Wednesday, March 31, 2010

'Musik For Life' Revives the Meaning of Music

It is said that music is life, and TRU Musik Records has brought the phrase to life. With its recently produced 'Musik For Life' rhythm, the label said it is readying to infiltrate the reggae market with "music that will breathe a breath of fresh air into the lives of music lovers".
The rhythm was produced at the Uprising Studios in east Kingston and features 17 tracks. The tracks are already finding their ways onto the radio waves in the Caribbean and reggae-admiring European countries. Artistes who have recorded on the rhythm include The Uprising Band, Admiral Tibet, Fred Locks, Winston McAnuff, Prince Alla, Lenn Hammond, Ras Charmer and others.
"This is music with real meaning. An eclectic mix of artistes have recorded songs on the rhythm and, without a doubt, has given it life," said Darren Hamilton of Uprising Studios. Also featured on the rhythm is Chezidek alongside French artiste Bubu, Elijah Prophet and his collaboration with Earth Warrior, and the rising Hyh Volume, Vania, Matthew McAnuff, Field Marshal, as well as French artiste Tiwony and Zacharri.
Music's true meaning
Hamilton said the rhythm and productions were done with one thing in mind, representing the true meaning of music. He said the commercial aspect of the music was not in mind, and that's what makes the tracks and the rhythm so special. The 'Musik For Life' rhythm features The Uprising Band's first single, Know Yourself. The six-member band, which provided accompaniment and composition for the rhythm, also leaned on its bassist Ruel Ashburn to be the mixing engineer for the compilation.
"The intent of the production was to uplift people. To teach and to give hope and comfort, and that's really what music is about," said Hamilton. "The entire project was about making sure that when persons turn to the music, turn to our music, it can help them get through difficult times, help them to enjoy life and to help them be thankful."-The Gleaner

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Online Reggae Charts Show Singjays Charting Over Deejays

SINGJAYS Gentleman, Gyptian and the group TOK are topping the online reggae charts worldwide while hardcore deejays are absent.

These singjays are dominating the major markets of Europe, America and Japan respectively with their new singles and albums. Only crossover deejays Sean Paul, Shaggy and Damian Marley are charting online with catalogue material whilst hardcore deejays which dominate local charts are absent from any of the 22 listed country online charts up to Saturday. Digital music is significant as it accounts for one-third of total music sales and iTunes is the dominant online music retailer followed by Amazon.

Gentleman's single, It No Pretty released March 26 rocketed to number 1 in Germany and Austria, whilst at # 2 in Switzerland on iTunes Reggae Singles charts. The song with accompanying video shows a mob bludgeoning Gentleman to death, however his wounds are nursed by a pack of wolves. It No Pretty is in promotion of his fifth studio album, Diversity, to be released in Germany on April 9.

Gyptian's single Hold Yuh is #1 on Amazon reggae singles chart; #2 on the iTunes Reggae Singles chart; and # 78 on the Billboard R&B Hip Hop chart. The song was made two years ago but recently released stateside. It has been five years since Gyptian topped the charts with his signature song Serious Times. Since then he has had minor hits including Mama Don't Cry, I Can Feel Your Pain and Beautiful Lady. Now record label VP Records and producer Ricky Blaze have thrown their muscle behind his latest hit Hold Yuh. Gyptian's forthcoming album is tentatively titled Hold Yuh. "We're looking at dropping the album around July and if everyone in Jamaica buys a copy, I am sure it can sell a million," Gyptian told the Observer in a previous interview.

TOK's latest album, I Believe released March 3 in Japan currently charts at #2 on iTunes Reggae Albums in that market. The single of the same name currently charts at #9 on the iTunes Reggae Singles chart. The quartet is the only non- Japanese act listed in the top 10.

Music stakeholders, including culture Minister of Culture Olivia 'Babsy' Grange and music entrepreneur Charles Campbell, have lamented the waning influence Jamaican artistes are having within international reggae markets, especially Europe and Japan. Last week, less than 10 per cent of the reggae charts on iTunes were occupied by living Jamaicans -- including Damian Marley, Ziggy Marley, Stephen Marley, Sean Paul, TOK, Lutan Fyah and Marcia Griffiths who, combined, had 17 slots out of the 220 chart positions within the 22 listed countries on iTunes. However, the late Bob Marley dominates the charts and currently tops 20 of the 22 iTunes markets. The Observer

Monday, March 29, 2010

'Clock Riddim' ticking away on the air waves

Very Huge label producer Chester Walker is at it again. Walker recently released the Clock Riddim which is a 10 track rhythm inclusive of the instrumental. The riddim is already making an impact and is steadily ticking in the ears of dancehall enthusiasts.
"The Clock Riddim is a time bomb that has already exploded on the airwaves," Walker says of his new 'baby'.
"I had fun making the riddim and it seems that people are having fun listening and dancing to it," he added.
The songs are in favourable rotation on FM Radio, the streets and are featured on most mix tapes, for example, DJ Kenny. On the international scene, the riddim is a favourite amongst disc jockeys and has been receiving solid rotations in the Caribbean, the United States, Canada and England.
The dancehall driven riddim features artistes such as Lutan Fyah, Mr Lexx, Spragga Benz, Konshens, G Whizz, TOK, Trapykal and Brain Damage.

Lutan Fyah - Clock Riddim

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Toots Hibbert pulls 'Reggay' from 'Streggay'

With the flourishing of roots music in the 1970s, capped off by Bob Marley and The Wailers' unprecedented and yet unmatched success, somehow 'reggae' became a catch-all for all of Jamaica's popular music. That is, until the dancehall surge and there was a need to distinguish the beat and its themes - and, for some, a desire to create some distance between 'cultural' reggae and 'slack' dancehall.

