3 music review by Selecta Sebo

1. Various Artists – Dreadbeat Records 12inch Of course, Dreadbeat Records 12″ only tells about the record label and the format. By the way, a discogs order have been received recently, including this maxi vinyl. The best thing is I couldn’t find this record on YouTube, so I was waiting in vain…

Ragga/Dancehall side: Gospel Fish & Danny Red – Teaser

It’s kind of surprise pack: you know, a Gospel Fish and Danny Red combination from the ’90ies must be good stuff. It can’t go wrong. The wicked stalag riddim rearranged in ’93 styleee inna hip-hop way, just like Selecta Sebő would play in an Afro-soul Reggae meets Hip-Hop set. Three different version including club version, a dub cut (actually an instru) and a dancehall relic version, which is no longer stalag. Among the performers, Danny Red does not need to be introduced to today’s dub generation. Well, at some point he, like most the UK MCs, actually has ridden the dancehall riddims. And Gospel (or sometimes Gosple) Fish is the typical Jamaican DJ with a career. Born in Jamaica, he settled in England for a while and actually managed to achieve moderate success there. A real sound system DJ, he has not released an album, he can be heard of a series of singles and 12″ from the end of the 80s mainly up to 1995. I love artists like that because their catalogue can’t be heard in any DJ’s set, and anyway, Gospel Fish represents the good UK fast chat style. The producer goes under the name of Nick Mannaseh, I think everyone is familiar with this name. As I said, it wasn’t uploaded onto YouTube until now, of course that has changed now. You can listen to it by clicking here.

Hip-Hop side: Black Radical MKII – Yu Dead Now

Black Radical MKII belongs to the first generation of British rappers: he released his first single in 1987. His style was strongly influenced by Public Enemy, so it can be said that his political and social criticism reflected in his lyrics. Yu Dead Now does not make any different: the entire song is dominated by the listing of everyday problems, such as paying the bills, or even the constantly rising housing and food prices, how politics makes every citizens‘ life more difficult. Regardless, it’s also a pretty good dubplate theme if someone is going to have a clash.

2. Spearhead - Chocolate Supa Highway

Different type of Hip-Hop

Well, there are old school hip-hop classics like RUN DMC’s Raising Hell, gangsta relics like Dr. Dre’s Chronic. Or here’s the first hip-hop record I’m writing about. The choice is not a coincidence. An album featuring true fusion music at its best as Sebő like it at Afro-Soul Sound, this is something we represent. A likkle bit soul, funk, r’n’b, reggae and hip-hop on the same album. Artist is Spearhead, and we’re in 1996, I was just getting ready for graduation when my friend Gerő opened a skateboard shop in a rural town in Hungary. I couldn’t really afford the designer clothes at the time, but at least my homeboy copied the CDs on to casettes. That’s how this gem was played in my walkman from day to day. Literally, in his vibe, he represented so much different from what I was already getting tired of when we talked about hip-hop music. With a few exceptions, I started to get bogged down in rap music, and maybe it’s from this record that I’m starting to feel the roots of hip-hop: soul, reggae, or just gospel. This album is the perfect example:hip-hop can be a lyric-centric, socially critical, conscious genre. Spearhead and the team operates with socially sensitive lyrics and a bass that creates eargasm. No battle rap,no dissing other rappers by name we’d rather learn stories instead.

Personal favorites

All I really can tell this record should be listened from A to the Z, because the songs are more sophisticated than most of the albums from that year . So here’s a brief summary of my favorites:

Chocolate Supa Highway – The album’s title track.Rhymes covered in some holy smoke, references to the prejudice of the American system. Trinna Simmons’ nicebacking vocals emphasize Franti’s rough bariton voice.

Keep Me Lifted – We actually get to know the band’s musical creed and a showcase about the stereotypes of American hip-hop in general. Making cultural references to reggae (Young Gifted & Black) or to Afro-American media shows like Arsenio Hall. Of course again it bounds you in a carseat or armchair with its loose beat.

