Baby Father

Baby Father

When Linval Thompson released Baby Father in 1983, he was on top of his game as artist. And as producer of his own music, he called all the shots. Baby Father is a fully formed and consistent full-length effort—a rarity in the often-scattershot world of early-'80s Jamaican music. It's easy to detect Thompson’s facility with his own art; it feels like he's saying exactly what he wants to say, whether it’s the proclamation of love on “Love Me Forever” or the celebration of upward mobility that is “Poor Man.” Because the musicianship is so strong, this would be a superlative album regardless of the lyrical content. But it's particularly elevated by “Shouldn’t Lift Your Hand” and “Baby Father,” which broadcast pro-woman messages at a time when chauvinism was becoming very fashionable in reggae. The first song admonishes domestic violence, while the latter exhorts single fathers to take responsibility for their children. For all of reggae's seemingly revolutionary politics, Thompson’s determination to make unpopular statements makes for art that's authentically daring.

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