Vybz Kartel
Up To Di Yime

By Masta G

Vybz Kartel – a dee-jay so versatile that his name is a collective noun – proves with his debut long-player that he is a powerful and distinctive new voice on the dancehall scene. That some of Jamaica's premier producers – Steven 'Lenky' Marsden and Wayne 'Vendetta' Bennett – have spotted his potential and contributed riddims to this relatively young man's album suggests that he has already earned plenty of recognition in Jamaica.

This new release from long-running UK-based label Greensleeves takes in a sinuous R’n’B/hip hop influenced style, as well as the heavy bashment vibes – check out the hardcore sound of the compelling Tattoo – you would expect from an artist who was named DJ of the year by the legendary Stone Love sound system. The sweet and soulful vocals of Wayne Marshall adorn Why Again, Why You Doing It ('Krazy' riddim) and Millennium ('Mad Ants' riddim) with catchy choruses which nicely counterpoint Vybz' delivery; he also proves on his hit Sen on that he's more than capable when it comes to singing a memorable chorus. The Arab-influenced vibe of Bennett's riddim under Sweet To The Belly lends his vocals a militant feel, in contrast to the more laid back version recently released as a single over Pharrell Williams' Frontin. Adding to his impressive line up of collaborators, he hooks up with Canada's no 1 rapper Kardinal Offishall on Kartel and Kardinall. But the reason he's sought after by singers and producers is that he can hold his own with ease, as he proves on the excellent Live U Life and throughout Up To Di Time.

While he sticks to the many of the usual lyrical concerns of dancehall (high grade, girls and 'bad man' parties(?)), Vybz Kartel has a refreshing, positive approach – he bigs up God, Di Boss, on the album sleeve. Fittingly for a new voice, he hails the new millennium and his place in it seems assured.
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