Sunday, 27 December 2015

World a Reggae and Bashment Influence 2015

By now, you may have read the best of Jamaican music awards, plus the 20 top reggae and bashment songs of 2015. Now is time for the round up of Jamaican music's influence outside of the core music. How reggae and bashment was either used or influence UK, US, South American, African music and more in 2015.

Monday, 21 December 2015

20 top reggae & bashment bangers fi da year ya - 2015 edition

This ain't in a particular order because how innit? And to be fair, its the first 20 songs that spring to mind. That's gotta be a good way to tell. I think anyway. And it ain't factual, its just my opinion. There will be a lot of songs I like that aren't on here so yeah, wul dis.

I did an awards ceremony you can check here but this one is a way to share the song's I rated. The world a reggae and bashment ones here. Stay locked.

But anyway, here goes...

Sunday, 20 December 2015

Best of Jamaican Music Awards 2015

So anyway, I always think of dancehall and reggae as summer to summer. If a riddim didn't run summer, it doesn't qualify for a release that year. This stems back to going to Jamaica every year for Independence weekend. And Jamaican music sounds so much better in the lead up to and in the summer, anyway.

I've had this in my drafts since about October and held out posting it just to see if anything would change this. It didn't so this will be my last end of year awards at this time of the year. It'll drop earlier.

And it's my opinion anyway based on my observations and experiences.

Monday, 23 November 2015

Why Justin Bieber's bashment song hitting no. 1 is bittersweet

So, if you follow me on Twitter, you'll know I've been fully hoping for Justin Bieber 'Sorry' to hit number 1 in the UK (it's number 1 song in the world on Spotify too). I was fully annoyed Adele released 'Hello' because it was a sure fire number 1. Well, four weeks into its release it finally reached the summit of UK's best selling singles - without an official video (the online dance video of girls from New Zealand doing dancehall moves doesn't count). Instead of the one week it'll get before Adele reclaims the spot this week, who knows how long it would've held the top for.

This is the third time this year a mammoth song has kept a reggae or dancehall pop song off the top spot. R. City ('Locked Away') were kept at number 2 the week Sam Smith released his boring Bond song, likewise Omi 'Cheerleader' was kept off for about four weeks due to Charlie Puth 'See You Again' featuring Wiz Khalifa (no typo) being a tribute song from Fast and Furious whatever number they're at now. Omi managed to budge that song out of the way and reigned for about 3 weeks.

It's been a mad year for pop-viable dancehall and reggae songs. A fair few smash hits have benefited from the sounds created in West Kingston, Jamaica. I'll give a proper rundown at the end of the year as per usual, alongside my review of Jamaican dancehall and reggae music in 2015.

So yeah, while I'm here seeing the dancehall sound can top charts (albeit coming from pop's coolest pop star right now), I'm thinking about how the aforementioned Omi dropped the chance at becoming a main player because I believe Jamaicans lack the belief of dancehall as a sound (and culture) in the pop music game.

Omi's second single did exactly what I said shouldn't be done in my Don't Go Chasing Cheerleader post back in June. Don't get me wrong, Hula Hoop isn't a bad song at all (it's pretty good for what it is) but its an inferior 'Cheerleader'. On the day the audio dropped I tweeted that following your first hit with a soundalike is one of the easiest routes to becoming a one-hit wonder. The "chasing the dragon" theory. While it's done pretty well in some places like Australia and Sweden, but nothing near what the follow-up to one of the years biggest singles should have.

Omi tried so hard to stay away from being known as a reggae artist because he wanted to be a pop singer that he just became another 0/1 in the matrix. The one thing that would've differentiated him from the pack was looked upon as a hinderance rather than a unique selling point. This year, more than any, has been proof in the sweet potato pudding that the sounds of Jamaica are in demand from a global mainstream standpoint. (There's rumours about Jamaican music and features on Rihanna's new album too.)

