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ForwardEver covers music and life in San Francisco with a heavy dose of reggae. Edited by DJ Tomas, there's links to freelance writing work past and present, plus news and views on culture and politics.

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    Itation Records announces its new one-drop masterpiece, the Clearly Riddim.

    We've got an official preview featuring singjay Al Pancho for you. Download it here.

    From the press release:
    Itation Records is pleased to announce the release of the complete set of 17 crucial tracks on May 11, 2010. Another creative partnership between Itation and the Tune In Crew production team, and the first riddim project since their 2008 Roots Riddim of the Year award winning World Go Round Riddim, the Clearly Riddim will light the way among roots and kulcha reggae fans for a long time to come.

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  • 05/09/10--13:05: Reggae News and Views
  • Reggae News and views from ForwardEver and outernationally!

    Jamaican DJ Lady Saw is successfully remaking herself as a conscious singer after years as a slackness emcee. Her new single "Secret Love" is on Toasting Music's new 18 & Ova riddim. The riddim is not related to the Cocoa Tea song of the same name but it is a solidly built uptempo one-drop affair in the vein of Don Corleon productions. The riddim set features Maxi Priest, Peetah Morgan, Sizzla and a fantastic Buju Banton piece. Recommended!

     Italian-Jamaican singjay Alborosie tours the West Coast May 27 - June 20, including stops at The Roxy in LA and Sierra Nevada World Music Festival in Nor Cal. Look for ForwardEver's feature article with Albo in Big Up Magazine, dropping soon.

    Dancehall DJ Erup has scored another hit with "Come To Me" on the worldwide smash Hold Yu Riddim made popular by Gyptian. Erup hit big just a few months ago with his guitar-heavy rock-riddim hybrid "How We Ride," an anthem for all car and motorcycle enthusiasts.

    Looking for quality dubplates recorded in Kingston with reliable delivery and fair pricing? Check out, a new service for all serious clash selectas.

    Toronto's Dubmatix and Nate Wise have teamed up for a remix album set. According to Dubmatix's site: Nate Wize delivers a mix of Dubstep, House, Electro and Hip-Hop.Dubmatix joins in with 3 of his own interpretive remixes with funk and D&B. Dubmatix is also offering an iPhone app to keep up with their tunes and have created an awesome sound library called Atomic Loops for reggae producers who wish to expand their studio tools.

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  • 05/17/10--22:49: Jamaica On Edge
  • UPDATE: Bruce apologizes, Jamaicans react.
    Jamaica is on edge today as Prime Minister Bruce Golding has acquiesced to pressure by the US to extradite alleged drug lord Christopher "Dudus" Coke. (For more background on this case, see ForwardEver's March 19 post)

    Golding acknowledged before Jamaican Parliament last week that he personally directed his Labor Party officials to hire a US law firm to pressure the Obama administration to drop its politically sensitive extradition bid. Today Golding addressed the nation on the matter and offered his apology. There were calls from the opposition People's National Party for Golding to step down amid the implication that he went to extraordinary means to protect a reputed gang leader.

    After Golding's speech merchants in downtown Kingston began closing up shop and heading for safer territory, fearing a reprisal by Coke's Tivoli Gardens area supporters. The tense situation was summed up by Active Voice blog in a post that read:

    Today was the most unsettling exciting day in the last decade or so. Around 3 pm started to hear rumours that 'war' was going to break out because the Prime Minister was going to announce that the extradition proceedings agaist 'Dudus' Coke were going forward. A feeling of panic began to spread and there was a stampede to get out of downtown where the rumours started circulating around 11 in the morning. By mid-afternoon everyone was on the road trying to reach a safe place. Top 10 ways to get home quickly proclaimed a blog... ... At the appointed hour Bruce Golding addressed the nation looking suitably contrite and apologizing profusely. Then he announced that the Attorney General was going to sign the relevant papers so that the extradition could proceed. Dudus' lawyer, Tom Tavares-Finson was reputed to be livid with anger; he would defend his client in court he said.

    One Jamaica Observer commenter lamented:  
    Enough of the gangster, garison style politics. Too many people are being murdered daily, the country is out of control, theres no central political authority, or security, or justice. The country is being ran by political dons.

    While another wryly notes: 
    As the advice goes: "When you mess up, ‘fess up and then dress up." Heard the deep regret and the apologies; next steps; the implied directive for us to reflect on the BG that promised to uphold high standards … The PM ended with a prayer for God’s blessing upon us. (Sigh) We need it.  

