Though Tapper (Tappa) Zukie isn’t active as a performer in the reggae mainstream, his toasting, which combines staunchly Rasta lyrics and heavy roots accompaniment, has always enjoyed an audience. His rock notoriety was boosted in the late ’70s via an association with the Patti Smith Group; Man Ah Warrior was reissued by Lenny Kaye on the Mer label. Cuts like “Simpleton Badness,” “Viego” (the Jamaican sound system where he got his start) and “A Message to the Pork Eaters” fill the LP with dread, seasoned with irony and humor. Not to be missed.
MPLA is likewise classic and Tapper Roots is almost as good. Peace in the Ghetto, on the other hand, is lackluster and uninspired; despite the inclusion of the single “Phensic” (retitled “Dangerous Woman”), the rhythms are flabby, the toasting less interesting. Parting company with Virgin/Front Line, Zukie returned to Jamaica.
Black Man is sturdy, as is the first side of Earth Running, which features “The General,” a tribute to the late General Echo. (Side Two, however, has two unconvincing disco cuts.) Raggy Joey Boy has more singing than toasting.
Since the mid-’80s, Zukie has been working mainly as a producer, helming Dennis Brown’s “Death Before Dishonour” and Gregory Isaacs’ “Hard Drugs,” as well as U-Roy’s Line Up and Come LP, one track of which (“It’s About Time”) actually features him.