Friday, 31 January 2014

Cham & Damian Marley, Chronixx and Tarrus Riley perform for BBC 1Xtra in Jamaica [videos]

1Xtra dedicated 5 hours to Jamaican music the past Sunday. Rodigan dealt with the reggae revival and dub cutting speaking to the likes of Ninja Man, Josey Wales, Protoje and Kabaka Pyramid. Toddla T dealt with the production side (Ward 21, Di Genius and Rvssian) plus Stylo G. Robbo Ranx covered the biggest culture festival in Jamaica, Rebel Salute speaking to Damian Marley, Rodney Price (Bounty Killer), festival organiser Tony Rebel and upcoming roots act Jah Bouks amongst others.

In the fifth hour they took over Radio 1 with a live music session at Bob Marley's Tuff Gong studio. See a sample of the performances below.

Chronixx - Here Comes Trouble

Cham & Damian Marley - Fighter/Ghetto Story

Tarrus Riley - Gimme Likkle One Drop

1Xtra have a dedicated section for us to hear what they did. You can do so by clicking here. Big up 1Xtra cos while many stations have cut back on reggae, they've done a special on how great it is. It's mad cos they played more reggae content than the supposed biggest station in Jamaica does.

Saturday, 25 January 2014

Why I don't care if Snoop Lion wins the Best Reggae Grammy [a.k.a. shove yer Grammy]

Yeah, you read it correctly. Last year I blogged a "Why reggae doesn't need Snoop Lion?" post inspired by his attention from "please help us break America" in some areas of the Jamaican music community. However, Grammy Awards committee nominated his absolute mockery of a product for Best Reggae album award, so today I'm contributing an appeal for the wankers on the panel to go one step further and give it to him.

Hold tight Junior Rodigan who asked me to write about this. At the time (in December), I thought "What for? I don't care about the Grammy's. They never know what they're doing anyway, so why should I criticise them?" It wasn't until about a week ago that it hit me, that's the post! Why does anyone care?

Ok, this is coming from an idealistic perspective where in a dream world the factors and end result actually make sense. However, many loud voices within the industry - reggae, Jamaica or otherwise - don't think with sense. What I'll do is give my view of what it means, then how I think it'll play out if it happens.

Brief bit of history about it; gangsta rapper Snoop (Doggy) Dogg says he went to Jamaica and fell in love with the Rastafarian faith so "became" a Rasta and make reggae music because he needed a change from being a thug. In doing so, he changed his name to Lion, took some American producers (namely Major Lazer/Diplo and Dre Skull) and film makers (Vice) to Jamaica to make a reggae album and documentary. In doing so, he thought it'd be a good idea to get co-signs from respected individuals like the Marley's (Rohan for sure, can't remember who else), Bunny Walier (founding member of The Wailers) and visited a Rastafarian camp.

First single, samples Ken Boothe "Artibella". The riddim is so tuff. But Snoop thought it would be good to throw every cliche in there. "What you want you won't getty getty", "Who feels it knows" et cet.

Long story short, the album's shockingly bad (bar one song which, sadly, features a pre-twerking Miley Cyrus), said he was Bob Marley reincarnated (which turned me off immediately) and he managed to piss off Bunny Wailer once he realised he'd been duped into believing this elaborate practical joke and demanded Snoop deliver some money to help fund the movement. Snoop then called Bunny Wailer a bit part player in The Wailers and is lucky he didn't get beaten up. Yes, the dutty dawg threatened a man in his 70s.

Us wise ones saw the joke a mile off.

Well anyway, while I thought Bunny Wailer woke up long after the punchline, the Grammy's actually extended the joke. I heard rumours Reincarnated was possible for inclusion the nominations, but it being confirmed was like a great twist in the tale. You've got to applaud the introduction of the new character (Grammy panel). I know I didn't see it coming. Mainly because I'd forgotten the album actually came out, secondly, probably more importantly, it isn't actually reggae.

Is that all it takes to be a reggae artist then? An elaborate fairy tale, location of recording studios and some dreads for the illustrations? These times I thought the MOBO's were bad, at least they have slightly more substantial reasoning for their bogus raggae nominations. Only a smidgen, mind you.

Rob Kenner aka Boomshots dropped a post on Complex which helps us understand the criteria - kinda:

"Members of that committee were not supposed to concern ourselves with quality—our job was to determine whether each album belonged in the Reggae category.