    It has been a tough few moths for Jamaica with an up-tick in violence that has affected several reggae entertainers (including Mad Cobra and the singing group Voice Mail) on-top of the cancellation of a hand-full of high profile artist visas. According to the Jamaican Star, artists lead by Shaggy have organized a "Walk For Peace" this Sunday May 23 to confront the issues of violence that have been plaguing the island.

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  • 05/18/10--13:47: Bolt and Puzzlement

  • I finally saw the Usain Bolt commercial for the Jamaica tourist board today, ironically, while I was visiting my pops who was watching Fox News. Jamaica advertising on Fox? I suppose with Golding's attitudes about homosexuality (video) it makes sense. But amid JA's current political troubles, the ad is a reminder of the island's inherent beauty.

    Unrelated, my pops mentioned a question in a New York Times crossword puzzle he was working on: "The Jamaican version of Rap." The answer that fit in the space he had: Ska. You'd think NYT had better crossword puzzle editors...

    Ska is, of course, the primarily instrumental Jamaican music form popular in the late-50s through mid-60s. A closer analog in Western pop music would be American jazz.

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  • 05/23/10--23:05: Points of Order
  • Just to catch readers up on some of ForwardEver's recently published clips:

    Jahcoozi review in Resident Advisor
    Nick Chacona review in XLR8R
    Natalie Storm feature in XLR8R
    Wunmi preview for SF Weekly

    Coming soon
    • Poirier + Surya Dub preview (SF Weekly)
    • Alborosie feature (Big Up Magazine)
    • Dre Skull & Mixpak Records (XLR8R #134)

    DJTomasSF is doing a reggae broadcast on Ustream. Reggae Music Forward is on Sundays from 6-8 p.m. PST. Listen to previous shows here. For DJ Tomas / Dub I.D. shows, radio and live dates: MySpace.

    And here's a link to the Dub I.D. remix of Poirier "Enemies." Released last month as a digital-only track on Ninja Tune:

    Poirier "Enemies - Dub I.D. Mix"

      Poirier - Enemies feat. Face T (Dub I.D. Remix) by Ninja Tune

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  • 05/24/10--22:25: Kingston Under Heavy Manners
  • Kingston remained under a State of Emergency Tuesday as the hunt for alleged criminal Christopher Coke continues.  Coke, known by his nicknames "Dudus" and "President" is under an order of extradition to the US to face drugs and weapons charges.

    This situation bears an eerie resemblance to the violence that erupted when Coke's father Lloyd Lester Coke, a.k.a. Jim Brown was similarly arrested on a US extradition warrant.

    • Jamaica Observer report.
    • BBC news report and Video.
    • BBC biography of Christopher Coke.
    • Jamaica Gleaner bio of Dudas.
    • Jamaica television news reports.

    *note: the term "heavy manners" refers to the State of Emergency or curfew and marshal law that was declared by Prime Minister Michael Manley in 1976 in the run up to national elections. Manley, leader of the People's National Party, won re-election to a second term in office. He was replaced in another bloody election cycle in 1980 by his rival Edward Seaga of the Jamaica Labor Party who's stronghold is in the Tivoli Gardens neighborhood, the site of today's unrest. Jamaica's current Prime Minister, Bruce Golding, is a political leader who represented Tivoli.

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    Saturday Nite Rockers Playlist for Saturday 5-29-10
    11pm - 2am on KUSF 90.3 FM San Francisco

    PART 1 AUDIO DOWNLOAD (73MB) (from Nas to Iyaz)
    PART 2 AUDIO DOWNLOAD (20 MB) (from Voicemail to Gyptian)

    Nas & Damien Marley – Land of Promise (Universal) Promised Land / Love Fire riddim
    Dennis Brown & Aswad – The Promised Land (Simba) Promised Land / Love Fire riddim

