Reggae Gold 2009
For reggae fans, the 2000s will go down in history as a decade in which dancehall toasting and reggae singing often went hand-in-hand in much the same way that hip-hop and R&B went hand-in-hand. Dancehall toasters incorporated reggae singing throughout the 2000s, and reggae singers (especially the younger ones) didn't hesitate to feature dancehall toasters. The prominence of dancehall is evident on Reggae Gold 2009, which is by no means dancehall exclusive but is certainly dancehall-friendly. The compilation spotlights 21st century dancehall with recordings by well-known toasters like Elephant Man ("Dance and Sweep," "Nuh Linga") and Mavado ("So Special"), and the dancehall influence is impossible to miss on British R&B singer Estelle's hit "Come Over" (which features dancehall star Sean Paul). One of the most intriguing dancehall tunes on this 62-minute CD is Busy Signal's "Praise and Worship," which has a strong gospel influence and incorporates lyrics from traditional spirituals like "When the Saints Go Marching In" and "Gonna Lay Down My Burdens," aka "Down by the Riverside." But the more things change in music, the more they inevitably stay the same -- and the 2000s also had their share of reggae artists who favored a neo-classicist approach and were mindful of the old-school reggae and soul singers of the '60s and '70s. That is certainly true of Beres Hammond on "See You Again" and I Wayne on "Leave If You Want to Leave," and similarly, Philadelphia-based R&B singer Jazmine Sullivan (one of the compilation's few non-Jamaican artists) successfully combines neo-soul/urban and a reggae beat on "Need U Bad." Reggae Gold 2009 has too much crossover action to be recommended to reggae purists, but the compilation is well-worth obtaining if one has diverse tastes and appreciates a wide variety of 21st century reggae.