Monday 18 July 2011


Mid-June saw a new release from rootsy reggae lord Lutan Fyah, the wonderfully bitesized Pon Mi Head EP. He's been around for a while, active musically from 1999 onwards with 9 albums under his belt. Born in Spanish Town, Jamaica, and a follower of the Rastafarian Bobo Shanti movement, his music embraces the dub side of reggae, and has worked not only on his own music but also on covering songs by the likes Dr. Dre and The Fugees. A bio describes his journey: "After years of toil in the dancehall where he built an underground following, the diminutive vocalist is on the brink of a major breakthrough."

Indeed, there's somewhat of a resurgence in dub reggae at the moment - the obvious reason being the huge popularity of now globally recognised and much loved dubstep genre. That half-time drum and bass rhythm has become the metronome by which a lot of pop music lives and breathes by, utilised by a host of people from Britney Spears to the Sugababes, and done to death in all sorts of remixes (the most notable still being Skream's remix of La Roux's 'In For The Kill').

So you can understand that Lutan Fyah's services are rendered quite useful given the current climate - that breakthrough coming ever closer. He features on Rusko's 2009 Babylon: Volume 2 with energy-laden dubstep reggae ska choon 'Sound Guy Is My Target'. You can listen to that below if you're not au fait with it (amazing little breakdown just after 3:10 btw).

'Sound Guy Is My Target'

As you can hear, Lutan Fyah (real name Anthony Martin) puts his all into the vocals, mixing smooth talk-singing with scratchy impassioned yells. But what does he sound like minus the glossy production afforded and endorsed by Rusko? Like the below. This is Lutan Fyah's new single, 'Pon Mi Head' - referencing the dreadlocks and headscarves (or turbans) worn by Bobo Shanti Rastafarians, a constant theme and refrain throughout the song that adds not only authenticity but heart to its dub flavour.

'Pon Mi Head'

Brimming with classic roots reggae elements, lyrically this song encompasses beliefs of the Rastafari Bobo Shanti, namely wearing long hair in dreadlocks - "yes me grew de locks pon mi head, de wool pon mi head" - and wrapped in a headscarf/turban: "Yes man a real Bobo Shanti be no Taliban, come check my turban" - contemporary comment on perhaps mistaken identity. The groove of the drums locks with the laidback bass rhythm, presided over by the offbeat guitar rhythm, dub horns and delay chord every so often - a reggae set-up if ever there was one.

The descent into sparse synth at the end of the song, combined with Lutan's faraaway vocals, sound somehow alone - as if maybe the subject matter of the song is something that is understandably esoteric and unknown by the rest of the world. Filled with references of who he is, where he comes from, and what he believes in, this feels like quite a personal song and one lit with the 'fyah' of his voice.

The Pon Mi Head EP is then graced with a wordless instrumental version of the single, 'Pon Mi Dub' - lacks Lutan's vocal passion, but the fluid rhythms remain. This comes before the third and final song of the EP - a dubstep remix of the song by Illoom (aka James Loomis). Here it is for your aural entertainment:

It's a minimalistic dubstep rendition, founded on a solid beat complete with slap-in-the-face snare and stompy bass, making use of space instead of filling it all up with typical dubstep wobble - intelligently respecting the quiet between sounds. Cutting up the dub horns, he throws them in with lashings of delay, adding to the mix a low-attack buzz-saw synth that creeps subtly into your ears. It's a simple remix, respecting the original but adding just enough difference to ensure it sounds fresh and personalised by Illoom.

If you like reggae, this EP is something for you, definitely. And, if so, why not raid Lutan Fyah's prolific previous discography?

• Visit Lutan Fyah on Myspace
• This was released by King Dubbist Records (Facebook page)
• Check out Illoom on SoundCloud

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