    Toussaint – Be You (I-Grade)
    Etana –Heart Broken (Necessary Mayhem)
    Peter Spence – Lovely Here (Smart Move) Second Chances riddim
    One Third – Want Your Love (Smart Move) Second Chances riddim
    Shyam Moses – Second Chances (Smart Move) Second Chances riddim
    Horace Andy – Zion Gate (Justice)
    Sanchez – Mad Love For You (John John) Zion Gate riddim
    Tarrus Riley – Sweet Jamaica (John John) Zion Gate riddim
    Alborosie – Rudie Don't Fear (John John) Zion Gate riddim
    Jordaine  Bailey – I Am (Smart Move)
    Mary J Blige & Jah Cure – Each Tear (Supa Dups / Black Chiney)
    Maxi Priest – Rough Diamond (Wesley Play Records)
    Iyaz & Natalie Storm – Replay - JB One Drop Remix (promo)
    Voicemail – One Life To Live (download)
    Voicemail – Good Like A Gold (Ballaz) Almshouse Riddim
    Lady Saw – Too Licky (Ballaz) Almshouse Riddim
    Assassin – Wah Dem Run Down (Ballaz) Almshouse Riddim
    Nicky B – Put It On (promo)
    Erup – Come To Me (promo) Hold Yuh riddim
    Gyptian – Hold Yuh (VP) Hold Yuh riddim
    Capleton – Nuh Kill Out Nuh Artist (promo) Flash Forward riddim
    Chan Dizzy – Go Hard and Dun (Russian)
    Bounty Killa & Busy Signal – Sump A Go Gwaan (VP)
    Beenie Man – VISA (Di Genius)
    Bounty Killa – Cancel Visa (promo)
    Mr. Easy - Party Time (Rude Gal promo)
    Dirty Money & Serani – Angels Remix (promo)
    Shinehead – Don't Gimme No Crack
    Gregory Peck – Oversize Mampie (Jet Star)
    Sugar Minott – Jah Jah Rule (Techniques) Stallag Riddim
    General Echo – Arleen (Techniques) Stallag Riddim
    Yami Bolo – When A Man's In Love (Techniques) Stallag Riddim
    Busy Signal – Call The Hearse (Juice Boxx) Stagallag Riddim
    Busy Signal – High Grade Stagallag Riddim
    Chuck Fenda – Cease Fire Stagallag Riddim
    Assassin – Bam Bam Stagallag Riddim
    Pressure – Touch You (Baby G) Dream Riddim
    Jah Cure – My Hands (Baby G) Dream Riddim
    Anthony B – Sweet Jamaica (Lazeme)  One Love Riddim
    Cutty Corn – Full A Herbs (Lazeme)  One Love Riddim
    Mr. Groove – Jah Love (Lazeme)  One Love Riddim
    Culture – Garvey Rock (April)
    Jacob Miller – Peace Treaty Special (Forward)
    Earth & Stone – Ring Craft (Joe Gibbs/17 N Parade)
    Hugh Mundell – Jacqueline (Greensleeves)
    Scientist – Jacqueline Dub (Greensleeves)
    Don Carlos – Knock Knock (Ras)
    Bob Marley – Jump Niyahbinghi (Island)

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  • 05/31/10--14:27: Reggae Runnings Near and Far
  • Bay Area sound clash fans have a lot to soak up in June.

    June 5 Kilimanjaro Sound from Jamaica will be at Oakland's Karibbean City, located at 1408 Webster, downtown Oakland.

    Rory from Stone Love and David Rodigan will both be at Sierra Nevada World Music Festival in Boonville, June 18-20.

    Then June 24 Bay locals go head-to-head in a new series not surprisingly called Soundclash at Rockit Room, 406 Clement Street in San Francisco's inner Richmond neighborhood The first installment features KMEL's Mind Motion versus Beat Junkies and Skratch Piklz legend Shortkut. Should be interesting as both these DJs know how to mix and juggle tunes like the pros they are.

    Virgin Islands has recently become a new hotspot for reggae talent, thanks to the pioneering efforts of the St. Croix band Midnite and label I-Grade Records. Two new stars from this scene are Niyorah, who releases his new album on Denkenesh Records, Feel Your Presence in June and I-Grade's soulful crooner Toussaint, whose album Black Gold drops in August. From the Soul of the Lion press release:

    Denkenesh Records is teaming up with I Grade (known for setting a new standard in reggae music Midnite, Dezarie, Pressure, Niyorah) to add to its game changing approach. Whether it is Toussaint's unique soulful mix of R&B and roots, or Niyorah's conscious dread and righteousness, reggae, urban and soul music fans everywhere will be asking for more. The physical and digital release of Niyorah's album, Feel Your Presence, is scheduled for June 2010 and Toussaint's Black Gold in August 2010.

    Other new releases coming this summer include Capleton's I-Ternal Fire (July 6) and Busy Signal's D.O.B. (July 11) both on VP Records.

    Speaking of VP, Luciano's brilliant new album is also on the horizon, but no release date set. Here's a preview though, a new song called "Moving On," riding the original Treasure Isle version of the Paragon's "Only A Smile."

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  • 06/07/10--11:51: From The Wire
  • In the last 72 or so hours the news and analysis about the Dudus situation (and related topics) from both Jamaican and foreign news sources has been plentiful and revealing. Here's a run down of some especially pertinent views and memes.