"I soon learned another unwritten rule during private conversations with other committee members: be careful about green-lighting an album by someone who was really famous if you don’t want to see that album win a Grammy. Because famous people tend to get more votes from clueless Academy members, regardless of the quality of their work."

Read the rest here

So, why do I think Snoop should win? Because it proves the Grammy's aren't a yardstick when it comes to validating reggae releases. As stated above, they are clueless. Every year Jamaican-related media poke at Jamaican music using Billboard sales and position as the barometer for success. Artists devalued because they haven't been nominated for a Grammy. Considering America has never really accepted reggae like most other territories (Europe and Africa surpass it by a long shot, even Japan and places in South America (not including the Caribbean for obvious reasons)), Jamaican media places way too much emphasis on their acceptance.

Likewise, every year we complain they missed out on certain better quality albums. This year sees two legends nominated; Beres Hammond (I think he may sneak it if they don't give it to a Marley) and Sizzla. Neither of whom have won one before. Does that matter to the people? Does it make them any less than Snoop Lion if he does go onto win it? Will Snoop Lion leap into reggae icons of the 21st century? No. Does it even make the album bearable let alone good? Absolutely not.



Will anybody care after the furore it'll cause for about 3 days? Only in a "Remember that time Snoop Lion won a Grammy for Best Reggae? Loooooool" way. Well, that's in the world according to me.

However, I know some inferior people in the Jamaican music industry and media that worship everything the Americans say will look within instead of laughing at the outsiders casting judgement on music they clearly aren't equipped to deal with.

The saving grace is these are reggae not dancehall releases, people are more likely to see sense and defend reggae.

I say let him win it and they can keep their stupid award. It's only really worth a line in a press release. I understand why artists want to win it, but get over it, innit? Love from the people should mean so much more. Looking out into a crowd of adoring fans can't be kept on a shelf collecting dust, but they can help your Instagram tun up.

Reggae artists shouldn't pander to the American market nor music that wins Grammy's. It doesn't make it any better than the stuff that doesn't and shells down Europe. Zion music can't work in babylon.


p.s. Snoop Lion is now Snoopzilla making funk music. Nobody cares though. And I think he's still Snoop Dogg. Mid-life crisis. Bad advert for the otherwise good ganja leaf. #LegalizeIt

p.p.s. You know they always say "Marley's win the best reggae at Grammy awards by default"? Well, I asked him about it along with the reason for reggae's relevance, the reggae revival movement and his influence on them.

Friday, 24 January 2014

Tarrus Riley - Dem A Watch (1st single from album)

Future legend Tarrus Riley dropped the first single from the forthcoming lovers rock album, Love Situation. Tarrus along with Jah Cure and Christopher Martin are this generations best lovers singers. All three sing interesting love songs. They bring a modern twist to the classic love song style, following on the legacy from the likes of Beres Hammond, Gregory Isaacs, Alton Ellis and John Holt.

Speaking of Alton Ellis, this is a rocksteady one. And it's about people who "Wanna see us break up" as the brackets say. To be fair, that's probably a better title. "(Dem A Watch) Wanna See Us Break Up" mi say.

Looking forward to the album. I swear this is the first time a Jamaican artists has actually called a song their first single? (It probably isn't but its that rare.)

Pre-order the album Love Situations from here

Monday, 20 January 2014

Rodney Price (a.k.a. Bounty Killer) at Rebel Salute 2014 [Video]

I envied everyone who attended and tweeted about Rebel Salute in Jamaica this past weekend. Rebel Salute is (probably) the biggest strictly roots reggae festival in Jamaica. Strictly uplifting and conscious songs, no meat or alcohol sold. Ital is vital. This year marked 20 years for the event which was increased to a two-day event last year as it outgrew itself.  As such, the line-up boasted majority of the artists I would like see. Recently, they have been adding dancehall artists, but using their birth name as it's more to do with the person than their alter-ego. Marion Hall (Lady Saw), David Brooks (Mavado) and Moses Davis (Beenie Man) to name most. The most intriguing performance, to me, was the Rodney Price performance.

While the name "Bounty Killer" doesn't bring forth images of warm kindness and uplifting "reggae", to those that know his catalogue, he's one of the most conscious deejay's when he wants to be. Lets not forget this is a guy who grew up in a poor community and was shot around 15 years old in gang warfare (think he was caught in crossfire).

