Articles on this Page
- 03/11/11--12:18: _Vybz Kartel at UWI:...
- 03/17/11--22:53: _Crucial News Update...
- 04/05/11--22:56: _We Got Mojo, Dubmat...
- 04/14/11--14:11: _Bay DJ Charts: Gapp...
- 04/25/11--23:08: _Hollie Cook: A UK S...
- 05/05/11--16:02: _Jazzy Things For Sp...
- 05/27/11--18:23: _Summer Sounds: Revv...
- 06/15/11--15:49: _Summer Riddims? Her...
- 06/17/11--22:09: _Wind In His Sails: ...
- 07/10/11--13:06: _Opinion: Tosh Discu...
- 07/12/11--23:18: _Reggae Royalty In S...
- 07/23/11--23:44: _The Highest Point: ...
- 08/14/11--22:33: _One Drop Vibein'
- 09/03/11--22:39: _Adrian Sherwood: On...
- 10/31/11--21:52: _Still A Forward On
- 11/03/11--22:21: _Killing It Lovely: ...
- 12/05/11--21:42: _Newsflash: Deadly M...
- 12/11/11--10:20: _Review: Phil Pratt ...
- 01/01/12--11:21: _ForwardEver's Top 1...
- 01/15/12--22:00: _The Dub Continuum: ...
- 03/11/11--12:18: Vybz Kartel at UWI: Lecture or Press Conference?
- 03/17/11--22:53: Crucial News Update: UK To Japan To Jamaica
- 04/05/11--22:56: We Got Mojo, Dubmatix & Twins: Reggae News Update
- 04/14/11--14:11: Bay DJ Charts: Gappy, The Message and Mavado
- 04/25/11--23:08: Hollie Cook: A UK Star On The Rise
- 05/05/11--16:02: Jazzy Things For Spring
- 05/27/11--18:23: Summer Sounds: Revved Up By Reggae
- 06/15/11--15:49: Summer Riddims? Here's The Template
- 06/17/11--22:09: Wind In His Sails: Freddie McGregor Live Review
- 07/10/11--13:06: Opinion: Tosh Discussed on NPR
- 07/12/11--23:18: Reggae Royalty In San Francisco
- 07/23/11--23:44: The Highest Point: Introducing Kabaka Pyramid
- 08/14/11--22:33: One Drop Vibein'
- 09/03/11--22:39: Adrian Sherwood: On-U Sound At 30
- 10/31/11--21:52: Still A Forward On
- 11/03/11--22:21: Killing It Lovely: Digikiller's Reissue Treasures
- 12/05/11--21:42: Newsflash: Deadly Mix And An Icon Passes
- 12/11/11--10:20: Review: Phil Pratt – Dial M for Murder in Dub
- 01/01/12--11:21: ForwardEver's Top 15 Reggae Tracks For 2011
- 01/15/12--22:00: The Dub Continuum: Reggae Inna Dubstep
Vybz Kartel, the skin-lightened Jamaican deejay who refers to his tatted image as dancehall's "Coloring Book" (video) was recently invited by University of West Indies, Mona Campus professor and author Carolyn Cooper to be a guest lecturer to her class on Reggae Poetry.
(Read Cooper's dialog with the deejay here.)
Vybz accepted and the even took place on March 10 in Kingston.
Some critics have charged that the event was less a lecture than a press conference and therefore lacked academic rigor.
However, Vybz took several questions from audience members and generally addressed or defended issues related to his skin-lightening (known in Jamaica as "bleaching"), his impact on youth culture and of course his controversial music.
See a video below and more should be released in the next few days. Visit Dancehall Mobi for more coverage. Watch three segments from the lecture here.
UK reggae sing-jay Gappy Ranks was on tour in Japan during the recent 9.0 earthquake. Luckily he survived the quake and was able to send updates on his status via Twitter.
Gappy tweeted: "I Never Thought That My First Experience In #Japan Would Be #TheWorldsBiggestEarthquake – The People Of Japan Have Been So Strong & Calm..."
He followed that the next day with, "Fuckkkkkkk - These Aftershocks Are Hard Like The Very First One – #PrayFiJapan..."
There's an thorough account of his experience and videos from his tour at OKPlayer's Large Up site. Gappy Ranks debuted a new video this week for the song "Could A RunAway" featuring Delly Ranks. (see embed at the bottom of this post.)