    The BBC's Assignment program features interviews concerning the Dudus matter in downtown Kingston. (22 min) AUDIO.

    The New York Times on Jamaica's culture of "Dons" and area leaders, and who fills the gap when they are arrested or killed.

    Al Jazeera talk about Jamaica's garrisons and the gangs who rule them.

    NYT on claims of extra-judicial killings by the Jamaica Defense Forces.

    The Los Angeles Times interviews former Labor Party Prime Minister Edward Seaga about fears of lasting martial law in Kingston.

    And Daily Finance reports on the state of tourism and fears of a collapse of this vital industry.

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  • 06/17/10--22:53: Reggae Round-Up
  • Former New York-based reggae/hip-hop emcee Shinehead has resettled in Los Angeles where he continues to record dubplates, perform live shows and even DJ occasionally.

    Although he hasn't recorded much since the late '90s, his early tracks such as "Rough and Rugged," "Know How Fi Chat" and his cover of Michael Jackson's "Billie Jean" continue to be repressed and rinsed by selectas world-wide.

    He made a return to wax in 2008 covering the Billy Paul soul number "I Do Love You" over a sweet Treasure Isle riddim, a best-seller at Ernie B reggae distribution that year.  

    Sunday June 27 he'll drop into the Bay Area for an appearance at King of Kings club night held at the Shattuck Down Low in Berkeley. Should be a great opportunity to hear this vet ride the riddim properly.

    Jamaican label Tad's rolls out a superb new dancehall collection -- a great catch up set if you've missed the last six months of singles. Included in the Hit List 2 compilation are all three versions of Vybz Kartel's wildly popular shoe ode "Clarks," plus an additional five tracks from Mavado alongside five tracks from  Kartel.

    Add to that current hits and top ten chart toppers from Beenie Man, Konshens,Lady Saw, Kym and I-Octane's searing ballad "Lose A Friend" and you have a very complete overview of dancehall leaders. Listen to a preview at Soul of the Lion.

    Jamaica-born, Boston-raised singer Mighty Mystic has a new album titled Wake Up The World dropping this summer. His soulful, plaintive vocals are a little reminiscent of Jah Cure. Check out his video for "Revolution," or grab his new track "Hero," on the 18 & Ova riddim produced by Troy McLean.

    The dancehall remix of Drake's new single "Find Your Love" with Shaggy (promo) is catchy pop-dancehall done right. It it solidifies a trend that has been building on both sides of the Caribbean for the past three or so years: the era of Pop Reggae.

    With Virgin Island pop-reggae sensation Iyaz find fame with his top-40 radio hit "Replay" it looks like cross-over reggae will be making more in-roads on US charts in coming years. And now that everything from Sean Kingston to the Damien Marley / Nas collabo educating younger ears, it won't be long before UB40's "Red Red Wine" or Musical Youth's "Pass The Dutchie" are deemed relics of the pop-reggae past. Then again, reggae's famed adage does remain, "old time sum'ting come back again!" so time will tell...

    Reggae author Java Immanuel-I has a new book chronicling the golden years of Jamaica's Reggae Sunsplash concert. The Jamaica born, Philly-based author's new tome Reggae Sunsplash 1978-1998 was released in a short run pressing in Jamaica while distribution and full publishing is sought out. Speaking of festivals...

    ForwardEver is seriously envious of all the lucky reggae fans heading up to beautiful Boonville, CA in Northern California to attend Sierra Nevada World Music Festival. This year's line up again rivals Jamaica or the world's best reggae showcases with the like of Don Carlos (pictured), Marcia Griffiths, Ken Booth, Johnny Clarke, Lloyd Brown, Gregory Isaacs, David Rodigan and Stone Love performing over two days. Guess I'll just have to catch the blow-by-blow (and fan video postings) on the famous SNWMF Phorum bulletin board.

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    The Skatalites, Jamaica's original ska big band, performed at San Francisco's Rockit Room on Father's Day, June 20, 2010. The band is currently celebrating its 46th year as a group; they've been together nearly as long as Jamaica has been an independent nation. And "Freedom Sound" was the theme the Skatalites started with, as saxophonist Lester Sterling lead the audience in a 10-to-1 countdown chant to start the show and the song.

    In a preview I wrote for SF Weekly I stated that Skatalites set lists have become predictable over the years: "The Skatalites still play tunes from their first album, Ska Authentic, cut in 1964, and Celebration Time, recorded soon after. Sure, the set list can be predictable — they've played hits like "Guns of Navarone," "Latin Goes Ska," and "Phoenix City" for decades."

