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Showing posts from 2013

Reggae & Dancehall in 2013 according to ME!

Artist of the Year - Vybz Kartel

Boy, I think this one is between dirty duo RDX, Mavado, Konshens and Vybz Kartel to me. RDX maintained momentum with the tunes that make girls skin out. Mavado returned hard this year, representing himself well on every riddim he touched after what was a half-baked year last year. Like RDX, Konshens maintained the skin out hype with party tunes like "Drink N Rave" and delivered on riddims.

I think Kartel's is the most impressive for me though. He managed to reinvent again, bring in some new styles, flows, delivery and concepts. And to top it off, he did it all while locked up in jail. Oh, and let's not forget he's the only thing good about Busta Rhymes' "Twerk It" - remix and original.

Favourite Dancehall Riddim - Money Box

This year has been extremely shallow for riddims. Last year, I pointed out that the biggest songs were mainly singles (for example Konshens - Gal A Bubble, RDX - Jump), the pendulum swung even mor…

Chronixx London concert/moment of a lifetime review + videos

There isn't even an ounce of hyperbole in the title. Not even a little bit. Sunday night will never happen again for two reasons: you can't have a first performance twice and the questions of how good or popular have been answered.

Where to start. Putting it into perspective, London is one of the closest to being Jamaica outside of Jamaica. Our love and appreciation for reggae, historically, surpasses everywhere in the world possibly even Jamaica. Scala was full to the brim. According to Wiki, Scala's capacity is 1,145. I spent at least 10mins trying to find a space where I could see the stage. Meant I spent most of Christopher Ellis' performance searching for this elusive magical spot. Sounded lively though.

Hold on, lemme try put into words how packed it was. Scala sold out three times (I'm guessing they gave access to different parts of the venue when they saw the demand) and tickets were still sold on the door. Each time we tried one of (about three/four) the e…

Watch Chronixx live at 1Xtra Live [First UK performance]

Scala say they're sold out but more tickets will become available. Not sure when but yeah.

I personally think he started it off with the wrong songs. Should've entered with a bang "Here Comes Trouble" and "Behind Curtain" then mid-tempos "Smile Jamaica" and "Ain't No Giving In" followed by "Warrior" ending on "Odd Ras" as he did. Based on what actually happened, it started calm before building to a big end even receiving a forward. He looked a lot more comfortable towards the end too. Big stage for your first performance in a new country though.

And on his birthday too. Watch the crowd sing happy birthday

Hey Marvin, what are your thoughts on "Reggae Revival"?

To give a bit of background, the most exciting thing in music is currently happening in Jamaica. Never mind what everyone else is going on about, their talking about something old, something that's here or something that isn't worth talking about cos it's just forced hype. We're not talking about forced hype movement, we're talking about organic music for the soul coming from one of the forefathers of modern day music. A familiar guardian around these parts of the web, Reggae.

One thing I don't like about journalistic definitions of reggae and dancehall is they're very lazy, therefore inaccurate and commit an injustice to both sides. It is said reggae is conscious and dancehall is slack which isn't strictly true. Conscious songs are always present amongst the biggest songs in dancehall. And with reggae being known as conscious, people forget many greats from John Holt and Beres Hammond  to Jah Cure are better known for their lovers collection. (They als…

Shy FX & Ms Dynamie - Cloud 9 [Music Video]

Jungle legend Shy FX and female MC'ing empress Ms. Dynamite linked up to drop a Lovers Rock meets Jungle banger that actually equals the look on paper. The way this is the best song I've heard since about July, I pre-ordered it a month ago - almost 2 months before scheduled release. Ms. Dynamite actually performed it for the first time at David Rodigan's Ram Jam at Kentish Town Forum back in about May. Didn't sound nearly as great as the finished version does.

See this is what Black British music is missing, mix-and-blending our black culture sounds with contemporary British music. It's what always has and will work for us. All this re-hashing popular American sounds rarely works. Big up So Solid, Craig David, Shola Ama, Chip(munk), Tinie Tempah, Lemar... for showing us the blueprint on how to disappoint after establishing through British producers. Mix it a different, fresh way if you do it please. But yeah, long for that.

This is great British music. And if I sou…

thoughts on the station formerly known as Choice FM + no reggae? Really?

I wasn't even going to write a post about the now defunct Choice FM as there wasn't anything for me to say that I hadn't said on Twitter or others (check Gentrification Killed Choice FM and Why We Should Mourn Choice FM). Howwwever, a few things caused this post. I listened to Dotun Adebayo's show on BBC Radio London last night and a tweet by one of the formerly known as Choice FM's DJ, Max.