"Poor people governor" Killer is one of my favourite incarnations of any dancehall artist. And we all know he preaches on stage about what's really going on. And love him or hate him, he stands for what he believes in and encourages people to do so. The people love him for representing for the man dem in times Beenie Man represented the gal dem. Something I respect about many dancehall artists.

Starts off a bit shaky but gets a lot better when he settles down to sing the songs out. Rifles through classics "Down In The Ghetto", "Fed Up", "Book, Book, Book", "Sufferer" to new ones like "Badmind Dem A Pree". When he tells the smoke man to stop the smoke, yells "PEEEOOOPPLLLE DEEEEAD!" removes the darkers (sunglasses) then performs "Look"! Then the lyrics he flashes on the same riddim talking to the politicians them? Fire. Don't know what song that is, but the lyrics earned a gun finger (of love) over here. Then "Anytime".

While we're at it, there is a big vacancy for a 2014 version of Bounty Killer. Right now. If you wanna buss, follow Bounty Killer's blueprint. There's a void.

Will post some more vids as I see them. Check back.

Thursday, 16 January 2014

Damian Marley jumps on Rootsman riddim (same as Chroixx "Here Comes Trouble)

This is a big moment. Damian Marley has only been on three songs another artist cut a song on since Welcome To Jamrock fame. Not sure he was on many before. 2 of the 3 times ("One Loaf of Bread" and "The Mission"), his versions were the first out the gate so potentially scheduled as single projects. Both arguably overshadowed by the uprising star at the time, Mavado ("Me and My Dawgs" and "On The Rock" respectively). Third time he featured on a riddim was the remix of Mykal Rose's streets anthem "Shoot Out" on the riddim of the same name. Mavado took that one for me too ("Life of a G").

The difference here is Rootsman riddim is almost a year old, so him jumping on an already established riddim hasn't happened at all (if my memory serves me correctly). It's also one step closer to the leader of this current generation acknowledging the reggae revival movement which has been talk of the genre for a good moment now.

Damian Marley - "Gun Man World"

Credit to WorldAReggae

As with anybody who jumps on a riddim, your piece is pitched against others. This isn't better than Chronixx "Here Comes Trouble" nor Jesse Royal "Modern Day Judas". While it isn't as good as I hoped (lacklustre delivery), I definitely want to see more of this kind of action and some collaborations. It's been added to 1Xtra's playlist on sight.

Overstand's new riddim, Militancy, has some fire on there. My favourite is by an artist I'm keeping my eye on this year, Dre Island. He sounds a lot like a long lost Marley, but don't let that effect your judgement - he's still a good artist.

Wednesday, 8 January 2014

Timaya & Machel Montano - Shake Yuh Bum Bum (Soca meets Afrobeats)

I rekindled my relationship with soca in about 2012 (maybe 2011 - time flies). Mainly cos the DJ's don't select the right songs in clubs. Power soca (the really fast uptempo stuff) doesn't suit my settings in a club without water being thrown. The groovy stuff (more mid-tempo stuff) is more my vibe. I tell you when I started liking soca tunes again, "Wotless" by Kes the Band. Songs like that, Antilles riddim et cet.

Afrobeats has always reminded me of soca or bashment. The three intersect really well. Following Busy Signal re-touching Sarkodie's bashment song "U Go Kill Me" for "Same Way", soca king Machel Montano brings his lively soca vibe to Timaya's "Bum Bum". "Bum Bum" is a song I can remember hearing in the club and thinking "What song is this?!" I remember the club, the room, the man dem I was with and who I told the tune is a  banger.

Thanks to Akosua Annobil for letting me know the song name following my request on Twitter. See I remember all of this. When I remember all of this, I know the song is special to me lol.

Anyway, here's the song:

Here's the original

And here's Busy Signal "Same Way" (didn't know there was a video)

And Sarkodie "U Go Kill Me"

Love this. While we're at it, congratulations to Fuse ODG's bashment song "Million Pound Girl" reaching #14 in the national UK singles chart. Remix features Konshens. The afrobeats song on there is fire too.

Appreciate the ladies in this video. My goodness.

Fuse ODG ft. Wande Coal "Come Closer"

More of this cross pollination for the year 2014 please? The Stylo G & Fuse ODG song is a necessity. The year can't pass without it. Oh and more soca vs bashment vs afrobeats. Three-the-hard-way.