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Crying to the Nation [Exclusive Album Stream]
[VP Records, Scikron; 02/14/2012]
Somewhere between the sex-fueled, crime-glorifying grit of Vybz Kartel’s dancehall, and the peace, love, weedsmoking roots reggae of the 60′s, lies I-Octane. At once a purist and a commercial success, the Clarendon, Jamaica native has become one of the most important dancehall/reggae artists to watch.
After four years of recording successful singles on Kingston’s Arrows Recordings, I-Octane — born Byiome Muir — started out on his own. Crying to the Nation is a joint production between two labels, though he remains unsigned.
Regardless, if you live in Jamaica or even Caribbean-populated areas like Brooklyn, you’ve already heard “My Life,” “Puff It,” and “Nuh Love Inna Dem” blaring out of vehicles through the night. Straddling pure dancehall and soft, accessible R&B, these tracks are instantly likable, and even more instantly, they’re radio hits.
But I-Octane’s debut album Crying to the Nation isn’t a blingy, back alley dancehall album export, nor is it watered-down Kevin Lyttle fare. His choices as an artist and indisputable (only occasionally autotuned) vocal talent make I-Octane add up to a one-of-a-kind debut. The album doesn’t condone crime or conspicuous consumption — even “Puff It” is a bit of a cautionary tale. Messages on Crying to the Nation span from love songs to giving peace a chance. Plus, toe-to-toe with the dancefloor fare on the album is sunny roots reggae, like “Rules of Life” and “L.O.V.E.Y.O.U.,” filled with gooey melodies and lush orchestral arrangements.
Further into the album, you’ll hear pop ballads, adult contemporary hymnal-type tracks with impeccably-mixed female backups, and hip hop R&B tracks like “Missing You” feat. Agent Specify — which is the next great love anthem. Luckily, the album’s slated to drop on Valentine’s Day.
Check out the official video for “Lose a Friend”