Toots and The Maytals recorded and released Do The Reggay in 1968 (recorded for producer Leslie Kong), the first song to use the name, though not the beat. Frederick 'Toots' Hibbert told The Sunday Gleaner that the word came to him in Trench Town, that cauldron of creativity along the Spanish Town Road corridor which many a 'country boy' took to urban dreams or despair.

'Reggay' word inventor

"I am the inventor of the word 'reggay'. I have made 31 number-one records in Jamaica on vinyl, both on the JBC and RJR charts," Hibbert said. He is quick to point out that the beat was popular, saying that "the music was playing in those days with some great musicians who play the rhythm. People use to call it boogie beat, pine top boogie and some other things".

"Me and (fellow Maytals) Jerry and Rolly sitting down one Sunday morning or Tuesday morning in Trench Town. I have my four-string guitar. In Jamaica, we use the word streggay for the girl who don't dress so good. People that don't dress good we call streggay, the guy too. It think that word come from that vibe, which I did not think of it, it just come," Hibbert said.

"Nobody could come up with that word but me. I still remain as the man who coin the word reggay."

'Streggay' explanation

Hibbert explained further: "I was just playing around - the word comes up. A girl come around, beautiful looking but don't dress properly, and that word (streggay) come up. It was not a plan thing. Is the Almighty say open your mouth and I will fill it with words."

However, he said that people do not respect the fact that he coined the term. "If I die now, maybe they will respect it and teach it. I am proud I am the only one who came up with this word 'reggay'," he said.

Hibbert emphasises that the beat was there before the word, saying "the reggay was out there raising cane. I am a dancer. When I used to dance in May Pen - Coxsone, Duke Reid a keep clash - it was boogie beat, because I was so hot".

He said that Do The Reggay went to number one and "it play night and day in Jamaica".

However, he said: "A lot of people jealous of the word. I did not copyright the word." And there is another aspect of his intellectual property affairs that Hibbert is very unhappy with. He said that many producers he worked with in Jamaica did not pay him. "There is no word which I can find now that is not of an angry spirit, thinking of all the people I work for in Jamaica. There is not a second I am not angry. I am happy that they could live to pay me and my family. And I wish them very long life so they could pay me. But some of them die and leave their families happy," Hibbert said. -The Sunday Gleaner

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Naptali 'Long Journey' Review

Though he has been honing his craft since 1995, Jamaican artiste Naptali is certainly not a household name in the mansion of Reggae Music. The man hailing from Delacree Park, Kingston 13 was born and raised in Spaulding, Clarendon in the month of January. From an early age he was destined to explore his musical talents.
In 2000 this man from Clarendon made the trip to the Mecca of Jamaican music, Kingston, a place he would call home. It was here that he became accquianted with the legendary 'Jah Messanger' Luciano in 2003. After beholding the young singer's gift and infinite potential, Luciano provided the youngster with guidance and encouragement, which helped him nurture his talent. It was Luciano who, upon realizing that this young prodigy was born in the month of January and was thus a Capricornian, bestowed upon him the moniker 'Naptali' marking an important step in his musical journey.
Naptali and the producers of Oneness Records (Oneness and General Key Riddims) met by chance in Germany when Naptali was visiting the country to see his cousin. Naptali heard the live riddims by the Oneness band and decided he really felt the vibe and energy. The mutual love for roots reggae music and a special connection between the artiste and the band resulted in the idea of the album project and now in the release of this roots album 'Long Journey'.
The majority of tracks on the album are produced and recorded with a live band. Naptali’s unique voice adds the spice to create an outstanding and beautiful roots album.

The record begins with the classic, one drop boomshot 'Show Dem Love'. Naptali's voice is silky smooth on this impassioned plea to comfort the youths of today with love and a good example.

Solid tunes continue, including the title track 'Long Journey' and the bad boys-esque 'Fire Burn'.

'Rise Up In the Morning' is a positive ode to the Most High over a pulsating riddim reminiscent of Aswad's 'Dub Fire'. On 'Redeemer' and 'We The People' Naptali rides two bubblin' riddims with nuff skill, coupled with faith-inspiring and unifying lyrics.

The beautiful, nyabinghi -styled 'Seven Brothers' closes a nice set by showcasing Naptali's singing ability.

Woven throughout 'Long Journey' are several combination tunes featuring the likes of Arofat and Sara Lugo, newcomers on the reggae scene ('Grandma' and 'And They Cry', respectively), as well as roots veterans like Lutan Fyah ('More Love') and Luciano ('Seven Miles'). Nice Tunes!

Naptali and Oneness Records have combined to produce a very solid record. It may have been a long journey for Naptali to get here but his perseverance has most definitely paid off. Now that he has arrived he will have no trouble staying if he continues to make music the likes of
'Long Journey'.
Big Up Naptali! Big Up Oneness! Forward Reggae Music!
-Daddy Matty

Naptali - Long Journey

Don Corleon Seeks New Talent

Although he is busy putting out rhythms, producer Don Corleon has set up a talent search with the aim of finding new artistes.
He said he started the competition about a week ago.
"Basically, it's just a competition weh mi just a look fi some new talent. It has to be the whole hundred, the attitude, everything has to be right. It's not based on just a song," Corleon told THE STAR.
He added: "I am trying to groom young people who can make an impact on Jamaica. It can be an artiste from anywhere, no discrimination."
He said he decided to start the talent search based on the many requests he had been getting from people wanting to work with him. So, he decided to start the competition to help some of these aspiring artistes.
To enter the competition, the entrants have to send an email to doncorleonrecords In this email, the individual must include three of his or her best songs, a biography and why he or she wants to work with Corleon's record label.
Since starting the competition, which he first advertised on the social networking website Twitter, Corleon said he has received more that 300 emails from persons wishing to work with him. Despite the magnitude of entries after merely one week of opening the competition, Corleon said he plans to listen to all the entrants.
"I plan to listen to all of them. It's an opportunity for me to hear them. Same so when somebody give mi Pressure CD, if mi neva listen to it mi wouldn't discover him," he told THE STAR.
But Corleon says he wants the competition to be a continuous one. He said this first leg will be closed in June and then it will be reopened later. However, he said the persons who are not chosen will have to resubmit their entries. In addition, he plans to advertise the competition online and in the media.
In the midst of all this, Corleon is still keeping busy, as he continues promoting his 'Gala' rhythm, which was released on itunes and amazon on Tuesday night. It features artistes like Sean Paul, Vybz Kartel, Munga, Vegas, Brown Sugar, Natel, ZJ Liquid and Ce'Cile.
He said he is also working on a new dancehall rhythm called 'Baheba' and a one-drop rhythm that has not been named. -The Star

