Thursday, April 29, 2010

Junior Murvin 'Inna De Yard' Review (Makasound/Soundicate)

After 20 years of silence, the falsetto of reggae and author of the international hit Police and Thieves- produced by Lee ‘Scratch’ Perry in 1977 and covered by The Clash and Boy George- is back with a compelling, if not triumphant ‘Inna De Yard’ session recorded with legendary guitarist Earl ‘Chinna’ Smith.
Police and Thieves sets the stage for ‘Inna De Yard’. It’s as if Junior Murvin never left. His defining falsetto is as butyraceous as it was in 1977. His covers of Curtis Mayfield’s Gipsy Woman and Rescue the Children are superb! Murvin trades in his trademark falsetto on an emulative cover of the Bill Wither’s classic Ain’t No Sunshine. Thankfully, the brilliant and boastful Solomon was part of the session too.
Closer, World Inflation, and the aforementioned Police and Thieves all showcase, not only his incredible singing ability, but also his songwriting prowess.
Junior Murvin is most definitely an everlasting talent!

Track Listing:

1. Police and Thieves (Intro by Danny Dread)
2. Gipsy Woman (featuring next yard’s dog)
3. Badman Posse (Intro by Chinna)
4. Rescue the Children
5. Closer
6. Roots Train
7. Solomon
8. World Inflation
9. Ain’t No Sunshine


Monday, April 26, 2010

'Classic' Riddim Review

Kemar ‘Flava’ McGregor of No Doubt Records returns with his latest riddim entitled 'Classic'.

'Classic' is a slow-paced, lover’s rock riddim featuring many of the top artists in reggae music. It’s not Flava’s best effort and probably doesn’t quite live up to its name, but it is one those riddims that can nicely complement a lovers rock playlist.

Newcomer Khago supplies a catchy hook and melody on Love Stomach while veterans the likes of Tony Curtis (Golden Eyes), Maxi Priest (Like An Angel), Beres Hammond (No Apology), Singing Melody (Special Love) and Lukie D (Girl I Surrender) all ride the riddim smoothly.

Wayne Wonder (In Your Eyes) sounds rather generic and maybe even a bit uncomfortable on a riddim that you would assume he would be right at home on. Not his best performance.

Duane Stephenson and Ras Shiloh turn in an excellent performance on the conscious effort Soon As We Rise and Etana, Pressure, and Gyptian offer solid efforts on I Know You Love Me, Thinking About You and All I Wish Is Love, respectively.

Overall, Classic is a decent riddim but it won’t necessarily be a memorable one.

Gramps Morgan - Riddim Driven: Classic

Track Listing:

1. No Apology- Beres Hammond
2. I Know You Love Me- Etana
3. Like An Angel- Maxi Priest
4. In Your Eyes- Wayne Wonder
5. Special Love- Singing Melody
6. Soon As We Rise- Duane Stephenson featuring Ras Shiloh
7. Darling It’s You- Gramps Morgan
8. Thinking About You- Pressure
9. Girl I Surrender- Lukie D
10. Love Stomach- Khago
11. Searching- Kashief Lindo
12. Golden Eyes- Tony Curtis
13. Love On The Replay- Nikesha Lindo
14. All I Wish Is Love- Gyptian
15. Which Side Are You On- Fiona
16. Classic Riddim- Kemar ‘Flava’ McGregor

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Italy Kicks Out Rototom Sunsplash Reggae Festival

ONCE again, there are indications that Jamaican music is at a crossroads. The latest signal has to do with the relocation of the Rototom Sunsplash and the reason behind.

After 16 years as one of the major summer reggae festivals in Europe, Rototom Reggae Sunsplash, has moved from Italy to Spain because the authorities (in Italy) have accused the organisers of promoting the use of marijuana via reggae music and Rasta culture.

"The excuse is that we facilitate the use of ganja because we are promoting reggae music and Rasta culture. So Rasta culture and reggae bring the people to smoke marijuana," publicist/art director for the Rototom Sunsplash, Sabrina Trovant Sunday Observer in an exclusive interview after the launch of the festival at the Ashanti Restaurant at Hope Garden in Kingston last Tuesday.

