Alborosie – Destiny
03. Over My Shoulders feat. Buju Banton
05. Faith feat. Jaz Elise
06. No Good Again
07. Give It To Them feat. Burro Banton
08. Destination (Interlude)
09. Royal Throne feat. Ezhel
11. Nah Sell Out feat. Kabaka Pyramid
13. I Got You
14. Dubalist feat. Sugus
Thinking back to my college days when I was as an associate at Camelot Music (points to you if you actually remember that long defunct music store!) sorting the CDs and tapes that came in, we had a section entitled WORLD MUSIC. This category was for all music outside of the US, and paid no regard to what continent the artist was from. What struck me and irritated my soul, was that reggae music was always included in that grouping. Granted this was the early ’90s so the demand for product from the Isle of Jamaica didn’t stray much further than Bob Marley, Peter Tosh, and maybe an occasional Black Uhuru or Jimmy Cliff album. Lumped in with the likes of Don Ho, Placido Domingo, and Irish Folk song compilations, I knew that this was about as disrespectful a gesture our company could make. Never mind that it would be near impossible for customers to find any stray Admiral Bailey or Barrington Levy albums that happened to be included in the shipment, but how can you give reggae music, or ANY music by artists not from America their proper due and ability to reach fans? I was a novice to all things chune then, but I hated seeing such an amazing form of music minimized.
Here in 2023, that’s not such a problem. Besides the fact that a simple Google search will give you all the Japanese Koto artists your heart might desire, the tech wave we live in also breaks down walls that might have previously existed to people not “indigenous” to their favorite types of music. Naturally as humans, and hopefully good people, we consider that a good thing. Music breaks boundaries, changes lives, and is undeniably the soundtrack to one’s life on this planet. Right? But if that’s the case why are we sometimes so provincial about who DOES your favorite type of music? Hey, sociology lesson aside, I’m guilty of this exact same thing. Was my eye raised skeptically when hip hop standouts 3rd Base, R&B icon Jon B, and skilled dancehall deejay Snow came on the scene doing what is UNDENIABLY black music? Absolutely! But when I heard “Gas Face”, “Someone To Love”, and “Anything For You” respectively, I tipped the proverbial cap, and nodded vigorously to the music they put out. Since these artists initial foray into their particular fields, a literal floodgate of melanin challenged singers and groups have taken on the challenge of doing black music for a career, to varying results. (poor Vanilla Ice!)
One artist who has excelled at this task, Italian superstar Alborosie, has had no problem doing it and doing it well to quote the great LL Cool J. Hailing straight from Sicily, Puppa Albo as he’s affectionately referred to, has been the haters nightmare since he exploded on the scene, creating hits, memorable duets, and otherwise serving (alongside Collie Buddz) as the white pied piper of reggae music. I first heard his gruff, unmistakable delivery on he and Etana’s blazing Blessings. Having never heard of him before and loving his contribution to that track, I had to look him up and in shock, discovered he was a Caucasian, dreaded, Italian who had been immersed in the music since age 15. That moment in time pretty much solidified my fandom of the man, and as fate would have it, has me sitting at my computer with the opportunity to dissect his newest offering, the aptly titled Destiny.
Opening up with the scorching single from the album Viral, Albo falls comfortably into his lane as one of the top roots and culture artists in the game and instantly dispels any thought that a singer of his stature would be complacent. Always flexing some of the best musicianship in reggae music (to be expected when you yourself play multiple instruments) Alborosie throws blow after blow to the temple with each subsequent track. Rastazeneka a clever counter punch to prescription drug shamockery, (AstraZeneca?) sings the praises of a more “naturalistic” approach to healing through everyone’s favorite herb. Focus is a beautiful vessel in which Albo shows he’s got a little Beres in him, as his chops are on FULL display, and the skanking No Good Again is a hard candidate for my personal favorite off of the whole album. Blazing indeed!, But I know you didn’t think I’d give Alborosie his flowers for his collabos without actually TALKING about them, did you? This man has linked up with some serious heavyweights throughout his career, and this album’s no different. Over My Shoulders featuring Buju Banton boasts a murderous low-end bass, and features Gargamel at his absolute best, then 4 tracks later, Pupa is collaborating with BURRO Banton on Give It To Them to great effect. (Paging PATO Banton to cover all of the Banton bases!) Faith featuring the lovely songbird Jaz Elise, brings the vibes down a little and adds a woman’s touch to the proceedings, and the spicy Nah Sell Out featuring Kabaka Pyramind, puts a lyrical kibosh on the fear that we’ll see Alborosie on a tour with Taylor Swift or Ed Sheeran any time soon with the refrain “Money mi want, but mi nah sell out. money mi need but mi nah sell out”. To that I say get your paper Pupa!!!
After I took my headphones off, it was clear as day that Destiny is without question a contender for album of the year. Not a bad cut on this album, it’s as entertaining of a long player I’ve heard in quite some time and truthfully, I’m hard pressed to see anything coming out in 2023 topping it. If I was a hater, I might throw the “white privilege” card out there, and use the controversial SOJA grammy win from last year to back my case, but the fact is obvious. Alborosie’s, talent, charisma, and adherence to everything that Reggae music stands for is what should stop any talk of bias. I get the SOJA thing. They’re not really my cup of tea, although credit goes to them for the win. But I can promise you, that there will be none of the same weeping and gnashing of teeth if Destiny pulls it off. It’s that damn good.