    But to my pleasant surprise, their set on Sunday night proved to be anything but predictable. "All 'hit sides' no flip sides tonight!" Sterling said repeatedly from the stage, and he wasn't kidding. After opening with the aforementioned "Freedom Sound," they launched into Intensified comp favorite "Dick Tracy," "Eastern Standard Time," "Bridge View," and their Beatles tribute "Should of Known Better," a.k.a. "Independent Anniversary Ska." I kept turning to other seasoned fans and DJs and saying, "Wow, I didn't think they'd play that!" The audience seem equally pleased, applauding enthusiastically between songs.

    The band traded solos each song between Sterling and newer members on trombone, trumpet, sax and keys including Azemebo "Zim" Audu (sax), Kevin Batchelor (trumpet) and Andrae Murchison (trombone). The rhythm section was anchored by original Skatalite drummer LLoyd Knibb and consummate session bass man Val Douglas of Chosen Few fame. Unfortunately, singer and ska queen Doreen Shaffer was not a part of the proceedings.

    To hear some of their original early classics played with verve and sincerity was a treat. This was no rehashed band going through the motions, but a vibrant, living tribute to Jamaica's first popular music. Long live the Skatalites, a band that can still bring the swing.

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    Christopher "Dudus" Coke has been arrested in Kingston, Jamaica.

    It is reported that he's waived his extradition rights and will soon be delivered to the US Embassy.

    Meanwhile, Kingston is under curfew and a State of Emergency has been extended for one month.

    Coke is alleged o be the leader of the Shower Posse gang and wanted in the US on drugs and weapons  charges. The hunt for Dudus has resulted in at least 74 deaths in Kingston.

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    Label Love is an eclectic yet unified bundle of unique sounds compiled simply for the love of sharing them with the universe - each track plucked and presented by label heads from Bastard Jazz, ESL, Fania, Now Again, Plug Research, Tru Thoughts and Ubiquity.

    Each label evokes it’s own signature swagger giving this collection a diversified and interesting flow of genres. Label Love consists of nostalgic classics, fresh unreleased gems and other dope selections with the goal of expanding minds to new styles, vibrations and colors.

    Download here!

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    Although this NPR story rehashes much of what Stephanie Black's 2001 film Life & Debt covered, its a reminder that access to better means of production and markets to sell goods is what keeps developing nations like Jamaica from participating fully in the global economy. And the US is not immune to such struggles.

    Currently, the US is pressuring China to reduce its exports and deflate the value of its currency. The US is being flooded by cheap Chinese goods in the same way that American powdered milk and foreign-grown tomatoes flood Jamaica's supermarket shelves. Last I checked, you could get 37 Jamaican dollars for 1 US dollar. Will the US play fair when Jamaica asks us to revalue our currency?

    NRP introduction: In a country like Jamaica you can buy tomatoes grown in Mexico and shipped by a broker in Florida that are cheaper than tomatoes grown by farmers just a couple of hours away from Kingston. The phenomenon is a mystery of economics and something that keeps farmers in developing countries mired in poverty.


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    Saturday Nite Rockers on KUSF 90.3 FM.

    Here's the playlist and audio ( first 2 hours) from the June 26, 2010 show.

    Download Audio Part 1.
    Download Audio Part 2.

    Taddy P ft. Mackie Conscious – Leave The Crumbs (Bass Ina You Face)
    Shyam Moses – Wanna Be By Your Side (Smart Move)
    Gappy Ranks –Put The Stereo On (Greensleeves)
    Gappy Ranks – Pumpkin Belly (Greensleeves)
    Ethiopians – Train To Glory (Trojan)
    Hempolics – Serius Times (Reggae Roast)
    Hemsley Lewis – Stay Loose (Trojan)
    Sister Nancy – Transport Connection (Techniques)
    Sister Nancy – One Two (Techniques/17 N Parad)
    Lutan Fyah – Highland and Ghosts
    Norrisman – Time To Love 
    Duane Stephenson – As Soon As We Rise (VP) Classic Riddim
    Etana – I Know You Love Me (VP) Classic Riddim
    Lukie D – Girl Surender (VP) Classic Riddim
    Sanchez – Now and Forever (VP)
     Lloyd Brown – Its Not About 
    Annette Brisette – Lift Up Your Head
    Abijah – State of Emergency (Igrade)
    Queen Ifrica – Times Like These (J Harding) City Life Riddim
    Assassin – Somethings Gotta Give (J Harding) City Life Riddim
    Mighty Mystic – Hero (promo) 18 & Ova Riddim
    Maxi Priest – Perfect Live (promo) 18 & Ova Riddim
    Admiral Tibet – Reggae Music (GT Muzik) Belt Riddim
    Kali Blaxx – Why You Stay (GT Muzik) Belt Riddim 
    Sean Paul – Big Bad & Bold (Keep Left)
    G-Whizz – Tomorrow (TJ)
    Mr. Easy – Warning (promo)
    Deh Deh – Would A Know (Truckback)
    Drake & Shaggy – Find You Love (promo)
    Vybz Kartel – Clarkes Again (Tads)
    Bugle & Chevaughn – Summer Break (promo)
    Spice – Broad Back (TJ) DNA Riddim
    Mr. Vegas – Let Them Talk (TJ) DNA Riddim
    Junior Reid, Damien Marley & Nas – Ancient People
    Fat Freddy's Drop – The Raft - Steppers Mix & 7" Mix (Cartel)
    Midnite – Meditation (Rastafaria)
    Yabby You – Jah Vengence (Zojak)
    Wailing Souls – Joy Within Your Heart (Well Charge)
    Meditations – Standing On The Corner (Well Charge)
    The Heptones – Mount Zion (Observer)
    Naggo Morris – Jah Guide (Observer)
    Tony Sexton – Segregation (Trojan)
    Mystic Eyes – Perilous Times (Thompson)
    Trista Palma – How Can A Man Live Happy (Trojan)


