U-Roy was a true reggae pioneer, dubbed The Originator for good reason. Bursting onto the Jamaican scene in the early 1970s, he pioneered the vocal approach called “toasting,” which in addition to bringing Jamaican music into a new era, was also heavily influential on an American vocal style also in its infancy: rapping.
Following up the Record Store Day 2017 release of U-Roy’s classic Dread In A Babylon, Traffic Entertainment Group now brings us a very welcome reissue of the vocalist’s 1976 full-length (and fourth) album, Natty Rebel, which has been out of print for more than 30 years.
Produced by Tony Robinson (known for his work with Big Youth, Lloyd Parks, the Gladiators and many more), the album’s 11 cuts range from bouncier and sometimes even disco-tinged grooves – “Have Mercy,” “Go There Natty” and the album lead-off, “Babylon Burning” – to the classic roots stepping that drew fans to the legendary Jamaican vocalist over his long career – including “So Jay Jah Say” and “Natty Kung Fu.”
At its core, this is a deep journey into the heart of rasta living, spoken by one of Jamaica’s most underrated dub and roots legends, and it’s one of the strongest full-lengths in his expansive catalog.
Whether you are experiencing U-Roy for the first time, or replacing your decades-old original LP, diving into this reissue of Natty Rebel is one hell of a way to spend an afternoon. Or, if you’re not careful, a week or two.