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Reggae Stars Put Stamp of Island Magic on Disney Classics with 'The Disney Reggae Club'

The magic of Disney meets the magical isle of Jamaica, as Walt Disney Records readies an album of classic Disney songs newly recorded by a cross-section of top reggae musicians. The Disney Reggae Club features songs from immortal Disney animated films – from "The Little Mermaid" to "Jungle Book" – recorded by such esteemed artists as Grammy winning reggae legend Toots (of Toots & the Maytals fame), five time Grammy winner Ziggy Marley, reggae's most prolific and long lasting production team Sly & Robbie, multiple Grammy winner Cedella Marley, Grammy winner Burning Spear, legendary British band UB40 and Hasidic rapper Matisyahu. The album is set to arrive in stores and at online retailers June 8.
Artists and tracks included on the album are:
1. “Circle of Life” (from “The Lion King”) Performed by Matisyahu
2.“Can You Feel the Love Tonight” (from “The Lion King”) Performed by Cedella Marley
3. “The Bare Necessities” (from “The Jungle Book”) Performed by Steel Pulse
4. “The Lion Sleeps Tonight” (Desmond Dekker’s reggae classic also featured in “The Lion King”) Performed by Morgan Heritage
5. “What a Wonderful World” (Louis Armstrong classic) Performed by Ziggy Marley
6. “True to Your Heart” (from “Mulan”) Performed by The Wailing Souls
7. “You’ve Got a Friend in Me” (from “Toy Story) Performed by Sly & Robbie
8.“Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Dah” (from “Song of the South”) Performed by Toots
9.“I Wan’na Be Like You” (from “The Jungle Book”) Performed by UB40
10.“Ev’rybody Wants to Be a Cat” (from “The Aristocats”) Performed by Michael G & the Easy Star All-Stars
11. “Kiss The Girl” (from "The Little Mermaid") Performed by Burning Spear
12. “Under The Sea” (from "The Little Mermaid") Performed by Gregory Isaacs
13. “Find Yourself” (from "Cars") Performed by Yellowman

"The genius of Disney songs is that they are timeless and adaptable to every musical genre," said executive producer Brian Malouf. "Reggae is so joyous and spirited, we knew these songs would lend themselves perfectly. I’m happy to say the artists, many of them true legends of reggae, all jumped at the chance to participate.”

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Sanchez 'Now and Forever' Review

Sanchez.... What is there to say? The man born Kevin Anthony Jackson has arguably the sweetest, smoothest, most recognizable voice in reggae music. More than 20 years ago Dancehall immortals Daddy Lizard, Flourgon, and Red Dragon dubbed him "Sanchez," after he executed an overhead scissors kick during an impromptu game of football {soccer}, a feat associated with popular Mexican pro player Hugo Sanchez. That name has now become synonymous with chart topping boomshots and slick, stylish fashion. (There's no denying it, the man can dress!)

Sanchez kicks off 2010 with 'Now and Forever' from the premier reggae label, VP Records. This long-standing relationship between the two has produced some of the finest lovers rock albums ever, 'I Can't Wait', 'Bring Back The Love' and 'Praise Him' just to name a few.

'Now and Forever' continues the trend. Sanchez is at the top of his game. 14 tracks of pure niceness. Bubblin' one- drops of smooth, lover's rock reggae.

'Won't Surrender' gets the album off to an incredible start. Sanchez sounds better than ever singing about a topic he's approached before but here he adds a modern twist, mentioning his cell phone being searched and his 'texts' being read (Tiger Woods can relate). She's got no case so he's not giving in. 'Who Am I Without You' showcases a man's understanding that he would be nothing if it weren't for the queen that stands beside him. Vintage.

Penthouse' massive 'Serve and Protect' riddim serves as the backdrop for 'Longing To Come Home', which expresses nicely the realization that the grass is not always greener.
Sanchez laments: 'I thought it was a greener field. For a moment it seemed so real...I'm longing to come back home. It's been such a rough time all alone.'

Included in the set is a wicked cover of Jacob 'Killer' Miller and Inner Circle's 'My Everything'.

The majority of the tracks on the album are self-penned in collaboration with Sanchez' Chronic Band guitarist Fitz Livermore and top-notch producer Donovan Germaine. Honestly, the result of this collaboration may be the creation of arguably the best record Sanchez has ever put out. The anthemic and uplifting 'Enjoy Life' closes a masterful set.

From beginning to end, 'Now and Forever' NEVER disappoints. Sanchez' voice is sweeter and stronger than ever. The riddims are tight and the production is flawless. Donovan Germaine, who gets credit for most of the production, proves that he is at the top of his game. Sanchez is the man. Now and forever!

Sanchez - Now & Forever

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Gyptian's Career Resurrected by 'Hold Yuh'

IT'S been five years since he shot onto the musical radar with the chart-topping and thought-provoking single Serious Times. Since then he has racked up a handful of minor hits including Mama Don't Cry, I Can Feel Your Pain and Beautiful Lady.
Now singer Gyptian and record label VP Records have thrown their muscle behind his latest hit Hold Yuh, which is currently heating up crossover radio stations stateside.

