RIP Cool Ruler

Funny, kind, and candid, Gregory was an utmost gentleman years back when we spoke for a feature story that just recently hit newsstands. He never really viewed his career in hindsight, feeling that it was “always ongoing” and feverishly recording and touring up until he was diagnosed with cancer a few years ago. The interview is one of the lengthier ones I’ve done, as Gregory patiently recapped almost his entire career for longtime fans. Gregory passed today at age 59 and it’s with a heavy heart that we celebrate his songs, life, and well-kept career. Below are my favorite recordings from reggae’s Cool Ruler. Rest easy, Mr. Isaacs.

‘Far Beyond The Valley’ off In Person [Trojan 1975]

‘Too Late’ a-side b/w ‘Each Day’ single [Success 1970]

‘Sun Shines For Me’ off Gregory Isaacs Meets Ronnie Davis [Plant 1979]

‘Each Day’ b-side b/w ‘Too Late’ [Success 1970]

‘My Time’ a-side b/w ‘Rockers Time’ [Gussie76 1978]


i run with a thieving squad and none of us believe in god

Big L was such a vicious rapper— swift, smart and aggressive. This upcoming release, Return of the Devil’s Son is promoted as a “posthumous album” with “unreleased material” but actually features some remixes of old tracks. While the title leaves much to be desired, it’s still worth hearing since any ‘lost tracks’ from L are likely grimey and menacing as hell. Below is the tracklisting for the upcoming release along with ‘Zone of Danger’ produced by J-Love, a remix of ‘Dangerzone’ off L’s 1995 debut, Lifestylez Ov Da Poor & Dangerous.

‘Zone of Danger’ off Return of the Devil’s Son (out November 23rd)

1) “Return Of The Devils Son” (produced by Showbiz)
2) “Devil’s Son (produced by Showbiz)
3) “Zone Of Danger” (produced by J-Love)
4) “Sandman 118”
5) “School Days”
6) “Principle Of The New School” (produced by Showbiz)
7) “Unexpected Flava” (produced by Lord Finesse)
8) “Tony’s Touch”
9) “Right To The Top” f/Royal Flush & Kool G Rap (produced by Domingo)
10) “Once Again” (produced by J-Love)
11) “Harlem World Universal”
12) “I Won’t”
13) “Hard To Kill”
14) “Power Moves”
15) “If You Not Aware”
16) “I Should Have Used A Rubber”
17) “Doo Wop #5”
18) “Yes You Can”
19) “Audition”
20) “MC’s What’s Going On” (produced by Showbiz)
21) “Slaying The Mic”

*** If you haven’t already, peep DJ SOUL’S TRIBUTE TO BIG L, an awesome (and my opinion, the best) Big L ‘best of’ mix; released a while back hosted by Lord Finesse.

Bruce Haack’s ‘Party Machine’

‘Party Machine’ from Farad: The Electric Voice [Stones Throw]

A new release further explores recent interest in voice manipulation by way of vocoders. Bruce Haack (1931-1988) was an experimental electronic musician who used a self-made vocoder he called ‘Farad’ on his recordings. He founded Dimension 5 Records, releasing strange but ultimately progressive abums, “pre-dating Kraftwerk’s Autobahn by several years” according to Stones Throw. Haack didn’t just use vocoders, he made them the centerpiece of his work, which included a children’s album, pop rock releases, dance tracks and a conceptual electronic psych-rock album called The Electric Lucifer. ‘Party Machine’ is an epic cut off Farad: The Electric Voice, the new 16 song collection which includes unreleased songs recently okayed by Haack’s estate.

* ‘Farad’ is named after Michael Faraday, an English chemist and physicist from the mid 1800s who some historians say is the ‘greatest experimentalist in the history of science’ and who contributed to the fields of electromagnetism and electrochemistry.

Riddim & News

Very excited to have written the story above for the new issue of Wax Poetics. It’s been years in the making and seeing it in print finalized an incredibly long process of emails, cold calls, miscommunications, and a lot of waiting around. But it ended well, standing as one of the few long, in-depth pieces ever done on the Cool Ruler himself, Gregory Isaacs.

This is the 43th issue of Wax Poetics and is dedicated solely to Reggae. I also added to the Re:Discovery section, writing about one of my favorite 45s, The Gaylettes’ cover of ‘Son Of A Preacher Man’.

:::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::: Listen to it HERE