I-Octane ‘Crying to the nation’ (VP) 3/5

Jamaican singer I-Octane, real name Byiome Muir, hails from Sandy Bay in Clarendon and was passionate about singing from an early age. He first recorded at Penthouse studios of Donovan Germaine and there came into contact with singer Bunju Banton. Three years after his work with Penthouse, I-Octane was apporached by Arrow records and this resulted in a shift in style from dancehall to cultural roots and a first single ‘Stab vampire’. The singer is now an independent musician who has severed links with Arrow, yet has only been in the music profession for five years. This brings us bang up to date with the debut album on VP contained within. It is in fact his first full length album and features a mixture of styles. It works best on the lyrical and socially conscious material such as the excellent ‘Vanity will come’ and the instant hook of’ Rules of life’, both of which features session musicians. The second half of the album is not quite as strong and in parts the production is a little too slick for this writer with I-Octane’s voice subdued among a plethora of electronic instrumentation. Nonetheless the catchy single ‘L.O.V.E. you’ will appeal to a new audience while the duets with Alborosie and Tarrus Riley will atttract a more mainstream reggae public. I-Octane needs to decide which pathway he wishes to follow and then stick to that for a whole album. Greater success will surely beckon. Tim Stenhouse

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