British reggae MC Smiley Culture died in a police raid Saturday February 26. The cause of death was ruled to be a single stab wound through the heart. The entertainer's family has asked for an inquiry into the bizarre killing and assert that there may have been police misconduct.
Smiley Culture scored several hits in the late-80s including "Police Officer" and "Cockney Translation" and was a member of the Saxon Sound System. He helped popularize the British "fast chat" style of MCing along with Papa Levi, Asher Senator and others. For a more detailed biography, read the Guardian UK's obit.
United Reggae reported the untimely passing of Anthony Doyley from the 1970s roots reggae trio Knowledge. Doley pased Saturday February 6 2011 in London at the age of 55. He was the trio's lead singer and songwriter and penned searing tracks like "A Fool And His Money" on albums such as Hail Dread and Judgment. See a full discography at Roots Archives. Knowledge was never as well known as their contemporaries Culture, Israel Vibration or The Itals but contributed to Jamaica's fertile 1970s-80s reggae vocal trio era, which also included acts like The Mighty Diamond, Black Uhuru and Cultural Roots.
The reggae website of the week is definitely InFineStyle. It's a blog, archive and research portal devoted to telling the story of Jamican cartoon artist and album jacket designer Wilfred Limonious.
InFineStyle notes: "Limonious was responsible for designing over 150 dancehall reggae album covers and is considered one of the key architects of genre's aesthetic."
Famous examples of his work include the album cover for Stallag 17-18-19 on Techniques Recordings, which included Tenor Saw's massive hit "Ring The Alarn." Lesser known was Limonious's work as a cartoonist for daily Jamaican newspapers (see example above).
A new dancehall movie now in production called Gangstas follows a Jamaican thug as he attempts to expand his operations to the United States. The film's title song features Barrington Levy, Vybz Kartel and Khago (download). The film is currently casting extras and shooting scenes. For more information go here.
Check your record racks for the new set of Lee Scratch Perry rarities, The Return of Sound System Scratch on Pressure Sounds.
The label describes the project as: "Eighteen tracks that span Lee Perry's time at his Black Ark studio showcasing 'Scratch' at the peak of his creative powers. Special one off exclusive dub plate mixes and super rare 45s that you can't find anywhere else. There are tracks that have never been released before such as Aleas Jube's 'Righteous land' and the dub version of the same song 'Righteous Rocking'; 'Longer dub', which was mixed at King Tubbys studio, is an exclusive remix of Junior Byles 'Long Way'."
Other new releases due out soon:
Assassin Most Wanted – VP – March 29, 2011
Various: The Evolution of Dub Volume 6 – Greensleeves – March 21, 2011
Sanchez – Love You More – VP – May 10
Chino – Chino – VP –May 24
Various: Biggest Reggae One Drop Anthems – Greensleeves – May 31
And here's Gappy Rank's new video for "Could A RunAway"
Daniel “Chino” McGregor has dropped a new single to preview his upcoming self-titled album out May 24 on VP Records. Produced by his talented brother Stephen "Di Genius" McGregor, "Seal The Link" has a King Jammys-style uptempo digital reggae feel and strong melodies. It's a bubbling track that should impact reggae clubs quickly. Chino's other recent hits "Pon Yuh Head," "Protected" and "From Mawning" (video) hint at a promising debut album.
Morgan Heritage member Mojo Morgan's new track "Streets Worldwide" is contemporary reggae with an urban twist. Acording to Mojo, "This song is about the reality in our world today and shows that things aren't so different in the different parts of the world." Mojo and his brothers and sister performed in the Living Legacy Concert at UN headquarters March 25 for International Day of Remembrance of the Victims of Slavery and the Transatlantic Slave Trade.
New dancehall riddims:
• Vigilante Riddim from Arrows Records featuring I-Octane, Stacious, Spragga Benz. Listen or buy it here.
