I Kong is the nephew of Leslie Kong, producer of many reggae bands from the early days, including The Wailers. (It was Kong’s release The Best of the Wailers that angered the band so much that Peter Tosh cursed him.) Family legacy aside, I Kong’s The Way It Is is an interesting specimen from the late seventies. It shares a lot in common with the work of Willie Williams, Fred Locks, and Prince Alla. The production has a fun little finish to it that incorporates much of the sunshiny-ness of late-sixties/early-seventies sunshine pop, yet all the rootsiness of the era in Jamaica. The set opens up with the e-harpsichord intro of “Ghetto Cry,” a bouncy little tune about the hardship of children growing up in the ghetto. “Wolves in Sheeps Clothing” is full of thick sunny wah-wahs and Jerry Garcia-ish picking. I Kong’s vocal is similarly soft and reminiscent of Peter Tosh’s “Pick Myself Back Up”. The penultimate track is a not-to-be-missed cover of the then-popular gospel song “I Wish We’d All Been Ready,” which is a song about the Rapture and the sentiment of those who were left behind once they realize the truth. Still, all of the kitsch only adds value to a tight and heavy set of seventies roots. Every track here is on par with anything you’ll discover in the recent wave of reissues from labels such as VP, Blood & Fire, or Moll-Selekta. There are no real standouts, just a great selection.
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Brother Culture, Channel One, Coxsone Sound System, I KONG, Kabaka Pyramid, Macka B, Mad Professor, Natty, Saxon Sound System