Teflon ADD

Review

Album Review: Teflon - Young King

12/04/2015

by Dan Dabber

Album Review: Teflon - Young King

The reggae artist known as Teflon has been on the precipice of stardom since the beginning of his recording career over a decade ago. In the interceding years, he has released a massive catalogue of diverse music, he has toured the U.S. and Europe, and he has made a name for himself in Jamaica as a brilliant songwriter and first rate performer. Still, widespread popularity has eluded Teflon, while newer Jamaican reggae artists like Chronixx, Protoje, and Jesse Royal have successfully gained ground in foreign mainstream markets. However those artists generally stick to a very specific brand of conscious reggae music, and Teflon is edgier, with a vast collection of both conscious and slack tunes. It is likely that the rougher side of Teflon makes it harder for him to break into markets abroad, which are usually only interested in reggae artists that are able to recreate a good old fashioned, Bob Marley-style roots experience. Despite these difficulties, there are still many examples of Jamaican artists who have been able to crack elusive mainstream audiences while employing some of the violent and sexual lyrics that came into fashion after Bob passed away. The most analogous artist to Teflon is probably Sizzla, who helped Teflon get exposure in Europe early in his career, and who obviously inspired the younger artist stylistically with his gruff, unorthodox delivery. For artists like Sizzla and Teflon, one of the best strategies is focusing only on the material with the most crossover potential for albums, while maintaining credibility in Jamaica with a consistent stream of raw and clean contributions to various riddim album releases. We saw a version of this approach from Teflon in 2012 when he attempted to capture hip hop fans with his album, Long Time Coming, a 14-track offering that featured nothing but Teflon over trap and R&B-inspired instrumentals. His newest project, Young King, is similarly focused, but in a more (though not completely) traditional, roots-oriented way.

Do not be discouraged by the Young King cover, which is inexplicably sloppy compared to the polished music it was meant to represent. Not only is Teflon in top form with his vocals, but he also contributes to some of the production through his label, Yard A Love Records, which also handled the executive production duties for Young King. This project contains music from several other labels as well, plus distribution assistance from the Marley family’s own Tuff Gong International. For selectors and the most devoted reggae fans, some of the music on Young King may sound familiar, as there are several tunes that have been plucked from relatively recent riddim jugglings with which Teflon has been involved. These selections go as far back as the 2012 song, Clean Up U Heart, from Machete Records’ upbeat Feeling It Riddim, or as recent as Why Poor People, from Chronic Hill RecordsRise Again Riddim, which debuted last month. There are also songs that were featured on Forever Music’s Big City Riddim and Live MB Music’s Vision Riddim, but the most impressive blast from Teflon’s not-so-distant past is Love And Adore, which was originally part of Master One ProductionsCool Shade Riddim juggling from 2013. However, the Love And Adore version on Young King is a newer, cleaner recording voiced over a playful, brand new riddim assembled by none other than Teflon himself for Yard A Love Records.

Despite its raw and enchanting production, the song Forgiveness, which features dub legend, Lee “Scratch” Perry, is perhaps the lowest point of Young King, likely due to Scratch’s trademark meandering vocals and the general awkwardness of the combination of such fundamentally different artists. But there are many killer tracks to make up for any lost ground with Forgiveness. Not the least of which is the title track, Young King, which is a re-working of Supercat’s classic, Ghetto Red Hot, and the only true dancehall track on the album. The dubby Cornerstone is also a good cut, employing spacey, Roots Radics-style drums and a ton of echo. Tree Without A Root also stands out, with a reggae boom bap that should have heads nodding and holding a deep meditation as well. Although there is no clear cut top selection from Young King, the tracks listed above (with the obvious exception of Forgiveness), along with the aforementioned Clean Up U Heart and Love And Adore all are in the running. However, Champion Sound, which is an interesting blend of the sound killing vocals that defined early digital dancehall and a Mad Professor-esque, neo-dub-infused riddim, is rugged and ethereal, and quite possibly the baddest tune on the album. With such a wealth of quality works from Teflon included on this album, every listener, whether a casual or obsessed reggae fan, is bound to find something they like on Young King.




Release details

Teflon - Young King

Teflon - Young King

DIGITAL RELEASE [Yard A Love Records]

Release date: 12/04/2015

Tracks

01. Intro

02. Tree Without A Root

03. Equal Rights

04. Not Today

05. Why Poor People

06. Forgiveness feat. Lee Scratch Perry

07. Destiny

08. Love And Adore

09. Sex Slave

10. They Don't Know

11. Strong

12. From I Have Jah

13. Cornerstone

14. Clean Up U Heart

15. Champion Sound

16. Young King

Featured artists

Lee Scratch Perry