reggae (18)

Sean Paul is one of the biggest Jamaican Dancehall international sensations. Having scored hit records and collaborations with icons across musical genres, he has cemented himself as one of the greatest exports from Jamaica. Having a career spanning decades, Sean Paul continues to reinvent himself and give the world music that becomes household bangers.

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Beres Hammond - Love From a Distance

Beres Hammond performed in a live virtual concert from Harmony House studos in Kingston, Jamaica. A virtuoso performane from the Reggae Icon you will watch over and over again. Beres performed hit after hit and had had some special guests who underscored the richness of Jamaican music. I watched it live and it was simply on fire!!!!!!

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When former Miss Jamaica Davina Bennett landed the part as the love interest in a Maluma music video, she thought she’d be taping a regular four-minute music video. Instead, she was cast as the Colombian star’s muse in #7DJ (Siete Días en Jamaica – Seven Days in Jamaica), companion film to the seven-song EP of the same name that tracks Maluma’s trip to Jamaica, in search of a spiritual rebirth.

 

And Bennett’s role became something far more significant than mere screen time or high-profile exposure.

“There are other music videos, but few consider, ‘Let us merge cultures, let us merge Black and white,'" says the 2017 Miss Universe runner-up. "To see Latin, reggae, dancehall, Black and white come together and create something epic like this is a whole other level." 


For Bennett, proudly representing Caribbean and Black culture is not new. In 2017, she made headlines when she took the stage at the Miss Universe pageant with an afro, her natural hair, becoming the first Black woman to be crowned among the top three to do so. In “7 Días,” she wears dreadlocks, emblematic of Jamaica, and is a constant player in a visual work that went to great lengths to stay true to the island’s roots and traditions.

“She’s not just beautiful, but a big ambassador of her own culture,” says Maluma.
8536729092?profile=RESIZE_584xDavina Bennett and Maluma
Phraa
Bennett spoke to Billboard about the significance of Black presence in a Latin music video, especially coinciding with Black History Month. “I hope we become a domino for others to follow,” she says.


I’m making an effort to think of videos where you have a white Latin superstar with a beautiful Black woman as the model, and I can’t think of many…

I’ve never seen it. I think that’s why social media is eating it up. It’s an immense sense of pride. It’s also very overwhelming, because sometimes I think, "Is this real?" I’ve been in this position once before, representing Jamaica in Miss Universe, and being the first woman to rock my Afro -- and that was a big thing for my country, and for Afro and brown girls. To be in the same position, rocking another hair style and showing unity between two countries and two cultures… I don’t have words to express it.

You’re opening a big door. It’s amazing there haven’t been more instances, right?
It feels the same as when I did Miss Universe. This pageant is over 60 years [of history] and you’re telling me there has never been a Black woman with an Afro in the top three? And there are other music videos, and they have never considered: Let us merge cultures, let us merge Black and white. It’s mind blowing. But, someone has to do it first. Someone has to be the first domino on that table.


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Every Song on Maluma's '#7DJ (7 Días En Jamaica)' Ranked: Critic's Picks
The album is called 7 Días In Jamaica, and it truly is an homage to Jamaica, showing so much of the island. Did it surprise you to see how prominently Jamaica is featured?

What makes it even better for me is there’s the combination of two cultures: Latin from Colombia and reggaetón and dancehall from Jamaica, and that makes it even greater. Maluma incorporates people like Ziggy Marley, Charly Black. For you to not just come to our country, but also use Jamaican creatives, a Jamaican girl, Jamaican artists -- it’s not cultural appropriation, but literally paying homage. It’s not, “I’m coming to your island, taking credit and leaving.” It’s about us. It goes in-depth in terms of our culture, how we portray ourselves. Even down to the drink we have in our hand, Red Stripe, is unique to the Caribbean. 

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Eve Harlowe

Your hairdos are incredible. Tell me about them?

We decided to do locks [dreadlocks], which is a great representation. We are Rastafarian. Mellisa Dawkins, my hair stylist, would come up with these ideas on the spot. This woman just transformed each look into something amazing. It was such a great representation in my country. Locks are discriminated [against] in many places. And to show locks can be styled, they can be elegant, flirty -- it’s something I’m extremely proud of.

There was a highly publicized case of locks and discrimination in Jamaica recently, right?


Last year there was a discrimination case in Jamaica, because a little girl went to school with her locks and she was sent home. This is a big slap in the face. We are known for our locks. If you’re going to send a girl home for wearing locks, you might as well spit on us. So to be able to be on a [major] platform and use locks is a big deal, not just as a Jamaican woman but as a Caribbean woman. I hope this will tell people: “It’s not OK to discriminate against natural hair.” Because it is natural hair. And it’s a disgrace that today you would tell someone you can’t wear your hair like that.

Normally, how do you prefer to wear your hair?

Afro. It’s more relaxed. I’m someone who doesn’t comb her hair every day. So my Afro is my every day hairstyle.

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Ky-Mani Marley, Davina Bennett, Julian Marley & Rohan Marley
Courtesy of Davina Bennett

You also shot in Colombia, in Medellín, but also in Barú, a beautiful beach close to Cartagena. How was that experience?

I’ve never experienced anything quite like that, where they appreciate Black beauty [to that degree]. It had nothing to do with being Miss Jamaica. In Barú, people would walk up to me and say, “We have the same skin. We’re family. We don’t even speak the same language, and just because of our skin there’s a connection.” I was in awe of the fact that these people were appreciative of who I am, my beauty and my color.

Did you talk to Maluma about these things?


I asked Maluma why he decided to do Jamaica. And he said, "Our cultures are so similar. There is a lot of diversity in Colombia. Our cultures intertwine." He just wanted to connect the two. And it’s amazing someone as big as Maluma can come to small Jamaica and find the uniqueness and the things that make us one. To be able to create an entire album paying homage to that is an iconic and very brave move. And it was executed in a way that both sides should be very proud of. I am, anyway. It’s a white guy from Colombia falling in love with a Jamaican woman with dreadlocks.

