Back in the day, when my responsibilities dictated that I had to drive around on Saturday mornings, Iâ€™d listen to one of the local college radio stations. That was the only place I could hear the newest reggae and dub mixes from the UK and around the world and I loved it. Yeah, I barely understood the DJ and only some of the lyrics, but the newest release by London-based hip hop artist Roots Manuva and DJ Wrongtom entitled Duppy Writer brings me back to that time. Itâ€™s a collection of mostlyÂ previously released studio cuts by Roots that are reworked by DJ Wrongtom.
Â For those of you who do not speak Jamaican Patois (and I am one of you), the word “duppy” refers to a ghost or spirit. This album is full of the spirit of hip hop/dub/reggae sounds from the past, but the remixes by DJ Wrongtom never sound old or dated. Wrongtomâ€™s reworking of the cuts treats us to everything from old school reggae-inspired beats to organs and mix dub influences from more recent decades. On some cuts, like â€œButterfly Crab Walk,â€ the skillful use of pops and static give the song the resonance of well-worn vinyl. The overall mellow sound of the recordings fit well with Rootsâ€™ mellow voice and the album has a real comfortable and positive vibe.
Unless youÂ are already familliarÂ with the genre, Duppy Writer may not be for you.Â However, it’s still an album that embodies modern musical sensibilities while reminding us of the rich legacy of reggae that informs the work.