I also thought it would've been a lot better with a Jamaican artist feature. The song is essentially a soca song but to everybody else its a pop/tropical house song. It's screaming for a Sean Paul feature to seal the Caribbean link. And never, ever think that Sean Paul is past it. He was on the biggest Latin single 'Bailando', Farruko's smash-hit 'Passion Whine' and the biggest selling afrobeats song in UK chart history 'Dangerous Love', as well as Timaya's 'Bum Bum' last year. He would've sold the song.

Back to Bieber, he took influence from Felix Jaehn's remix of 'Cheerleader' for 'What Do You Mean?' then slapped the follow-up with bashment. Indirectly showed him the way he should've done it with his own country's music. Never would've thought he would checkmate Omi like that.

It's a shame a Jamaican artist didn't benefit from taking a Jamaican-sounding song to number one. First Sean Paul left it for EDM (has since returned with the music fit for him today), Tessanne went straight pop ballad instead of reggae, now Omi's basically finished. All because they didn't see Jamaica as a viable selling point.

Once again, this isn't me hoping Jamaicans make music to chart, I want them to have faith in their product. That Jamaican music is good enough to transcend even at the "highest" height. But nothing can be done to change the past. Once again, I ask for Jamaican artists who get the opportunity to spread the music and culture, please do it. Bring the spotlight so the rest can tour and eat a food. The world loves it.

Sunday, 15 November 2015

What reggae's first Radio 1 playlist in ten years tells me about reggae. Big up Protoje

Once again, I'd like to say mainstream approval is not the be all and end all, however it provides a very important cog in getting my favourite artists the ears they deserve. If a reggae song has the quality and steam to go forward and benefit from the exposure a national radio station, the biggest radio station UK can give, why shouldn't it be taken advantage of? As long as they hold their rights, own their stuff and aren't manipulated out of shape by the industry, I'm all for it. Give them their dues.

Why hold everyone in a corner? It ain't for everyone, but for those who can benefit and help shine a light, go bring that light, bruv. I'm much more against making good music have to jump loads and loads of obstacles because of dated thinking, lack of resources afforded to independents and lack of opportunities given to non-US/UK/EU/AUS music. Fix that.

I'd also like to take a moment to say I gave Protoje his first mainstream mention in 2012 (alongside Konshens, Tarrus Riley, Etana and Popcaan) because I believed in him back then and continue to believe in him now. This is not a case of the bandwagon jumper.

So yeah, Protoje featuring Chronixx "Who Knows" is on the Radio 1 playlist. There are levels, this isn't the first to be on the Radio 1 playlist as Kiko Bun "Sometimes" and "Where I'm From" were on the In New Music We Trust section. Shy FX's Liam Bailey-assisted "Soon Come" was also on the same bit. Those songs don't get anywhere near the same play (in theory) as a full playlist - on the A, B and C. If the INMWT one gives you something like 5 plays a week, C-list is supposed to give like 2-a-day. I can't remember the exact figures but a something like so. INMWT feels a lot more like a nod to the under-represented, whereas a proper playlist suggests it is good enough to sit alongside the best music right now.

Anyone who knows "Who Knows" as last year's undeniably biggest reggae song of the year, knows it should've got it last year. It goes to show the lengths a reggae artist must jump though, because they may not have accepted it or understood the magnitude of the record back then. This year, however, Proto has done one sold out show in March and one tour in October, received press coverage from mainstream stuff like Noisey, Fader, Independent etc., topped the reggae album chart in US, nominated for Best Reggae at the MOBOs and the video sits on 13 million views. Who would dare say no now?

Friday, 13 November 2015

What Lean On's Spotify record-break tells me about dancehall

So, it was announced that Major Lazer 'Lean On' broke the record for most played song in Spotify's history. Small feat in that it's only one platform, but massive feat in that its still the most played song ever on a huge platform.

But what does this mean? Well, what I get from it is confirmation of something I've always known. A dancehall song can rule the world.

Thursday, 5 November 2015

I imagined telling these artists, "mate, you're doing it wrong"

This is just a flush of thoughts. Dunno if it'll make sense in the end but its just a flush.

We're calling this one, know your role. I'm gonna talk about over-hyped artists and artists who need to do certain things to be better, in my opinion.