• Stadium Buck Riddim from Crash Dummy Records
• New Begining From Jus Easy Productions featuring new tracks from Mr. Lexx, Red Fox, Ishawna
• Hungry Dawg produced by Seanizzle with lead single "Swaggin" by Mr. G
• Spazzle (new Mavado "Tumping"), One A Way (new Richie Loop and Cecile) and Problem Riddim (Beenie Man, Kiprich) all from Scikron/Big Yard
One last note: If you're ever in SF on a Monday night, be sure to stop by the Skylark Bar on 16th street at Valencia for the killer all-vinyl weekly reggae night Skylarking presented by SF's I&I Vibration Sound. The crew bring Swedish/Jamaican artist Million Stylez to the Rockit Room on April 21. And check their excellent (free) mixtapes:
• Addicted to Muzik featuring Konshens mixed by Beatnok (download)
• Trillin mixed by Mr. Lucky (download)
The San Francisco Bay Area is a reggae lover's paradise. You can be assured on any given night you'll have your pick of reggae, dancehall, roots and rocksteady club nights and live shows to choose from, most with world-renowned DJs and artists.
Club nights happen Monday through Sunday with live shows popping off on Thursdays through Sundays everywhere from San Francisco and Oakland, up north in Marin and Sonoma, south in San Jose and west over the hills in Santa Cruz. We love it here and our DJs are some of the most active, innovative mixers on the planet. From Club Dread to Dub Mission, Festival 68 to Coo-Yah, Bless Up to King of Kings and Reggae Gold, the Bay has reggae music on lock.
The Message or dancehall scorchers Dancehall FX and Bus Stop are what's ruling the dances ova yah so. For more on Bay reggae events stop by Dee Cee's Soul Shakedown site.
Check the charts:
Selcta Green B (Coo Yah)
Catch Green B every week at Coo Yah (At SOM Bar) with her DJ partner Daneekah. Fresh dancehall riddims in the mix and regular guest DJs.
Demarco – Love My Life
Shaggy & Mavado – Girls Dem Love Me
Kartel – Benz Punnany
Mavado – Pepper
Gappy & Russian – Tun Up
Irie Dole (Jah Warrior Shelter, KPOO)
Irie Dole is part of SF's sound clash champion crew Jah Warrior Shelter with Jah Yzer, Ivier and Rocker T. Irie Dole is a tireless supporter of Bay Area reggae artists and bands, many of whom appear on his chart here, and on his Wednesday afternoon (12 - 3 p.m. PST) radio program Rebel Music on KPOO.
Gappy Ranks & Delly Ranx – Coulda Run Weh
Soulmedic – The Mixer
Winstrong – Trippin
Rocker-T – There With You
Vital – Don't Say No
Run Di Place
Step By Step
DJ Smoky (King Of Kings)
DJ Smoky's weekly Sunday night event King of Kings (Shattuck Downlow, Berkeley) just celebrated it's 9th anniversary, and with good reason -- it's one of the most consistently packed parties with big name (Cutty Ranks, Don Carlos, Tarrus Riley) guests dropping in on the regular. Hats off to Smoky for building a Bay Area institution.
Andrew & Wada Blood – Hammer
Cutty Ranks – Full Blast
Tarrus Riley – Shaka Zulu
Gappy Ranks – I Was There
Jah Cure, Rick Ross, Mavado – Like I See It
Billie Jean 2k11
For more of the KoK vibe check this recent video!
Hollie Cook, daughter of British punk icon and Sex Pistols drummer Paul Cook, is set to be a major star with the release of her forthcoming soul-tinged self-titled album on Mr. Bongo Records.
Cook's new album features production from Prince Fatty, a relatively new name on the UK reggae scene who nonetheless sounds like a seasoned vet and works with Jamaican greats Winston Francis, Dennis Alcapone, Little Roy, Horseman and others. Cook's nine song recording mixes rich and soulful vocals with dubby roots reggae production.
Songs like "Milk and Honey," "That Very Night" and "Used To Be" showcase Cook's silky, laid-back delivery while "Sugar Water" features a sweetly re-imagined version of Johnny Osbourne's "Love Is Universal" riddim, famously dubbed by Scientist on his album Scientist Wins The World Cup. Cook's ernest romantic strains on "Cry" recalls great UK lovers rock singers Janet Kaye, Carroll Thompson, or Louisa Mark.
Rather than imitating a Jamaican inflection Cook brings a distinctly British pop-soul aesthetic to her reggae songs. Hollie's diverse resume includes singing with all-female punk-dub group The Slits, whose charismatic singer Ari Up died unexpectedly in October 2010.
