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Billboard - 10 Best Reggae Albums of 2015

From a new live album from a late legend to new LPs from long-running reggae stalwarts, Rob Kenner's editorial picks for year's 10 best reggae albums.

1) Bob Marley, Easy Skankin' in Boston '78
To mark the 70th anniversary of Bob Marley's birth, the artist's estate has blessed his legions of fans with live recordings to two shows at Boston Music Hall during the Kaya tour, previously available only on bootlegs...the pungent sting of every word was unmistakable and unstopple. Easy skankin' serves as a timely reminder of the reason why Marley is called the King of Reggae...more

2. Jah Cure, The Cure
"I'm trying something new with a new feel, "said Siccature Alcock, better known as Jah Cure, when his fourth studio album, The Cure, first hit the market...After spending three consecutive weeks atop the Billboard Reggae chart and earning a nomination for the Best Reggae Album Grammy award.....his many fans have been more forgiving and those who have witnessed his live performances know that reggae music could ask for no greater standard-bearer..more

3. Morgan Heritage, Strictly Roots
.....Although their debut album, Miracles, suffered from heavy-handed creative interference, the groups's chemistry turnt up when they relocated to their father's homeland of Jamaica after growing up between Brooklyn and Springfield, Massachusetts....At a time when Jamaican taste is starting to return to traditional roots reggae after years of dancehall dominance, the family's steadfast devotion to classic reggae is winning new admirers..more

4. Protoje, Ancient Future
From his debut album, Seven-Year Itch --- whose title refers to a season of making music without financial rewards -- to the follow-up, Eight-Year Affair, Protoje's music has always communicated a sense of relentlessness yearning and striving for something greater.....Ancient Future, represents a quantum leap forward in his quest for creative freedom....more

5. Barrington Levy, Acoustica Levy
Accounting the power of his own raps, the late great MC Guru once observed that "it's mostly the voice." As with guru so it goes with the legendary reggae singer Barrington Levy, who vocal instrument can only be described as a phenomenon of nature....As great as any given reggae rhythm may be, it's easier to do without it when you've got Barrington's voice to keep you company....more

6. Alaine Laughton - 10 of Hearts
Like many female artists in a male dominated industry, Alaine laughton's creative contributions are too often overlooked....."The number of hearts represents the many types of situations that I talk about; whether its relational or love for my creator or love for life or love for my friends. I thought that that name captured everything that I wanted to talk about." "Ten is a perfect number," Alaine explains. "It's a number of completion."...more

7. Dub Syndicate, Hard Food
British production genius Adrian Sherwood formed Dub Syndicate as one of many personal passion projects to expand the sonic possibilities of the Jamaican music he grew up loving...Dub Syndicate was born of the creative chemistry struck up between Sherwood and Lincoln Valentine "Style" Scott, the renowned Jamaican session drummer, famous for his seminal work with the mighty Roots Radics band...

The release of Dub Syndicate's fifteenth album -- their first in over a decade -- in January of this (2015) year, was supposed to be a celebratory event. But since the murder of "Style" October 2014, the new disc has become more of a somber affair...more

8) Junior Reid, The Living Legend
Like many future Jamaican stars before him, Delroy "Junior Reid got his start with the late great Sugar Minott's Youth Promotion sound system...But on his latest album, The Living Legend, JR sticks to his Jamaican roots with hard-hitting feels right to bring the album forward to where it all began...more

9. No-Maddz, Sly and Robbie Present No-Maddz
The members of No-Maddz first met as classmates at Kingston College where they formed a dub poetry collective whose free-from blend of consciousness and sharp-edged comedy won them a loyal following...Their first musical recording, the lovingly scathing "Sort Out Yuh Life Jamaica," injected a much-needed dose of real talk to the celebrations surrounding the island's 50th anniversary of independence in 2012.

Ever since their slightly skewed sensibility connected with the legendary drum and bass duo Sly and Robbie, the band has evolved from an underground sensation to an international vibration....No-Maddz's debut album serves as a proper introduction to their unique alchemy...more

10.) Mr. Vegas, Lovers Rock and Soul
Although he made his name with dancehall smashes like "Heads High" and "Bruk It Down," Mr. Vegas would be the first to admit that these sonngs do not necessarily push his vocal talents to the limit....On a previous album, Sweet Jamaica, Vegas paid homage to the vintage reggae songs that first inspired him to sing. This year's Lovers Rock and Soul is a different kind of throwback project, shing a spotlight on Jamaica's long tradition of reinterpreting popular love songs of all eras and genres....Having racked up more international hits than most dancehall artists could ever hope for, Vegas is perhaps even more interested in earning his respect as a well-rounded artist....more


Aidonia, Project Sweat
This digital-only EP presents one of dancehall's most under-rated talents at the top of his X-rated game.

Ky-Mani Marley, Maestro, Collie Buddz, Blue Dreamz EP, Various Artists, The Biggest Reggae One-Drop Anthems, Seanizzle, Music My Way