First up it's Chris Brown. The guy's one of the most all-round talents in the higher echelon's of popular music. He can dance, emotive voice and has a genuinely intriguing life which is perfect inspiration for material. Not a year goes by when Chris Brown isn't on a hit song. But very rarely one of his own. Give this guy a guest appearance or sort him with a guest and yeah. Put him by himself, very rarely produces anyone beyond his core fan base (screaming girls and certain man) care about.

Wednesday, 14 October 2015

no long talk with Assassin/Agent Sasco | Underhyped Legend?

no long talk with Assassin aka Agent Sasco. After the long two-parter with Kabaka Pyramid, this is a very short one in comparison.

I can tell by his style that he has a true school dancehall foundation with hip hop style lyricism so I wanted to know about his sound system beginnings. Also, we speak about growing up in a one room, board house (house made with board) with his family and lessons learnt.

Not believing he could be a dancehall artist until ghostwriting for one of his childhood icon, Spragga Benz.

There have been numerous moments of peaks and troughs along the way, including big songs (Anywhere We Go, Ruffest, Eediot Ting) on iconic riddims (85, Diwali, Steps) with dancehall legends on production duties (Dave Kelly, Lenky, Daseca) to quiet periods and the tune-for-tune yet non-clash with a young Vybz Kartel.

He shares the stories behind "Ruffest", "Anywhere We Go" and "Do It If Ya Bad", why Kartel wanted to clash him and why he wasn't interested, as well as taking time out of blossoming career to get a degree.

If there's one area I feel Assassin isn't as strong at, it's the chorus, however, this year saw him deliver a world class one for Kendrick Lamar on "Blacker The Berry". I ask if that was meant to be a verse to which he replies with the verse he actually demoed.

Having been a fan of Assassin from the top end of the noughties, many feel he hasn't delivered on his early promise or is under-rated. I suggest it's because he isn't the badman or the gallis. Also why he hasn't dropped a definitive body of work.

So yeah, stay locked. This ain't a catch-up, it's no long talk.

Subscribe on iTunes:…lk./id1044826294
(p.s. I said We Bad From was on Mad Instruments. The popular version was mixed on to it. The original is a different riddim.)

The songs in question are as follows. If you missed this clash, it was a good one. Never reached the stage but good counteractions (diss) records.

Assassin - We A Bad From


Vybz Kartel - We Bad From

Assassin - Step Pon Dem


Vybz Kartel - 4 Star

Assassin - Do It If Yuh Bad

Vybz Kartel - Nuh Throw

Spragga Benz - We Ready

Assassin - Idiot Ting Dat
"Voice your tune, deejay hear it and gawn counteract - idiot ting dat!"

Sunday, 11 October 2015

no long talk. x Kabaka Pyramid | The artist's artist

Part 1 was about the person. I called it Uptown Top Rasta. This side is more about the music.

We speak being "the artist's artist" of the movement, reason for pursuing reggae over hip hop, friend dying helped him push on, thoughts on hip hop and dancehall's current low and frustrations at having to dumb down his music.

Also, reggae revival's "uptown" stigma, uptown youths making downtown music, Uptown vs. downtown divide in Jamaica and which side he prefers.

Some quotes:

On his reggae peers: "Sometimes I feel like I love music the least."

Recalls the first time meeting Chonixx at a birthday party in Protoje's house and how they've both inspired him: "Protoje was the main figure... When Chronixx started to blow up, that's when I really saw the possibilities of this ting. When Protoje had his band, I didn't think I would have my own band anytime soon."

On hip hop and dancehall's current state: "I think they've both gone to absolute rubbish."

On dancehall's low and reggae's high at the moment: "I think dancehall is at its lowest point right now and it's only right something rose up to counteract it." but also recognises "Our music doesn't penetrate like dancehall. We need to do more dancehall".

On relationship with dancehall artists: "Most artists' - whether dancehall or reggae - say 'it's you I rate out of the whole of the movement'... I always joke and say I'm the artists' artist'."

