|When you think of conscious DJs, three names come to mind: Anthony B,
Capleton, and Sizzla. Anthony B is one of Jamaica's busiest recording
artists, recording what amounts to a single a week. Capleton's lighting up
stages (including at Sumfest in Montego Bay last year), as well as stereos
with his latest VP release, More Fire. Last, but certainly not least, is
the energetic, controversial character known as Sizzla. He performs on
Friday, April 20 at the Ritz Night Club (919 E Street, NW, Washington, DC).
Doors open at 9 p.m.|
Sizzla's had a number of successful releases with VP Records. First was his
incredible Praise Ye Jah, which was also the first album released on
Phillip Burrell's Xterminator label in 1995. The title track burned up
dancehalls thanks to infectious production and its controversial homophobic,
anti-Christian lyrics. He followed it up with Freedom Cry and the strong
Be I Strong. Words of Truth continues Sizzla's hot streak, serving as his
fourth album of anthems for the oppressed.
Production is once again handled by Phillip "Fattis" Burrell, and he's way
above par for the course. While Burrell is one of Jamaica's top producers
right now, even he has times where his riddims fall into a set pattern.
Fortunately, he's brought out the big guns for Sizzla. "Love, Love" is a
pretty basic dancehall riddim, but it serves as good backdrop for Sizzla's
lyrical onslaught without overshadowing it. This one sounds like it was
almost made to perform live -- you can practically see Sizzla bounding across
Sizzla always manages to name his album after the most powerful track, and he
does it yet again with Words of Truth. The title track is one of the few
that isn't backed by a frenetic rhythm, but rather a slower, roots oriented
groove with a mellow, bubbling bassline. Compared to the remainder of the
album, it's a more introspective track, and works extremely well. "Powers of
the Earth" is in a similar vein, and was appropriately placed right after
"Words of Truth," providing a nice mid-album respite from the normally
Sizzla drops a couple more hip-hop-oriented tracks as well, which he really
hasn't done before. Both "Love Ah Di Way" and "Uplift Your Standard" work
quite well. They're not as outwardly aimed towards the hip-hop crowd as, say,
Capleton's two major label albums, but they're included as a taste of
something different. I don't think they'll automatically give Sizzla the
crossover appeal that Capleton got by teaming with Method Man, but that
doesn't make the tracks any less solid.
There aren't as many stand out, run-away tracks on Words of Truth as there
were on previous discs, but all-around, it is probably Sizzla's most solid
effort. It's clear that he's maturing lyrically while maintaining the hot,
firey spiritual nature that separates him from most other DJs.
As a bonus, the CD version of Words of Truth comes with a bonus disc
featuring a 30-minute live set, recorded at Brixton Academy of Music in the
UK (Dennis Brown also released a live album recorded at the Academy a number
of years ago). It's a nice collection of tunes, including "Praise Ye Jah,"
"Dem Ah Wonder," and "Black Woman and Child."
As summer winds to a close, its going to be hard to find a better album to
take you into the fall than Sizzla's Moment of Truth. This kid's come a
long way from his RAS debut, Burning Up, growing and changing while
maintaining the fire necessary to remain a powerful voice of the poor and
oppressed in Jamaica.
Admission to Sizzla's April 20 performance is $25 in advance. Call
301-422-1728 for more information.