However, this, Trovant pointed out, came as a result of a change in the political climate in Italy. "The far-right conservative party won the election in 2008. They are more closed to immigrants ... people who are not Italians. So the festival is the symbol of completely the opposite. It is multi-cultural. We promote peace, love and unity between people. No matter your culture, your religion or your tradition, anything. We are one blood," she explained.

The Rototom Reggae Sunsplash is a big event wherein more than 100,000 people for more than a week with 120 different nationalities in the same place. "In a place where there is no riots, between them, y'know," Trovant stresses.

"It's not just a music festival, it's much more than a music festival. It's a reggae university. The singers, journalists, producers come to the festival to meet other people to learn about the history of each other. During the days we do meetings, debates, workshops, picture exhibitions," booking manager Giovanni Vinci explained.

"It has become a meeting point for intellectuals, politicians. We talk about life", added Trovant about the sponsor-free event. "Our sponsors are the people. The people buy the tickets six months before and we usually sell around three thousands tickets six months before because the people trust us. It's more a European congregation of the reggae people than simply a festival of stage production. The movement of a community," she said.

It was the second time the Rototom Sunsplash was launched in Jamaica. Three years ago, it was launched at Strawberry Hill. "On that occasion we brought European journalist to let them learn the culture of Bob Marley. They spent five days here visiting the Bob Marley Museum, Tuff Gong Studio, Nine Miles, etc. This time, we are meeting with the Jamaican press because here everything was born. For a reggae festival, the centre of the world is Jamaica. Without Jamaica there would be no Bob Marley and without Bob Marley there would probably be no reggae in the world. So, for this reason we came here to meet with the Jamaican media and the minister of culture, Ms Olivia Grange," Vinci said.

"This year we are changing country and language. This idea that who promote reggae is promoting ganja, so to promote reggae is a crime, is totally stupid. Spain is more opened to integration between different culture, more democratic," declared Vinci.

The Rototom Sunsplash has been taking place every summer at Osoppo, in the province of Udine, Italy. The new location for the 17th edition will be in Spain in the town of Benicassim, situated on the Mediterranean coast in the province of Castellon.

"Spain is certainly a more liberal and welcoming country. The local authority in Spain is very happy that we are there. And also they also have a different attitude towards the festival because they recognise the festival can bring economic results," Trovant said about the week-long festival slated to run from August 21 to 28.

The line-up so far includes Alpha Blondy, Aswad, Alborosie, Fantan Mojah, Bob Andy, Big Youth, Glen Washington, Anthony B.- The Sunday Observer

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Junior Kelly 'Red Pond' Review

Junior Kelly established himself on the reggae scene with the timeless classic ‘Love So Nice’ in 2000, making him a star throughout Jamaica. Kelly’s breakthrough song utilized the indelible bassline played by Aston ‘Family Man’ Barrett on the riddim to Bob Marley’s ‘Stir It Up’, as he pondered a question most people ask at least once: “If love so nice, tell me why it hurt so bad?” Kelly’s commanding juxtaposition of precisely timed, deejayed rhymes and melodic singing, coupled with his vivid storytelling abilities, took the song to the top of the Jamaican charts, a position it held for 15 weeks, making it the island’s longest charting number one tune for 2000.

Kelly’s stunning introductory album for VP Records “Love So Nice”, released on January 25, 2001 presented a diversity of songs, from the sufferers’ anthem “Hungry Days” to the melancholy brought about by a lost love on “Sunshine”, in addition to the hit title track, which created a demand for Kelly’s music throughout The Caribbean, North America and Europe.

In November 2001, Kelly was in a serious car accident in Kingston, which left him with a punctured lung, five broken ribs and a fractured pelvis. Hospitalized for several days, he endured an intensive rehabilitation program and made a full recovery. As the decade went on, he released a succession of hit singles and two more albums for VP, “Smile” (2003) and “Tough Life” (2005), furthering his renown as a skillful mediator between traditional roots music’s spirituality and social conscience and dancehall’s gritty everyday realism.