Wednesday, 23 September 2015

no long talk. with Kabaka Pyramid | Uptown Top Rasta [ep. 001]

So as I pointed out the other day, "no long talk." is the new vibrations from the Marvin Sparks camp. First one out the box is Kabaka Pyramid. If you are familiar with the artist, you know he's one of the best lyricists in Jamaica, well-respected by his peers, deals with truths and rights, highlights western hypocrisy and has in-depth knowledge to back his passionate rebel music.

He, along with Protoje, Chronixx, Dre Island, Jah 9, Jesse Royal, Keznamdi, Kelissa, Hempress Sativa, Iba Mahr etc., are part of the new wave of Jamaican artists' bringing forth the roots, rebel reggae message frequently called the "reggae/roots revival" movement. Individually, they bring different vibes, directions and slightly different inspirations amongst them. Whereas Chronixx, Dre Island and Jesse Royal continue the dancehall singjay vibe, like Protoje and Keznamdi, Kabaka Pyramid brings a more hip hop construction to the stylings accustomed to reggae chatting.

I thought Kabaka Pyramid would be perfect to lead, not only cos it's absolutely insightful, but more time an emerging artist doesn't get more than a 500 word piece. We rarely learn anything from them other than a brief about their music, few notable career moments/co-signs and what area they come from. A little taster column for cool ratings to refer to once they've blown up like "We were here first".

And I get that it's because it doesn't get views. Average Joe/Joanna rarely care. But you know what, I care if I believe in them.

In my time of doing "interviews" (I don't like that word), I've found these ones can be up there with the most giving. I mean, yeah, many times they can be really guarded due to what they've heard about the media manipulating words or taking things out of context for sake of hits. Maybe one day I may happen quote something that doesn't tell the whole story for a headline with the purest heart one day. Only based on the quote being something I think appeals to people in a "Hmm... tell me more" way.

Friday, 18 September 2015

Remember: "UK dont support each other"?/"We don't need US to rate us" part 2

This is for those who said "We dont support each other in the UK" and the "We don't need US to rate us" crews. You lot don't know what youre talking about.This is inspired by them.

But anyway, while the essence of the "We don't need US" statement is truth, it isn't wholly. Reason being, the fassies amongst us ("us" being those who believe the statement to be true) wouldn't be shouting about it without it. Let's be honest, until Krept & Konan charted without help from the corporations, media or the aforementioned fassies, UK rap was a road man thing. It wasn't a viable genre. It existed on YouTube, got high figures but so did "Charlie bit my finger". It didn't really mean much beyond that.

Monday, 14 September 2015

That time I was #HalfCast

HalfCast is the strongest podcast when it comes to chatting about things from our surroundings and perspective; be it music, entertainment or social issues and relationships, Chuckie Online and Poet are opinionated. I find myself agreeing with one or the other depending on the issue which is always a good thing. Sometimes one is right, other times you agree with another guy. And sometimes they're both right on the same thing but they have different angles so some thing's lost in the mix.

But anyway, I was on there. We spoke about why British acts should boycott the BET international awards and the identity or lack thereof with London acts.

And it ain't about being mixed-race or nothing (as far as I'm aware based on what they said). No abuse. Thanks in advance. And subscribe to their ting

Friday, 17 July 2015

How Shaggy became first Dancehall artist to score UK hits in THREE separate decades

I don't think any other living Jamaican artist has scored a hit in every decade since first entering the UK charts with chart-topper "Oh Carolina". While Shaggy's career began in New York, he scored his first ever hit in the UK. We buss him. There definitely hasn't been one from a dancehall background. This is something worth shouting about, and if I don't do it, who will? Ay?

Thursday, 16 July 2015

About Chronixx Somerset House show: this is NOT a review

So basically, I went to Chronixx's show at the prestigious Somerset House on Sunday. Had the time of my life again. Decided I'm not gonna write a review on Monday because what else is there to say? I've seen him five times (six if you include the time babylon locked off proceedings cos of curfew in Jamaica. Seven if you include his appearance at Rebel Salute) and been impressed every time. How do I keep retelling the same story? "You have to see this guy. It is one of the best shows you will experience in these times," will forever be the moral.

