When I think of riffs in dub, reggae, and dancehall, I instantly think of the most contagious one ever: The Sleng Teng. It created, without a doubt, a revolution in all music, not only for Caribbean styles and their fans.
The so-called Digital Revolution reached every corner of this planet, and you get to hear the Slim Smith’s and Jammy’s Sleng Teng on remixes by Arcade Fire, Moby, and event on Damon Albarn’s Gorillaz. It is present on versions by Poland’s Dreadsquad and in the productions of innovating curators such as DJ Spooky.
So, it is no wonder that the Sleng Teng is at home in Moskow, Russia. You might say it is a long shot from Kingston to Russia, but rest assured, in the Dub Universe, everything is possible.
The latest release of Tenor Youthman is signed for Dub Universe Records, an imprint of the Big Roba Sound System duo, Pavel and Sergey. These guys have crafted some envy-attracting riddims for this 2021 release. Without a doubt, Tenor Youthman can be called the inexhaustible bard of the East.
The first song on the EP All Right Then has probably the best hook: “Music nice from ska to bashment!” Tenor Youthman rides this computerized riddim like a master, with a heavy flow, chanting about the joy of being alive, meeting in a session to party all the weekend from evening until morning. The bass is strong, and the synths are rocking, taking the dub vibes from 1986 and putting them into 2021 in style and fashion.
Crack Rock is like the time-traveling approach, Back to the Future 3 – the Wild Wild West. It has a unique atmosphere thanks to the western whistle a la Ennio Morricone. It is a theme much loved and respected by Jamaican deejays and producers during the eighties and nineties. Tenor Youthmans wordplay scatting the sounds of gunshots is topper top. But his lyrics are based on the documentary film Planet Rock - where the film investigates the substance abuse of classic American rappers.
“Crack Rock want to stay alive!”
I love the way the digi-rub-a-dub production style is complemented by an electric guitar soloing as an outro. Big congratz to Big Roba and Rebelsteppa! This acoustic sound in all the synthetic tracks balances the whole musical painting.
Raggamuffin Ting is probably the closest riddim to the Sleng Teng and is a wailing anthem. On top of the great groove offered by the tempo and bass pattern, Tenor Youthman rides and offers his perspective on the younger generations in need of guidance. It is a poem about street life. There are hints at immigration and depression locking us inside, outside, or somewhere we are not supposed to be.
Nostalgia hits hard in modern music, and the next track, Rub-A-Dub Party, confirms it.
“Sirens scream like Uzi!”
A perfect irie tune, from Moskow to Montego Bay to make all the ladies and gentlemen, rudeboys and rudegals dance. The tension of the instrumental tracksuits like custom-made the “hill & gully” flow of the Youthman. There is a very welcomed relaxation in Tenor’s voice.
The Wrong Size ends this affair with a blue heart bang! Digi-reggae meets Lovers Rock in this last composition on the EP. It is a heartbreak chant, maybe describing a distant love relationship. The dub meltdown in the production has the most vivid colors, red, gold, green, white, blue, and red juxtaposing two country flags and fading away all borders and boundaries. This last song is creating a very welcomed variety on this extended play.
I feel like the Sleng Teng has mutated through the decades, and it reached hardcore peaks through the reworks from The Bug, Riko Dan, Asian Dub Foundation, and Japan’s Dry & Heavy. So, maybe the future was predicted by Jamaicans with their wealthy, healthy imaginations back in ’86 when this riddim hit hard on the music industry.