The Artist Formerly Known as Prince. The King of Pop. The King of Rock and Roll. Now, King of the Dancehall. Many have made this claim, but few deliver at the level that Vybz Kartel does. Even while incarcerated, he continues to tap into something that other dancehall artists narrowly miss. His incantation and the ability to find the space between songs when singing a hook or verse; there are so many intricate pieces that are the puzzle of a Kartel song. Combine all that with the fact that Kartel remains behind bars and it's a story of legends -- a story worthy of a king.
The album has many highlights. From the start, Kartel reminds us why he has won The Youth View Awards Dancehall Artist of the Year seven years in a row. Colouring This Life immediately sets the stage for Kartel's case for the crown and songs like "Lipstick" and "Fever" highlight the journey. What really differentiates Kartel from other contemporary dancehall artists is his ability to be grimey while remaining musical in his delivery, allowing for his sexual lyrics to be easily digested and repeated, no matter how crude. "Fever" (below) is an example of this special ability.
What is also astonishing is the fact that the lyrics for King of the Dancehall were recorded by Kartel before he began his prison sentence. These lyrics weren't recorded this year, yet feel so current, which also speaks to the code that Kartel has cracked -- the ability to create melodies and hooks that are timeless. This is something only kings do and King of the Dancehall continues the Jamaican artist's reign. Long live the king!
Press play to listen to his hit single "Colouring This Life" here on KingstonToLA:
King of The Dancehall is now available on iTunes.