Other international soul singers have also been dabbling with traditional roots reggae of late. John Legend's cover of Prince Lincoln and the Royal Rasses "Humanity (Love The Way It Should Be)" is a strong highlight on Wake Up, his new album with The Roots. Meanwhile, American R&B vocalist Stephanie McKay recently teamed with Australian producer Katalyst for "Day Into Night," a song that features excellent vintage reggae samples (we think it's John Holt's "No Place Like Home"). Also, in 2008 Jazmine Sullivan sampled The Eternals "Queen of the Minstrels" for her smash "Need U Bad."
Toots Hibbert of Toots and the Maytals may have famously sung in 1972 that "Reggae Got Soul," but it seems in 2011 soul "got" reggae, finally. Hollie Cook leads the way and her album is due in May on Mr. Bongo.
2. Dreams featuring Bembe Segue
3. What it Is
4. Leaving this Planet featuring Sharlene Hector
Our friends at Press Junkie and Fort Knox are offer this freebie to ForwardEver readers! Grab it! Space Selecta (Fort Knox Five Remint)
Anthony B "Sing To Me" (listen) The Bobo Rasta in a reflective, romantic mood.
Romain Virgo "I Am Rich In Love," (official video) uplifting lovers rock on Lifeline, produced by Niko Browne.
Ziggy Marley "Foward To Love," (download) funky, positive steppers tune on Tuff Gong.
Cocoa Tea "Love-Like-Yours and Mine," produced by Platinum Camp.
Da'Ville "When I'm With You" (download) on the I Believe Riddim from Smart Move Records, UK.
Skateland Killer (Maximum Sound) Listen Features Alborosie, Luciano and Tarrus Riley.
Sweet Wata (Juke Boxx) Peter Morgan, Busy Signal, Queen Ifrica, Tony Rebel and more.
Step By Step (Rumble Rock) Featuring Anthony B, Fire Star, Black Prophet. Buy on iTunes.
Gorilla (Necessary Mayhem) Featureing Chucky Star, Cali P, Macka B and more. Listen.
Dem Talking (Reggaeland Productions) Featuring Ginjah, Sizzla, Jah Mali and more. Listen
Earlyworm "Crawling From The Roots" (download or remix it!)
The Template and Jah Army riddims look poised to carry the swing for early summer.
As big spring productions like Maximum Sounds' Skateland riddim, Juke Boxx’s Sweet Wata and Necessary Mayhem’s Gorilla version are still bubbling in the dance, selectors are looking for new tunes to rock festival season and outdoor parties.
So wah gwaan?
First up, PBR Productions (Phatty Boom Room) have a nice mid-tempo one-drop production called the Template Riddim featuring Luciano, Lutan Fyah, Jah Victory, Adena Myrie and J Strutta.
The combination of new and established artists on this music backdrop works well. Luciano and Lutan offer firm Rastaman perspectives while J Strutta and Adena Myrie deliver excellent modern lovers rock tunes. Watch out for Adena: She’s coming with a style reminiscent of UK greats like Deborahe Glasgow or Louisa Mark – she blends superb R&B tones with a reggae flow.
Here are the Template Riddim tracks available so far:
Luciano “Only Love”
Lutan Fyah Ft. Jah Victory “One At A Time”
Adena Myrie “I’m Sorry”
J Strutta “Hold On”
Stephen Marley’s Ghetto Youths International camp has versioned one of the biggest singles from his latest album Revelation: The Root of Life. The Jah Army Riddim takes Black Uhuru's “General Penitentiary” riddim and modernizes the beat.
The album track “Jah Army” features Stephen Marley, Jr. Gong and Buju Banton, while the riddim set includes new songs from Gappy Ranks, Tarrus Riley, Jah Cure, Pressure, Ward 21 and Spragga Benz.
Spragga Benz offers a celebratory ganja anthem while the Chris Ellis (Alton Ellis’ son) and Gappy Ranks combination talks frankly about police harassment. Dead Prez deliver a dose of Black history as only this talented American duo can. (They’ve been touring and working with Stephen Marley a lot recently, which can only lead to good things.)
The mystic Jah Cure issues a cautionary parable and sings, “look both ways when you cross the road…”
One more tune (and riddim) starting to make lot of noise since it was released in May is Boom Skeng from FiWi Music.