If you wanna read a review of this show go here. You can take in my reviews of Chronixx in 2014 and 2013. If you wanna do that and wanna hear what I've got to say, stay here.

Monday, 13 July 2015

FAO JA music: Don't go chasing Cheerleader

So what I'm saying is, I know the success of "Cheerleader" by Omi is a major deal, but please, please, please, learn the right lessons from it. I noticed people only started cheering it on when it first touched the US charts despite it topping charts in 17 countries before. Typical, but very problematic issue that's happening in Jamaican media and filters to Jamaican music makers.

Nobody seems to care even a little bit about the Jamaican music success outside of Billboard chart. I seriously have to ask "If a song is a hit outside of US, was it actually a hit?" We live in a digital age, information is easier to access than ever before, yet I get the impression that some are only slightly more knowledgable than when foreign distributors only communicated with producers they licensed from and the artists had no idea a big hit sold a single copy.

Sunday, 28 June 2015

Then why doesn't everyone know UK loves reggae?

A compilation called Dancehall Reggae Anthems was released the other day, topping the iTunes album chart for four of the seven days in week of release and entered the official UK compilation chart at number 3. Of course, I was on hand to give daily updates - obviously. But then certain responses made me think: why do people make say "Yeah, but…" and "It's only because of…" type responses when reggae and dancehall does well? Is it just a lack of faith based on various reasons, lack of historical knowledge or a lack of faith because they lack historical knowledge?

Saturday, 30 May 2015

Cool? Wtf is "cool? Tell cool I said "your mum"

Funniest things you learn in life. Especially on Twitter where you can see opinions from people outside your social circle. In most cases, they're people you'll never meet so big up the internet.

I was listening to a podcast (Vlad TV with Lord Jamar and Star) after I listened to the latest Combat Jack (Jamillah Larrieux). As we know, the whole "system is designed to keep the black man down" is omnipresent in black American  conversation these days. But for some reason, I clocked something that sparked this post. It will go off in various directions 'cos I've got a few examples. Some are things I've said, some are things I've witnessed, but the thread is all the same. I'll wrap it up at the end. Just stick with me.

There are those sayings like "going against the grain" What is the flipping thing? It's all relative to the times, innit? 'Cos when you pree the thing properly, there are loads of things that were considered rebellious or against the grain once upon a time that are the grain now and vice-versa. Like, a few years ago marijuana was an illegal drug in US, today its legal in certain States of America. People who were saying it isn't that bad for you are more likely to be believed today than they were. Even further than that, smoking weed was a wasteman pastime. Now it's the in ting to be a stoner. Again. Comprendez? Just a little light example. Warm and easy.

Hey black British artists, reppin' your ends is the new black

(Generally speaking now. I can't be arsed to deal with people who say "Oh, but what about this artist?" cos it's stupid. There are always exceptions to the rule. But guess what? In the grand scheme of things, IT DOESN'T MATTER!)

I've been meaning to write this post for a couple of weeks, but I decided to start writing this when I watched Tinie Tempah's new video. Everything made sense again.

Saturday, 16 May 2015

That time they try tell me about black British history… looooool

Disclaimer: This post is inspired by a conversationThe people quoted in this post are who I believe are symptoms of, not the problem so please understand this isn't a personal attack - it's addressing a wider issue. They were quoted for context so readers could fully understand wah gwaan. Also, they are very up in certain aspects of black American and black British culture. Do not take them for some weak, any guys at aaaallll. The conversation wouldn't have been a conversation if that was the case. Respect them guys. And I'm speaking generally. If you don't feel like you fit the category, you probably don't. This isn't a black vs. white thing, it's a "there's a lot more to the story" thing. Bless up.

Before we proceed, I'd like to start this post by quoting BDL founder, Big Narstie. "Black man can't fool again, my lard." This is a history lesson outside of Black History Month *gasp*. That's about Black American history anyway, so you wouldn't get this kind of stuff anyway. Also, make sure you understand the disclaimer before you get worked up or start drawing your own conclusions.

