Not your parents' reggae

If you’re not already aware of the Jamaican-American overlap in urban music or simply want to scratch beyond the usual pop offerings, Strictly the Best 21 is a must-buy. Featuring some of the best reggae hits of the past year, STB 21 brings together a nice crosssection of styles that should satisfy lovers, rude boys and dreadlocked Rastas alike.

With Sly and Robbie’s use of the "Mission Impossible Theme" and Shaggy’s "Eye of the Tiger" (you know, by Survivor?) sample, even first-time reggae listeners will be able to find an element of familiarity. Newcomer Mr. Vegas makes a particularly strong showing with "Everywhere I Go" and his hit "Hands Up," that uses the popular "Faith" (courtesy of George Michael) riddim. The ever-controversial Lady Saw and Tanya Stephens represent for the ladies, while Tanto Metro and Devonte’s "Everyone Falls in Love" should appeal to R&B listeners with its interpolation of Missy "Misdemeanor" Elliot.

Beenie Man, who single-handedly renewed American interest in dancehall reggae with the infectious "Who Am I?" tries to retain his spotlight with three contributions, including a hip-hop remix of his song "Tell Me," featuring New York radio personality Angie Martinez. Sizzla, Culture and Tony Rebel keep the party from getting too out of hand and round out the comp with their eloquent, socially conscious lyrics and mellow grooves. Musical diversity is the key to success here, even if there are a couple of throwaway tracks. Rolling 16 tracks deep, this is $15 well spent. Ready or not, it’s the sound of today’s reggae generation.

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