A few evenings ago, I stopped by Strictly Roots Music, the long-time reggae shop on 7 Mile near Greenfield to check in with the store owner, DJ Kadhafi. He's a staple of Detroit's reggae community and one of the few people that consistently works to keep the disparate Caribbean community here from splintering apart. Folks have seen him for years DJing at Archer's Lounge on 6 Mile or Tropical Hut on Livernois and especially Trenchtown during early morning hours playing the newest cuts straight out of Jamaica.
Considering that he's got one of the best ears for reggae in all of Detroit and is a local authority on the subject, it's our honor that he was willing to offer us a guest Top 10 list for the best reggae releases of 2010. Here are his selections in no particular order. And in the Caribbean theme that more is always better, he offers a few extras toward the end.
1) Gyptian -- "Hold You
"It's expresses a real original Jamaican sex ting without all of the sex. Because if you listen to the words, it's really a dirty song, but you wouldn't totally get that if you don't speak Patois."
2) Vybz Kartel Featuring Popcaan and Gaza Slim -- "Clarks"
"This one has a lot to do with economic independence. They want to buy our banana fi cheap, but we pay crazy prices for their shoes. That's real shit. He's voicing that the Queen of English doesn't really like Jamaicans, she likes that we are still paying into their economy. Maybe I like this song for all the wrong reasons."
3) Damian Marley and Nas – "Friends"
"The message is so powerful. In this day and time, we definitely need a reminder of what a true friend is supposed to entail. Nowadays, friends are only friends when things go good. When things get challenging they run away and that's not friendship."
4) Buju Banton – "Rasta Can't Go"
"This is a true Rasta expression. There's nothing that if you put your mind to it, you can't achieve it. What he's really saying is, your mind is in control and you can conquer anything if you really focus. Language is powerful."
5 Beenie Man Ft. Fambo -- "I'm Okay/Drinking Rum and Redbull"
"It's a wicked dance tune from the king. People piss me off who don't think Beenie's the king of the dancehall. In America, people drink Red Bull and vodka, but in the Caribbean it's Redbull and Rum, and he's talking about 180 proof rum and fucking red bull. Can you imagine how ramped up the people get? That's a Caribbean drink right there."
6 Beres Hammond – No Apology
"It's Beres. This song is reminding you that every minute is so special. Despite all of the distractions and bullshit we go through. If you could just remember to live. Not to mention, listen to the man's voice. It's one of the best reggae voices of all time."
7 Tarrus Riley -- "Wild Fire (Protect the People)"
"The social commentary and the energy of this song is powerful. Anybody can relate to that song. The social message about what people are suffering through these days is what's he's singing about and that's important."
8 Wayne Marshall -- "Work Hard"
"I didn't want to do this, but on the same riddim, Wayne Marshall's "Work Hard" is a solid jam. I like the ethics of working hard and this particular song kind of compliments Tarrus' version. You're not going to really achieve until you work hard and organize yourself. As a DJ, you don't try to send messages out to the crowd really but these two songs go hand in hand."
9 Khago -- "Nah Sell Out
"I like the message with this. Again, it's like the Damian Marley and Nas tune talking about the understanding of what friendship is about. It's a good tune and Khago has a good sound."
10) Alaine and Shaggy. "For Your Eyes Only"
"It's a good dance song and a good combination of artists. People are warming up to this song right now in the clubs. It's a real sexy tune."
And here are a few jams from 2009 that didn't really hit until 2010 that Kadhafi mentioned as we chatted.
Ding Dong – "Holiday"
"This one brings back a peaceful reggae vibe. A time when people just chill and listen to music and smoke a big spliff. It bring back those kind of vibes."
Vybz Kartel – "Nuh Fraid (Never Scared)"
"When you listen to the lyrics of that song, it's a very violent song, but he disguises in a very clever way. He and Busy Signal are always clashing but I think [Vybz] got him with that one."
Vybz – "Go Go Club"
"This is the bedroom bully song right here. It's raunchy but funny too."
Assassin – "Hand Inna Di Air"
"People move when they hear this song. It's up. And then listen to the message: Forget your troubles and carry on. What more vibes do you need?"
Mavado – "Gal Over Gun"
"The ironicness of it all is that badmen always say gun over gal, but they're never able to achieve that. In reality, it's gal over gun. So Mavado got it right this time."
Tarrus Riley – Love's Contagious
"What's beautiful is the way he comes in with the Bob Marley "Coming in From The Cold" riddim. It's like, to sing a song like this and make listeners get the original song Bob Marley version out of your head, is not easy. That shows this is a good song."