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I have been a Sizzla fan for quite a while and was surprised I missed his latest album release, The I-Grade.  The 47 year old Miguel Collins has over 60 albums to his name, so I guess when you are constantly releasing albums one or two could be missed.  I came across an album review, and it was not too good, then I came across a couple more reviews that were not too positive.  So I had to check it out, he did release Run Tingz in April of this year, again with not much fanfare, even though I liked it.  While his message of social-political matters, his belief in the Bobo Ashanti brand of Rastafarianism,  oppression of the black man mixed in with some love songs, his music style has changed over the past few years, with the release of his 2020 album Million Times, he started mixing his dancehall and reggae vibe with R&B.  And with these last few albums you get more of an R&B and hip-hop vibe.  So the negative reviews stem from this change, these reviewers don’t like the mixing and mingling he is doing with dancehall, reggae, R&B and hip-hop.  I like it!  Maybe because I was an R&B and hip-hop fan before discovering and eventually loving reggae.  I think when you can constantly put out great albums (multiple albums a year) there is no other way to go but to change things up and try new things.  And I think Sizzla does a great job at it.  I thought Run Tingz was a good album, but I think he hit it with I-Grade.  Feels more complete and flows better. 

We start off with “New Year,” a nice slower groove with a good thick bass. We move to “Illusion” a more R&B beat, with him singing and then going into his signature loud raspy “yelling.”  Track 3 is “Gyal Dem Nuff,” a more upbeat song with a really nice bass (sounds like an acoustic bass) and piano, a good jazz feel.  The title track, “The I-Grade,” is next, this is about smoking the high grade and praising Salassie, very slow beat, laid back until Sizzla hits us with some fast lyrics that helps get the song going.  Track 5 is “Clean” with a nice fast flow from Sizzla, really love the guitar in this. We flow to “Touch Di Road,” a song that really has a current hip-hop beat and flow at first from Sizzla, but then he hits us with a nice chorus line.  It is a nice mix of two styles in this joint.  The more I dive into this album the more I appreciate what he is doing.

“Change Your Dirty Ways” is up next, the flow from Sizzla takes me back to earlier Sizzla, but has a good bassline reminiscence of 90’s hip-hop.  This may be the best track on the album, mixing an early vibe of Sizzla’s lyrics and hip-hop from the days I loved it the most.  Track 8 is “Prettiest Girl,” a nice “love” song, hey girl, you’re the prettiest thing in the world. We get into a song about the system and how we need to burn it down, “Burning Burning.” Another one of my favorites for the lyrics and the grooving bass and Sizzla hits on all his lyrical styles throughout.  Track 10, “From My Heart” hits us with a sax, another love song, I love the back and forth of Sizzla’s voice and the sax, works so well, a good R&B groove.  We move onto “Thanks and Praises,” another song that takes me back to earlier Sizzla lyrical style, but with an R&B beat. I think this works so well, another one of my favorites.  Track 12 is “Never Let You Go.”  A great bassline and thumping bass in this slow chill tune, with Sizzla singing until the chorus when he comes in strong with that strong Sizzla voice!  We finish off with “Now Dem Know,” a great song to finish off with.  A strong hip-hop beat and sound, really nice snare drum throughout.  Strong lyrics, Sizzla is letting dem know.  This is not your typical Sizzla album, he is moving into the R&B and hip-hop world, but I think he makes it work well, his flow with the beats, bass and rhythms, check it out.  You won’t get your typical Sizzla dancehall/reggae vibe, but you get much more to like.

One Love- Todd

Todd Judd

Photojournalist - Pennsylvania

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