Hold Yuh, which was recorded two years ago, was produced by Ricky Blaze. "Hold Yuh is more like a vibes song. Is a natural reggae song that combines a mixture of everything," Gyptian said in an interview on the set of the video shoot for the single.
Hold Yuh is already in the top five on influential urban radio station Hot 97 FM's playlist. According to Cristy Barber, vice president for Marketing and Promotions at VP Records, the radio story for Hold Yuh has just begun. "The digital single is number two on I-tunes and the track is getting a lot of attention at crossover radio in America right now. It's a simple reggae song with that crossover vibe to it and we're getting the video done to capitalise on the potential of the song."
Not much has been heard of Gyptian in recent times; however, he remains quite active performing overseas at regular intervals as well as recording for various producers.
Asked whether he was surprised at the reception that Hold Yuh has been receiving stateside, Gyptian said, "My song dem always a tek off outside of Jamaica before getting any attention in Jamaica. So it's not a surprise to me really."
Barber pointed to the fact that locally radio stations have not supported Hold Yuh. "The song isn't getting any mileage, in Jamaica but on the other hand, its getting lots of attention in America and across the Caribbean. The song has gotten around 500 hits on YouTube within the past week."
Gyptian is already working on his third album for VP. The album is tentatively titled Hold Yuh. Jus One, FX and Ricky Blaze are the producers who have already contributed to the project. "We're looking at dropping the album around July and if everyone in Jamaica buys a copy, I am sure it can sell a million," Gyptian said jokingly.
Asked what fans can expect on the forthcoming album, Gyptian said, "More versatility, growth and the progress that Gyptian has made lyrically."
Gyptian's debut album My Name is Gyptian was released in 2006. Two years later I Can Feel Your Pain peaked at number four on Billboard's Reggae album chart.-The Observer

Gyptian - Hold You - Single

Friday, March 12, 2010

Jamaica Based Record Label Debuts Roots Reggae Rising Stars

Kingston, Jamaica – In Keeping with the free spirit of roots reggae, music producer Jermaine Forde is the Musical Director of Ajang Music Production, a record label focused on developing and promoting the careers of independent reggae artists based on the island of Jamaica. Ajang takes a full-service approach to supporting and promoting the careers of its musical talent, focusing on all aspects of artist development including management, production, booking, marketing and distributing of Ajang Music releases world-wide. In the spring of 2010, music enthusiasts will have the opportunity to preview the first two singles released under the Ajang label including, ‘Suspicion’ by Keith Campbell and ‘No Guns’ by Nicholas Brown a.k.a. Spade. Full length studio albums from both reggae artists are anticipated to debut later in the year.Jermaine Forde notes, “Ajang Music’s goal is to bring international exposure to deserving musicians based in Jamaica. Keith Campbell and Spade are the perfect new artists to develop along side popular music artists such as Bob Marley, Beenie Man, Shaggy, Buju Banton and Ziggy Marley. As our label expands we hope to become a conduit for new artists, providing countless opportunities to an array of talent while exposing the world to the musical flavors of Jamaica.” Possessing what is described as a “royal velvet sound”, the gentle natured reggae crooner Keith Campbell hails from the parish of Clarendon and began his musical career after attending school at May Pen High. His forthcoming single ‘Suspicion’ is his rendition of a cover song written by Doc Pomus and Mort Shuman for Elvis Presley in 1962 and brought to Jamaica's air waves by Delroy Wilson in 1983. Gaining music industry strength by working with notable producers such as Jimmy Ricks from Insight Records and Beres Hammond from Harmony House, Campbell has elevated his career by working on sound systems and opening for the likes of Julian Marley.19 year-old Nicholas Brown a.k.a Spade discovered his passion for music when he joined his home town church choir at the tender age of nine. Hailing from the Spanish Town area, the trailblazing singer portrays a mature lyrical wisdom. His upcoming single ‘No Guns’ synthesizes classic reggae rhythms with a unique view point that cry’s out for peace amongst the violent streets of Jamaica. The multi-faceted producer Jermaine Forde aims to achieve the highest goals that can be reached in music representation through honest hard work and expertise. Forde is known as a leader in the production of music, creation of music and writing of music. Jermaine has worked as a sound engineer/producer with Black Uhuru, Aswad, Freddie Mcgregor, Spragga Benz, Lady Saw, Jack Radics, Capleton, Mikey Spice and Julian Marley, to name but a few. His production credits include working with Sly & Robbie, Big Ship Recording Studio, Mixing Lab Recording Studio, Kingston Muzik Recording Studio, New Name Recording Studio, Jet Star Studio and Big House Studio. Forde and his team at Ajang Music take care of all the aspects of the business in order to allow their artists to solely focus on creating beautiful music. Ajang Music Productions can be found on Zojak Worldwide Distribution, the distribution company for downloads.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Gramps to collaborate with Musiq Soulchild, Ziggy Marley on new album