I don’t have a lot of details yet, but the G Whizz title track “Boom Skeng” is great rub-a-dub-inspired modern reggae. See a video preview below. Now – out to the dance!
Reggae veteran Freddie McGregor has a lot to smile about. His three sons, Daniel a.k.a. "Chino," Stephen a.k.a "Di Genius" and Kemar "Flava" McGregor are all finding success in the music business like their pops. And beaming Freddie was on a foggy Wednesday June 15 in San Francisco as he took stage with the Millennium Band and blazed through a 90 minute set.
The elder McGregor has earned Jamaica's Order of Distinction title as well as a global following for his music. He began recording in the ska music era of the 1960s and released his first album, Bobby Babylon, in 1979. He's been recording and performing live ever since and is considered one of Jamaica's most esteemed vocalists , in a league with greats like Gregory Isaacs, Dennis Brown and Bob Marley.
McGregor's appearance at San Francisco's Rockit Room, it was his first visit to the city in more than a decade. And though his locks are thinning and gray, he's lost little of his honeyed vocal tone or joyful stage demeanor .The Millennium Band provided capable support via dual guitars, keys, drum and bass complimented by two fantastic back-up vocalists. McGregor was dressed casually in blue denim, a white collared shirt and gold chain and looked very much the wise captain his ship.
Africa Here I Come" it felt like the start of a special evening. Hits were reeled off immediately, including many of his biggest '80s and 90s singles: "To Be Poor Is A Crime," "Prophecy," "Push Come To Shove," "Stop Loving You" as well as his label's name sake, "Big Ship." These songs emphasized that in addition to his own production, Freddie has worked with nearly every great producer living and dead, from Coxsone Dodd, Linval Thompson and King Jammy to Steelie and Clevie. That experienced translated into a versatile and continually melodious performance.
Freddie transitioned into a Studio One rocksteady showcase featuring covers of Alton Ellis' "Let Him Try" Dobby Dobson's "Loving Pauper" and McGregor's own "Born A Winner" (a response to Derrick Harriot's earlier hit "The Loser." Freddie also paid due tribute to his dear departed friend Dennis Brown with covers of Brown's "Here I Come" and "Revolution;" which the audience devoured. Freddie's signature vocal ad-libs ("Whoa-now," "Oh Lord") are his stock and trade, a remnant of Jamaica's R&B and vocal harmony traditions.
Key To The City" that he received resounding calls for a "reeeeewind" from the audience. Later he returned to his Studio One roots with "Wine of Violence," "Undying Love" and "Bobby Babylon" (see video below).
Scattered through the audience were some of SF's most prominent sound system DJs including Jah Warrior Shelter's Irie Dole and Jah Yzer, selectors Billie Culture and Lud Dub and members of Mountain Lion sound, all of whom were in awe of the legend.
Freddie acknowledged that it had been a long time since he had performed in San Francisco and proceeded to field a few audience requests such as early hit "Revolutionist," "Rastaman Camp" and the excellent "Seek And You Will Find."
Proving that he has more stamina than many younger artists, McGregor upped the pace toward his set's end with the ska classic "Carry Go Bring Come." What can you say about a singer who effortlessly spans 50-plus years of Jamaican music in an evening while maintaining poise, tone and, most importantly, the audience's attention? That's Freddie, piloting his big ship onward.
America's National Public Radio doesn't often discus Jamaican music, except for Marley-related material (Bob or his sons) and the occasional obit of a major star like Gregory Isaacs. It would be fair to say that this major US media outlet is pretty clueless when it comes to analyzing reggae in general, but they did a decent job this past week in analyzing two Peter Tosh album reissues.
The story, which you can read or hear in full here, included obligatory Roger Stephens pontifications but balanced those with thoughtful commentary from BBC contributor and excellent author Colin Grant (read FE's previous coverage of Grant).
Here's an excerpt of what he said to NRP:
In the 1960s, Tosh was influenced by such civil rights leaders as the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., Stokely Carmichael and Malcolm X, whose writings were banned in Jamaica. He was arrested for demonstrating against racial murders in southern Africa. Colin Grant, author of a new book about the Wailers, says the dark-skinned Tosh developed Afrocentric pride early on.
"Even though Jamaica is predominantly a black country," Grant says, "there is a brown and white elite, and I think people took sides and aligned themselves fundamentally with one side or another. Peter aligned himself fundamentally in the black camp."
