Tru Colors

Tru Colors (2014)

Certainly it’s a very diverse affair. There’s layered, lavish, autotuned histrionic dancehall (ensemble hit Go Hard featuring Assassin, Aidonia, I-Octane, Bounty Killer, Damian Marley and a phone recorded Vybz Kartel; and its less guest heavy if overblown remix Go Harder enlisting Baby Cham plus rappers Ace Hood and a figuratively phoned in Wacka Flocka Flame). There’s reggae (the superb thug roots of I Know, and On The Corner – a brilliant Busy-style appropriation of REM’s Losing My Religion that will outrage their more sanctimonious fans). There’s dance music (Longtime with its primordial sliding bassline and New Jack Swing era harmonies).

And of course, there’s the hip hop that Wayne has been deep into since his debut (The betrayal themed title track – thankfully not a Cyndi Lauper cover). Stupid Money, the standout of the EP, remains the standout of the album. It’s child sung bridge “I’m a gonna make it better one day” reminds that it’s not selling celebration of wealth as much as hope for it (ignoring Lorde’s bored voice of the suburbs saying “Oh come on you’ll never be that rich” – because wanting to dress up, look your best and dream remains as valid a response to poverty as celebrating it). Similar themes are explored in Success Story – which throws together business moguls and civil rights heroes in the name of making the most of capitalism (it’s one of the few songs where you’ll hear Marcus Garvey in the same bars as Angelina Jolie).

With so many different styles and moods Tru Colors is likely to be a mixed bag for all but the most omnivorous of palates. It also sounds like it belongs more to the last decade than this one – and many of the biggest tunes are already known from singles. Yet the songwriting and Damian Marley’s production maintain a standard throughout, and the ordering is thematically well chosen – even if it serves to show what a contradictory bunch of characters Marshall is. This is a solid, well-crafted Jamerican sounding album that will appeal to those who aren’t feeling the new wave of Jamaican roots right now – or just like to hear reggae and dancehall throwing eclectic shapes