Kingston Story proves that Vybz Kartel is much more than controversy. From the skin-bleaching scandal that shocked those across the music world to his conviction for murder that garnered international attention, with the release of Story months before his incarceration, solidified Kartel as not only a force in Dancehall but in contemporary music as well. The album, while still following in the traditional steps of island music, was given a contemporary, hip-hop feel being brought together by Brooklyn-based producer Dre Skull. This along with a wider array of content made this one to remember in the genre.
The ode to country track ‘Jamaica’ is a fitting beginning to the album; getting you into the mood of the overall work and directing your attention to all the rhythms in the track. For me, the track ‘My Crew’ was possibly the most fun on the album-while gritty in the sense of contemporary Hip-Hop, it still served up the traditional dancehall rhythm that made me want to get up and move. However, the icing on the cake would be the mid-tempo, ‘dutty-wine’ spectacular known as ‘Half on a Baby’. The song packs a catchy punch in it explicit hook, but still somehow contains the exotic, sultriness of its R. Kelly, R&B cousin.
Story does a magnificent job of branching out into the unfamiliar while sticking to its roots; something I feel a lot of Reggae/Dancehall artist struggle with when trying to break into a new audience. The album is unique in this sense and makes it perfect for creating that much needed break in the party or a change up to your typical road trip play list. Not being your typical dancehall, Kingston Story will serve as an excellent final work of a great artist.