After dropping three singles in recent weeks that featured reggae heavyweights like Beres Hammond, Marcia Griffiths, Busy Signal, J Boog, Lutan Fyah, Patrice Roberts, Beenie Man and Christopher Martin, master producer Collin “Bulby” York surprised fans on Monday by leaking the complete Master Blaster album on streaming service Spotify.
The 11-track set kicks off with the lead single “Lots of Signs,” a modern take on Tenor Saw’s classic cut, featuring superstars Christopher Martin and Beenie Man, as well as a signature Fuzzy Jones sample. “Dance With Me” delves into Afrobeat territory, as Nigerian singer (and Spearhead drummer) Manas Itiene trades vocals with actress/singer/songwriter Cherine Anderson. “Freedom,” the most recently released single, features living legend Beres Hammond pleading for mankind’s most basic human right on the song’s chorus. He is joined by I-Three’s alumnus Marcia Griffiths, Polynesian reggae star J Boog, and the ever-formidable Lutan Fyah.
“Hands Up!” is a militaristic hip hop-flavored account of the war in the streets between police and the people, as told by hip hop/reggae/soul fusion group CornaStonaz. The dancehall blazer “Katch-A-Fire” features singer Anthony Red Rose and deejay Lexxus going verse for verse. “Can’t Dweet Like We” finds worl’ boss Vybz Kartel slicing and dicing the riddim with his trademark lyrical daggers, while D.C-based Ethiopian rapper LoLa Monroe serves up some heat of her own. Rounding out the song is singer-songwriter Candy Gloster, who lends her vocals for the catchy hook.
The album’s only previously released record, “Cherry Oh Baby,” features Busy Signal and Patrice Roberts delivering a lively version of Eric Donaldson’s celebrated tune that has been covered by the likes of the Rolling Stones and UB40. Bulby recruited Chevaughn to voice “Music and Weed,” an addictive sing-along that the producer picked up from the C2W (Caribbean 2 World) songwriting camp in Jamaica. “Never Bow” is a triumphant Nyabinghi chant that features the late great Joseph “Culture” Hill and Leego backed by Grammy-nominated band Raging Fyah to add some musical texture. Next up is “Shoot the Moon,” another dancehall track that features the girl x boy combo of Bajan singer Ch’an and dancehall stalwart Mad Cobra. Closing out the album is the unexpected “Kundalini” which features a dramatic piano-driven music bed accompanying a spoken word poem written and performed with heartfelt emotion by inspirational speaker Danielle LaPorte.
“With this album, we are selling vibe, not just music,” explains Bulby. “I wanted something spiritual to highlight the album, so I reached out to Danielle for a poem. She is my friend and also one of Oprah Winfrey’s Super Soul 100 Leaders,” a group that in Oprah’s words “is uniquely connecting the world together with a spiritual energy that matters.”
Master Blaster is the follow-up to Bulby’s 2016 debut album Epic & Ting (VP Records). The prolific engineer and producer is best known for producing pillars of reggae music like Beenie Man’s “Stop Live in a de Pass” and Yami Bolo’s “Weapon of Destruction,” and has also handled live and studio engineer duties for A-list artists like Chaka Khan, Madonna, and Jimmy Cliff, among many others. York is currently manning the FOH boards on tour with Michael Franti & Spearhead. The tour leg finishes up this Friday at Jazz Aspen Snowmass.