How did you meet Maluma?

I first met him in Jamaica. I was a little bit nervous. But I think it’s because I had to kiss him. It was in the script. I thought, "Oh Lord." I don’t want to make a fool of myself. But, yes he’s a very good kisser. And the kissing scene was quite a delight.

 
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Photo Illustration by The Daily Beast/Photo via (L-R): Fernando Hevia; Yannick Reid; Sameel "samo Kush I" Johnson By: Patrice Meschino - Daily Beast

Jamaica’s first reggae radio station, IRIE FM, debuted on the island’s airwaves in August 1990. In Jamaican Rastafarian parlance, “irie” means good, cool, nice, and the station utilized a simple jingle to announce its content: “Reggae in the morning, reggae in the evening, reggae at nighttime on IRIE FM.” Thirty years on, IRIE still plays the original jingle. But it’s no longer quite true.

Some of the biggest stars featured on IRIE FM are playing a hybrid style that would’ve been unrecognizable as reggae when the station began. To many fans, it’s unrecognizable now. The new sound of Jamaica owes as much to trap, EDM, Afrobeat, and contemporary R&B as it does to dancehall or the original roots of reggae. It’s a style that doesn’t have a name yet, at least not one that’s stuck (although it’s sometimes referred to as trap dancehall) and you can hear it all over Jamaica.

“Reggae and dancehall continue to influence and contribute to the birth of various genres, as we’ve seen with hip hop, reggaeton and tropical house; now we are experiencing the birth of trap dancehall. Listeners to IRIE hear reggae and dancehall but also their offspring in a bid to further propel the art forms,” comments Kshema Francis of IRIE FM.

Three marquee names—Tarrus Riley, Protoje, and Dre Island—released outstanding albums this year that embody this evolutionary sound. All have incorporated influences and teachings from their Rastafari way of life, yet numerous tracks on their new albums bear little resemblance to the reggae of a generation ago. “I love the authentic reggae and dancehall sounds, but there are mixtures of other influences within those sounds,” Tarrus Riley, whose album Healing dropped on Aug. 28, told The Daily Beast in a recent Zoom interview.

Tarrus, 41, is an unlikely poster child for this new movement. He ascended to reggae stardom in 2006 with “She’s Royal,” a beautiful roots tribute to women and one of the decade’s most popular Jamaican singles. Tarrus’s breakthrough was part of the ‘00s mid-decade resurgence in roots reggae. Another roots movement appeared in Jamaica in the early 2010s, referred to as the Reggae Revival, which saw the emergence of several charismatic young talents including Chronixx, Jah9, Jesse Royal, and Kabaka Pyramid. Tarrus sees himself as the middle child in the reggae family.

Buju [Banton] and Sizzla were before me in the 1990s and Chronixx is after me so, I understand the roots and I understand the youths,” he explains. “When I was young, me and my father (the late Jimmy Riley whose singing career began in Jamaica’s mid-’60s rocksteady era) never liked the same music. It’s a new decade now, new things are happening so while the people from before want to hold on to music that had its time, the youths want to give you something new.”

Tarrus’ impressive catalogue showcases his finely tuned expressive vocals, which are adaptable to a range of styles from soft rock (“Jah Will”) to traditional Rastafarian Nyabinghi drumming (“Lion Paw”) to energetic dancehall (“Good Girl Gone Bad”). Then there’s the EDM power ballad “Powerful,” a certified gold single produced by Major Lazer, featuring Tarrus and Ellie Goulding.

Jamaica went into its coronavirus lockdown in late March. Tarrus abruptly ended his touring, returned home, and began writing and recording the songs that would become Healing, produced by Tarrus with co-production by Shane Brown and legendary saxophonist Dean Fraser.

Several tracks offer what Tarrus calls “experimental sounds”: over spatial dub and trap effects, Tarrus and rising trap dancehall artist Teejay trade quickly rhymed bursts referencing current racial and political sparring on “Babylon Warfare.” “Connect Again” with dancehall star Konshens anticipates a post-quarantine world and offers trap with a subtle reggae reverb while the spiritually fortifying “My Fire” (featuring singer Dexta Daps) is quintessential trap-R&B. The album’s biggest hit “Lighter” blends trap, EDM and dancehall into a catchy pop nugget, featuring female dancehall powerhouse Shenseea and is produced by (Jamaica born) Rvssian, well-known for his dancehall hits and Latin trap and reggaeton international chart toppers. The “Lighter” video has received over 32 million YouTube views since its release on Sept. 6. A fearless creative, Tarrus says the only thing to expect from his music is empowering messages.

“Don’t watch the tempo,” he cautions, “because I like doing new things. People are concerned with names, labels, trap, rap, hip-hop, dancehall, I can’t bother with them things. I have always been doing different kinds of sounds and I will continue. Music is going through a change right now, people are blending and fusing, everybody wants to call it a name, but I just call it good music.”

Reggae, like its direct Jamaican forerunners, ska and rocksteady, is an amalgam sound. In the late 1950s the ska beat was developed in Kingston recording studios by singers and musicians influenced by American doo wop, early rock and roll, gospel, rhythm and blues as well as Jamaica’s mento and Trinidad’s calypso. Rocksteady followed in 1966 with a slower tempo that allowed vocalists to fully showcase their talents while the basslines grew steadier and more pronounced. In 1968, the drum and bass led a faster, more complex rhythm called reggae. Experimentation on reggae tracks by Jamaican engineers and producers led to the birth of dub shortly thereafter. Dancehall reggae, reggae’s digitized strain, was created in 1984.