REGGAE crooner, Gramps Morgan, is still on a musical high, this after a whirlwind year in 2009 which culminated with him winning the Album of the Year at the 2010 EME Awards in Jamaica for his debut album, Two Sides Of My Heart Vol 1.
The 6' 2" former football superstar is currently in studios recording tracks for his next big project, a Country and R&B album about which he is very passionate. The disc, tentatively titled 2 Sides Of My Heart Vol 2, will feature an all-star cast including collaborations with R&B singer Musiq Soulchild and reggae superstar Ziggy Marley while Willie Lat from LA, Shannon Sanders and Blu Miller from Nashville will produce a few tracks. The disc hit stores later this year.
"It's like coming full circle for me because I have always had a fascination with Country and R&B music. This is my second solo project and I am feeling really great about how things are coming together so far," he confided.
The album promises to be an eclectic blend of R&B and Country songs that he says will make a bold statement once it is completed. While a country and R&B album is not something most people expect from a reggae crooner, as he explains, he is doing the album to keep the fun going in the industry and to do the unexpected.
"I wanna have fun with the music without becoming predictable... plus it has been a dream of my father to see this day," he confessed. "It is a project that my entire family is very proud of and they have been very supportive."
Among the featured tracks that are already completed are Delicate Balance, Jamaica and Better Man.
While his label Dada Son Entertainment will assume responsibility for the project, he is open to a distribution deal with a major label.
"The success of the disc, especially in the international market will depend on how much we put in marketing but a major label would definitely help to take the project to the next level. Distribution wise, they have an established network in place that could help to get the product to the large number of music lovers out there. I am confident that with the muscle of a major on board as a distributor, I could move 500,000 units," he declared.
Aside from working on his own new solo album, Gramps is juggling multiple projects. He is in studio's recording with his brothers and sister from Morgan Heritage. He is also working with J Boog from Hawaii on his new album and is helping his dad, Denroy Morgan, (I'll Do Anything For You) on a soon-to-be-released autobiography.
"Right now I am multi-tasking on various projects which is something I am completely at home with. I am working on a special project for Disney and looking forward to doing some stuff on the big screen which will be coming soon."-Observer

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Rock Hall Inductee Jimmy Cliff Talks about Reggae, Acting, and Bob Marley

Among the five artists who will be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame on Monday (March 15), Jimmy Cliff is probably the least familiar to American audiences. By all rights, the Rock Hall’s honoring of the Jamaican legend should change that.
A prime force in reggae for nearly 50 years, Cliff made his mark most notably with The Harder They Come, a gritty 1972 film that combined hard-hitting music with an unflinching, realistic look at ghetto life in Jamaica. Cliff’s lead-actor role, and his dominance of the soundtrack, brought him international fame, even as mainstream success in America eluded him.
Since then, Cliff has released a spate of acclaimed albums, and has earned extensive praise from peers in both the reggae and the rock worlds. Artists who’ve covered his songs range from John Lennon to Willie Nelson to Fiona Apple, and such notable figures as Elvis Costello, Joe Strummer, and The Rolling Stones have been among his collaborators.
2010 is shaping up to be a busy year for Cliff. Currently he’s putting the finishing touches on his first album of new material in six years, and in June he will kick off a North American tour that includes an appearance at the Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival.
To commemorate Cliff’s induction into the Rock Hall, we’ve dug into our vaults for a never-before-published interview, conducted in 2004. Among other topics, Cliff shares his thoughts about the evolution of reggae, the success of Bob Marley, and his fond memories of The Clash’s Joe Strummer.
Reggae has undergone lots of changes through the years, incorporating hip-hop and so forth. Do you feel the music has retained its spiritual foundation?
That’s the great thing about this form of music. Reggae, as it has become known, started out as ska, and then it was called rock-steady. It became known as reggae in its third form, and then it evolved further -- from rub-a-dub reggae, to ragga reggae, to dancehall reggae. It keeps evolving into different forms, and I think that’s something that’s unique to this music, and very healthy. I’m really pleased with where reggae is today. The spirituality is still there, and the social and political aspect of the music is still there as well. Some reggae artists are addressing those issues, while others sing about girls and cars and so forth. I think that’s a good thing.
You made your mark as an actor, in addition to becoming a singer-songwriter. Do you have any theories as to why singers often make good actors?
In my experience, most of the actors I’ve met have had a yearning to be singers, and a lot of singers I know have a yearning to be an actor. My first love was really acting, and even to this day I feel I’m a better actor than singer. But it’s easier to write a song and record it, than it is to do film work. It takes a lot of money to make a successful movie. That’s why I’m better known for singing.
Generally speaking, when you begin work on a new album, do you try to do something that’s different from what you’ve done in the past?
Yes. I’m a creative artist, first and foremost. When I start writing a new album, I automatically begin with thoughts of how this one is going to be. I never want any album to be like the previous one I’ve done. Sometimes that’s gotten me into trouble. When I came onto the scene, there was nothing called ska, or reggae, or anything like that. That music was just beginning to take form, and I directed my energies toward helping create that. That wasn’t necessarily a commercial thing to do.
You wrote and recorded a song with the Clash’s Joe Strummer for your Black Magic album. What was that experience like?
Joe and I had met previously only at a distance, and we had never really had a chance to talk. But we had admiration for each other’s work. He just came into the studio one day. I don’t know how he learned that we were recording, but he had some lyrics he had written, and he said, “You know, I can hear Jimmy Cliff singing these words.” [Producer] Dave Stewart asked him how he thought the song should go, and he said, “I don’t know. I just hear Jimmy Cliff singing these lyrics.” The two of them began playing guitar, and I came up with the melody, and then Joe chipped in with some help on the melody as well. We recorded the song right away. That was a really special moment for me. You can imagine the shock I felt after hearing that Joe was not with us anymore.
You’ve likely heard this question many times, but do you have any thoughts about why Bob Marley took hold so strongly in America, whereas other worthy Jamaican artists did not?
Island Records really focused on taking Bob Marley over the top, so to speak. I myself moved away from Island Records, at a time when it wasthe company with the eye, the focus, and the concept of how to promote this music. I went to all the big majors -- Columbia, EMI, Reprise, all of them -- and they saw an artist with talent, but they didn’t know how to promote that talent. Bob was a great talent who also benefitted from great promotion.
Like many reggae artists, whenever you address issues that are troublesome in our culture, you do it with a positive spirit. Does that come naturally to you?
Yes. I do happen to think that the positive force is a superior force, on this planet. And we need to emphasize that. God knows, we have enough negativity going on. I came out of a situation where I could really have gone negative. I grew up in the ghettos of Jamaica, and came out of a situation where I saw a lot of friends, and people I know, die from gunshots and other violence. I could easily have gone that way. I had to have a positive outlook on life, in order to come out of that, and still be around, and make music. It’s become something that I’ve cultivated for myself.

