Music News

Various Artists

There's no doubt that VP Records is the upper echelon music label when it comes to reggae worldwide. So at the end of the year, legions of reggae fans look forward to their Strictly the Best series, a sort of year-end list of all the hottest jams from the past 12 months. Sometimes they can be disappointing, but Strictly the Best 39 hits the mark in a variety of ways. There's Mavado's "Overcome," produced by Stephen "Di Genius" McGregor (son of reggae singer Freddy McGregor), and Elephant Man's "Nuh Linga" as clear dancehall favorites. There's no DJ who didn't spin those tunes countless times in 2008. Aside from the gimmes, Mr. Vegas' "Mus Come A Road" and Busy Signal's "Tic Toc" help give this compilation some weight. You'll be glad to hear infectious jams like Serani's "Playing Games" and Etana's "I Am Not Afraid" here, and choice cuts from Tarrus Riley, Beres Hammond, and Tessanne Chin are included for fans of pure crooning. There are a couple of missteps, but overall Strictly the Best 39 exceeds expectations and delivers a sure-fire reggae bonanza.
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Jonathan Cunningham