• Gyptian, 'Hold You' (VP)

    After this honey-tongued Jamaican singer scored an unlikely crossover hit with the summer-friendly slow jam "Hold You," he merited a follow-up album -- stat. So here it is, his third; and opinion will hinge on how listeners feel about the inimitable instrument that's front and center: Gyptian's voice. If you find its falsetto-tinged, mildly pinched, occasionally Auto-Tuned tone cloying, forget it. Should these same qualities prove endearing -- with a winning sound that's part R&B, part reggae, and part old-school dancehall -- then Gyptian may yet elude the dreaded one-hit-wonder tag. ?BUY:? Amazon?

  • Mavado, 'Mr. Brooks…A Better Tomorrow' (VP)

    Gangsta personas have short shelf lives. Snoop Dogg: the only set he's believably rolling with these days is the PTA. and who's still afraid of big, bad 50 Cent? Post–"In Da Club," he became more of a thug cartoon than the genuine article. But on his stellarsecond album, David "Mavado" Brooks -- the Kingston-born artist hyped as having more street cred than Biggie and Tupac combined -- has lost none of the edge that made him dancehall's latest commercial savior. Backed by stripped-down beats, Mavado "singjays" -- a style that's part chatting, part crooning -- in his trademark tear-soaked voice, lamenting gunshots and demanding them (shades of the Tupac paradox).

  • Mavado, 'Gangsta for Life: The Symphony of David Brooks' (VP)

    It's a good thing Mavado sounds so miserable. If he didn't, the dancehall don's debut -- a barrage of drum-and bass-heavy tunes about guns, guns, and more guns -- might become just another bloated, repetitive exercise in glorified clichés. Instead, the product of Kingston's "Cuba" ghetto has a nihilistic half-sung, half-chatted flow -- part plaintive wail, part angry moan -- that transforms brutally boastful lyrics like "they fear me" and "marrow will fly" into mournful, hypnotic laments. On the Tupac-indebted "Don't Cry," Mavado, whose dad was murdered, practically pleads with his mother over incessant, martial drums. Now Hear This: Mavado - "Dying" DOWNLOAD MP3Mavado - "Last Night" DOWNLOAD MP3 BUY: iTunesAmazon

  • Collie Buddz, 'Collie Buddz' (Columbia)

    Yes, Collie Buddz, a.k.a. Colin Harper, is white. Yes, he's been tagged as the Eminem of reggae. But the New Orleans-born, Bermuda-raised MC/producer's debut album is all about the versatility of his undeniable skills. He has mastered hardcore dancehall chatting ("Blind to You"), lover's rock crooning ("Tomorrow's Another Day"), and Rasta chanting (crossover ganja anthem "Come Around"). There's even a sweet soca tune and a collaboration on which Houston white rapper Paul Wall deftly rides a reggae riddim. Buddz proves the pop rule: Catchiness transcends color. Now Watch This: Collie Buddz - "Come Around" BUY: iTunesAmazon

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