-Russell Hall,

Monday, March 08, 2010

Reggae Sing-jay Junior Kelly Hits The Campaign Trail With His Highly-Anticipated “Red Pond” Album

MIRAMAR - Prolific sing-jay Junior Kelly hits the ground running with his upcoming album entitled “Red Pond”, which is scheduled for release on April 6th, 2010. This will be his fourth album for leading reggae distributor, VP Records, and the eighth album for Junior Kelly. Junior Kelly begins the campaign trail with an extensive five-week tour of Europe, alongside reggae crooner Warrior King and backing by the world renowned Firehouse Crew, one of the main producers on the album. This tour is only the tip of the iceberg, as there are a series of shows and tours currently being organized to highlight this album, which will include stops in the Caribbean, South America, Japan, and the USA along the way. The album is aptly titled “Red Pond”, from the nickname given to the Spanish Town community in which Junior Kelly spent most of his years growing up, and it covers many life experiences and emotions he felt while living there. The album takes the listener through many hardships faced in any ghetto, the relentless trials to flee from it and stumbling blocks preventing achievement of goals and a better life, however Kelly shows that the best way to triumph over these adversities is by first “believing in one’s self, getting up, going out there, putting your working shoes on and better will come on one bright day”.
Junior Kelly’s dream is that humanity will realize that there is “nothing wrong with the world, just the people living in it, and if we look critically at ourselves and believe in ourselves, we can make a difference and there is nothing that we cannot achieve!!” Therefore, the first single released from the album is “Nutten Nuh Wrong With The World”, which was released last October on VP’s “Reggae’s Biggest One Drop Anthems 2009” and is currently picking up steam on airwaves worldwide. It is also critical to note that Junior Kelly’s strong global appeal stems from the fact that, unlike his fire-burning counterparts, he is one of the few conscious Rastafarian reggae entertainers, whose material has never been deemed offensive or discriminatory to one group or another, and he has not embroiled himself in the anti-gay semantics currently embattling the Jamaican music industry. The album is a well crafted masterpiece that is in dire need right now to uplift the moral fiber of our society. It is a welcomed breath of fresh air and well worth the wait, so go out and get your copy, not the bootleg, as we need to do all we can to aid the ailing reggae music industry’s sales!!!

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Studio Dream Comes Into Port

Big Ship has grown from an idea, to a song, to a record label and now a studio, the base of Freddie McGregor's son and ace producer Stephen, as well as the Big Ship family, which includes Chino, Shema McGregor, Bramma and Laden.
"It happened that after a while, mi brethren start call mi Big Ship and me respond," McGregor told The Sunday Gleaner . He started the label in 1983, branding already firmly in his thoughts. "Me think Big Ship could be a concept like McDonald's and Kentucky," he said.
So, although he was signed to major label Polydor from 1986 to about 1988, and had popular songs such as 'And So I'll Wait For You' , he was not interested in moving on to Arista when that arrangement ended. "Me say me want to start mine and be a Polydor one day," he said, adding that he saw how Bob Marley "fight with the thing".
helping young artistes
Plus, he said, he knew that he could also assist in easing the way for talented youngsters, recalling the arduous audition process which people had to go through at places like Studio One.
The Big Ship studio was started in 1996 after Freddie McGregor did a Japan splash and dealt with a company named 24/7, which he still works with today. The first song recorded there was for a birthday, McGregor remembering that it was in October and everything had just been wired up. Benjy Myaz and Noel and Dalton Browne were the first musicians to play in the studio.
He is working on an untitled album for which Stephen is treating 20 of his father's songs as if they are being recorded for the first time. "If what we do so far is anything to go by - mad, mad!" an enthused Freddie McGregor said.

Sunday, March 07, 2010

STORY OF THE SONG - Freddie McGregor sees 'Big Ship' through morning mist

One morning in 1982, Freddie McGregor went up to Stony Hill, St Andrew, to the home of fellow singer Lynval Thompson. It should have been a very early start to the day but Thompson was not yet ready so McGregor sat down in a swing in the yard, a box guitar in hand, looking out over the harbour.
"Through the mist, me see a big ship with a whole heap of cargo," McGregor told The Sunday Gleaner . It was unusually shaped and unusually huge. He called Thompson, who also struggled to see it through the mist, then was also struck by its enormity.
The moment proved inspirational, as McGregor said he played an F Major 7, G Minor chord on the guitar and immediately started singing the chorus "big ship sailing on the ocean/me no need no commotion".
'it was magic'
However, there was nearly a slip between the moment of inspiration and actually recording the song that would go on to be a number-one hit in Jamaica. McGregor said it was about 5 or 6 p.m. at the end of a long day recording at Channel One, Maxfield Avenue. The Roots Radics Band was packing up and he just went over to the piano and started playing the song. The late keyboard player Wycliffe 'Steelie' Johnson came over to the piano and started playing the phrase, guitarist Eric 'Bingi Bunny' Lamont plugged in his guitar and Errol 'Flabba' Holt did the same with his bass guitar, drummer Lincoln 'Style' Scott being the last to take his position. The engineer was 'Barnabas'.
Once they were in place, it was magic. "Everybody a say 'hit tune, hit tune'," McGregor recalled. At that moment, it was part of a hit tune, McGregor going on to develop the lyrics over the following days and return to the studio to complete the song, the first verse of which is:
'Say when I'm ready you must hold on steady
We're moving off at lightning speed
Take a seat and wait till I'm ready
I'm coming so hold on steady
Big ship sailing on the ocean ...'
Big Ship , produced by McGregor and Lynval Thompson, became the title track of the album for which tracks were being laid that day, and was the first single released from the set. He said it took a while to hit the top spot on the charts, as Yellowman's I'm Getting Married proved a stubborn chart topper. But, after a few weeks at number two, Big Ship gained the top position. "It was competitive but nice," McGregor said.
He pointed out that there was a coincidence which gave Big Ship added significance and push in England. That was the year of the Falklands War with Argentina, the British naval task force playing a huge role in the conflict far from the United Kingdom. Then there were the people who used it for far more leisurely water-borne pursuits, such as cruises.
deeper meaning
However, there is a deeper meaning to the song. McGregor told The Sunday Gleaner that when he saw the ship coming into the harbour, his initial thoughts were about Marcus Garvey and the Black Starliner, pointing out that he was reading the Bible as well as other books extensively. "When me make the song and see how people react to it outside of what I mean, it is amazing," he says.
McGregor identified Big Ship as one of his most popular songs. Its reach struck him in 1983 when he performed in Hopi Land on an Indian reservation in the United States. He was on tour with Michigan and Smiley and the Studio One Band. It was his first time playing on a reservation and McGregor said, "We never realise that reggae reach so far up the Grand Canyon".
Big Ship is about 12th in McGregor's concert set, depending on where he is performing and the strength of his various hits in those countries.-The Gleaner

