Sizzla Kalonji
VP Records
April 27, 2014

Track list
  1. Protect My Life
  2. Radical
  3. What's Wrong With The Picture
  4. Sad Mistake
  5. Burn Dem Schism
  6. Hardcore
  7. Golden Rule
  8. It's A Rocky Road
  9. Everybody Has To Live
  10. Groove With Me
  11. That's Why I Love You
  12. All Da Time
  13. Best Thing In My Life
  14. I'm A Winner
  15. Fly High Fly Low
  16. I Am No Better
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Essential -Votes: 16-
Very Good -Votes: 0-
Good -Votes: 1-
Average -Votes: 0-
Disappointing -Votes: 1-
A Waste Of Time -Votes: 1-

Total votes : 19
Rating : from 5 (excellent) to 1 (poor)
Vocals : 4/5 Backing : 4/5 Production : 5 Sound quality : 5 Sleeve : 4/5
It's pretty amazing that after 70 albums, an artist's mastery can be locked away in the vaults! That artist is Sizzla Kalonji and the producer who unlocked the vault is Kareem Burrell, son of the late Phillip 'Fatis' Burrell; whose attention to detail and depth made him one of the most influential and successful producers of The Digital Era. "Radical" is a collection of rare and unreleased tracks from 1992-2003. A few of these tracks were cut before Sizzla's breakthrough "Praise Ye Jah"(1997) and gives insight into his skills on the rise. Radical indeed...

Sizzla Kalonji needs no introduction. After 70 albums, Grammy nominations, MOBO awards and influence in other genres, he is a staple in the Reggae spectrum. Sizzla (Miguel Collins) cut musical teeth at Caveman Hi-Fi and linked with Bobby Digital before joining Burrell's Xterminator label. He can be credited with helping the Rasta renaissance that came to pass in the mid 1990's. As seen with last year's "Messiah" and three more albums due for release this year, Sizzla Kalonji is here to stay.

Phillip "Fatis" Burrell was an innovative producer whose work is in the upper echelon of output in the late 1980's til his untimely passing in December, 2011. He launched his Vena label in 1985 and discovered the likes of Sanchez, Thriller U, Pinchers and presented their early works in fine fashion. In 1989 he launched Exterminator label (changed to Xterminator in 1993) and put out great works from Ninjaman, Ini Kamoze, Beres Hammond, Cocoa Tea and Frankie Paul. A few years later, he had a musical family of Sizzla (who he managed), Capleton, Everton Blender and Luciano! His house band consisted of Sly Dunbar, Firehouse Crew, "Chinna" Smith and Dean Fraser (who was also brought in as musical arranger). He had a deep sound that heightened up the Digital Era. He put out sporadic but brilliant works after the millennium and was building a new studio when he passed onto Zion. His son, Kareem, is expertly sitting in the producer's seat now and carrying on his father's legacy graciously.

This collection starts with Protect My Life, a smooth way to set the tones with a simple but quality riddim (Sly and Donald Dennis) that showcases Sizzla's falsetto approach that shows up from time to time. The title track ("Greedy Joe" riddim) has that classic Xterminator feel. Solid chanting and Sly and Donald making Digital sound feasible. What's Wrong With The Picture (early 90's) is a boomshot! A reality anthem that is niced up by Sly's live drums and great licks from Robbie Lyn and Chinna. This is classic Sizzla; all the way strong. Sad Mistake is a great outing with Sizzla's chant-jay approach shining through. The contribution from Steven Stanley adds dimension. Burn Them Schism is an insight into the fiery approach that Sizzla has embraced later in his career. Signature chanting over a Sly/Donald Dennis riddim in the heart of Digital times. Hardcore is an early recording with a driving riddim and great delivery. Rewind selection. Golden Rule is a standout offering! Over a Rootsy riddim, Sizzla transforms from chanting to falsetto with authority and is a great observation about what was going on with the youth at that time (late 90's) and a lesson pertinent today. Sizzling hot! The genius continues with It's A Rocky Road. Complete with Barrington Levy sound bite; this is a tight flowing structure with classic Xterminator sound. Dean Fraser is immaculate in musical arranging. Lyrics like "Jah on my immediate right" were not always the norm in this era.

Everybody Has To Live has commercial appeal (in a good sense). Over a Sly/Donald/Chinna riddim, Sizzla pleads for peace and Love throughout Creation and is appealing for all music lovers. The Rootsy Groove With Me shows nuff versatility. Sly provides live drums, Chinna and Dean Fraser are ites and Papete adds great percussion. Sizzla rides this tuff riddim with ease and delivers a smooth Lover's tune. That's Why I Love You and All Da Time seem a bit out of place on this great collection. Might appeal to the hip hop market; one highlight is fine cello from "Cat Coore" (Third World). Things get back on track with Best Thing In My Life. A solid Lover's outing with Sly/Dean Fraser and Chinna delivering hard. Fatis was clever enough to add a live instrumentation element during this time and really helped to keep Xterminator's flag held high! I'm A Winner is delivered in Dread manner and is powerful. Over a riddim with Kirk Bennett (drums), Sizzla chants about proper manners and raspect. Fly High Fly Low has great lyrics but Sizzla's soaring falsetto may be too much for some. The final track, I Know Better delivers so well. Lyrics like "I'm no better than you are" shows compassion for fellow bredrin and sistren and the Sly/Donald is full and rich.

Sizzla Kalonji's "Radical" lives up to its name. It shows the many styles that this Rastaman utilizes and is the full package. With so many releases available, it's hard to say which is best (for there are many). Overall, this is a good insight into the rising talent of one of Jamaica's most recognizable artists and a fitting tribute to "Fatis" Burrell, who helped keep the integrity of Reggae music alive. Many titles could be recommended but if you want a good starting point of Sizzla; this will keep you wanting to look further. Recommended. GO DEH!!!