Choice FM made history & supported urban music to a level nobody else did! It will continue on Capital Xtra but on a national level #excited
— MAX (@THISISMAXONLINE) October 4, 2013

The culture & music is more then a name, it's what we do, right! Well that's what I'm about, so lets continue to support urban and kill it!
— MAX (@THISISMAXONLINE) October 4, 2013
Starting with the above tweet's... actually, let me start off by saying I have no problem with Max. I wouldn't say I know her, but we are cool. She made sure I got an interview with Trey Songz …

interviews Shaggy. Radio vs Reggae, rejecting pop music & more

I caught up with Mr. Lover, Lover aka Mr. Roooooo-mantic aka Shaggy ahead of Reggae Rollover at Wembley Arena 17th October and upon the release of latest collaborative effort with Sly & Robbie dubbed "Out of Many, One Music". Best album title in a while in a cheesy but "Why didn't I think of that?" way.

We spoke about the
reggae vs. (commercial) radio rejecting pop music for authentic Jamaican styles Jamaica's lack of stars, rating Konshens and Chronixx, struggles pushing a reggae album independently, reaching the top against all odds with Diamond-selling (in excess of 10 million records sold) Hotshot, low first week sales of his album and why he doesn't give a fxck if he gets the credit he deserves.  Basically, we had a right ol' chinwag. Surprised at how open and honest he was. Don't remember him being like that the last time I interviewed him. Will read again (you can read here).

First single lifted from the Sly & Robbie + Shaggy albu…

Chronixx - Here Comes Trouble [Music Video]

One of the most anticipated videos from one of the most talked about artists finally makes it way onto the net for our eyes. Chronixx's Rasta political broadcast anthem "Here Comes Trouble" features the man himself with a bunch of Rasta recruits including many of his fellow next generation reggae artists, Dre Island, Kabaka Pyramid, Kelissa to name a few.

You can purchase the song here

And catch him performing live in UK at the following

10/10 - Leeds @ Leeds Arena BBC Radio 1xtra Live 11/10 - Bristol @ Malcom X Center 12/10 - Birmingham @ The Drum 13/10 - London @ Scala
Google for more info and tickets

interviews Wayne Marshall (@Wayne_Marshall) [Video]

I caught up with reggae and dancehall artist Wayne Marshall to discuss prevalent issues within the world of dancehall and the (controversial term alert) "Reggae revival".

We spoke about:
growing up in the business with the Bounty Killer-led Alliance to now moving with the Damian & Stephen Marley-led Ghetto Youths International, revival of both reggae and the '80s revival within that, whether he regrets partaking in the much criticised Island Pop era, Jamaican media's focus on Jamaican reggae's lack of commercial success in America to will he'll judge his forthcoming album, True Colors, success on sales.
Wobbly video, but ah so it go more time uzeet?

Couple songs for you to check which were mentioned in the video:

Latest single, "I Know". Can grab that on iTunes and others.

Wayne Marshall "My Heart" cover by Danish artist Klumben "Mit Hjerte"

Original video for Wayne Marshall's "My Heart" (Drake likes this song.…

interviews Christopher Ellis

Member of the Damian and Stephen Marley-led Ghetto Youths International, Christopher Ellis headlines London's famous Jazz Café for the second time this Saturday (28th September) following a sell-out last year on the birthday of his late great, father, rocksteady icon Alton Ellis. Sidenote: Jazz Café is the last venue his father performed.

Marvin Sparks caught up with south Londoner, Christopher Ellis (@EllisMuzicChild), in a west London hotel lobby to talk challenges making a name as a singer in his own right, choosing authentic reggae despite its lack of pop chart presence in UK, disappointing reaction to last single and learning from the other Ghetto Youths members.

Marvin Sparks: Was music something you always wanted to do?

Christopher Ellis: I always imagined myself as a singer from ever since I could remember. I used to tell my school teachers that I don't have to do the work because I'm going to be a singer [laughs]. I was always a clever boy in class, but I didn'…

Chronixx UK tour info + video at New York SOBs and Negril, Jamaica

Reggae's biggest name at the moment, Chronixx, will appear at Scala in London Town in just over 2 weeks time. He'll also appear in Leeds to BBC Radio 1Xtra Live on the 10th October and Birmingham at The Drum on 12th October.

Catch couple clips below

"Never Give Up"

Barrington Levy and Chronixx sing each others songs before Mr. Levy fires off some classics then Chronixx carries on the medley of Jamaican classics with The Melodyans "Rivers of Babylon".

Sourced from Boomshots

And check out this acoustic session which took place in Negril, Jamaica. "They Don't Know", "Wall St.", Protoje's "JA" interpolated with his own "Smile Jamaica".

