Anthony B – Freedom Fighter

May 29, 2012

In recent times Jamaican artists have found the propulsive, rootsy but vaguely contemporary rhythms of Austria’s Irievibrations a very good fit. ‘Born Dead With Life’, their album with Perfect, was one of the latter half of the last decade’s highlights; 2011’s ‘Rub A Dub Market’ with Luciano was solid enough; and now they have met their match in another 90s veteran – the deejay Anthony B. In a year when Jamaican reggae (the rumours of whose death were always exaggerated) stood up with longplayers by Busy Signal, Tarrus Riley and Romain Virgo, ‘Freedom Fighter’ is an international collaboration of comparable class.

Anthony B - Freedom FighterStarting with minor key calls to attention and ending with major key upliftment, these crisply-produced, summery horn-drenched roots pieces with tasteful hip-hop ingredients, showcase Anthony’s striking voice and evocative lyrical imagery. Only the wordsmith from Trelawny could use the verb “gallivant” in the Soul Rebel-inspired title song and it not feel out of place. There are expansive messages of autonomy (Born To Be Free), community (Same Boat) and positivity in the face of suffering (Cry Blood) that will resonate at both a sound system dance or a European summer festival. Yet despite sounding more genial and laid-back these days, lyrically he is still as much Peter as Bob (who he invokes again towards the end of the record for Defend My Own). The rights of the poor and the abuse of the power of the police are recurring themes. And there is sour medicine for liberal-progressives in his disavowal of evolution during the hip-hop flavoured, library sfx littered No One Knows Tomorrow.

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