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  • 07/04/10--23:27: Summer Reggae Movements
  • Summer is here and the new music is coming fast and quick. Artists like Chevaughn are vying for hottest single title with songs like "Summer Break," (see video) while solid new releases and vintage collections are dropping hard. Perhaps none is more anticipated than Capleton's newest for VP Iternal Fire (out July 6). 
    Capes has been somewhat absent from the charts in Jamaica, but he's been recording steadily on all the latest riddims as always. Ganja ode "Acres," which was featured on Greensleeves Biggest One Drop Hits 2009,  effectively revises his hit "Ton Load." "When I Came To Town" is excellent one-drop reggae produced by Clive Hunt, while producers Shane "Juke Boxx" Brown, Bobby "Digital B" Dixon and Kemar "Flavor" McGregor round out production on this solid set. One hidden highlight comes near the album's conclusion: "Blessing" produced by Edward Harris for Cut Stone is sweet conscious reggae at its best. Overall, Capleton is back with a righteous album sure to please his core audience and new fans alike.

    But that's just the beginning for the crucial new titles from the VP/Greensleeves/17 N Parade vaults. Busy Signal's newest D.O.B. drops July 13 on VP, while reissue titles from Federal Records and Ernie Smith will please the vintage heads. The two-disc set Definitive Collection of Federal Records:1964-1982 chronicles Ken Khouri's famous label and studio. This is a who's-who of ska and rocksteady with songs by The Maytals, John Holt, Lyn Taitt, Bob Andy and Hopeton Lewis included. Crucially Definitive Collection charts the changes that took place in Jamaican music during the turbulent 1970s. Everything from American soul music to black power and Viet Nam had an influence on the music of that era. Similarly, the Ernie Smith collection shows a different class of Jamaican artist, one who had the ability to fuse the island vibe with pop, country and soul.
     From the album press release:
    "Glenroy ‘Ernie’ Smith is a national hero in Jamaica. His constant presence on radio and stage during the 1960s & 70s placed this folk influenced, pop singer & songwriter at the top of the national charts and above the rising tide of reggae music and Jamaica’s other musical hero – Bob Marley."
    Chart business: You can read up on the Jamaica chart action here and here. As far as fast movers, you probably already know about Gyptian's run-away success with "Hold Yuh." Vybz Kartel could be the next to crack international charts with his various versions of "Clarks" and "Clarks Again," both fun odes to the shoes that even the Wu Tang Clan have rated.

    Attention reggae Industry heads: Tuff Gong Worldwide is starting a new registry for the reggae industry. Get in touch with Michelle Rodriguez to sign up.

    I'm glad I stay subscribed to Juno Record's weekly reggae new releases list. Juno has some great exclusives and first-run listings from UK and European roots reggae and digi-dub acts that you may not come across otherwise. Check vital new releases from Reality Souljahs and fantastic steppers from the Digital Conscious crew. Awoah!

    Annette Brissett is a new artist ForwardEver is definitely checking for. She's got a smoky voice that sounds like a cross between Stevie Nicks and Tanya Stephens. For all those missing the days of Judy Mowatt and Rita Marley, Brissett may just bring the modern roots woman back into prominence.