A tweet I posted sparked a reaction yesterday. So much so, a long conversation followed (you can read it here). I was asked to admit I was chatting shit or got it wrong. Which part?! Wrong for using a word that offended soul heads cos they don't feel they were begs? Based on the fact a few missed the point, maybe, but the essence of the tweet is true. And as Bob Marley said "The truth is an offence but not a sin".

(Definition of "beg" in this instance: placing somebody else's culture higher than your own. Yes, I understand some people just prefer the music but you'll get me if you continue reading. Safe)

It's so mad; it went so left, people were bringing what they think I said based on who they think I am and what they think I know. Mate "You might see me on the tweets but homie, you don't know me".

Friday, 1 May 2015

Chronixx the bad guy? Reggae rates sell outs now?

Now let me set this off right, I've felt away about the reaction to this for a while but I didn't have the right words to say at the time. Now I've formulated all my thoughts, I present this post to you. I'm not late, I'm on Marvin's time. And there's no time like Marvin's time.

So if you aren't familiar with the story, Chronixx posted this the day everybody got a boner 'cos Obama said "Greeting's massive. Wah gwaan, Jamaica?" The picture was deleted not long after.

Loads of people got really upset by this. And I mean, REALLY UPSET. Like, ABSO LIVID, MATE! The young artists page was inundated with comments ranging from "How dare you call Obama a waste man" to "Your VISA should be revoked".  Woah, woah mate, slow down innit. Funniest comment was in response to said "revoke visa" comment, which said "Revoke yu madda…" Mi laugh so til.

(Basically, Jamaican artists require a visa to perform in America.)

The worst thing is said was missed by everyone. What did he mean by "race of good for nothings". That's only bit I thought was potentially a bad decision.

But anyway onto the real stuff...

Why Skepta is most important black British artist right now

Hear what, yeah, I said it. And I ain't taking back no talk. And I ain't a post-Kanye West and Drake co-sign Skepta fan. Nor am I a deeper grime fan so I'm not gonna go into bere specifics. Nor do I feel its necessary to go into grand detail. I'm just here to talk about the greater cause. Skepta has helped bring back what it means to be a black Londoner expressing him/herself through music and that good stuff.

(That's to prove I'm not a band wagon guy.)

You may remember I posted a little one man reasoning about why Fuse ODG is the best black British artist. He then went on to become the best selling black British artist of the year and it doing a tour bigger than most black men with a mic are currently able to (Hammersmith Apollo is like 4k capacity, most do under 2k). This is something I've been thinking and tweeting for a while now. Well, it's gone from Skepta is the best/king to the most important over time. Today I'm posting these thoughts.

(Little note: my disclaimer in the above Fuse post was "*subject to change when Skepta, Chip and/or Wretch drop some material.")

Skepta is like if all of a sudden New York ruled hip hop again. London's got its culture back. We were in some grim times (definitely not grime times). The focus had shifted to UK rap, which was pretty cool for a bit. Let's be honest, it was a lot better than the Wearing My Rolex, Oopsy Daisy and (Tinchy Stryder) Number 1 chasing by other respected artists who weren't capable of making those songs like the artists who did. That was until UK rap started rehashing American sounds, rhyme schemes and slang. Every week there were hundreds of freestyles of the latest American hip hop banger or everyone wanted to be Drake and those who didn't, wanted to be Rick Ross. And the worst thing is, people actually believed it was where we needed to go.

Tuesday, 31 March 2015

This is about Protoje's sold out debut show in London

So, Friday night was all about Protoje's first show in England. And where better for it to be held than Brixton? Nowhere! That's where. The night was hosted by Sir David "Ram Jam" Rodigan. Who better to give you the blessing for your first show in England, in Brixton? You guessed it, me! That's who. Nah, I'm joking. No one - duh.

Friday, 27 February 2015

Why there weren't any blacks at the Brits + Kanye thing a bad look?

I wasn't even gonna address this but I had a vibes to so here it is.

