written by: drowningn00b
Artist and Single: Skull and Haha – ‘Reggaerilla’
Genre: World Music, Reggae, Hip-Hop
Release Date: June 27, 2013
For a while, reggaeton was a big deal. I don’t mean Psy‘s “Gangnam Style” big, but huge for a long time. Before Daddy Yankee made gasoline something to think twice about, artists like Ivy Queen, Wisin Y Yandel and Zion Y Lenox were making waves with the sound years before going back to the mid- to late 90s, when it was called “Spanish reggae”. Unless you’re around fans of it, you’d think it’s gone, but reggaeton is still going, with much less fanfare. Similarly, reggae has had a similar phenomenon, but it has had longevity because of Bob Marley, his son Ziggy, and the Rasta lifestyle. The ubiquity of Marley’s music, image and connection to Rasta (and marijuana) created many fans from urban youth, suburban college students — even reaching Asia.
As the hip-hop label, YG Ent saw the trend and helped create the reggae duo Stony Skunk, with S-Kush and Skul1. They helped popularize reggae with their rap styles and near-authentic reggae sound, but disbanded when Skul1 joined the army in 2008. Since then, S-Kush goes by Kush, writing hit singles for the label wile abandoning the mic altogether. Skul1, now just Skull, is still doing reggae, going on his own and collaborating along the way, notably with fellow rapper Haha, who’s no stranger to collaborative efforts himself. Haha has worked with Taw, but teamed up with Skull last year for the single “Busan Vacation”. It was a silly track, but it was nice to see the veteran rapper at it again. The madness continues with this summer’s release, “Reggaerilla” with seriousness to back their partying ways.
The lead single, “Ragga Muffin”, is a remake of the original Stony Skunk single, with a modern electro-dance treatment to update the bare composition of the origin while keeping the trademark guitar riff. It’s a remake rather than a cover because in today’s censorship climate, Skull & Haha had to scrub the original of all drug and alcohol references. The new version is a care-free track about relaxing and having a good time despite the hardship. The duo enjoys reggae, shown by how easy they deliver their lines, with Skull letting his voice drone on and Haha picking up the pace. It’s a good call-back to the pre-Hallyu times and does the new duo justice as a legit rap-reggae-dance outfit.
The teaser, “Reggaerilla,” is the most traditional the duo has ever done. With a groovy bass line, horn loops and DJ IT scratching on top, “Reggaerilla” is the track for “true” reggae fans. It isn’t treated with dubstep or blaring drum sounds, but seems lifted from 90s reggae with k-hip-hop tacked on. Skull & Haha are great here, but the track suffers from its length. There’s potential here that isn’t utilized, which is a damn shame. Don’t knock “Reggaerilla” too much though; for its shortcomings, this song is one of the better summer bump and grinds yet.
When Skull & Haha released “Busan Vacation” last year, I glossed over it. It’s easy to use reggae as a genre shift from hip-hop to maintain attention (ahem, Snoop Dogg), but the duo is the real deal, and “Reggaerilla” confirms their legitimacy in keeping this collaboration going.
With throwbacks to reggae’s past, both internationally and internally, Skull & Haha are more than a party, and they’re worth keeping an eye on.
Singles of any kind are not rated with the same rating system used for mini and full albums.