Food For The Masses – The opening lines caught my attention:

„I love family ’cause family brings inspirations one love to you and peace to all the nations
Aztlan the Puerto Rican and Jamaican the African the Maori, Kouri and the Haitian
on the chocolate reservation“ Again the lyrics emphasize that ganja can connect all the nations, however it is not the essence, it is all about the family…Ras I Zulu’s singjay/deejay lyrical delivery put the crown on the top.

The Payroll – Storytelling from the finest. Spearhead tells us tales about money, presenting the everyday lives of various African-American characters. How they work for money and what they have to sacrify in their lives. Moral of the story we don’t have to give up everything to live a life what we like.

Rebel Music – The song for the reggae massive. A surprisingly uplifting rethink of one of Bob Marley’s perhaps lesser-known songs. Franti’s deep baritone responds very well to Stephen Marley’s vocals. Franti’s rap delivery comes in at the second minute, the song is of course „about unnecessary police harassment” as no one can take away the holy grass.

Gas Gauge – My favorite one. We can get to know two brothers. One of them is in a hurry for a job interview with the other’s car, which is running out of gas. He bumps to an average prejudicial police officer during a roadcheck. As he reaches out for his documents his brother’s 9 mm drops from the glovebox… What’s next? „Pulp Fiction in the car”…

To be honest: you have to listen to the whole album because it’s a real conceptional one. Spearhead lyrics just prove to stand firm after so many years. You should hold the textbook in your hands,and can prepare for a relaxing one hour. The last soul (Water Pistol Man remix) song can even rock us to sleep.

3. Aswad

Sometime ago, an ad appeared in a Facebook record sale group that hundreds of CDs were for sale: reggae, world music, etc. Not too many reggae CDs are advertised this way over here in Hungary (Middle – East European country), and reggae fans mostly know each other, we are a small community.


So there was no question that I clicked on the list, which actually advertised hundreds of CDs, including over 50 reggae pieces. The other surprise came then: most records cost HUF 100 (25 cents), some HUF 500 (1,5 dollars). I also asked the seller if he didn’t missed a zero? “No, no, but only personal collection in the capital!” answered. When I got the packet I happily recognised the discs can be said to be in VG+/NM condition.

New Chapter

The name Aswad is both a blessing and a curse among reggae lovers. The band was one of the most promising bands in the roots era, as I listen to this record, I have no doubt about it. The theme of the songs ranges from black self-awareness (African Children) to the praise of Jah (Zion) to notes believed to be lovers (I’ll keep on loving you). Now let’s add that the lyrics helps a lot, we can clarify that the latter is not a melancholic, romantic composition, but rather a representation of Rasta philosophy interpreted on several different levels. In other words, love is forever about anything or anyone.

However, we can also find a love song on the album released in ’81, the title of track 7: Didn’t Know At The Time… The album is characterized by soulful vocals, with pleasant instrumentation throughout, and then we reach the closing track. Number 11, the riddim of which was made famous by Dennis Brown (google for it), but regardless, it is an Aswad composition: Love Fire. One more thing about this record of mine: I consider it one of the biggest catches in recent years, not only because of its price. When I was about to open it, it got a little stuck, I was also annoyed by it. When I realized the reason, all negative thoughts disappeared, because the cover is a little thicker due to the OBI of the Japanese editions. So, for a quarter, I got a CD that maybe no one ever listened to, in excellent condition, with flawless OBI.

New Chapter Of Dub


Where the previous album ended, its dub counterpart Dub Fire begins. Yes Yes! For those who didn’t look for it, we can now reveal the mystery. Dennis Brown sang The Promised Land on to this dub. By the way, the dub versions follow each other in exactly the opposite way as the vocal songs. The mixing evokes King Tubby and Lee Scratch Perry at the same time. Anyway, I think it’s no coincidence that it’s called “one of the greatest dub albums”. Interestingly, the predecessor of the vocal versions were not appreciated by the critics of the time as well as this album. In any case, In my opinion in case you meet any Aswad  record including dub version regardless of the period it is worth to buy them, and even the roots records up to 1984’s Rebel Souls stand the test of time.


Music, Economics, And Beyond



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