Protoje OnStage interview

Big up Diggy talking the truth about the Jamaican government being ashamed of and shying away from reggae. Regarding the venue, I think Usain Bolt's Tracks & Records has proven that an indoor venue with live reggae music is valid. Also speaks on "reggae revival". Trust Winford to find an opportunity to slyly cuss dancehall impact in America. Good on Protoje saying he doesn't like the separation of dancehall and reggae. And you see the people at reggae festivals in Europe? Yeah.

One of my favourite reggae artists from about 2011. Check out this mixtape collection of a bunch of his songs

Shabba Ranks talks the tings about BET Awards "reggae" tribute

Emperor of dancehall, Shabba Ranks explains why he didn't take part in the BET Awards tribute to dancehall. The "Big Dutty Stinkin'" Shabba makes a good point regarding himself being too big to join in the festivities. He also explains why he has reservations about working the stage with former nemesis Ninja Man.

I understand the sentiments about artists from other genres getting treatment as a reason for himself. He's a legend. I can also see why the artists that did perform would jump at the opportunity. I also love that he points out they always side line dancehall then bring it out like it's a novelty. Yes, emperor, tell them! This is and culture that garners interest worldwide, in many cases, bigger than them.

"Dem no intellectual like Marcus Garvey all now! None ah dem nuh fast like Usain Bolt all now! None ah dem nuh great like Shabba Ranks all now! Dem nuh bad like Bob Marley all now!" Big speech. Future quotable.

Only clip I can find of Cap…

106 & Park does dancehall, sorry "Caribbean"

Haven't watched it yet, but posting it. Will update once I've seen it. Ge'me. Beenie Man, Mr. Vegas and Wayne Wonder all on here.

All I'm saying is I'm not really feeling how these people seem to be taking dancehall for some fad. I'm hoping they get over it soon, because anything the Yanks get hold of dies soon thereafter. But anyway, I'll watch and return with my verdict. Let's just say the line-up suggests another throwback session. I'm hoping it isn't though. Would like them to bring through some of the newer acts.

Why hasn't dancehall produced another Sean Paul?

Welcome people them. Me again, obviously. Today we here at Marvin Sparks discuss possible theories on why we feel dancehall hasn't produced another of their greatest commercial experts. This post was originally going to be a response to this ignorant post on MTV Iggy, but I held it down because that's negative energy. So, I post it as 10 years ago to the week Sean Paul scored his first UK #1 alongside Blu Cantrell. Today Sean Paul is on the verge of a top ten having already taken The Saturday's to their first top spot earlier this year and scoring the 51st best-selling song in UK last year with "She Doesn't Mind", not forgetting "Got 2 Luv U" his topped 12 national charts across the world. Longevity. ("Other Side of Love" entered at #7.)

First off, let's talk about the man in question. What makes him worthy of this post like he's a great? In short, because he is. Too often he's on the receiving end of jokes and unfair criticism…

Why I hope reggae never crosses over in USA (formerly "Why reggae doesn't need Snoop Lion")

That's right. We here at Marvin Sparks never want to see reggae succeed in mainstream USA. I began writing this in about March, so the Snoop Lion thing doesn't hit the way it should. Nor did the album, but hey, that's another post for another day. Excuse the delay. But anyway, let me explain why.

I questioned a US-based dancehall & reggae radio DJ on comments she made about Snoop Lion being good for reggae and hoping it crosses over to American masses so other Jamaicans can follow. Over the course of the Twitter conversation I said "reggae doesn't need Snoop Lion," before ending on "I hope reggae never crosses to mainstream America" to which she replied "You alone wish that". To be fair, she's pretty close to 100% correct so I didn't dispute the point lol.

However, I don't mind being alone if that's the case.

American mainstream has a great way of pumping money into something, taking ownership, manipulating the narrativ…

Them dodgy US covers by UK artists there [The Risk - "Peaches & Cream" + more]

Maaaaaaaaaaate. Actually, let me tell you what (initially) inspired this post. JLS break up. "Devastating news I didn't see coming" - said no one. We knew it was curtains when we heard their "Hottest Girl In The World" song. You know the knock-off Justin Timberlake sounding song? Pretty rubbish, but all the urbanites like it because it sounded, like, an erm, Justin Timberlake song from back in the day. Worst thing is Justin Bieber pulled the exact same stunt a few months earlier ("Boyfriend") so it was a knock-off Justin Bieber, knocking off Justin Timberlake. New thing is "Just because it sounds familiar, doesn't mean it's good".

Pretty bad, isn't it? Problem is I can see a bunch of Sony a&r's, marketing dept. and general suits, (well they wear trendy gear now, but you know who I mean) sat bumping their heads slightly off-beat, slight foot tap before saying "This sounds really edgy and current for JLS. Justin Bieber…