Title
Artist
Label
Format
Date

Power Surge EP
Ward 21
Germaica Digital
Digital Release
September 23, 2016

Track list
  1. Intro
  2. Artillery feat. Marcy Chin
  3. Groundz
  4. Fire
  5. OG Kush
  6. Rifle
  7. Shadow
  8. Pretty Phat Cat
  9. Scream feat. Jordanne Patrice
Rating : from 5 (excellent) to 1 (poor)
Vocals : 5 Backing : 4/5 Production : 5 Sound quality : 5 Sleeve : 4
Two-and-a-half years after the great return to form with the release of their "Still Disturbed" album, Ward 21 is improving on that album and reaching the heights of their classic debut album "Mentally Disturbed" with their sixth studio release, the nine track (if you count the intro too) EP entitled "Power Surge", digitally released in co-operation with one of Europe's foremost dancehall labels, Germaica Digital outta Germany. The real hardcore dancehall fan surely doesn't need to be introduced to Ward 21, but it's good to tell something about this crew for those who only occasionally listen to this kind of Jamaican music.

The four youths Kunley McCarthy, Andre "Suku" Gray, Mark "Mean Dog" Henry and Ranaldo "Rumblood" Evans, known collectively as Ward 21, were responsible for the revitalization of King Jammy's studio at the end of the past millennium. The reason for their success probably had something to do with the fact that they were not just gifted singjays/deejays, but equally capable musicians, engineers and producers, who created their own distinctive hardcore dancehall riddims. The resurgence of King Jammy had much to do with their uncompromising riddim tracks giving hits to others as well as themselves. Their single "Haters", for instance, was a strong contender for the dancehall tune of 1999, with its "Bada Bada" riddim also producing best-selling discs for artists such as Bounty Killer, Beenie Man, Zebra and Mr. Vegas. However it was their "Bellyas" riddim that then got the ball really rolling for King Jammys studio.

In 2001 Greensleeves released their debut set "Mentally Disturbed", which was followed in 2003 by "U Know How We Roll" on the same label. Then, in 2007, their "King Of The World" set was put out on a Japanese imprint called Jamdown Records. When member Ranaldo "Rumblood" Evans decided to leave the group in 2008, Ward 21 was reduced to a trio. The next year the aforementioned "Genesis" album was released by DHF Records from Austria. And at the beginning of 2014, there was the "Still Disturbed", a reference to their exceptional debut album "Mentally Disturbed", that also showed a return to the strength of that debut album, though not yet reaching its level.

After having fully enjoyed "Still Disturbed", my expectations for this "Power Surge" EP were very high and I am very pleased that these have been fulfilled to the max. Ward 21 blows you away once again, this is the level at which they were 15 years ago and had them take the dancehalls by storm! In the "Intro" underpinned by a heavy guitar riff, Kunz, Suku & Mean Dog make clear they mean serious business with this new chapter, before they are joined by Marcy Chin from their very own artist camp Bada Bada Gang for the very strong opener "Artillery", followed by the oldschool (late 90s) sparse "Groundz" over Suku's riddim from last year that it gave its name.

More heavy war and gun lyrics over a subsonic bass are delivered in "Fire" before the single taken from the EP', "OG Kush", changes the subject to smoking herb in the way Ward 21 used to do it back in the days. A brilliant tune over the "Bazzel" riddim by King Jammy's son Baby G for the latter's Yard Vybz label. The accompanying video can be watched here before Ward 21 once more returns to gun-toting lyrics for the strong "Rifle". Of course a relick of a classic riddim or classic tune is nothing new in Jamaican music, but the way Ward 21 in "Shadow" relick the tune and de- and reconstruct the riddim of the Meditations' 1976 scorcher "Woman Is Like A Shadow" is superb.

The EP is closed by two tunes with XXX-rated lyrics, of which the first one "Pretty Phat Cat" is my favourite tune of this "Power Surge" EP, an extremely catchy riddim with lyrics not suited for children. The last tune is an excellent combination with Jordanne Patrice, who sings the verses ending with the hookline 'I want you to make me "Scream"' with her great voice countering the deep low voiced Ward 21 lyrics.

"Power Surge" shows that dancehall's memtally disturbed crew takes no prisoners. Ward 21 is back to the high level of their heydays and that's very good news for the avid fan of uncompromising dancehall music.