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Ky-Mani Marley

If there's one thing the bulk of Bob Marley's children are good at, it's carrying the legacy of reggae forward in ways that most people wouldn't expect. It's a big part of what's helped Damian, Stephen, Ziggy, Julian, and now Ky-Mani stand out from the lion's den of today's dancehall artists and carve their own path. But where other Marley offspring tend to stick with variations of straight-ahead reggae, South Florida's own Ky-Mani Marley has a style that's a local mix of Southern hip-hop, raga, and, at times, ghetto balladry that reflect his upbringing not in the hills of Jamaica but in the hood of Liberty City. It was here, while shifting between residences in Miami and Broward County that Marley composed all 14 songs on his latest release, Radio. It's a fitting title as, with so many different genres influencing the creative path of the album, the radio is the only place where these various styles intersect. You can hear that on cuts like "Slow Roll," which is like a 2K7 version of urban lovers rock at its finest. In that regard, Marley's music is consistently forward-thinking in its ability to merge Caribbean hood music with the sounds of South Florida and make it all sound cohesive. In "The March," Marley even offers an English and Spanish version for all the Latin soldiers who want to ride to it. Standout tracks tend to exist in the middle of this album, with "Hustler" the most infectious of them all. It's a straight-to-radio single that sums up Ky-Mani's perspective as the outlaw of the Marley clan. Other ditties to check out are "One Time" and "The Conversation," featuring the enchanting vocals of Tessanne Chin on the hook.

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Jonathan Cunningham

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