Over the decades, reggae has undergone organic stylistic changes and intentional adaptations aimed at reaching wider audiences. Island Records founder Chris Blackwell strategized marketing The Wailers’ 1973 Catch A Fire as a rock album, overdubbing guitar riffs and keyboard flourishes on the trio’s Jamaican recordings. Seeking to connect with an African American audience Bob Marley incorporated disco influences on his 1980 single “Could You Be Loved.” Esteemed rhythm section and production duo Sly Dunbar and Robbie Shakespeare brought the aggressiveness of the rock influences they absorbed while touring as members of Peter Tosh’s band opening for Santana and The Rolling Stones.

“As we did a couple of tours with these rock bands, we were wondering, how can we get that power, that energy, behind the reggae groove?” Dunbar told The Daily Beast. “So Robbie and I changed the sound of what we were playing, it was reggae but with a different attitude. The first experiment was (vocal trio) Black Uhuru, one of their first songs was “Shine Eye Gal” and people were like what is this?”

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Sly and Robbie’s modernizations earned widespread attention, yet some protested they were changing the music too much. In the 21st century their sonic advances continue to inspire another generation of artists and producers. Stephen and Damian Marley sampled Sly and Robbie’s production of singer Ini Kamoze’s “World-A-Music” for Damian’s 2005 Grammy winning blockbuster “Welcome to Jamrock,” a profoundly influential consolidation of hip-hop, dancehall and reggae elements. In 2012, Protoje, deeply inspired by Marley’s “Jamrock,” sampled Kamoze for his provocative hit “Kingston Be Wise,” written about the Jamaica Defense Force’s incursion into the city’s Tivoli Gardens community in search of wanted drug lord Christopher “Dudus” Coke, which resulted in an estimated 100 deaths.

Earlier this year Protoje sampled another Sly and Robbie rhythm for his production of singer Lila Ike’s single “Thy Will.” “Sly personally sent me the Baltimore riddim,” Protoje shared with The Daily Beast via Zoom, “and he told me, I love how you sample and lick over these riddims but now I want you to add something and move it forward.”

Protoje, 39, was born Oje Ken Ollivierre, the son of Jamaican lawyer (and former singer) Lorna Bennett and Mike Ollivierre, a former calypso king from St. Vincent. He was a core member of the Reggae Revival movement of the 2010s; since his initial impact on Jamaican music with the 2011 single “Rasta Love,” delivered in his mesmeric spoken/sung/patois-rapped vocals, Protoje has made tremendous strides in moving the island’s industry forward. He has signed three young female singers (Lila Iké, Sevana and most recently Jaz Elise) to his Kingston based label In.Digg.Nation Collective and made history as the first Jamaican artist to have his label contracted to an American major, RCA Records. In Search of Lost Time, released on August 28, is his premiere album through that deal. Throughout the album’s 10 tracks, Protoje’s broad based influences including classic dub, 80s dancehall, grunge guitars, trap, hip hop, and electronica are intricately woven into a multi-layered sonic.

The album opens with “Switch It Up,” blurring hip hop, R&B and a touch of roots, as Protoje and 20-year-old Jamaican sensation Koffee (who cites Protoje as a significant career influence) impressively change their flows, singing together then trading blistering verses. Incorporating a mash up of classic dancehall and hip-hop, Protoje reimagines the 1991 hit “Strange” by veteran Papa San into “Strange Happenings.” “Weed & Ting” is an unexpected take on a ganja song that also muses on life’s blessings and is set to a transcendent trap-one drop reggae fusion; the album’s other marijuana tune, “A Vibe,” featuring Wiz Khalifa, is straight up trap. Protoje wrote the motivational “Like Royalty” (featuring dancehall superstar Popcaan) after attending the 2019 Grammy Awards (he was nominated for Best Reggae Album for A Matter of Time); wreathed in hip hop, funk and soul, the song’s complex patois rhymes acknowledge the sacrifices made by a few close friends and especially his mother to advance his career.

Working alongside a stellar cast of Jamaican producers including Iotosh Poyser, Supa Dups, Ziah Roberts, Natural High, The Grei Show, Stephen McGregor and longstanding collaborator Winta James, Protoje incorporates live instrumentation, samples, dub reverbs and various effects into a sophisticated tableau that’s beyond genre classification yet retains many distinctive Jamaican elements: the heavy reggae bassline and signature Wailers’ percussion on “Deliverance;” a bassline sampled from renowned (British) dub producer/engineer Mad Professor on “Still I Wonder” and a sample of veteran singer Freddie McGregor’s “I’m A Revolutionist,” that’s flipped into the sultry neo-soul influenced love song, “In Bloom,” featuring Lila Iké.

“When Bob Marley dropped Exodus people probably said it wasn’t real reggae,” Protoje offered. (Recorded during Marley’s exile period in London, some critics balked 1977’s Exodus was unrelated to what was happening in Jamaica then, rather than applauding the album’s sonic innovations; Exodus was named Album of Century by Time Magazine in 1999.)

I always incorporate indigenous Jamaican elements, but music evolves, and our generation is responsible for what the sound is now. It’s the youths them me check for but me want the elders to respect my music. Freddie McGregor, Papa San, Sly, all them people say them a love what me a do so me nah listen to the others. I just keep making music how it sounds in my head.”

Dre Island’s debut album Now I Rise combines Rastafarian roots reggae’s denunciations of societal injustices underpinned by atmospheric genre-defying beats. Released in May, the Now I Rise Deluxe Edition dropped on July 24, with Dre writing, singing and producing most of the album’s 20 tracks. Born Andre Johnson, Dre, 32, is a classically trained pianist who worked as an engineer/producer before stepping in front of the mic. He made his initial impact with such singles as the jubilant “Rastafari Way” and the poignant commentary on the disparities between “Uptown/Downtown;” Dre’s fan base was further expanded through acoustic performance clips uploaded to the internet and posted on social media showcasing his keyboard expertise and raspy, emotive vocals. His biggest hit to date “We Pray,” featuring Popcaan, a widely embraced hymn of spiritual strength (its video has received over 32 million YouTube views) was released in 2017 and is included on Now I Rise.