    Watch a video or listen to the song below. "Life Your Head Up," recorded at Syl Gordon's Cell Block Studio in Jamaica

    Reggae's "Mr. Showman" himself Beres Hammond is coming back to SF August 27 with the Harmony House band and Kenyatta Culture (Joseph Hill's son). It's going to be amazing show, but just to get you set up, check this recent video of Beres in New York.

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    Read this excellent introduction piece to UK supergroup Skatroniks on BBC (nicely offered as a Creative Commons article as well!)

    Of course we also love the fact that the band feature a song titled "Forward Ever" on their new album Skalsa #1.

    From the article by Angus Taylor:
    Jamaican jazz guitar wizard, founding father of ska, and all-round music legend Ernest Ranglin doesn’t put his seal of approval on any old album. So the presence of his handwritten sleeve notes praising the debut from former Aswad member Clifton “Bigga” Morrison’s Skatroniks Jamaica tells you all you need to know.w
    Featuring a crack team of seasoned musicians (Bigga on keys and vocals, Don Chandler on bass, Kendrick Rowe and Tony Uter on drums and percussion, Alan Weekes on guitar, and hornsmen Brian and Trevor Edwards and Jay Phelps), Skalsa #1 reminds us why the first Jamaican beat to “go international” sounded so good.

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  • 07/11/10--15:03: Sugar Minott: In Memorium
  • Lincoln "Sugar" Minott  has reportedly passed away in Kingston, Jamaica of an apparent heart ailment, he was 54. Of the many distinctive vocal stylists that Jamaica has produced, including Dennis Brown, Gregory Isaacs and Alton Ellis, Minott ranks among the best of its soulful talents. He was also  deeply attuned to the sensibilities of Jamaica's poorer classes and potently connected with mournful laments about daily life in the ghetto.

    In addition to being a singer, he was a sound system and label owner, and successfully guided his daughter Fire Passion into the music business. Minott's Youth Promotions studio, label and sound system recorded early works by Junior Reid, Yami Bolo,  Saw, Nitty Gritty and Garnet Silk.

    Born May 25, 1956 in Kingston, Jamaica, Minott (pron. My-Not) co-founded roots reggae trio African Brothers with singers Tony Tuff and Derrick Howard. The group was active throughout the mid-and-late 1970s. Minott recorded a solo album, Showcase, in 1974 for Coxsonne Dodd's at Studio One, which yielded the enduring hit "Vanity."

    Over his career he recorded for every major Jamaican producer and label including George Phang, King Tubby, Bullwackies Sly & Robbie, Bunny Lee and others. Minott set up his Black Roots label in 1979, releasing singles including the Scientist-mixed "Informer." The 1980s were to be Minott's most prolific period, a decade in which he released some 30 albums, many of them of exceptional quality.

    Four albums all recorded for different producers in 1984 sum up Sugar Minott's greatness. Buy Off The Bar, produced by George Phang and mixed by Peter Chemist features haunting instrumentation and highlight track "Strictly Sensi," a tune that rejected the 1980s cocaine and crack epidemic with a ardent defense of herbs. Wicked A Go Feel It, produced by Lloyd "Bullwackie" Barnes was another heartfelt set of slower roots and lovers rock numbers, with title track being a standout.
    Herbsman Hustling  was a solidly dancehall affair, with tunes like "Dancehall We Deh," "Uptown Girl" and "So She Hot" hitting big at the time. The album's title track has become a signature tune, and was sampled recently for Mr. Vegas' "Old School Hustlin." Lastly, Slice of the Cake, produced by Sugar and Maxine Minott, was released by the US label Heartbeat and became Sugar's fist major US seller. The set is packed front-to-back with hits and remains a strong catalog seller for Heartbeat. The album features excellent  Channel One-built riddims and hard-hitting social commentary on songs like "We Ha Fi Live" and "No Vacancy."

    In recent years Minott appeared with New York's Easy Star Allstars, recording covers of Radiohead and the Beatles, giving the familiar material his softly emotive Sugar-y touch. The world has lost another great singer whose music helped shape the Jamaican sound and whose good works for aspiring artists will not soon be forgotten.

    Other Recent articles:
    Sugar remembrance by Ron Nachmann on Dangerous Minds.
    Mention on United Reggae.
    Biography on Wikipedia.
    Sugar Minott official site.

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  • 07/15/10--11:41: Gappy Ranks in SF
  • Gappy Ranks – San Francisco July 14, 2010.

