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Beginning Without End (Mastermind Music)

The rate at which trends come and go in reggae is enough to make one's head spin -- almost as much as the potent Jamaican ganja that fuels many of the genre's leading artists. Sounds on the cutting edge in Jamaica often take a couple of years for most American ears to become accustomed to them. Hence, many reggae releases from American soil tend to reflect trends that would be considered outdated by Jamaican standards. This, however, is not the case with the debut release from Jamaican-born Clevelander Survivalist.

Superb songwriting on top of original and innovative rhythms sets Survivalist one step ahead of the pack from the onset of Beginning Without End. His unique approach makes comparison to anyone unfair, although the mood of the disc brings to mind the more dissonant sounds of early Black Uhuru. While songs such as "Meditate" and "To Whom It May Concern" would appeal to most fans of roots music, it is on the disc's forward-thinking dancehall tracks that Survivalist really excels. Scorchers like "Rely on the Most I" and "Peace All Over the Land" could sound right at home on any current sound system -- in Cleveland or Kingston.

But for all the polish and promise that Survivalist demonstrates on Beginning Without End, he never succumbs to the prominent boasting -- or the slackness --that's still all too common in today's dancehall reggae. Indeed, Survivalist's lyrics are both well crafted and reflective, and not at all contrived.

Having landed distribution for Beginning from VP Records -- one of the world's leading distributors of reggae music -- Survivalist stands the chance of making the jump into the genre's major leagues. Surely he is not lacking in talent. Nor is he following on the heels of the latest trend. On the contrary, Survivalist is setting them.

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