Jahdan Blakkamoore - "The General (Remix feat. General Steele)" (Buzzrock Warrior)
Spoken like a budding crime lord, Jahdan Blakkamore announces "Here I am now / I’m gonna stand my ground / I’ve come to take what’s mine, ain’t no backing down" on "The General," one of the bass-heavy standouts on his full-length debut Buzzrock Warrior. Given the production credits of DJ /rupture and Matt Shadetek, you wouldn’t be wrong to expect something a little less cliché out of our Guyanese MC. Has this sort of braggadocio not worn thin after 35 years of hip hop and dancehall?
It’s not just what Blakkamoore says, it’s how he says it. This brutish persona wouldn’t be so grating if it wasn’t for the perplexing choice of Auto-Tune. This forked-in technology permeates more than half the record, effectively Akon-izing Buzzrock Warrior and removing a Caribbean vibe from many of the tracks that otherwise could have been Shabba Ranks joints.
Aside from the thick sauce of homogenizing computer gimmickry and recycled Scarface narratives, Blakkamore has a lot going for him. He turned in one of the most musically sincere performances on the Major Lazer album, which by default put him in relatively clever company with Diplo and Switch (who wisely lampooned – and on most tracks avoided altogether – the Auto-Tune phenomenon). In fact, he goes a few places on Buzzrock Warrior that his Major Lazer peers would only dare: on more than a few tracks, including "The General" and "What You Know About This," Blakkamore and Co. drop big chunks of dubstep and its myriad sibling sounds, striking a smart balance of tinny electronics and Blakkamore’s often-earnest vocals. Rupture’s globetrotting instincts dominate a few other spots, namely the bhangra-cum-boogie of "Let’s Go" with it’s out of place but not unwelcome invocation of “Babalu, babalu,” and the electro-soca of "Go Round Payola."
Even without his Dutty Artz production staff, Blakkamore’s formidable MC skills stand on their own if only for the gurgling ruffbwoy staccato he so often employs. If Buzzrock Warrior reaches the right audience – jeeps with lots in the trunk – the at-times intriguing musical mix and low-end festivities will more than make up for a mediocre narrative angle and overuse of studio sweeteners.