    With camera flashes blasting, and a 150 or so amped reggae fans thrusting hands in the air, British reggae artist Gappy Ranks (the stage name of Jacob Lee Williams) got his first taste of San Francisco crowds last night. Apparently he was chuffed, because he stuck around for a good 45 minutes, running through his catalog, inviting women on stage to be serenaded, and interacting with the audience throughout his set. If you haven't heard of Harlesden, London-based emcee Gappy Ranks, don't worry; he's a relatively new name -- but one impressive enough to convince Greensleeves Records (home to Barrington Levy and Yellowman) to sign him. His set at Paradise Lounge's reggae club Coo Yah served as San Francisco's introduction to a raspy singjay (a combination rapper/singer) with a lot of potential. But despite Gappy's electric performance, women were the center of attention for most of last night.

    Cooyah (Jamaican slang for "look here," "check this out" or "pay attention!") has been occupying Wednesday nights for nearly four years at various locations in SF. Originally held at Bruno's on Mission Street, in 2010 Cooyah took up weekly residence at the Paradise Lounge. The place is regularly crammed, a success that female DJs/promoters Daneekah and Green B earned with sweat equity -- and good music.

    Daneekah Barty is from Mooloolaba, Australia, while Green B originally hails from Boston. Both women are in their late twenties and have played every major reggae party in S.F. and the East Bay since arriving five years ago. At their weekly night, the two "Cooyah ladies," as they call themselves, trade music sets and toasts on the mic. They pack the dancefloor with fresh tunes from artists like Gyptian, Tarrus Riley, Mavado and Vybz Kartel, whose current hit "Clarks," about the British footwear, got played twice last night to rapturous crowd approval. Last night Green B and Daneekah were joined by Sonoma's Blessed Coast Sound - DJ Ryan I and emcee Lionize - who had a hand in putting together Gappy's tour. The guys took over for the ladies around 11 p.m. and quickly changed the vibe from bubbling roots reggae to harder dancehall-rap remixes.

    Read the rest of this post at SF

    (Pictured left, Sweden's Million Stylez and Gappy Ranks)

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  • 07/18/10--18:11: Wha Gwaan...
  • UK label Pressure Sounds have their latest release lined up -- a fantastic new collection of rare Lee Scratch Perry sound system dubplates!

    The collection is a great example of Perry's mixing genius. He had the ability to simultaneously make reggae sound rootsy and futuristic.

    Preview the entire album at Pressure's Soundcloud page.

    Sound System Scratch is available on August 31.

    The details on Sugar Minott's funeral and tribute concerts in Jamaica are unfolding. The Jamaica Observer explains the plans in an interview with Sugar's wife Maxine Stowe. You can see some great new video from one of Sugar's final live shows in New York at Irish & Chin's site.

    A new reggae video site called Riddimtube has launched. Given that Jamaican music video directors are some of the most talented in the field right now, its great that reggae has another dedicated portal to showcase both music and visual talents.

    Some rise, some fall: Northern California's sometimes contentious battle between rival summer reggae festivals took its latest turn this weekend as Reggae Rising was forced to cancel its event due to unpaid debts to the Humboldt County CHP and other businesses. Meanwhile, Reggae on the River managed to sell out in record time and present its 26th annual event July 17-18.

    In the riddim department, many are hailing Jeremy Harding's latest creation, the City Life riddim to be one of the summer's best.

    Sean Paul, Elephant Man, Assassin, Tarrus Riley, Wayne Marshal, and a very inspired track by Queen Ifrica give the riddim a boost with their excellent performances. Preview the City Life riddim here.

    Busy Signal's D.O.B.  album out now on VP Records is a mixed bag of dancehall burners like "How Yu Bad So" and "Summn A Guh Gwaan," steppy hip-hop pieces like "Yes Dawg" and a few mellow pieces that capitalize on the success Busy had covering Phil Collins' "One More Night." Overall the album is a little scattered -- songs like Stainless-produced "Opera" and the salsa-tinged "Busy Latino," while inventive, sound gimmicky. Hardcore Busy fans will love the album as shines more light on a talented lyricist but first-time listeners might find it a bit inconsistent.

    Palo Alto, CA's Nowtime Sound crew are back with a new single,  "Back Downtown," by Anthony Cruz featuring Dean Fraser and Nambo Robinson on horns. They're offering a free download of the tune at their Bandcamp page. Go deh!

    Another highly anticipated new album is coming later this summer (August 31 to be precise) from Duane Stephenson. The album titled Black Gold follows up on the themes of his previous From August Town outing. Consciousness numbers mingle with sweet lovers rock ballads.

    Duane Stephenson "Sufferers Eyes" Preview below or download here.

    Watch his new video below. Duane Stephenson - Money Love (Official Music Video)

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