Let's hope that NPR continues to include prime-time coverage of not just the most obvious Jamaican figures but also it's many important ancillary contributors whose music and ideas impact global culture on a daily basis.
Tony Rebel and Queen Ifrica – July 9, 2011 at The Rockit Room, San Francisco.
Reggae royalty paid a visit to the fog-engulfed Inner Richmond venue Rockit Room with the Queen taking center stage. It wasn’t Rita Marley in this case but 36-year old Jamaican vocalist and deejay Ventrice Latora Morgan, also known as Queen Ifrica.
Morgan is the daughter of ska pioneer Derrick Morgan and she intentionally spells Africa with an “I” in the Rasta speech tradition. She rose to popularity with songs that address taboo topics including incest and political violence while her stylish casual attire and magnetic stage presence evoke Erykah Badu or Lauryn Hill. Morgan charm literally shines through: On stage she’s quick to blast you with huge warm smile that lights up the room.
Morgan was joined by her partner and fellow cultural deejay Patrick George Anthony Barrett a.k.a. Tony Rebel. Barrett broke through as a performer in 1992 with the album Rebel With A Cause and also founded the popular annual Rebel Salute concert in Jamaica. Like Morgan, Barrett tackles sticky social issues on songs like “I Can’t Recall,” which lambastes political ineptitude while “Another Bill Again” addresses working class economic woes. Morgan and Barrett don’t tour California often, much less mid-sized venues, so this was an anticipated night for the S.F. reggae massive.
Morgan’s strong rhetoric, modern take on the traditional Rasta lifestyle and rich music repertoire has captured the interest of women in particular. She’s neither a shrinking violet nor a gratuitous sexpot but a potent songwriter whose music transcends gender and lives up to her “Fyah Muma” nickname.
Morgan’s set included her anti-skin bleaching anthem “Brown Skin” and she received a heartfelt “reeeeewind” ( a call to start the song over) from the audience when she lunched her current conscious club hit “In Times Like This.” Her delivery alternates between soaring sung choruses and speedy rap couplets that travel twice as fast as the beat. It’s not fast like Chicago rapper Twista, but you get the point. An odd moment came when she performed her anti-incest ode “Daddy” – she had the crowd swaying contently to a song about sexual abuse. She capped things off with “Don’t Sign,” set to the same music as Delroy Wilson’s rocksteady classic “Movie Star.”
In a stroke of luck we were invited backstage to meet her Highness. Although she projects a stately image on stage, Morgan only stands about 5’3”. However, her genuinely warm personality and thoughtful answers about her California tour, connection with fans and the hopeful and the healing force of her music elevated her to the highest heights in our opinion. She’s a queen for sure.
A highlight of the set was “Fire” that rides the Tamlins reggae cover of Randy Newman’s tune “Baltimore,” which Barrett also sung. His set also included the nosy-neighbor complaint “Chatty Chatty” and an ad-libbed cover of Bob Marley’s “Soul Rebel” (“I’m a rebel, Tony Rebel”…). Overall, the crowd was into it start to finish and Barrett proved that he deserved his Jamaican star stature.
The Rockit Room has become the go-to spot for touring reggae acts, recently hosting up-and-coming Jamaican outfit Rootz Underground and reggae legend Freddie McGregor in the past month. And although Billboard and iTunes sales charts have been dominated by US “college reggae” groups like Rebelution, SOJA, Matisyahu this show proved that there’s still a passionate following for Jamaica’s indigenous musical output.
one-drop. Quality releases from labels like Maximum Sound UK and Juke Boxx, and artists like I-Wayne, Gappy Ranks, Alborosie and many others have been ringing in the clubs.
The always consistent Soul of the Lion label brings another excellent roots entry forward with Dread & Alive: The Lost Tapes Volume 7, which dropped on August 9.
In addition to solid reggae tunes by Ken Bob and Dub Down, you'll hear a surprising heavy rock 'n' roll number by Fear Nuttin featuring Bushman and reggae en español by Alerta Kamarada.
Below, enjoy a preview of Perfect Giddimani's tribute to Buju Banton, which is also a great introduction to his just released album Back For The First Time on Lustre Kings Productions too!