Everybody's been asking why there weren't any blacks at the Brits, so I thought I'd give a few answers based on what I see happening out there today. Most of the people asking the questions will happily admit they don't follow what's happening in the national charts. How does that even make sense then? In an ideal world, you should have a little bit of knowledge before speaking on things you don't know. Otherwise, you're just spouting ignorance.

First things first, the Brits is there to celebrate the best of what's happening in the charts for a particular year. How they measure that, I don't know, but that's what it's meant to do. I also don't know the criteria for nominations, but whatever. Black artists accounted for a grand total of two nominations. George The Poet for Brits' Critics Choice and FKA Twigs in the Best Female category. Neither won.

The better question is where are the black Brits in the charts?

Tuesday, 17 February 2015

Reggae Valentines Showcase (Freddie McGregor, Romain Virgo, Johnny Osbourne + more) was so live

So I went to the Reggae Valentine's show on Sunday night (15th February). First thing's first; big up the organisers - solid line up and nice change of venue. Too often these shows are just heritage acts at the Brixton Academy. The Academy is a big venue so it seems like promotors are limited with artists. Well, giving them benefit of the doubt.

Show started promptly at 7:30. Anybody that's been to a reggae show in the past will know how much of a big deal this is. Too often, Sunday night shows don't really pay attention to the fact tube finishes early, meaning a long journey back for people, who in some cases either miss the last half hour of the show or go across London on a mission. Leave's a bad vibe and people will eventually say they aren't going to Sunday shows as a result. Thankfully, this ended at 11pm on the dot!

Saturday, 14 February 2015

I spent Bob Marley's 70th at couple (free!) events in Kingston, Jamaica

So, as you should know 6th February is the day both Bunny Rugs from Third World and Bob Marley were born. Neither are with us in physical, however they're both strong in the world of music.

Bob Marley's birthday was celebrated with events across the island. I was fortunate to go to two. Maddest thing is I didn't even plan to be there for his 70th, I noticed the week before. Great coincidence. Must've been a blessing from the above.

February is reggae month in Jamaica, it begins with Dennis Brown celebrations as its his birthday on the 1st (I went down to Dubwise Wednesday for a tribute session. Big up Yardcoore) and there's loads of other events (including wicked ones for free) going on.

However, we're here to talk about Bob Marley's birthday celebrations. On the day itself, I went down to the Bob Marley museum at 56 Hope Road for the 'Legacy Continues' show. Very surreal experience. Like, I'm really at Bob Marley's house on what would've been his 70th birthday. And we were all there for the same reason, so it was a big community - Rasta's and baldhead's alike. Bob's a prophet. In years to come, there could be a religion after him. I mean, Rasta globally is more down to a love and raspect for Bob Marley than anything else if we're totally honest.

I walked in as percussionist Bongo Herman was on stage playing some songs - mainly covers and that of songs such as Sugar Minott "Oh Mr DC" and others. He was followed by the Uprising Roots band. Both delivered good enough performances for the slots.

Bob's famous blue Land Rover had been taken off display in the museum for a couple years as it was being restored. I know it's at least a couple of years because they mentioned it when I was there in 2013. I didn't even realise they would be unveiling the restored version on the day. It was only when I was told to get off a platform I stood on, I looked to my right and saw the Land Rover sign and they announced they'd be revealing it.

Friday, 6 February 2015

"We'll be forever loving Bob" Marley, the greatest, 70th hail up post

Title is a spin of "Forever Loving Jah", the penultimate track on Bob Marley's album, Uprising! It sits between "Could You Be Loved" and "Redemption Song". Interesting when you check it was to be his final album before his physical left the green garden known as earth.

Bob Marley is the greatest person to make music in history. His impact and legacy say everything you need to know. Yeah, The 70th best-selling album in USA last year. It was in the top 200 the year before. "Legend" spends more time in the UK top-selling 100 albums than out of it, nearing on Abba's 4th spot for longest reign in the top 75 ever. And you can find him on Spotify top 100 albums too. And the 5th richest dead celebrity.

But I'm just using those stats as an example of his pulling power today. He's able to outperform most artists making music today, let alone people who made it then. Bob died aged 36, thirty-four years ago. He's been gone for almost as long as he was here. And when you check he scored his first international hit, "No Woman, No Cry", a mere six years before his passing, the music has lasted almost six times longer.