Despite the disturbing trend evidenced in several current dancehall hits, singjay/songwriter Junior Kelly remains true to making empowering reggae music, a mission he embarked on nearly 25 years ago. Five years after the release of Kelly’s critically acclaimed “Tough Life”, he returns with his much-anticipated fourth album for VP Records (his 8th album overall) “Red Pond”, which was released on April 6th. The title “Red Pond”, like all of Kelly’s lyrics, was inspired by real life situations, particularly the conditions in his community of Frasers Content, Spanish Town.

“Red Pond is the nickname of the area where I was raised and still reside and there is a sinister meaning to that name,” explains Kelly who was born Keith Morgan on September 23, 1969 in Kingston. “We have seen a lot of violence and blood in that community, I see people dead in front of me yet I stick to my roots reggae and don’t fall for the peer pressure in the music business. Dropping this album when roots music is kind of on the back burner and naming it “Red Pond” is a testimony to my will to hold on to more tangible music, despite what I see all around me, because what kind of music can instill hope in your life other than roots music?”

‘Red Pond’ begins with the powerful tune Celebrate Life. Kelly chants his usual positivity over a solid, roots riddim. Nuthin’ Wrong With the World follows, a brutally honest commentary about the earth’s problematic and destructive society of people. Kelly reasons: “Nuthin’ na wrong wid de world, a de people wey dem in it. Cussing and fussing every second, every minute…wasting time away.” Boomshot!

She’s Gone, featuring the sweet sounding Lukie D, breaks from the traditional roots reggae Kelly is famous for and treats the listener to a smooth r&b groove. The Firehouse Crew truly shows their diversity.

How Better Ah Go Come flows over a wicked, modern day re-working of the Java riddim created by Augustus Pablo. An all-star music ensemble is featured on the riddim track including Carlton ‘Santa’ Davis on drums, Earl ‘Chinna’ Smith and Tony Chin on guitar, George ‘Fully’ Fullwood on bass, Aston Family Man’ Barrett on piano, Ossie Hibbert on organ, and the incomparable Tommy McCook on sax. Kelly rides the riddim with aplomb.

Slackness adds another dimension of diversity to the album. Kelly rides a beautifully crafted ska riddim to perfection. Lyrically he is in fine form as he laments the ‘Slackness before his(my) eyes.. Madness.. Evil under disguise….Oh what a big surprise’, all too recognizable in the world of humanity.

The all important love of self is explored on the stirring, semi-acoustic Believe In Yourself, which Kelly has been singing in concert for a few years but hadn’t previously recorded.

‘Red Pond’ includes several combination tracks that are worthy of mentioning. Besides the aforementioned She’s Gone featuring Lukie D, Papa’s Song featuring Ras Shiloh and Too Late with Queen Ifrica add nicely to a very well- rounded record from Junior Kelly.

Many might say that ‘Red Pond’ was long overdue. However, Junior Kelly’s output is not as prolific as many of his contemporaries because he does not comply with every producer’s request to “voice” (record) him on their “riddims”, which is the cornerstone practice of the reggae/dancehall industry.

Instead, Kelly remains selective preferring to feel a connection towards a riddim track before voicing on it. “Producers approach me on a monetary level asking how much would I charge to voice a song and I tell them what I can do is listen to your music and if it moves me, then we can work something out,” explains Kelly. “The joy you get from creating, money can’t buy that.” Kelly describes his collaboration with “Red Pond’s” primary producer Melbourne “George Dusty” Miller of the Fire House Crew as “the true essence of the creative process; we took an organic approach to music making, just recording songs without the confines of creating an album.” Created over a four-year period, “Red Pond” boasts an all star cast of Jamaica’s finest musicians whose synergistic efforts fashioned rich, multi textured one-drop rhythms which propel Kelly’s thoughtful lyrics into 15 triumphant selections that stir the soul as readily as they move the feet. Yes, ‘Red Pond’ is an album worth adding to any reggae collection.

Junior Kelly - Red Pond

Track Listing:
1. Celebrate Life
2. Nuthin' Wrong with the World
3. My African Child
4. She's Gone
5. Murderer
6. Waan Lef' De Ghetto
7. Stumbling Blocks
8. How Better Ah Go Come
9. Believe in Yourself
10. Slackness
11. Real Love
12. Papa's Song feat. Ras Shiloh
13. Too Late feat. Queen Ifrica
14. Treacherous Waters
15. One Bright Day

Thursday, April 22, 2010

The Mighty Diamonds ‘Inna De Yard’ Review (Makasound/Soundicate)

The Mighty Diamonds are the last true survivors of the great era of roots vocal trios. All others have withered, disbanded, or changed their voices. Donald ‘Tabby’ Shaw, Lloyd ‘Judge’ Ferguson, and Fitzroy ‘Bunny’ Simpson never broke up. They have truly stood the test of time, sounding as good today as they did when they formed the group in 1969.

