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Luciano, with Dean Fraser, Irie Time, Bigga Boss and Manjaro

The artist formerly known as Jepther McClymont has always camped out at the intersection of Jamaica's two major musical subgenres: the conscious warmth of roots reggae and the digital grind of modern dancehall. And few singers in any style have been as successful at negotiating the boundary between sacred and sexy. The Davey Town native began singing in church, moved to Kingston in 1992, became a secular success after teaming with producer Philip Burrell, and then nearly gave up his career because of spiritual doubts. If you see some parallels to the struggles of the Reverend Al Green, you're not alone.

However, Luciano's sabbatical was brief, and he's since released a series of albums -- a new one, Upright, is due this month -- that have delighted dreadheads without losing the kids. Island smashes like "It's Me Again Jah" have ushered in a new, prophetic style of dancehall, earning a new alias for this former upholsterer renamed after gangster Lucky Luciano: the Messenjah.


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