Reggae is awakening from what may, to nonfans, seem a long post-Marley slumber. Recently two Jamaican artists, Super Cat and Mad Cobra, released interesting rap-reggae hybrids that percolate the rapid vocal rhythms of Jamaican toasting—one of rap’s precursors—through a tough street sensibility, complete (in the Cobra’s case) with suave ballads and gentler dance rhythms than rap usually offers.
Compared with these albums, Reid’s acute, emphatic Long Road is equally progressive and state-of-the-art electronic but more faithful to reggae’s supple melodic traditions and Marleyan moral fire. Reid, who started recording in Jamaica in 1979 when he was 14, was already a noted performer when he joined Black Uhuru for three albums in the late ’80s. With snakingly insistent songs like “Actions Speak Louder than Words,” “Shantytown” and “Who Loves You,” Reid has made a reggae album that is anything but a tropical cooler. (Cohiba)