Big Men

COMPOSERS: Various
LABELS: Virgin/Tabou
WORKS: Rai Meets Reggae
PERFORMER: Various
CATALOGUE NO: 1 CDVIR 160

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 For a focused sense of collaboration the month’s pick is big men – a self-mocking title, as these two macho traditions bring in women soloists, but also true: they include big names of Jamaica and North Africa, and they are big enough to handle each other’s styles.

All the pairings on the 14 tracks are different, and they show as many different approaches. The majority are Caribbean-based, using a spread of traditional reggae and contemporary hip-hop sources, but the singers nearly all tailor their phrases to the prevailing style, even when that is Arabic.

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Masses of vitality here and plenty of fun, from the outrageously sexy ‘Oh Girl’ with Miana and Innocent Kru to the passionately fused lyricism of Khaled and Anthony Ray in ‘Aich Rebel Sun’.