Experts disagree about the root causes of Jamaica’s crushing poverty: some hold that the nation’s economy has been undermined by ruinous import-export policies dictated by first-world creditors; others contend that the growing number of sodomites among the populace has incurred the wrath of Jah. I wish I could say roots-dancehall superstar Capleton really rips the IMF a new one on his most recent album, More Blazin’ (VP), but I’m afraid the composer of “Pure Sodom” is still preoccupied with bashing “battie boys”–though where he once called upon the Lord to burn gays off the face of the earth, he now proposes to take matters into his own fists on “Punchline 2 Hit.” However, the fundamentalist conviction that drives Capleton’s homophobia is also what powers the gruff mania of his prophetic tongue twisters. When he converted to the ascetic Bobo Ashanti branch of Rastafarianism in 1994, Capleton disavowed his early “slack” hits (even the all-time great “Number One Pon the Look Good Chart”); by the time of 2000’s More Fire, a milestone in contemporary dancehall, he’d developed a vocal authority second only to that of Buju Banton in contemporary Jamaican music. Producers Joel Chin, Christopher Chin, and Clifton Bailey have risen to the challenge of crafting tracks worthy of his propulsive, rhythmically tricky ranting, and with some of the beats on More Blazin’ they rival Timbaland at his trippiest. Just when your body adjusts to the irregular lope of the drum and bass on “Punchline 2 Hit,” for instance, the dub effects (including what sounds like the bleat of a sheep) accelerate to a disorienting whir that mercifully distracts you from the lyrical content. Saturday, July 26, 9 PM, House of Blues, 329 N. Dearborn; 312-923-2000.

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/William Richards.