Dre skillfully explores a range of styles including EDM (“More Love-Dub Fx Remix”) exuberant funk pop (“Four Seasons”) Afrobeats (“Calling”) and several trap-influenced tracks such as “Run to Me” featuring Alandon. Raised in the volatile Red Hills Road area of Kingston, it’s Dre’s gritty firsthand observations that provide the album’s most riveting moments. Over a hazy trap-inspired rhythm track, Dre’s melancholy, deeply affecting vocals on “My City” deliver a bittersweet love letter to Jamaica’s capital, “where politicians every day dem import a strap and dem no care about the issues weh the voters got.”

“Kingdom” was written in 2014 about the Tivoli Gardens incursion, its sparse martial beat underscores the lyrics’ galvanizing spiritual call to arms: “I was living in a community that was affected dearly by that, a lot of innocent youths died, so I approached the song as we Rasta coming forward with Jah message,” Dre recalled. Equally haunting and likewise rhythmically stark, “Still Remain” remarks on the continual gang war in Kingston’s Mountain View community: “shotta spray like how the fountain spew, your door police will squeeze round ten through, stand over three man and found them blue.”

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Photo by Fernando Hevia

“Many artists speak on these kinds of things but because of where I come from, it’s only a few that strike it and let me see that harsh reality where me say, this is what really happen, him not lying,” Dre offers. “That’s why today I can say ‘it was all a dream, I used to read Word Up! Magazine,’” quoting lyrics from Biggie Smalls. “I felt I lived that too, Biggie. Biggie’s long gone in the flesh, but his soul will forever live on because he never lied, he struck in that reality. That’s what Bob Marley did too, he never tried to pretty it up: ‘man to man is so unjust you don’t know who to trust,” Dre adds, quoting from “Who The Cap Fit.” “Bob never tell no lie, that is exactly how it goes today, too.”

Wyclef Jean recruited Dre for the remix to his song “Justice” a tribute to slain jogger Ahmaud Arbery, then offered Dre the remix for Now I Rise. “Bang Your Head” pairs Dre’s mother’s wise encouraging words with producer Winta James’ futuristic EDM meets hip-hop infused rhythm. The impressively sweeping musical scope of Now I Rise won’t outwardly be identified as roots reggae although Dre’s impassioned delivery and provocative statements extend the music’s revolutionary spirit with a sonic update for a new generation. “I don’t watch genre because reggae is not a beat for I,” says Dre, who like Tarrus and Protoje resists categorizations. “Reggae is the music that Rasta use to deliver the message of His Majesty (Ethiopian Emperor, Rastafarian Savior Haile Selassie I) and as a Rastaman, I message say burn (condemn) division, burn segregation, we are one people: I say no race, no color, so how am I going to say genre? As long as the message is speaking righteousness and love to the people, then the music is reggae for I.”

Read more at The Daily Beast.

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My mum disputes some details of McQueen’s retelling – notably the tactile dancing.’ Micheal Ward and Amarah-Jae St Aubyn (centre) in Lovers Rock. Photograph: Parisa Taghizadeh/BBC/McQueen Limited
Story by: Micha Frazer-Carroll

At the halfway mark of Lovers Rock, the new Steve McQueen film set at a blues party in 1980, at least a hundred partygoers calmly sing an a capella song for five minutes straight. It is hypnotising and, like other moments in McQueen’s Small Axe film series, which centres around British Caribbean communities in the 1960s to the 1980s, time feels momentarily like it has been stretched. Every person in that jam-packed room patiently sings the slow song from start to finish, and everyone knows the words: “But I’ve got no time to live this lie / No, I’ve got no time to play your silly games / Silly games!”

When the film aired on Sunday night on the BBC, watching the characters sing the 1979 hit Silly Games felt very close to home, in part because Janet Kay, who sings the song, happens to be my “auntie” – a lifelong friend of my mum’s, rather than a blood relative. Silly Games was therefore a staple of my childhood; when I was growing up, Auntie Kay could always be persuaded to sing her former chart success at any birthday, christening or holy communion.

The song was part of the lovers rock genre, the post-Windrush lovechild of reggae and soul born in 1970s Britain. Silly Games was a hit at family parties when I was growing up, but it was only when I was much older that I learned the song wasn’t just a cultural touchstone in my family – it was one of the most famous lovers rock singles in history. As an adult, I started to understand its reach: I would meet Caribbeans who had grown up in Manchester, Birmingham or Scotland who had all sung the song at their family parties, too – with everyone’s mum, uncle and auntie trying to hit the notoriously hard-to-reach high note at the end of the chorus. I grew up on fables about the blues parties my nanny hosted at her house

Many Caribbeans remarked on social media that seeing such a cherished tradition on screen felt personal – as did the setting of a legendary blues party. Usually hosted in someone’s basement, blues parties sprung up in the 1970s as safe refuges from Britain’s racist clubbing scene. As McQueen depicts, they were a mixture of an underground rave and a house party – any cash that changed hands was generally just enough to cover the costs of the makeshift shebeen. Lovers rock music like Auntie Kay’s often provided the soundtrack to these ritualistic house parties, which were all about sensual slow dancing rather than blowing off steam to pop or disco.

I grew up on fables about the blues parties my nanny hosted at her house in Hackney, east London, and those at other people’s homes that my mum spent her teenage years and early twenties attending. It would all begin in the morning: the host would spend the day painstakingly clearing out rooms, cooking for guests and getting a mammoth sound system in. The speakers were of crucial importance – and, after the party kicked off at midnight or 1am, attendees could find the right address by following the vibrations that crept along the street.

Once people arrived at the house, they would have to pay a small fee to get in, but it was worth it to find the sounds, smells and flavours of the homesick blues: curry goat, Red Stripe, wallpaper dripping with sweat and a syncopated bass line blasting from an 8ft speaker. Blues parties were places of celebration and togetherness – and crucially, the only place you could hear reggae and lovers rock, except perhaps for David Rodigan’s slot on Capital Radio.

