Reggae act Artikal Sound System released its new album, Welcome to Florida early this month through the independent record label, Controlled Substance Sound Labs. The 12-song record is a presentation that many reggae fans will find interesting. That is due in large part to its featured musical arrangements, which will be discussed shortly. While the record’s musical content will engage and entertain audiences, the record is not without at least one fault. That fault is the lack of any parental advisory for the extent of foul language and at least one song that focuses lyrically on getting high. While not enough to doom the record, it is disappointing that this aspect of the record has to be noted. It will be discussed a little later. Moving back to the positives, the record’s lyrical content works with its musical counterpart (even despite a certain amount of foul language and at least one drug reference) to make the record increasingly appealing for the group’s targeted audience. Each item noted is important in its own way to the whole of Welcome to Florida. All things considered, they make the album a work that will appeal to a targeted audience base.
Welcome to Florida, the new album from reggae act Artikal Sound System, is a presentation that the group’s established audiences and pop music audiences alike will find mostly appealing. That is due largely to the record’s featured musical arrangements. The record’s musical arrangements are important to note because while they are reggae-centered, they are not the typical style works that audiences think of when they think of reggae. Case in point is the arrangement featured in ‘Cops and Robbers.’ Coming just past the album’s midpoint, the song presents more a ska-style composition than pure reggae. Of course, ska is an offshoot of sorts from reggae, so the connection is still there. The interesting thing here is that even with the ska leaning, the song only uses that as a foundation. For the most part, the arrangement still boasts a certain pop sensibility. That is especially evidenced through the work of vocalist Logan Rex. Her delivery style alongside the instrumentation gives the arrangement that touch that really makes the whole stand out as anything but generic reggae.
‘Happy,’ the album’s penultimate entry, is another example of how Artikal Sound System avoids the mantle of a generic reggae act. The immediate thought that comes to mind in listening to this song’s arrangement is that its guitar line, its semi-hip-hop style beat, its keyboard and vocals make it similar to works from Sugar Ray. The overall musical presentation is so infectious. It would make for a solid fit in any Top 40 pop radio programmer’s play list if only for that reason. Its companion lyrical content adds even more to that appeal and will be examined later.
‘Stayed,’ which opens the 36-minute record, is yet another example of how Artikal Sound System avoids the tag of being just another reggae act. As is the case with ‘Happy,’ this song boasts more of a pop leaning than reggae. What’s more, it avoids the Sugar Ray comparison in said song. Rather in the case of this arrangement, the comparison is more to the likes of Nelly Furtado. More specifically, it is easily likened to Furtado’s hit single, ‘I’m Like A Bird.’ The two songs are not identical works, but the similarities are unquestionable. That is because of the subtle, reserved approach taken to the verses and the more open choruses. Looking at this song and the others examined here and the rest of the album’s works, the whole makes the mix of mainstream pop, reggae, and ska reason enough for audiences to give Welcome to Florida a chance.
While the musical content featured in Welcome to Florida makes it worth hearing at least once, the record is not perfect. Over the course of its nearly 40-minute presentation, the record’s lyrical content incorporates a certain amount of foul language, and even one song that is a straight up promotion of smoking marijuana. There is another that is in fact titled ‘You’re An A******’ in which Rex sings that line time and again in the chorus. She also sings about wanting to tell apparently a former romantic interest that she wants to say to that person, “F*** you.” Now for all of the musical content featured in this record that can reach audiences of all ages, the lack of a parental advisory about the oftentimes questionable lyrical content is disappointing. It makes the presentation somewhat deceiving, and that could leave some listeners with something of a bad taste in their mouths. Again, that is because the songs’ musical arrangements are so accessible for audiences of all ages. That is not to say that all of the record’s lyrical content is negative. Quite the opposite, and it will be discussed shortly. Getting back on the topic, the lack of a parental content advisory in this content, all things considered is disappointing. It is not enough to doom the album, but certainly bears mentioning in the record’s bigger picture.
Getting back to the subject of the album’s lyrical content, not all of the content is negative. Case in point is the lyrical theme of unity presented in ‘One With You (ft. Dubbest). The song follows the familiar theme of peace and unity that is so common with so many reggae songs, and there is nothing wrong with that, either. Now getting to the noted late entry, ‘You’re An A******,’ the song is of note because it takes a road far less traveled in the realm of songs centered on broken relationships. The controlled anger is something rarely experienced in such songs. It is straight forward and is certain to connect with so many listeners for that reason. ‘Happy,’ is another notable song to discuss in examining the song’s lyrics. This song delivers an uplifting message about appreciating life instead of letting those negative forces out there bring one down. The positive energy in the song’s musical arrangement helps translate that message even more. Considering that and the rest of the album’s lyrical content, there is some negative content, as has been noted. There is also far more widely accessible content. Keeping that in mind, the lyrical content overall proves just as important to the overall presentation of Welcome to Florida as the album’s musical content. When that content is coupled, it makes the album overall worth hearing at least once.
Artikal Sound System’s new album, Welcome to Florida, is a presentation that will appeal to a wide range of pop and reggae fans. That is proven in part through the record’s featured musical arrangements. The arrangements blur the lines of pop and reggae, in turn helping the group avoid the designation of being just another reggae act. While the record’s musical content does much to help the record’s presentation, its lack of parental advisory about the content, of which quite a bit is questionable, hurts that presentation. That is because the record’s musical arrangement is so accessible to audiences of many ages. There is enough “adult content” in this record that said lack of advisory will leave many listeners being left with a feeling of being deceived. While there is a considerable amount of “adult content” in terms of foul language and drug references throughout the album, not all of the content is negative. There is some family friendly lyrical content at points. Each item examined here is important to the album’s presentation. All things considered, they make the album overall worth hearing at least once.
Welcome to Florida is available now. More information on the album is available along with all of Artikal Sound System’s latest news at:
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