Freddie Mcgregor - Big Ship

Lutan Fyah set to blaze in 2010

WITH a good performance at last Saturday's Follow Di Arrow show held at James Bond Beach in Oracabessa, St Mary, Lutan Fyah set the pace for what can be expected of him in 2010.
The singer had to dig deep in his musical arsenal to entertain the vociferous dancehall enthusiasts who were in their element. He appeared on the stage at 2:40 am dressed in a green army jacket, blue jean pants, black turban and black sneakers. The audience roared with approval from the get-go, as he chanted, "Whole heap dem caan believe man say Rastafari now." He did a tight set which included hit songs such as Rasta Still Deh Bout, St Jago De la Vega, Save The Juvenile, Falling For You, Informer, Mightier Than Them All and the recently released Jail. He is getting heavy rotation on FM radio since the release of Jail, produced by Chester Walker and Mooni, and which documents his wrongful arrest, along with his subsequent exoneration in a Jamaican court. Looking Hot (Boops Rhythm) produced by Shane Brown, Mighty Mouth produced by DJ Neil, Give Thanks featuring I Wayne and One Life, also produced by Chester Walker are the other new songs by the artiste.
Born Anthony Martin, Lutan Fyah hails from the community of Thompson Pen, Spanish Town, St Catherine. A graduate of St Andrew Technical High School (STATHS), Martin juggled academics, music and sports. He has three passes at the CXC level and had set his sights on becoming an architect. He also played Manning Cup football for STATHS and in the National Premier League for Hazard United and Constant Spring.
Music has been an integral part of his life, which he first found through his grandfather's Black Universe sound system in Thompson Pen, where he got his early exposure. He first came to prominence with the song There Is No Peace In Spanish Town.
He has four number one singles to his credit, namely Rasta Still Deh Bout, done in tandem with Josie Mel, Save The Juvenile, St Jago De La Vega and, recently, Falling For You. His albums to date are Dem No Know Dem Self, Time and Place, Phantom War, Healthy Lifestyle and Africa.
Now surrounded by a competent management team, Lutan Fyah is set to dominate the music scene locally and to expand his fan base internationally. He recently returned from Gambia, Africa where he performed to sold-out venues and was well-received. He is booked to return later in the year.
The singer left the island on Wednesday for the United States, after which he moves to Europe, where he is scheduled to perform in Holland, France and Germany. A yet-to-be-named album will be released later this year.-The Observer

Saturday, March 06, 2010

Informant paid to snare Buju?

Buju Banton's lawyer, David Oscar Markus, is claiming the confidential informant, who United States (US) prosecutors are depending on to make their case against his client, for years, has been paid to assist American law-enforcement agencies.
Markus is also claiming the informant has already earned, but has not been paid, for his role in the case against Banton, whose real name is Mark Myrie.
The dancehall star's attorney laid the allegations in court yesterday, as he appealed for more information on the informant, whose name was not disclosed.
Markus told US Magistrate Thomas Wilson that based on the information given to him by prosecutors, the informant was being paid on a contingency basis and is to get a portion of any money the court might order Myrie to forfeit.
This will be in addition to what he is allegedly supposed to pocket if the pro-secution proves the case against Banton.
Markus has repeatedly argued that Myrie was set up.
"The lengths the government will go to to create crime when no crime existed is depressing. Do we really want to be paying criminals millions of dollars to ensnare innocent, hard-working men?" Markus told The Gleaner .
Insufficient information
According to Markus, his preparation for Myrie's trial, which is scheduled to begin on April 19, is being hampered because prosecutors have not provided him with sufficient information to cross-examine the informant.
He said he needed details about a tax case involving the informant, information on the other cases on which the informant had worked, and specifics on his criminal history. However, assistant US attorney James Preston argued that he had complied with court requirements and turned over all information that might help the defence.
According to Preston, providing details on every case on which the informant had worked could put the informant in danger.
The judge agreed that Myrie's lawyer was not necessarily entitled to more information but still ordered the prosecution to give the defence all communication by law enforcement or prosecutors asking for beneficial treatment in the informant's tax case and immigration file.
He also ordered the prosecutor to give the defence a list of cases in which the informant had testified for the prosecution.
Myrie has been in custody since last December when he was slapped with drugs and firearm charges.
The reggae icon is accused of conspiracy to possess cocaine and aiding and abetting the possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug-trafficking crime.
His lawyers are arguing that the artiste, who exploded on the international scene with the 1995 album Til Shiloh , was entrapped by the informant. -The Gleaner

