Reggae Scanner: Don Corleon Style

Welcome to our first Reggae Scanner, where we’ll dive into the latest reggae music news, releases and updates from Jamaica and around the world. This time we’ll look at a musical Mafia figure and a Sex Pistols’ daughter. As reggae band the Pioneers once sang, “catch the beat now!”

Donovan Bennett may take his production and label name from a mythical cinema Mafia godfather but this “Don Corleon” is not a thug. Rather, the 33-year old Bennett is one of Jamaica’s most accomplished young producers. In the early ‘00s he founded Don Corleon Records, a label that embraced new studio technology and modernized traditional reggae music. Over the past nine years his productions for artists like Vybz Kartel, Jah Cure and Sizzla have frequently topped international reggae charts and Bennett has also been tapped to build tracks for pop phenoms Rihanna and Sean Paul. Additionally, his Drop Leaf and Seasons rhythm compilations (commonly called a “riddim” set, where multiple artists are recorded on the same backing track) are considered reggae DJ standards.

"Lets Do It Again" J Boog

"Seven Year Itch" Proteje

"Dread In Dub" Don Corleon

"Cry" Hollie Cook

2011 has been a prolific year for Bennett. In addition to releasing the popular Monte Carlo and The Message riddim sets, he introduced the world to two new artists: Jamaica’s Protoje and Samoan-American singer J Boog (not to be confused with Om Records’ electronic producer J-Boogie). Neither was particularly well known, nor had recorded much previous material. But when Bennett backs a new name, eyebrows are raised.

Compton, CA-native J Boog had an auspicious debut with the song "Lets Do It Again," included on Bennett’s May 2010 Major & Minor riddim album. J Boog’s smoky-smooth delivery is a natural fit with Bennett’s melodious one-drop arrangements. Fans, especially the worldwide Pacific Islander reggae contingent, propelled the song to anthem status, where it’s remained for nearly two years. J Boog’s new album is almost ready, and rest assured, like the big man himself, it should create waves. Add the song to your Music Beta collection and hear what the fuss is about.

Likewise, new artist Protoje seemingly came out of nowhere and issued the Bennett-produced full-length Seven Year Itch. Pro is the son of Lorna Bennett (no relation to Don), who had a hit with “Breakfast In Bed” in the 1970s. Protoje employs an odd singing cadence, pushing out multiple rhyming couplets throughout the album’s biographical, nylon guitar-strumming title track. With its sparse arrangement and hand percussion, “Seven Year Itch” is a nice example of folky acoustic reggae and illustrates Bennett’s songwriting range.

Bennett’s latest album release, Don Corleon: Dub In HD is also revolutionary. In an era where 99-percent of current instrumental reggae dub music is made outside Jamaica this was a bold statement from the Kingston-based producer. On the song “Dread In Dub,” Bennett doesn’t just dub out the track, he dubs it hard, with effects and samples flying scattershot around a sweet backing beat. Bennett puts a futuristic spin on the sound established by legends like King Tubby, Lee Perry or Scientist. Add the tune below.

Finally, a nod to an excellent but overlooked debut album by U.K. singer Hollie Cook. Her self-titled release, produced by England’s Prince Fatty, showcases Cook’s wonderful soulful reggae talents. The daughter of Sex Pistols drummer Paul Cook thankfully sounds more like Jill Scott than Johnny Lydon, and we’re offering Music Beta users the song “Cry” as proof positive that Hollie is one to watch. Till next time, enjoy the tunes. –Tomas Palermo

"Lets Do It Again" J Boog

"Seven Year Itch" Proteje

"Dread In Dub" Don Corleon

"Cry" Hollie Cook


ksk said...

keep the good work!!!

raycaster3 said...

YES!!!! I LOVE REGGAE!!! It's so hard to find decent reggae. Good stuff!

Mik said...

Keep postin reggae !

Dedren said...

Don't forget the Dancehall too

Anonymous said...

Good to spotlight one of the most amazing producers....i've all his riddims and they are fire! Turn up the reggae Google! TO THE WORLD!

face265 said...

more reggae keep it coming

mahmale said...

keep the good work

Rebel Indian said...

always taking music to another level. Never stop what you're doing!!!

Anonymous said...

"When a music style becomes dominant, it sub-divides." Dancehall. Reggae. Rock Steady. Roots Reggae. Andrew Bees. Black Uhuru. First Reggae Grammy. Andrew Bees. On the rise.

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