But where Bob shines is the bits you can't take to the tills. The fact his words still have as great, if not greater impact today. The fact uni students still hang posters on the wall. The fact mural's are still painted on walls across the globe. The fact you can go to anywhere in the world with a Jamaica flag and they say Bob Marley (and Usain Bolt). The fact people non-black people grow dreadlocks even though it doesn't really fit their hair and criticised by peers. The fact Rasta is a strong form of hippy culture for non-blacks. The fact reggae is listened to, practiced and played by people all over the world.

Not to say he did it single-handedly, but he's by far the most powerful individual to spread it. We're talking a man who holds the record for most attendees at a show in Italy in one night - attracting over 100k. Stadium's across the world. The main reason he isn't shouted about loudly is because (the sometimes backwards) Americans didn't get him while he was alive. And you know they control media.

Bob's legacy is far greater than just a musician - that's what he did. Bob put his thoughts, philosophies, beliefs and observations into music. Music was the vehicle that drove all of that to the hearts, minds and souls of the people. 'Cos that's exactly who Bob is - the people's champion. Really, he said what most of us believe, hence why it resonates. The ability to talk about stuff average people call boring in a pop-friendly way without compromising on the message. I mean, how many others had a moment like when he performed "Zimbabwe" at the Zimbabwean independence? How many could? For the right reasons, not commercial.

The narrative of Bob is marijuana and happy-go-lucky, feel-good music. As great a collection and success Legend has been, it doesn't reflect Bob's full spectrum. That's a lot of people's starting and end point of Bob. While you have "Get Up, Stand Up", there isn't a "Crazy Baldhead" or "The Heathens" proper militant, anti-establishment anthems. No "Jah Live" or "Thank You Lord" for his spirituality. No "So Much Trouble In The World" or "Rat Race" observations of the world. And those are the more popular ones. There are many album cuts worth digging into. Blame the corporates for the softening of his image.

When you consider Bob Marley moved from a struggling family in the countryside to a Kingston ghetto, then rose to be this world famous superhero prophet who sang from a perspective and informed by a faith that was alien to majority of his supporters, there is no greater. His black rights message crossed boundaries more than any black man before him. We need to be taught about him in black history month. Where do I start a petition?

Time alone has told. Happy 70th Earthstrong. Cos in our hearts, ears and minds, Bob will never die.

You can read a conversation I had about Bob Marley with the Queen of reggae and I-Threes member, Marcia Griffiths here

And my "hits on top of hits" post here where I put loads of songs that used Bob Marley riddims to make hits.

Tuesday, 27 January 2015

I also went to the (better) second night at Rebel Salute in Jamaica

So yeah, I said I'd give you second date review in the first night review post. I realised reaching so early the previous night was a mistake, so went at 1am, fully sleeped up after a long nap. Smartest move possible. I wanted to see Exco Levi and Cali P but so it go more time.

If the first sight was about intriguing performances, second night was about the artists I'm a fan of but UK reggae promoters don't see fit to bring them over. It's better seeing them in their natural habitat anyway.

Tuesday, 20 January 2015

That time I went to Jamaican reggae festival Rebel Salute [First Night Review]

I've always wanted to go to Rebel Salute. For those who don't know, Rebel Salute is an event created by roots artist Tony Rebel. The now two-night (and morning) event is held in Ocho Rios since moving from St Elizabeth where it moved from about two years ago. This year was the 22nd staging of the event.

[Photo credit: Rebel Salute website]
Rebel Salute is a straight conscious music event. Even when they've booked Lady Saw, Bounty Killer and Mavado, all had to perform strictly clean and conscious material to fit the movement (yes, they do have enough suitable songs). No alcohol or meat is served - alcohol is confiscated at the gate. Drugs aren't allowed either. Herbs are cool though. Strangely enough, Red Bull are a big sponsor. Wouldn't have said they fit the ital description, but hey, so it go. Food stalls sell fresh fruit and pescetarian-friendly food.