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A battle wages in an underground Brooklyn studio. It’s a war against mediocrity, an epic sound clash. The entire struggle is taking place inside the head of one man: Victor Axelrod a.k.a. Ticklah. The fruits of the brawl can be heard on Ticklah Vs. Axelrod, released September 18, 2007 on Easy Star Records, the same outfit that brought us Dub Side of the Moon and Radiodread. The album is roots reggae steeped in Ethiopian melodies, salsa, and ska, dripping with trippy dub production.

Even if you haven’t heard his name, you’ve probably heard Axelrod’s contributions to dozens of familiar projects. As a co-producer (and the keyboardist) of Dub Side of the Moon, he helped craft one of the best selling reggae albums of the decade. As a key member of the Afrobeat collective Antibalas, and as an original member of Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings, Axelrod is known for nailing grooves and then dancing around them in jaw-dropping capacity. His session work with Mark Ronson has put him on tracks by Lily Allen, Robbie Williams, and Amy Winehouse (including the hit “Rehab”). And he’s partnered on hit remixes with DJ Spinna, including Shaun Escofferey’s “Days Like This” and Les Nubians’ “Makeda.” When he’s not collaborating with other musicians, Axelrod tackles his own musical demons; the results are some of the most original music released this year.


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