Their ‘Inna De Yard’ session, recorded at Earl ‘Chinna’ Smith’s yard in mid-February 2007, is a work of absolute brilliance! (Check the pictures in the liner notes and you’ll see they actually recorded in his backyard!)

10 tracks of soulful, roots harmony the way the songs were created.

All the classics are here including I Need a Roof, Have Mercy, When the Right Time Come, and Country Living. Some tunes are accompanied by Nyahbinghi drums others feature only a guitar. The constant on every track is the sweet, poignant vocals of three gifted singers.

The Mighty Diamonds ‘Inna De Yard’ does not disappoint!

Track Listing:

1. Country Living
2. Bodyguard
3. Poor Marcus Garvey
4. 4000 Years
5. I Need a Roof
6. Leaders of Black Country
7. When the Right Time Come
8. Go Seek Your Rights
9. Have Mercy
10. One Brother Short


Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Mary J. Blige collaborates with Jah Cure

R&B superstar Mary J. Blige has collaborated with Reggae Superstar Jah Cure on a Black Chiney remix of 'Each Tear' from the diva's Stronger withEach Tear album. Wicked Chune!


Thursday, April 08, 2010

Gyptian holds on to #1 with his hit track 'Hold Yuh'

VP Records is proud to announce that for the second week in a row, talented Reggae singer Gyptian’s single “Hold You” has held the number ONE slot on Billboard’s Digital Reggae Songs Chart.
It is also the number ONE Reggae song being played on radio in the U.S. Since releasing only one month ago it has been purchased over 19,000 times and has over 60,000 video views in its first week.
The song is also featured amongst the superb track listing of the popular compilation Ragga Ragga Ragga 2010. The New Ragga 2010 is the only Physical CD that has the 'Hold Yuh' track by Gyptian.

Gyptian - Hold You - Single

Sunday, April 04, 2010

Kemar 'Flava' McGregor's NEW FIND

Kemar 'Flava' McGregor is one of the best young roots-reggae producers in Jamaica. His excellent track record speaks for itself when it comes to producing hit rhythms and penning world-class songs. Along with writing he produces his own beats which has proved to be a winning combination with artistes such as Gyptian, Etana, Nesbeth, Richie Spice and Lutan Fyah, Gramps Morgan, just to name a few, and he has worked with major artistes like Beres Hammond, Freddie McGregor, Richie Stephens, Marcia Griffiths, Glen Washington, Coco Tea, Jah Cure, I-Wayne, Capleton and Beenie Man.

Flava's hit list includes songs such as Nesbeth's Guns Out, Etana's I Am Not Afraid, Gramps' One In A Million, among others. 

Now the genius producer has his sights set on a hot upcoming artiste out of Connecticut -- Blaq Capone.

In an interview with the Observer McGregor says he is very impressed by Capone's talent.

"When I first heard his demo track, I said, 'Wow this artiste have talent.' Because of the way he delivers and the way he compose; I really liked it, and this is what I am definitely looking for in new artistes," the producer explained.

Having voiced Capone, Flava is expecting big things from his latest find. According to him, the studio vibes are just great. "We were in the studio for the weekend and the artiste listens and he takes very good direction and we lay down 16 tracks, and for a young artiste to do this he has to be real talented to do that."

Capone has already recorded his first single for the No Doubt Records producer entitled, Life of a G, and it's a track that Flava is extremely confident about. According to him, the song is destined to be a hit ... and if his track record is anything to go by, then music lovers can watch out for this one. The single will be released on Wednesday, April 7.

The Observer caught up with the artiste Blaq Capone and asked him how he felt about the debut single.