Of course, Black spaces have always been threatened by forces outside our control. Blues parties eventually petered out, increasingly falling foul of the police due to noise complaints and licensing issues, while the mainstream clubbing scene opened up to Black audiences. By the late 1980s, they had come and gone – and today, their ghosts haunt areas like Dalston, which were once popular for blues parties but whose large basements are no longer home to Black families.

My mum disputes some details of McQueen’s retelling – notably the accents and the tactile dancing: “The art was to dance as close as possible without touching,” she told me as the film progressed. Others felt that sometimes stereotypes got the better of McQueen, who was only 11 at the time of the story. But it seemed that the millennial generation of Caribbeans in particular relished the plunge into nostalgia; and for those who have grown up on the stories of their parents, it was perhaps validating to see a lifelike depiction of historical tradition deeply mythologised yet under-documented in British history.

While it may not be perfect, McQueen’s film is a solid contribution to the ongoing project of archiving our histories, which – although it is easy to forget – are characterised by joy as well as struggle. In fact, blues parties perfectly illustrate how the two were intrinsically intertwined. Emerging from an era of “no Blacks, no dogs, no Irish”, Caribbean people carved out meaningful underground spaces to dance their blues away. Although these parties are no longer, the blues spirit lives on in oral histories, in films like McQueen’s, and in a room full of aunties reaching for that high note at the end of Silly Games.

• Micha Frazer-Carroll is a columnist at the Independent

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Toots Hibbert, an influential and veteran Jamaican ska and reggae singer and founder of the band the Maytals, has died. He was 77. The cause of death is as yet unclear, though he had been recently tested for Covid-19.

statement from his family released on Sept. 11 reads: “It is with the heaviest of hearts to announce that Frederick Nathaniel ‘Toots’ Hibbert passed away peacefully tonight, surrounded by his family at the University Hospital of the West Indies in Kingston, Jamaica.

“The family and his management team would like to thank the medical teams and professionals for their care and diligence, and ask that you respect their privacy during their time of grief.”

The youngest of seven children, Hibbert’s parents were both Seventh-Day Adventist ministers and he grew up singing in church. He moved to the country’s capital of Kingston as a teenager and formed the first version of the Maytals in the early 1960s. Over the following 10 years the group recorded with a series of producers that reads like a reggae hall of fame: Coxsone Dodd, Prince Buster, Byron Lee, Leslie Kong — and reeled off Hibbert compositions like “Bam Bam,” “Sweet and Dandy” and “54-46 That’s My Number,” which was inspired by a mid-‘60s prison term he served for marijuana possession. 

Hibbert was one of the early proponents of reggae in the late 1960s and scored a hit with the song “Do the Reggay.” In fact, he is often credited with giving reggae its name when he christened the 1968 song.

He was a contemporary and friend of Bob Marley’s, and for several years both were signed to Island Records. Speaking with the Jamaica Observer in 2018, Hibbert spoke of sharing bills with Marley’s band, the Wailers, in their early days. “Sometimes the Maytals would close, sometimes The Wailers would close the show. We had no problems, no professional jealousy, we were all very good friends,” he said. “Out of all of us though, me an’ Bob were very good friends. It was out of one of those conversations that I did the song ‘Marley.’ He was telling me that he was going to be a dreadlocks Rasta an’ I laughed an’ said, ‘I want to be a comb-locks’ Rasta like Selassie I,’ an’ he laughed, just like the words in the actual song,” he said.

The two both had hits with different songs called “Redemption Song,” featured on his first album for Island, “Funky Kingston.”

“When I did ‘Redemption Song’ in 1972, it went number one [in Jamaica],” Hibbert recalled. “Marley said he would do a ‘Redemption Song’ as well. He used a similar rhythm but different lyrics.” Marley’s version of the song appeared on the final album released during his lifetime, “Uprising.”

Also in 1972, Hibbert appeared in the groundbreaking film “The Harder They Come,” which starred Jimmy Cliff. His 1969 song “Pressure Drop” was featured on the film’s soundtrack and was covered by the Clash in 1978, introducing Hibbert to thousands of new listeners.

A seemingly permanent presence in reggae music, Hibbert continued to tour and record through the decades, appearing on Willie Nelson’s 2005 album “Countryman” and covering Radiohead’s “Let Down” for a collection of reggae Radiohead covers. He even joined the Red Hot Chili Peppers onstage for a performance of “Louie Louie” during a 2011 New Year’s Eve party in St. Barts thrown by Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich.

In 2013 he was injured when a thrown bottle hit him in the head during a performance in Virginia. He missed several shows but ended up asking the judge to give the young man who threw the bottle a light sentence. “He is a young man, and I have heard what happens to young men in jail,” he wrote in a letter to the judge. “My own pain and suffering would be increased substantially knowing that this young man would face that prospect.” The man received a six-month sentence.

Hibbert was hospitalized just days after the release of his and the Maytals’ first album in more than a decade, “Got to Be Tough.” The album was co-produced by Zak Starkey, and features contributions from Starkey’s father, Ringo Starr, as well as Ziggy Marley, Sly Dunbar and Cyril Neville (read Variety‘s review).

“I’m very proud of what I’ve done and the love I’ve given,” Hibbert told Rolling Stone of the album. “But it’s getting harder and harder to give the love the people need, and they need it now more than ever. No time to waste.”

On Sept. 2, it was revealed that Hibbert was in stable but serious condition in a private medical facility in Jamaica. He was tested for Covid-19, although the results have not been announced.

Hibbert is survived by his wife of 39 years, Miss D, and his seven of eight children.

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It's Gonna Be Real Dancehall!!!

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Damian ‘Junior Gong’ Marley will be the executive producer of Bounty Killer’s upcoming album.

