We know D.C. Get our free newsletter to stay in the know.


Not all young reggae dancehallers spew lewd, slang-filled lyrics and vocalize in monotones at rollercoaster speeds. Twenty-two-year-old Anthony B.’s second long-player, 1997’s Universal Struggle, offered a largely successful mix of tunefully sung melodies and sing-song toasting of sociopolitical verse. Produced by masterful knob-turner Richard Bell, who runs the Jamaican Star Trail label, the disc has a warm feel, cleverly blending live musicianship with programmed beats. B., born Keith Anthony Blair, succeeds at what Lucky Dube has long unsuccessfully sought: to bring Peter Tosh’s vocal technique and songwriting skills into the ’90s. Where Dube merely imitates Tosh’s melodic militancy, Anthony B. quickens the tempos a bit and modernizes the rhythms, while maintaining the catchy hooks and the Rastafarian preaching of the late Wailer. Already a star down in de Yard before this CD came out, B.’s reputation has since grown, thanks to such Struggle cuts as the upbeat “Heavy Load,” and melancholy laments like “Storm Winds” and “Damage.” Opening act Half Pint’s level of commercial and artistic success has varied widely over the years. Now 37, this reggae vet (pictured) shows on his new Legal We Legal that, while his material may be uneven, his quaver is as honeyed as ever. While it’s wasted on a bland take on Steve Miller’s “The Joker,” his own “Too Rude” nicely matches Half Pint’s sweet-voiced yearn to a clever pop melody and mid-tempoed dancehall beats. At 10 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 15, at the Crossroads, 4103 Baltimore Ave., Bladensburg. $20. (301) 927-1056. (Steve Kiviat)