits and riddims. It's done in a very clever way, 'cause when you get the impression that this track is really taking off, it's "War Start" that drops in. It's the first of four tunes featured on this album that are underpinned by relicks of classic riddims. A remixed version of the immortal "Stalag" is utilized for the hard hitting "War Start", while the much versioned "Far East" and "He Prayed" aka "Dub Organizer" riddims underpin "We Danger" and "Herbs Man" respectively. There's also the previously released single "Mic Magician", inspired by Super Cat's "Under Pressure", which comes on a resuscitated version of the "Heavenless" riddim.
The old skool vibed "Mic Magician" features guest appearances by talented up and comers Marcy Chin and DeeWuun, both from Ward 21's very own artist camp called Bada Bada Gang. Other artists, in this case real big names, that have linked up are Sean Paul and Konshens. The Sean Paul collaboration, "Ben' U Back", is a solid effort delivered on a stuttering riddim track that somewhat reminds of Dave Kelly's "Showtime" from 1997. However, it's "Out" with Konshens that can be regarded as being the best combination tune (and also one of the standouts) featured on this album, although "Wife Versus Mate" featuring Marcy Chin isn't far behind. When it comes to solo efforts it's "Spot The J", along with "Clappin' U Back" and "Cut Inna Face", that without any doubt can be ranked amongst to the standouts. Especially "Clappin' U Back" takes us back to the days when Ward 21 knew how to roll.
"Still Disturbed" shows that Dancehall's maddest crew takes no prisoners. Ward 21 is back in full force and that's very good news for the avid fan of uncompromising Dancehall music.