The Warlord made the revelation during an interview with radio disc jockey Nikki Z recently.  According to Bounty, the album comes 18 years after his 2002 album, Ghetto Dictionary, which was released by VP Records.

“Now its 2020 and I am working on an album also.  So I am building up the fire and gassin up di place… I am not done; I am not dead. I am ready again.   And, it has been like 18 years I put out an album 2002.  The Ghetto dictionary; that’s my last album. That’s two generations actually, so it’s overdue- way past overdue, so I am working on an album with Ghetto Youths,” he said.

“Junior Gong is gonna be the executive producer.  So it’s gonna be something to listen to. It’s gonna be the real dancehall. I’m gonna remind them what dancehall is.  Some people don’t remember what dancehall is and what the real foundation is… so we gonna take them to the real hardcore,” he explained.

Bounty, yesterday, shared a photo outside the Marley family’s legendary Tuff Gong studio in Kingston, with dancehall artiste Agent Sasco, formerly Assassin.The pair teased fans with an upcoming “deadly” Bounty Killer and Agent Sasco

Meanwhile, Bounty Killer said he was in no rush to complete the album, as that was not his style.

“In music, we have no time, no date. It’s when the music say its time.  Because you don’t give yourself deadline in music; never do dat.  Just make music come as inspiration.    Das why I haven’t put out an album in 18 years.  Cause I never look at no time like ‘yow a 10 years now enuh or 15 years, because everybody bukking me u and saying yow, is nearly 20 years,” he said.

Bounty Killer has released several studio albums since he burst onto the dancehall scene in the early 1990s.  The last one, Ghetto Dictionary: The Mystery, which was released by VP Records in January 2002 featured 20 tracks including hits such as Sufferah featuring Wayne MarshallMysteryHigh Grade ForeverPot of Gold featuring Richie StephensArrow and the title track Ghetto Dictionary.

The superstar has long spoken of the high regard which he has for the Youngest Veteran whom he has described as exceptionally brilliant, while Marley himself always refers to the artiste as a ‘legend’.Damian Marley and Bounty Killer in 2017.

Last August, Damian made it known that he would love to produce tracks for Bounty Killer, whom he said he first met while in his early teens.   He told the Jamaica Observer newspaper at the time that he loved the Killer’s music, and that the Seaview Gardens native always looked out for him from his teenage days.

Both men, along with Eek-a-mouse, had also collaborated on the hit track Khaki Suit, from Damian’s Grammy-winning Welcome to Jamrock album, back in 2005.

Damian Marley,Bounty Killer & Eek A Mouse - Khaki Suit

Damian is no stranger to being an executive producer, having produced Third World’s Grammy-nominated album titled More Work To Be Done last year as well as Kabaka Pyramid’s Kontraband in 2018, 

In the meantime, the One General told Nikki Z that he is not interested in new phenomena like streaming.

“I don’t know about dem tings.  I don’t pay attention to streaming.  I was here before di internet, and I don’t get too into di net.  I was here before di microwave; I was here before color TV just came out.  I was here before cable; I was here when TV signing off.  So I am not into all that internet fad,” he said.

In This Story: Agent SascoBounty KillerDamian Marley

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PRINCIPAL DIRECTOR OF THE CULTURE AND CREATIVE INDUSTRIES POLICY DIVISION IN THE MINISTRY OF YOUTH AND CULTURE, DR. JANICE LINDSAY, SAYS A COMMITTEE WILL PREPARE THE DOCUMENTS NEEDED SO REGGAE CAN BE LISTED.

KINGSTON, Jamaica, Tuesday February 9, 2016 – Jamaica’s Ministry of Youth and Culture is moving to have reggae inscribed on the United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization’s (UNESCO) representative list of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.

Principal Director of the Culture and Creative Industries Policy Division in the Ministry of Youth and Culture, Dr. Janice Lindsay, says the ministry has set up a committee to prepare the documents expected to be submitted in March 2017.

“We have so far had one meeting. It has been a robust meeting. Essentially, the discussions have been about how we describe reggae when we put forward that nomination file,” she disclosed on Sunday.

Dr. Lindsay said the global appeal of reggae was why it should be inscribed on UNESCO’s list.

“We need to protect that distinctive history of reggae as an intangible heritage and we need to do this before someone else presents the elements in some other form as theirs,” she stressed, adding that the move would have far more bearing on future generations.

“[The young ones], 50 years from now, would not have forgiven us if they lived to read in bits and pieces that there was a music emanating from our country and that it was lost over time, because there was no proof of the origin and distinctiveness being uniquely Jamaican.”

Dr. Lindsay argued that important stories of Jamaica’s music must be safeguarded “since it is the only sure way of protecting the integrity of the music.”

 

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Sizzla leads August Town revival

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BY RICHARD JOHNSON Observer senior reporter johnsonr@jamaicaobserver.com

SIZZLA is working to bring cultural and historical awareness within his August Town community through his Sizzla Youth Foundation.

 

The artiste is spearheading month-long celebrations for the August Town Emancipation Birthday, commemorating 177 years since the St Andrew community was officially established.

 

"It is paramount that we remind the youths of the community where they are from and the rich history and tradition which they must uphold. They must be aware of the strong links to the fight against slavery as the original settlers in these lands came from the Mona and Papine plantations... so we just need to re-education the community so they know where they are coming from so as to chart the course forward," said Sizzla.

 

The celebrations started Wednesday with a peace march through August Town.

 

Other events include the unveiling of a wall dedicated to renowned August Town spiritual leader Alexander Bedward. This takes place tomorrow.

 

A Senior Citizens Day is scheduled for August 2. August 6 is Bedward Day at the Bedward Temple in the community. The Greater August Town Violence Prevention Day is set for August 13, while the World of Reggae Concert featuring Sizzla and friends is at the UWI Bowl, Mona, on August 16.

 

The month's activities are completed by the Back-to-School Family Affair and Treat at the UWI Bowl on August 30.

