SIZZLA at the Docks (11 Polson), Friday (December 1). 10 pm to 3 am. $51.75. 416-870-8000. Rating: NNNNN
Talk about prolific. With The Overstanding, Sizzla marks the release of his fifth album... this year.
Indeed, the Rastafarian has dropped 38 LPs in his just over a decade-long career. And that's not counting kilos of white label material, freestyles and unreleased mixtape content he's tossed off on the side.
But despite his solid high output, Sizzla's never fully broken into the pop sphere in North America as Beenie Man and Sean Paul have. He seemed to be heading in that direction earlier this year, however, at the start of his brief, flaky signing to Def Jam records.
It all began after his experiences in the NYC circuit found him a friend in Damon Dash, who, along with current Def Jam president Jay-Z, founded the Roc-A-Fella label. Dash invited an initially reluctant Sizzla to join a studio session with Jay and Foxy Brown.
"I decided to go on the riddim," says Sizzla from where else but his Kingston studio, "and Jay-Z liked it. He put Foxy Brown on it, and the song come out nice. Tremendously well."
That track resulted in Foxy Brown featuring Sizzla's Come Fly With Me. A one-off record contract with Def Jam was soon under way.
"We need to get the music in the American music industry so we could make more money, reach out to more people, spread it more and let people see the talent that Jamaican artists got," he says, explaining his eagerness to sign with the label.
"But for some reason I don't know, while I was compiling the album for them, they told me further on in the future that the album won't be released through Def Jam."
In the process of trying to work things out with the label, Dash helped to convince the Def prez to proceed with the contract.
"I just speak with Dame Dash, who said, 'All right, Sizzla, let's get you the deal for Def Jam. So Dame get me in the deal."
This didn't hold, however.
"Even after I finished it, they still didn't want to put out the album," he says.
"So I just chilled. I went on a tour. I decided to do some albums in the meantime, and that's when you got the Waterhouse Redemption (Greensleeves, June 2006), because people were waiting on Def Jam to put out this album."
Getting no love from the Jay-Z admin even though the rapper/president had seemed to feel his work before, Sizzla's finally delivered the album he was making for Def Jam months later, via the Damon Dash Music Group.
The reggae artist says he respects Dash's loyalty in coming though and putting it out his damn self.
"I didn't want to leave Dame like that. Dame come to Jamaica, Dame been all over the place promoting Sizzla, and I didn't want to just break away like that.
"You just do it, brethren, you know?" he follows. "It's the work of a prophet, the work of a priest, the work of a king, the work of a good citizen, a good Samaritan going through the earth that's burning the fire of righteousness."