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World Music CD Reviews Reggae & Caribbean


By Malachai Phelps
Published July 18, 2008

Natural Vibes

Fronted by Vaughn Benjamin—an unusually gifted crooner who has been flying under the radar for well over a decade—St. Croix’s Midnite has made its bread and butter on delivering a thought-provoking regimen of conscious, soulful reggae. This side project finds Benjamin collaborating one-on-one with producer Ras L, whose trippy, techno-kissed soundscapes and slippery drum machine beats offer a completely new and futuristic take on roots music. And the best part is that Benjamin seems to feel the sense of liberation presented by such a stripped-down and intimate setting relying by turns on his falsetto prowess (“If You Don’t Know”), his toasting chops (“Hold It Up”) and his natural midrange (“Outta Sight Outer Mind”), he elevates the music with the multiplicity of vocal characters he’s able to pull out of his hat. This is electronic roots reggae that never gets lost amidst all the technology, and thus never loses sight of what’s deeply human.