 

According to Sizzla, his foundation which was founded in 2010, wants residents and persons from outside August Town to be aware of the good that has, and can come from, the area.

 

"We want to eradicate violence from August Town. This can only be achieved by instilling values which stress Africa and education. We must rejuvenate the minds and with that we can achieve much," he said.

 

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Duane Stephenson and U.S. Secretary of State, Hillary Rodham Clinton, meet in Washington, D.C. during a World Food Program award ceremony on October 5, 2010.
WASHINGTON, DC - Reggae singer/songwriter Duane Stephenson was recently invited by the World Food Program (WFP) to perform in honor of the United States Secretary of State, Hillary Rodham Clinton. The event took place at the George McGovern Leadership Award ceremony in Washington, D.C. on Tuesday, October 5.
Stephenson was at the tail end of his U.S. tour with the Wailers, and the two parties previously teamed up for a song that manifested a partnership with the WFP. "The Wailers and I are partners with the World Food Program," says Stephenson. "Our song 'A Step for Mankind' has helped to spread the message of the need for more action in addressing the issue of world hunger."


Duane Stephenson and U.S. Secretary of State, Hillary Rodham Clinton, meet in Washington, D.C. during a World Food Program award ceremony on October 5, 2010.

Stephenson was thus invited to perform at the ceremony that included political dignitaries and social activists from around the world at the prestigious event, where Secretary Clinton was presented with The George McGovern Leadership Award for her work to curb global hunger.

Stephenson reveals he is humbled and excited by the experience. "It's so inspiring to be in the company of global politicians and dedicated corporate partners who share the same values and aspirations to eradicate hunger," states Stephenson. "Food is a common bond that unites every single life form on this planet, we all require it to live, yet a billion people each night go to bed hungry and 25,000 of them die."

Stephenson disclosed his work with the World Food Program will continue as he sees the issue of world hunger as one that is very important to him. "I was happy to be there to see Secretary Clinton get this award as she has fought for this issue for years now. Hunger affects a billion of our brothers, sisters and children in 80 countries. This award will bring added attention and raise awareness of the issue."


Duane Stephenson with World Food Program Executive Director, Josette Sheeran, and Ian Barrett (son of Ashton "Family Man" Barrett of The Wailers).

Duane Stephenson just wrapped up touring the U.S. as the opening act for the legendary Wailers, and promoting his sophomore album Black Gold, released by VP Records on September 28, 2010. Black Gold is the highly anticipated follow-up to Stephenson's debut album From August Town, which was released by VP Records in 2007 and was hailed as one of that year's best reggae albums.

Ian Barrett, Hunter Biden (son of U.S. VP Joe Biden) and Duane Stephenson.

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Richie Loop

At 23 years old, one of the newest rising artist Richard ‘Richie Loop’ Webb, has begun to make his audience sit up and take notice as he makes strides toward solidifying his name in the music history. With a budding catalogue, the singer, songwriter and producer, who already has three singles in rotation on radio within the Caribbean and abroad. Born and raise in the parish of Clarendon, Richie Loop attended Clarendon College but has always had a love affair with music and all that it embodies. An entertainer at heart, he dabbled in dancing and acting as a child. Later he pursued studies in Information Technology at Excelsior Community College and upon completion, worked at Gumption Recording studios as a composer. It was while working at the studio that he received the name Richie Loop. Wanting to further his growth, he ventured to Gal A Rush Recording Studios, where he spent five months fine tuning his craft. During that time he was afforded the opportunity to work with veteran reggae artist Derrek Morgan. It was while working with Derrek Morgan that Richie Loop got his big break when he was approached by Robert Livingston CEO of Scikron Entertainment, also known as Big Yard Music Label, and was instantly offered a contract. Richie Loop describes his experiences with Robert Livingston as a critical learning process in his career as a singer, songwriter, composer and producer. He goes on to say, "In my daily musical walk, I am able to learn from one of the greatest manager/producer of all time and continue the legacy of Scikron Entertainment." My main focus is to work on improving my skills by incorporating new styles of beats (a fusion of dancehall, disco, rock and hip hop) and songs that people will enjoy." One of the biggest riddim that consumed the airwaves in late 2009 to date the ‘Brainstorm’ rhythm produced by Richie Loop and D-Lynx, and has followed-up with ‘Maad a Road’ and ‘Sweat Shop’ rhythms. Additionally, he has produced songs on two of the rhythms he brought to life namely - ‘She Wants It Good’ on the ‘BrainStorm’ rhythm and ‘Gal Whine’ on the ‘Sweat Shop’ rhythm. The production of such captivating rhythms have not only gained Loop media attention but it has also allowed him the opportunity to work with notable artists such as Shaggy, Christopher Martin, D-Lynx, Iceman, D-Major, Ce'cile, Voicemail, Red Fox, Lukie D, Tony Matterhorn and upcoming female dancehall artist Rae Tay. In February 2010, Richie Loop stepped behind the mic and voiced what is setting it self up to be a party anthem, ‘My Cupp.’ The single has been an instant catch that garnered attention from radio, disc jocks and various media outlets. This multi-talented phenomenon shows no sign of slowing down as he hopes to work with other Jamaican artists as well as international acts.

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Photo by: GBurkeImages

Una Morgan is the sole female sibling of the Reggae band of this decade, Morgan Heritage. Despite having ten studio albums under her belt with her family band, having performed for stadium-sized audiences across the world, and having garnered much of the success and longevity that many artistes can only hope for, Una took a step back from the limelight in 2006. “I wanted to take time to recreate and develop myself physically, mentally, and spiritually.”

 

 

During this time she also focused on building her production company, SIA Entertainment, strengthening family ties, improving her physical health and connecting with her spirituality. As a true performer, however, Una could not sit back idly. Now as a solo artist she has developed with her own distinctive sound. Una Morgan’s signature sound is a blend of Reggae, Dancehall, Pop, Hip Hop and Soul fused to be appropriately called Raggasoul.