Wednesday, March 03, 2010

Alborosie - On a Reggae Mission

Ten years ago when Alberto D'Ascola settled in Port Antonio, Portland, all he wanted to do was record some wicked tunes with the biggest names in dancehall/reggae. As it turns out, he is the one making the most noise as singer Alborosie.
The dreadlocked Italian was scheduled to make his first appearance in the United States yesterday with a show at the Arcata Theater Lounge in Arcata, California. It will be one of seven dates in the Golden State for Alborosie whose Escape from Babylon To The Kingdom Of Zion album was recently released in the United States.
Speaking to The Sunday Gleaner last Thursday, just before leaving for the US West Coast, Alborosie said he felt little pressure to perform in that country. "People is people anywhere yuh go, especially when yuh dealing wid reggae. Is jus' oneness," he said in his best patois.
‘Escape from Babylon to the Kingdom of Zion’ was released in the US by VP Records, one year after it was made available as ‘Escape from Babylon in Europe’ by Greensleeves Records, the British company which is owned by VP.
The US set has 18 tracks, six more than its Greensleeves counterpart. The much-touted ‘Kingston Town’, ‘Real Story’ and a cover of Steel Pulse's ‘Steppin Out’, are among the additions to the self-produced album.
Last year may not have been a banner one for dancehall/reggae, but Alborosie had reason to smile. He had sold-out shows in Europe, especially his homeland and France, and scored a big dancehall hit with Blessing alongside singer Etana.
VP has put its considerable weight behind Alborosie who is currently managed by Clifton 'Specialist' Dillon, the man who guided the successful careers of Shabba Ranks, Cobra and Lady Patra back in the 1990s.
Alborosie has an unlikely lineage for a reggae artiste, having been born in Sicily, the Italian island notorious for its Mafia ties. He is the latest Euro act (remember Dominic from England and Germany's Gentleman?) to try his hand with the Jamaican sound, but feels living in Jamaica for nearly a decade has given him the edge over his predecessors.
"A lotta people come here and lay riddim, den dem go back home. But I live here an' I feel dat has helped me tremendously," he said.
Alborosie is the second of two sons born to a father who was a police officer and his wife, a home-maker. He said he discovered reggae as a teenager in 1992 when he heard Bob Marley, then began listening to other roots luminaries like Burning Spear, Culture, Dennis Brown, Black Uhuru and Steel Pulse. The following year, Alborosie recorded Wild City, his first song. In 1995, he travelled to Jamaica and became a regular fan at Reggae Sunsplash and Reggae Sumfest, before settling in Port Antonio in 2000.
There, he operated Shengen Entertainment, which produced songs by Beenie Man, Sizzla, Wayne Marshall, Lutan Fyah and Natty King. Most of these productions appeared on compilation albums, done mainly for the Japanese market.
"Is what yuh call juggling riddims, dem do a thing but neva sell nuh big way," he said.
It was not long before Alborosie began recording his own songs, several of which can be heard on his debut album, Soul Pirate. That set gave him a small following in Europe where he played the festival circuit. Alborosie’s fan base extended considerably to Latin America by the time Escape From Babylon was released. Prior to his US shows, he did three shows in Mexico and plans to return to that region in April for dates in Argentina, Costa Rica and Chile.
A 30-show tour of Europe follows the California gigs. Despite the current demand, Alborosie said being the next major reggae star means little to him.
"Mi don't care bout dat cause me's not a star. Right now, me's on a mission an mi jus waan accomplish dat mission," he said.
Source: Howard Campbell, Gleaner Writer

Tuesday, March 02, 2010

Toots Live From Daryl's House

Rock singer, Daryl Hall -- of the group Hall and Oates, who gave a splendid performance at the recent Jamaica Jazz and Blues Festival -- took his groundbreaking web series, Live From Daryl's House, to Jamaica where he hooked up with legendary reggae group Toots and the Maytals.
The shoot took place at the home of reggae DJ 'Native' Wayne Jobson in Ocho Rios, St Ann. Daryl and Toots Hibbert, according to a release, teamed on an incredible eight-song set that featured Toots and the Maytals' classics like ‘Time Tough’, ‘Reggae Got Soul’, ‘Funky Kingston’, ‘Sweet and Dandy’, ‘Dog War’, ‘Monkey Man’ and ‘54-46 (Was My Number)’, a song that Toots wrote after serving a prison sentence for marijuana possession in the mid 1960’s.
They also did a rocksteady take on Hall and Oates' ‘You Make My Dreams Come True’, recently popularized by its use in the film ‘(500) Days of Summer’. As on all episodes, there was a chef preparing food for everyone, in this case, Suzanne Couch, who joins Daryl and Toots for Sweet and Dandy.
According to Toots, he had a great time "Hanging out with Daryl at Native Wayne's amazing house in the hills of St Ann. It was a pleasure working with him and jamming with the band along with my son Hopeton on bass and Suzanne on backing vocals. The jam session was so tight we could have played music all night. I am looking forward to him returning to Jamaica soon. May all his dreams come true".
Daryl raved about the experience; "To be able to perform with one of reggae's enduring legends in his homeland was certainly a memorable musical experience. Magical collaborations like this are why I started Live From Daryl's House".
Past episodes of Live From Daryl's House have featured a mix of well-known performers like Smokey Robinson, The Doors' Robby Krieger and Ray Manzarek, Gym Class Heroes' Travis McCoy, Fall Out Boy's Patrick Stump, the Bacon Brothers and country star Jimmy Wayne, along with newcomers such as Philly soul singer Mutlu, MySpace pop-rock phenom Eric Hutchinson, Cash Money rocker Kevin Rudolf, Chicago rock band Plain White T's and highly touted tunesmith Diane Birch.
Daryl started the free monthly webcast in late 2007 after having the idea of "playing with my friends and putting it up on the Internet," and the show has since garnered acclaim from Rolling Stone, SPIN, Daily Variety, CNN, BBC, Yahoo! Music and influential blogger Bob Lefsetz. They have cited Live From Daryl's House as a perfect example of a veteran artiste reinventing himself in the digital age by collaborating with both established colleagues and newer performers.
Source: Jamaica Observer