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Various Artists Sharp & Ready

Tru Thoughts’ Sharp & Ready compilation opens with 'Pressure I (Red String Riddim)', on which Yaz Alexander asks why people are kept down and responses to these questions are provided in the form of Benjamin Zephaniah’s poetry. 'Pressure I' sets the tone for the compilation which is inspired by a new wave of sound system culture which puts inspiring and conscious music at its heart.

As required, the compilation is made up of a variety of artists - Ghost Writerz, Rodney P, Serocee, Pete Cannon, Bahia and Shinehead, to name a few - and the musical styles span dancehall, reggae, jungle and several genres between. But despite the range of sounds and artistry on show, Sharp & Ready doesn’t lose musical direction, which can be the case for many compilations that aim to represent genres of music.

Everything on the release fits within the borders of sound system music. 'Safe No More', 'How We Living' and 'Shut Up!' are some of the finest songs here, and a few of the tracks also bare production techniques that have been at the forefront of UK music over several years. 'Spark It (Ghost Writerz Remix)' is classic jungle, 'Pressure I' is modern reggae and Hylu's remix of 'Sleepy Time Ghost' is a gentle blend of R&B covered in futuristic packaging.

Sharp & Ready is a tidy collection of forward-looking music and a great addition in a new wave of sound system music in the UK that will undoubtedly continue to progress.

Akeem Balogun

by Now Then Sheffield
Filed under: Various Artists