The Green also secured a slot on the just released high profile Greensleeves compilation The Biggest Reggae One-Drop Anthems 2011. The comp includes strictly roots tracks from St. Croix's Midnite, Jamaica's I-Wayne, Gyptian, I-Wayne and even a one-drop tune ("Spend Time Dubb'n") from Vybz Katel. Check this free download for a taste of The Green's song “Love & Affection”
Read a preview of ForwardEver's piece in the SF Weekly below. Then scroll down for out-takes and additional material!
British producer Adrian Sherwood's life and music have come full circle. Thirty years ago, London's streets were wracked by inner-city riots. Then as now, police harassment and a grim economy drove citizens to revolt. By 1981, punk was in its death throes as New Wave pop and post-punk music rushed in to fill the void. In the shadows stood Adrian Sherwood, a part-time record distributor and music fanatic who launched On-U Sound as a vehicle to promote experimental dub productions.
Three decades and hundreds of releases later, On-U Sound is revered by generations of dub, industrial, and electronic music aficionados and lauded by critics as one of the U.K.'s most important independent labels, its output and influence comparable to Rough Trade or Factory.
SHERWOOD ON LEE "SCRATCH" PERRY:
Where's the blog been? Yes, it's been a while since our last post, but ForwardEver is still deh ya!
There's a lot to catch up on -- and we will in future posts -- from new reissues for Sugar Minott and Gregory Isaacs, to Dubmatix latest remix album and singles galore.
In the meantime, please check the recent piece on Shaggy I wrote for Magnifier. And if you sign up for a Music Beta account from Google, you'll get a couple of free tunes as well. Same goes for this Don Corleon feature.
Pictured to the left is singjay Lutan Fyah, who many reggae fans feel is at the top of his game right now. Check out his latest track "Mi A Ras" and catch him live in California in November. Find Bay Area dates for Lutan, and also St. Croix's premier roots group Midnite over at DeeCee's Soul Shakedown site.
Speaking of Midnite (pictured below) -- their new album Kings Bell drops Tuesday November 1 on I Grade Records, and from the preview we've heard, it's brilliant. The group is foremost know for its pensive, meditative songs that glide a long unhurriedly. By contrast, several numbers on the new album are up-tempo, but no less intellectually rootsy than what fans have come to expect. Expect to be pleased and surprised.
Finally, if you haven't picked up Colin Grant's excellent recent book I&I: The Natural Mystics (read and excerpt), it's absolutely essential reading for anyone interested in Jamaican history, Marcus Garvey or the original Wailers trio, Bob, Bunny and Peter. Check this video interview for a taste.
Just when you thought Serato and digital DJing would completely take over, Digikiller Records has been quietly balancing the scales with dozens of high quality reggae reissues on vinyl.
Sure, the name is cheeky, but their craft is deadly serious. These are well-pressed singles on 7", 10" and 12" vinyl that offer many crucial missing pieces to reggae enthusiasts who love Jamaica's fertile 1970s and '80s sounds.
A recent glance at the Digikiller blog revealed the following new (reissue) titles:
DKR-064-JJ - CLARENCE PARKS - THINGS A COME UP TO BUMP / DUB 10"
DKR-080-JJ - DON ANGELO - GENERAL / MIX DOWN STYLE VERSION 7"
DKR-081-JJ - JOHN HOLT / REVOLUTIONARIES - LOVE & UNDERSTANDING / PEACE 10"
DKR-082-JJ - LEROY SMART - OH MARCUS / VERSION 7"
DKR-083-JJ - I-ROY - TRIBUTE TO MARCUS GARVEY / VERSION 7"
But grab these while they're hot -- retailers like Ernie B can't keep them in stock.
And the genius behind this label is that they don't just offer hits but also deal out obscure yet still laudable titles by artists such as Prince Junior, Black Oney and Reggae George -- performers who were hard to find back then. It's a bit like reggae anthropology, tracing all the connections between the artists and labels, but music is the reward.
