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DJ Kool Herc, Public Enemy, NWA, Wu Tang Clan, Mobb Deep and more…All stem from a firm tree with roots running deep. Omitting the historical details, MCing can look back at its ancestry in Jamaica through the style of “toasting”, skimming the grooves of reggae music, with The Originator Daddy U-Roy bringing forth many of the earliest specimens.

Considering the classic likes of U-Roy riding the waves of a version, Pray Fi Di People delivers original recordings, although these do include a few covers, such as “Ebony Eyes” or “Pumps and Pride”. The ultimate fun in the album is that it features collaborations on all but one song, being the title track. These expressions “inna combination style” bring about souls ranging from the veteran conquerors (Marcia Griffiths, Horace Andy) to the rising soldiers of the present (Tarrus Riley, Chezidek, Sophia Squire), with some refreshing international connections (Harrison “Professor” Stafford of the American group Groundation, Tiken Jah Fakoly of Côte d'Ivoire). Subjectively, the latter two convey aqueous flowing tunes emitting the most feel; the lighthearted “Call On Jah” (featuring Professor) providing everlasting reassurance that H.I.M. stands indomitable while the francophone flavored “The Hard Way” (featuring Tiken as well as Balik of Danakil) vibrates at just the right cadence.

For those unfamiliar with the many landscapes painted by U-Roy’s musical sounds over the past few decades, Pray Fi Di People may not be the most appropriate gateway to discover such a place; opt for classic collections including Versions Galore or Natty Rebel to truly take the dive. Nonetheless, for the current disciples of The Originator, from the times of both new and old, this album is definitely worth the session. 


Felix Yuan for Toronto Reggae