Tru Colors, Marshall’s follow-up to 2008’s prolific Tru Story!, is the album that will most likely see the artist venerated as one of dancehall’s most dynamic acts. He is known for his affinity for hip-hop beats that he usually layers with his own reggae/dancehall flavour and Tru Colors continues this trend across a broader spectrum.
The Damian Marley produced Tru Colors was released earlier this year and carries the mega-hit, “Go Hard”, which features the heavyweights Bounty Killa, Damian Marley, Vybz Kartel, Agent Sasco and Aidonia and I-Octane who all bring their unique deejay style to the masterpiece track. A formidable collaboration for a powerhouse track, “Go Hard” embodies that hip-hop/dancehall crossover sound that Marshall appears to have mastered.
“Go Hard’s” sequel, “Go Harder”, features rap young bloods Ace Hood and Waka Flocka, and shows just how easily the two genres (rap and dancehall) can complement each other - something which Marshall seemed to have realised long ago.
Tru Colors also features fellow reggae/dancehall luminaries: Capleton, Taurus Riley and Cham. Despite its modern appeal, the album boasts a steady pace that goes against the accelerated, EDM infused variation that has surfaced in the dancehall industry recently.
“I Know” resembles a dub-reggae hybrid that delivers a heady aural flavour that enhances Marshall’s distinct delivery. “On the Corner” carries a similar dub-reggae vibe and Marshall’s flow stands out on the track with a performance that is unprecedented by the musician.
Tru Colors is a compilation of complex texture and caters to an eclectic musical palette. Urban music is well represented on the album and Marshall takes dancehall out of its usual element to explore a larger soundscape which serves to broaden his appeal.
The track “Be on the Alert” is definitely not what you would typically expect to hear in the dancehall genre and Bounty Killa joins Marshall here in condemning pedophilia. In the song’s intro Bounty Killa is heard lamenting the fact that most of the burgeoning musicians in the industry today are not willing to produce music like the unsettling track out of fear of the public’s reaction. “Be on the Alert” certainly falls under the label of rebel music when it comes to dancehall’s standards and Marshall agrees with Bounty Killa that this rebel spirit is missing among dancehall’s up-and-comers.
Tru Colors is more than just another reggae/dancehall album and the compilation might be Marshall’s most dynamic record yet. The musician was able to find a balance between his love for old school reggae, dancehall and hip-hop and present the blend through the lens of his well crafted lyricism.
Regrettably, Tru Colors is the type of album that is not usually well received by die-hard dancehall fans even though the compilation exemplifies the talent and boundless potential that the industry has to offer. The fact that Marshall decided to go against the mainstream and release the album as is, is a brave and commendable feat by any standard.