Although producer Phil Pratt has never received the same wide acclaim as King Tubby, Joe Gibbs or Lee Perry, his roots and dub productions rank among some of the late 1970s and early ‘80s best. Early on though, Pratt sang with Ken Boothe in a vocal combo and cut sides such as Reach Out for Ken Lack's Caltone label and later worked with influential producer Bunny “Striker” Lee. Pratt eventually set up the prolific Sunshot label and recorded Dennis Brown, Big Youth, Al Campbell, Horace Andy,Linval Thompson, Pat Kelly, Bobby Kalphat and other stars in the mid-to-late ‘70s. Pratt had plenty of rhythms to experiment with from those abundant sessions and Pressure Sounds’ reissue showcases his subtle studio mastery in the dub arena.
Fact: The electronic dance music sub-genre dubstep would not exist with out reggae, and specifically instrumental dub reggae.
Although that's obvious to those familiar with dubstep's decade-plus evolution, for the younger generation, this connection is less apparent thanks in part to newer artists such as Skrillex and 12th Planet whose productions throw dubby electronica into a hardcore mosh-pit.
And no grudge there -- youth have a tendency of irreverently kicking the rust out of music styles that have grown stagnant. Punk did just that to rock 'n' roll in the late-70s and rave sub-genres like acid house and breakbeat techno, themselves dubstep precursors, up-ended the Euro-dance and house music status quo.
But separating dubstep entirely from traditional Jamaican dub music would be like disowning an esteemed family member. Fittingly, a pair of recent comps sets dubstep firmly back in the context of Jamaican sound system music traditions.
Greensleeves Dubstep Chapter 1, released in November 2011, features original Greensleeves label recordings transformed by some of London's best producers, including The Bug, Coki (pictured right) and Mala of Digital Mystikz, Goth-Trad and Horsepower Productions. It's appropriate that longtime British reggae imprint Greensleeves, a staple through the 1980s and '90s, should hand the keys to its deep vaults over to some of the UKs best dubstep producers, many of whom grew up listening to reggae pirate radio stations playing the label's original releases by Yellowman, Barrington Levy and Scientist.
GREENSLEEVES CHAPTER 1 : Track Listing:01. Busy Signal and Mavado – Badman Place (Coki-Digital Mystikz remix)02. Ding Dong – Badman Forward Badman Pull Up (The Bug ft. Flow Dan remix)03. Yellowman – Zungguzugguguzungguzeng (Horsepower Productions remix)04. Johnny Osbourne – Fally Ranking (V.I.V.E.K. remix)05. Sizzla – One Love (Mala-Digital Mystikz remix)05. Mavado – Weh Dem A Do (Coki-Digital Mystikz and Undeground Ice remix)07. Admiral Bailey – Jump Up (Terror Danjah remix)08. Gappy Ranks – Stinking Rich (TMSV remix)09. Gyptian – Nah Let Go (LDD remix)10. Pampidoo – Synthesizer Voice (Goth-Trad remix)11. Vybz Kartel – Emergency (Coki-Digital Mystikz remix)12. Junior Cat – Caan Eat Mi Out (Cluekid remix)13. QQ – Tek It To Them (Kalbata remix)14. Barrington Levy – Here I Come (Kromestar remix)
Another compilation showcasing a traditional dub reggae-centered take on dubstep and other electronic bass styles comes from the Renegade Media camp and Canadian dub producer Dubmatix.
Dubmatix Presents Clash of the Titans: The System Shakedown Remixes, sees an international cast remix tracks from Dubmatix's 2010 album System Shakedown. The original album featured his organic dub versions and vocal collaborations with Jamaican pros like U-Brown, The Mighty Diamonds and Dennis Alcapone as well as UK heavies The Ragga Twins and Brother Culture.
The set is by no means a strictly a dubstep remix collection. Instead, like the aftershocks of a mighty earthquake, this selection illustrates dubstep and dub-electronic related sub-genres' further transformations. Birmingham's G-Corp do, in fact, bring a UK dubstep vibe to "Wobble Webble," mixed with hints of their signature downtempo beat aesthetic. Drum & bass producer Marcus Visionary delivers an absolutely cracking, in-the-pocket jungle flex on "Rough Likkle Sound," while Victor Rice and Zion Train trod in four-four steppers territory. Scotland's Mungo's Hi-Fi and New York's Nate Wize also represent the heavier side of dubstep. Both, however, daub their dubs with organic eggae horn blasts, guitar chops, echoes and effects. The spirit of Jamaican dub is alive and well in their hands. Hear for yourself below.
Clash of the Titans - The System Shakedown Remixes by dubmatix