"The Lord has blessed me with the opportunity to work with the producer that I idolise the most: Flava McGregor. I am more than flattered that he believes that I am among the big finds for the millennium. I am excited about the single Life of a G. This is a very personal song for me. The beat is crazy and the overall vibe of the tracks takes the music to another dimension."

Describing the track's contents he explained "Well, Life of a Gangster, is my personal definition of an individual who is considered as a gangster, but who actually lives by a certain code of conduct, morals and ethics. He lives and dies by his word and principle. So when mi say life of a G, mi a talk bout the life of the real man dem, the protectors of life, who maintain order when there is none. The track also deals with the wannabees, who tend to be far more destructive in our communities."

McGregor has every confidence that Capone has what it takes to make it all the way to the top. According to him, Capone already possesses all the right ingredients for success, all he has to do is continue to work hard and write songs with substance and longevity. To ensure that his promise for stardom is fulfilled, Flava says, "I am putting 1000% of my effort in his career."-The Observer

Friday, April 02, 2010

Reggae Stars U.S. Visas Revoked


The visas of five of Jamaica's top entertainers have been revoked, THE WEEKEND STAR understands. According to information coming from the Fraud Prevention Arm of the United States Embassy in Kingston, the visas of Bounty Killer, Mavado, Beenie Man, Adonia and selector Ricky Trooper are in the process of being cancelled.

When contacted for confirmation last night, Minister of National Security, Senator Dwight Nelson, relayed through his communications department that "he has no such information."

However, a document obtained by THE WEEKEND STAR stated that: "The Embassy of the United States in Kingston, Jamaica, is in the process of revoking the visas of the following citizens of Jamaica. The people mentioned here currently hold a US visa that we have not yet been able to physically cancel. Do not allow these passengers to board any flights bound for the United States in reliance on this visa."


The document then names Moses Anthony Davis (Beenie Man) two visas; Garfield Augustus McKoy (Ricky Trooper), two visas; Sheldon Ricardo Aitana Lawrence, (Aidonia); David Brooks (Mavado), two visas; and Rodney Basil Price (Bounty Killer) two visas, as those persons whose visas are in the process of being revoked.

The document also lists the date of birth of each person, their respective passport numbers and visa control numbers.

When contacted by THE WEEKEND STAR, representatives of at least two of the persons on the list said that they were unaware of the new development.

These cancellations follow that of businessman Wayne Chen who recently found out his visa had been cancelled while he was about to board a flight to the United States of America.

Thursday, April 01, 2010

Romain Virgo Spreads His Wings for 1st U.S. Tour

Reggae artiste, Romain Virgo is ready to spread his musical wings when he leaves the island this weekend for his first promotional tour of the US.

Romain, who won the Digicel Rising Stars Competition in 2007 catapulted to the top of the local and international Reggae charts with the release of his first single and official hit, Cyaan Sleep. His follow-up singles, Love Doctor, This Love, Wanna Go Home, Rain Is Falling, Who Feels It Knows It and more helped him to garner even more international appeal, thus his recent signing with VP Records and thereafter, his video, This Love, landing a spot in VH1's regular rotation.

lasting impression

In reference to his tour, Romain says he has high hopes about making a lasting impression while overseas. "My overseas fans have been asking to see me on shows there for quite some time. They've seen my videos and seen performances of me on youtube, or if they've travelled to Jamaica for an event; but this will be the first time most of them will get to interview me or see me live, so I'm really happy and excited about that," said Romain.

The tour, which will take Romain across New York, Boston, Florida and a number of other areas, is packed with as many as seven media stops per day, but young Virgo says, "I'm ready man, this is what I've been waiting for. Music is my life and to do music, you have to be willing to not only perform but to promote it."

Romain, who is also a student at the Edna Manley College of Visual and Performing Arts, said his tour which ends next month will cause him to miss a few classes but he has made arrangements to pick up where he left off. In addition, he spoke of his upcoming self-entitled debut album, "The upcoming album will be filled with a lot of new music and styles people wouldn't necessarily expect from me. But I'm a lover of all kinds of music and I get inspiration from every genre, so people can look out for some reggae, dancehall, r&b and basically every style."

Romain's album is slated for release on the VP Records label in May of this year.

Buy his New EP 'Introducing...Romain Virgo'

Romain Virgo - Introducing? Romain Virgo - EP