various artists :: Ragga Ragga Ragga :: Greensleeves Records
as reviewed by Jesal 'Jay Soul' Padania

Another summer, another ironic situation presented for me to juxtapose with - more wet weather in the UK, more hot ragga jams for me to review... Why, Lord, WHY? Stop taunting me, just because I reside in London... Perhaps Jamaica is getting revenge on the second site of Zion, owing this adopted country of mine for sins past. Well, I am the son of economic migrants. I deserve hot weather. My genes NEED it. And props to RapReviews for sending me this compilation to make me feel as though I am basking in a ray of light, when the reality could not be further from the truth...

As you may have now discovered, I am a master of melodrama - and a good thing too, as there is drama a plenty in this brooding compilation. Far from the sunny side of the harbour, this "R.R.R." set places us in the harsh nightlife of Kingston, and astonishingly, the high caliber of artists fails to ignite - in the way of hit singles, at least. Ragga appears to be going through the stage that UK Garage went through post-Ms. Dynamite. In other words, it seems to be taking itself just a touch too seriously. Whilst it is incredibly admirable, and actually makes for deeper listening (particularly on the Mykal Rose track "Shoot Out"), the bread and butter of Ragga is in moving the crowd. Thus, balance is needed - deeper cuts needs to be balanced out by incredibly hot party jams. That there haven't been that many over the past 18 months is indicative of a shift in gear for the Ragga scene, most probably in a quest to be taken seriously.

That is admirable, however the more immediate result for the triple-R compilation is one of consistency, yet a lack of joy and listenability. Of course, every genre has compilations that focus on the darker side of the moon, but triple-R has always been a slightly more balanced affair. So yes, we have artists such as Mavado, Vybz Kartel, Elephant Man and Collie Budz, but aside from Charly Blacks' "Buddy Buddy" at the very end, an absence of balance. I love that Ragga is getting more political, but as a Libran, I still appreciate balance in the genre. If you feel the new wave of darker Ragga, then this is for you - but if you want a more traditional and palatable affair, then perhaps steer clear. And don't come to London right now if you want hot weather.

Music Vibes: 6 of 10 Lyric Vibes: 6 of 10 TOTAL Vibes: 6 of 10

Originally posted: June 4, 2008