Sizzla’s latest release, Born A King, might not be his magnum opus but the album demonstrates why the musician is such a torrential force in Jamaican music. His willingness to embrace digital production mechanisms while preserving a natural reggae flavour in his sound highlights a synergy that very few musicians have mastered.
“Champion Sound” presents this fusion with finesse. The original track starts off with a steady hip-hop beat that rolls into a reggae groove with particular emphasis on the rhythmic bass line. Reggae veteran Errol Dunkley, is featured on the original while the remix taps Turbulence and carries a more dancehall oriented sonic.
Another significant aspect of Sizzla’s allure as a musician is his ability to effortlessly transition between the typically distinct reggae and dancehall sounds and stand out in both. His dynamic delivery never quite settles on one particular style and his charisma never falters.
The title track captures the dub-reggae scene while “I’m Living” is more rooted in the roots-reggae sphere. Both tracks carry the socially conscious lyrics that is typical of Sizzla’s music and even beat-heavy dancehall tracks like “Big Man Ting” cling to the musician’s spiritually. This however comes as no surprise as Kalonji is widely recognised as one of the leaders in the conscious dancehall movement among the likes of Buju Banton and Capleton.
On Born A King, Sizzla however embraces a wider spectrum of musical styles that go beyond the reggae and dancehall genres.
The track “Blessed”, could easily find commercial success as a single along with “Why does the World Cry” and both seem to borrow elements from Indian culture. “Cold War” also carries an international mainstream appeal with its captivating, modern techno accent.
“Set it Off” and “The Formula” add some distinct urban flair to the compilation and both tracks are bound to find their way onto the club scene. “The Formula” features an enigmatic female emcee, Vida Sunshyne and the Ghanaian/Australian talent should be commended for holding her own alongside the seasoned veteran.
Born A King presents a Sizzla unparalleled and could herald a new milestone in the musician’s career. The album exemplifies the artist’s authentic musicality which has already earned him a loyal and extensive fan base. It also highlights his dynamic appeal and a sound that is constantly evolving to meet the needs of the contemporary music scene.