 

With this distinctive sound, an excellent voice, and great studio production, Una’s single ‘Giving’, produced by Lenky ‘Diwali’ Marsden (producer of Sean Paul, Nina Sky etc.) perfectly captures her sound. She is also excited about her contribution made on the ‘Tribute to Haiti’ track produced by the great Handel Tucker (producer of ‘Close to You’ and ‘Just a Little Bit Longer’ by Maxi Priest, ‘House Call’ by Shabba Ranks and various hits with Sly and Robbie and Beenie Man).

 

Una is also working with acclaimed local and international producers on her debut solo album. She is very excited about working with multi Grammy Award winning producers Commission Gordon (credited with work for Lauryn Hill, Amy Winehouse and Joss Stone), a collaboration that was set up by Rubikon ENT, who list Gordon among their clients. Her solo album presents collaborations
with established and new names in the industry. On her album, she worked with other established producers and writers, such as Stephen McGregor, Jimmy Cozier, and Taj from the 90’s group The Boys. Una has also returned to her hometown of Springfield, Atlanta to work with rising stars such as Kiana India, ME, and producer “X”.

 

To address the rumors, Una ensures her fans that her solo venture is not signaling the breakup of Morgan Heritage. “We always knew that we would build as a group, use that foundation to take things to the next level, and then come back to the family.” You can even find some more Morgans on the credits, with brothers Mr. Mojo and Gramps assisting in mixing and production, a true testament to the strong bond that keeps their
family together.

Una performing in Charlotte, NC. Photo by: GBurkeImages

 

Looking to fully capitalize on her groups’ international success, Una has recently signed to Gary George Inc. (GGI) and Rubikon Entertainment management companies to use their pooled wealth of resources for management and legal services to propel her development. Rubikon is a UK-based management and legal firm that provide management and legal & business affairs to a slew of prominent artistes and producers amongst other entities.

 

Miss Morgan, even though blessed, has not let her accomplishments go to her head. She remains humble and has made it her personal mission to use her celebrity status and music to champion issues such as health, weight management, self-esteem, and other issues plaguing women around the world. “I’m very concerned that many young women today are doing things to please everyone else. We need to work on being one with the Creator first, and I hope my music can inspire young women to do that.”

The Raggasoul songstress, Una Morgan, hopes that with her new album, entitled ‘Just Me’, she can show her evolution in music, life, and spirituality, while continuing to uphold her family’s legacy.

 

Source: Gary George Inc/SIA Entertainment

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GBurkeImages Photo
On CIAA weekend in Charlotte, NC. Elephant Man provided his many fans with an entertaining concert at the Neighborhood Theater. The event put on by Brightworks Promotions was well attended and Elephant Man had his fans especially the women rocking to his favorite beats.


To see many more photos of the concert and fans visit: gburkeimages.com

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Students from Winston Park Elementary and Parkway Middle School participated in the Arts Inspire... workshop. FORT LAUDERDALE – The Broward Center for the Performing Arts, designated as the county’s first international cultural embassy by the Broward County Board of County Commissioners, has given students a passport to other cultures through its interactive “Arts Inspires…” annual workshop, which has featured artists such as Romero Britto and Pablo Cano. Recently during “Arts Inspire… Jamaican Rhythms," percussionist Willie Stewart led a drumming workshop for 60 fledgling musicians from Winston Park Elementary and Parkway Middle School. Stewart, who has performed around the world and with legendary performers such as Stevie Wonder, Carlos Santana, Bob Marley, Quincy Jones, Sting and Michael Jackson, educated students on the influence and impact that Africa has had on Jamaica’s people, rhythm/music and culture. The workshop was presented by the Broward Center for the Performing Arts and the School Board of Broward County with participation by the Jamaican Consulate. “With a significant Jamaican community in South Florida, we are pleased to partner once again with the Broward Center to educate, celebrate and promote Jamaican culture to local students,” said Consul General Sandra Grant Griffiths of the Jamaican Consulate. The Abdo New River Room of the Broward Center was the backdrop for the workshop, where students were first introduced to percussion instruments from around the world. They then focused on musical concepts such as rhythm, timing and beat; tonality and harmony; performance techniques; and the role of percussive music forms in ritual and culture. The workshop culminated with a performance by Stewart and the students, who demonstrated the rhythms they learned during the workshop to an audience that included School Board of Broward County members Maureen S. Dinnen, Phyllis C. Hope, and Benjamin J. Williams; The Honorable Sandra Grant Griffiths of the Jamaican Consulate; and representatives from the participating schools. “The School Board of Broward County is committed to educating the total child,” said Maureen Dinnen, of the School Board of Broward County. “The arts are a critical component of our educational programming, kindergarten through 12th grade. In the workshop, we saw students energized, excited and inspired to meet and learn from Willie Stewart. We are proud to participate in such a rewarding program that offers our students enriching and memorable educational experiences.”

L-R: Maureen S. Dinnen, School Board of Broward County; Willie Stewart; Sharon Brooks, Broward Center Director of Education. More than two million students have attended educational programs at the Broward Center through the nationally award-winning Student Enrichment in the Arts partnership program with the Broward Center and Broward County Public Schools. The two organizations also collaborate on initiatives which encourage literacy skills among pre-school and elementary school children. “Collaboration has always been central to the Broward Center’s mission. Our partnership with Broward County Public Schools allowed us to create the “Arts Inspires…” program, which connects talented artists in our community with our students and helps them learn about the rich mosaic of cultures we enjoy in South Florida,” said Broward Center President and CEO Kelley Shanley. “I am delighted that the event focused on the tapestry of cultures that have influenced Jamaican music – and highlighted the richness of Jamaican culture. Our partnership with the Jamaican community, which started with the Jamaican Consulate in Miami and continues to grow, has allowed us to bring many exciting Jamaican events to the Broward Center.”

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