We’re currently in the midst of an era where a grip of bands are making a good living reviving old Funk, Afro Funk, and Soul. Dap Kings, Soul Destroyers, Antibalas… the list grows seemingly longer every month, but there’s one genre that is deeply rooted in both African and Latin music which hasn’t seen a resurgence in popularity. Where Amy Winehouse, Mark Ronson, and Lily Allen have made 60s-70s era Soul and Funk en vogue to the masses, Reggae and Dub tend to live on only through die hard fans and college students discovering Bob Marley’s Legend.
As an original member of the Dap Kings, and the keyboardist / writer / producer for Antibalas, Ticklah seems to be in the perfect position to bring weeded out, dub-effected Reggae back into the forefront of our collective social consciousness. That may be an overstatement, as his recent album doesn’t come halfway close to incorporating any Pop music elements, but the result is palatable nonetheless.
Ticklah vs. Axelrod delves into all styles of Reggae and Dub with Ticklah calling in favors from his Anitbalas bandmates, Dub is a Weapon, and vocalist Mayra Vega (who you may know better as the singer from Anti’s dope rendition of Willie Colon’s “Che Che Cole.”) The album starts off with “Two Face” where all stops are pulled, and the echo effects are used with reckless abandon. The 4-on-the-floor beat is accompanied by a heavy Dub bass line and a Wurlitzer organ riff which comes in like a cat burglar and quickly disappears into the ether. “Scratch to Win” builds off that formula, adding reverbed horns and a stronger backbeat. Just as you get settled in, packing your next bong hit, Ticklah switches up the vibe, taking it into Latin territory with his Reggae remakes of the Eddie Palmieri salsa classics “Mi Sonsito” and “Si Hecho Palante.” With these tracks it’s apparent that Latin music and Reggae were born of the same Mother.
And similarly, Ticklah vs. Axelrod succeeds in bringing together two sides of one musician’s creative endeavors. But at only a meager 13 tracks in length you may find yourself hitting the play button over and over. Surely your weed delivery man will be happy with the repeat business.
- J.R. Richards
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