Born On The Street
Kareem Shabazz
Stingray Records
CD / Digital Release
March 14, 2016

Track list
  1. This Evening
  2. How Long
  3. 'Bout It
  4. Born On The Street
  5. Baby I'm Ready
  6. Minstrel And Queen
  7. Final Destination
  8. That's All I Want From You
  9. Better As Friends
  10. My Promise
  11. Reggae Blues
  12. Rise Up
  13. Way Dem Ah Gwan
  14. Get Over It
  15. At Your Best
Rating : from 5 (excellent) to 1 (poor)
Vocals : 5 Backing : 5 Production : 5 Sound quality : 5 Sleeve : 5
Something special happens when an artist pours his diversely collective experience into a crisp Reggae project. KAREEM SHABAZZ is that man and "BORN ON THE STREET" is the album. A seamlessly smooth Stingray production that's a true reflection of artist, musicians and producers all on the same page. Unity in the music...

Kareem Shabazz has been making an international impact on many levels for quite some time now. He started singing at age 9 and has never looked back. He has scored hits on Soul, Dance and House charts numerous times, and worked with the likes of Nu Vision, Mike Patto and internationally recognized DJ/producer Mauro Ferrucci (Airplane Records). Hits include "Free At Last" and 2007's smash "Lovely". His foray into Reggae is deep. He recorded an upcoming album at Leggo's Studio (JA) with the likes of Chinna, Flabba and Horsemouth in spontaneous style. In 2013, he linked with Derek Demondo (Twinkle Brothers) and released the massive "Live It Again". He has assembled his own band, The Ryddim Kings, and released "Smile" and "So Much Love In The World". Omnipresent in the UK Reggae scene, Kareem, Mr. Demondo and Amaziah Rose created The Boom Boom Rooms; a monthly industry event that thrives. In 2014, he was a judge on Reggae Star Factor. His live presence is top notch, with great performances at The Hootnanny and Rhythm Of The Worlds Festival with The Ryddim Kings. Mr.Shabazz is focused on keeping music flowing and the future is bright for this top flight talent.

"Born On The Street" links Kareem with the legendary Stingray crew. The McLeod family have been releasing absolute quality productions since 1994 with the best in the business. Their studio in West London has been a musical outpost for some of the biggest artistes in the business while honing local talent to the maximum. This project includes the mastery of Mafia & Fluxy, Jazzwad, Tony "Ruff Cut" Phillips, Patrick "MATIC" Tenyue, Kenton "Fish" Brown, Trevor Fagan, Adrian McKenzie and G-Vibes. Legends of the UK Reggae music scene for sure! Produced by Raymond and Carlton McLeod, it features great engineering from Calvin Francis (legend), Harry Morrison, Tittla and Andrew Ridge. Honourable mention to the graphics work of Wayne Llewellyn/Pascal Mirza.

"This Evening" is a timeless opener. Over a crisp and taut riddim, Kareem dishes up Soul food in a delicious Lovers Rock style. Pure intelligence in the songwriting and the Al Green stylings are remarkable. This is a singer whose delivery is totally original, but has a quality ranging from Slim Smith to Marvin Gaye to Al Green and beyond. This track appears on Stingray's "Showcase Vol.8" also. "How Long" continues the Soulful vein and evokes vintage '70s sound with vivid guitar and drum work. Spot on observation of worldly woes. Want to hear pure Heart and Soul; this is it! "'Bout It" is serious business. "I'm gonna do it my way, don't give a damn what you say". Amazing how he flows on a song that Al Green or Marvin Gaye would do just right. Original something here! The title track ignites sparks. Riding a classic foundation riddim, he flows stylistically while depicting life on the streets. Complete track with vivid backing vox from Mr. Shabazz. 'Baby I'm Ready" is just ethereal! Concrete arrangement with lyrical flow well beyond his years. Standout selection indeed! Kareem covers the Uniques' "Minstrel & Queen" in pure dynamic style. A classic that's been covered many times; this take is top ranking. Signature Stingray atmosphere-holding vintage vibes with fresh urgency. Tuff! The magic continues on "Final Destination", all the way strong. The last time this reviewer heard a great revisit of "That's All I Want From You" was on Mikey Spice's "Walk A Mile" album. Mr. Shabazz heartically lays it out with the ease of a veteran. He has the natural talent to draw the listener in and truly believe and breathe in the content.

"Better As Friends" is a definitive showcase of Kareem's songwriting abilities and arrangement talent. Smooth as silk with a flow that's remarkable. Has a quality that's globally inviting. Cross the borders on this one; just a fine ballad. "My Promise" is some smoky Blues that beckons the listener with some serious Marvin Gaye atmosphere. Impeccable production indeed! "Reggae Blues" shows the versatility with some easy snappin'. Layers of experience from singer to musicians to engineer down the line. Boomshot! "Rise Up" is a powerful horns up selection. Included on last year's "Jah We Praise" riddim (Stingray); this is a triumphant and heartical ode that recalls the caliber of Winston Reedy's "Dim The Light" work. Yes, it's that good. "Way Dem Ah Gwan" will satisfy all Roots appetites. A pertinent observation of the wickedness that surrounds. This man is well versed in some many styles and is well crucial in Roots doctrine. "At Your Best" is covered with all cylinders firing. Thrill from start to finish with maximum musicianmanship and emotion from the microphone stand.

"Born On The Street" is a sure fire winner in all aspects and respects. Kareem Shabazz has wholeheartedly embraced his deep music experience with masterclass ability. There's a seasoned level of balance throughout and the atmosphere is instantly inviting from the first note to the very last drop. A project that all involved in believed in; one can sense true power and conviction in each track. This fits in the "all killer, nah filler" category and has sensible material to satisfy everybody. Highest recommendation. GO DEH!!