[4 April 2007]
The self-proclaimed founder and originator of “Jawaiian” music goes solo with Godfada, an album that not only reinforces Rankin’ Scroo’s image of himself as a pioneer but also serves to introduce audiences to “Urban Reggae”. The style is one that Scroo calls his own. Migrating from his native Jamaica to the United States, the former DJ-Toaster embarked on a career that would defamiliarize reggae by mixing it with dancehall, hip hop, R&B and, if this disc is any indication, rock music as well. Though he is not alone in this, Scroo tends to emphasize his own cross-over appeal and, one might argue, his attempt to pander to an international market that tends to commodify postmodern pastiche. His is not necessarily a novel original, but rather, one in a series of attempts to inflect reggae with new sensibilities. Scroo certainly succeeds in manifesting a high degree of musical versatility, even if his arrogance is frequently annoying. Listeners are not simply offered a delectable, musical fusion; they are also asked, along with rapper E-40, to endorse it. On the one hand, it’s difficult not to: Scroo’s voice is remarkable for the way it uses rhythm, tone and alliteration to convey his impressions of living in the “West”. On the other, it’s tempting to refuse in the face of the artist’s pompous pretensions to originality. Groundbreaking or not, Scroo is in the position of having to make himself stand out from the crowd. Fusions of reggae with other forms are currently popular, while roots reggae still maintains a foothold in the industry. Capitalizing on both, Scroo integrates Rastafarian themes into a mix that liberally borrows from a diverse body of musical influences. Situated comfortably in the United States with a recording studio to his name, he also, as with many of his peers, tends to reflect on life’s more worldly pleasures. “I wanna do you,” he croons seductively on “Call Me”, “So wrap your legs around me”. On a purely hedonistic level, at least, satisfaction is guaranteed.