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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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  • 10/19/12--22:54: ForwardEver... The Song!
  • "Forward Ever," the song – as written and recorded by Jacob Miller and Inner Circle. See the video clip below!

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  • 11/11/12--16:04: Protoje Pleads For Kingston
  • Don Corleon-produced reggae vocalist Protoje channels '80s star Ini Kamoze for his latest track "Kingston Be Wise." The song riffs off Kamoze's "England Be Nice" from the 1984 release Statement album.

    Awareness of Kamoze's music has skyrocketed ever since Damian "Jr. Gong" Marley sampled Kamoze's "World of Reggae" on his track "Welcome to Jamrock."

    Protoje's new interpretation follows up on the Jr. Gong song with a similar commentary about Jamaica's capital city.

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  • 12/09/12--22:44: ForwardEver Charts!
  • ForwardEver presents our current favorite new release singles and riddim collections. While no means an exhaustive overview–we're not covering dancehall in these particular charts–this will give you an insight into some of the best tracks 'pon road right now.
    ForwardEver Top 15 Reggae Singles
    1. Rihanna – Diamonds - ( J-Vibe Reggaae Remix) (J-Vibe) Well composed and arranged one-drop remix.
    2. Busy Signal – Come Shock Out (Jukeboxx) Brilliant Busy track on a retro rub-a-dub version.
    3.  Iba Mahr featuring Jah Mali  – The Time Is Now (Born Rollin) Uplifting roots track.
    4.. Collie Buddz – Won't Be Long (Ineffable) A solid new one-drop track from Collie.
    5.. Mr Williamz – We Run England (Green Lion) One of the UK's most potent new talents.
    6. Richie Stephens & Gentleman – I Found Heaven (VP) Great combination tune, both artists set it off.
    7. Jah Cure – That Girl (Iyah Cure) Soulful lovers rock business.
    8. Curtis Lynch ft. Million Stylz, Ziggi, Mr. Williamz, Cali P – Champion Sound (Necessary Mahem) UK producer with the cream of new Euro talents.
    9. Morgan Heritage – The Return(VP) Typically strong Morgan Heritage anthem.
    10. Tafari – Money In My Pocket (RUD3 Music) Nice modern production on the alt-reggae track.
    11. Rob Symeonn – Forgive Them (Jah Youth) A label, and artist to watch. Great track and production.
    12. Wayne Wonder  – This Time (VP) Wayne sounds crisp and confident.
    13. Chrisopher Martin – Mama (Digital Link) An emerging star with nuff hits like this.
    14. Aka Koxx – Love In Your Heart (promo) Look him up on Soundcloud. Up-and-coming vocalist.
    15. Anuhea Featuring Tarrus Riley – Only Man In The World(VP) Sweet Hawaiian singer teams up Tarrus.

    Top 5 Reggae Riddims
    Chant Down Babylon (Jukeboxx) Features Morgan Heritage, Bust Signal, Romain Virgo and more.
    Adam & Eve (Digital B) Tarrus Riley, Lutan Fyah, Cali P and more.
    Trippin (Itation) With Sizzla, Delly Ranks, Luciano and more.
    More Spiritual (Green Lion) Great new artists like Mr. Williamz, YT, Kabaka Pyramid.
    Downtown Beat (La Famillle) Fantastic production outta Spain, featuring Eva Mena, Enrique Vaz and more.

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    Reggae dancehall quartet T.O.K. are back with a new one-drop song, and its accompanying video was filmed in Israel, in the Middle East. "The Voice" is a inspirational song about persevering in the face of depression and hardship.

    The track, produced by Pot of Gold productions, will be released in late December on the "Hold A Medi" riddim.

    The video and song take on a timely component for many in the US, following the school shooting tragedy in Connecticut. The song's lyrics talk about how an inner voice can be a "light" in the darkest night. Watch the video for a surprising message from the Israeli directors at the presentation's end.

    T.O.K. have struggled in recent years with inter-group squabbles and a campaign to ban their live performances by gay rights activist groups opposed to the quartet's controversial dancehall hit "Chi Chi Man." Throughout T.O.K. have remained active, recording new material and seemingly remaking their image for international audiences.

    Get the song, and watch the video below.

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  • 01/01/13--20:15: Two Great Reggae Docs
  • Two great reggae documentaries to check out!

    Before Reggae Hit The Town – This short documentary explores the African origins of Jamaican music, including Kumina, Pocomania and Rastafarian music traditions. Although just a "student film," the production, narration and story arc make it an engaging watch.

    Reggae History – This feature-length documentary includes several crucial performances segments by Delroy Washington, Roy Shirley, Nicky Thomas, Ijahman Levi, Lee "Scratch" Perry and more. The film looks at reggae's impact in England and how the music developed in Jamaican and the UK simultaneously.

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  • 01/27/13--10:53: Still In Fashion
  • Watch a classic news report from 1984 on great '80s British reggae label Fashion Records below. Founded by Chris Lane and John McGillivray it's heights Fashion Records' roster included top UK and Jamaican MCs and singers including Smiley Culture, Asher Senator, Top Cat, Daddy Freddy and Cutty Ranks

    In 2012, the label digitally reissued its first batch of vintage back catalog material and in March 2012 a series of remixes was launched on sister label Nice Up. Read more about the history and significance of Fashion in this great United Reggae webzine interview by Angus Young.

    Connect with Fashion on Facebook.
    Link with their YouTube channel.

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  • 02/15/13--23:52: Wha' Happen: Sound Update!
  • Listen or download the new Major Lazer mixtape featuring  Walshy Fire and fast-rising roots vocalist Chronixx. Major Lazer's new album Free The Universe is due out soon–it was originally scheduled for a Feb 26 release date but that seems to have been pushed back.

    Speaking of Chronixx, he gave a stellar performance at the recent Jamaica Jazz & Blues festival. Get a taste of the show in this 25-minute performance video! Pure roots revival on the highest level.

    Chronixx can also be heard on the debut single from the Bay Area's own Royal Order Music. "Selassie Souljahz" also features Sizzla, Kabaka Pyramid and Protoje. How's that for a combination track!

    Jamaica's DJ Wayne recently premiered the song on his radio program, you can hear it right here. And the track is available Feb 26 at all digital retailers. The single is unique in that it features full-length verses from each of the featured artists for an extended play feel.
    Progressive Polish reggae-electronic producer Dreadsquad has a new EP with RDX featuring vocal and dub versions of three tracks. The Warning EP showcases musical diversity, from digi-dancehall, in the style of King Jammy's famous "Sleng Teng" riddim, to potent modern roots.

    "Smoker" is a nice one-drop tune while "Skank" is club-friendly ska, and "Warning" drops the digital bass deep. Visit the Dreadsquad Soundcloud page for ska freebie featuring Ms. Dynamite!

    Ska Beat! Jamaica's original ska orchestra, the Skatalites, drop a new album, Walk With Me, March 5 on Moondust Records. The album features some of the last recordings made by founding drummer Lloyd Knibb. The band includes original alto sax player Lester Sterling and vocalist Doreen Schaffer in addition to newer members who keep the spirit of Jamaica jazz alive.

    Sound Kings! New York sound clash promoters Irish & Chin have announced that they've signed US sound system crew King Addies to their management wing. Irish and Chin also currently manage Japan's Mighty Crown. In the 80s and 90s King Addies was far and away America's most successful clashing sound. Featuring a young Tony Matterhorn, who has since started a successful solo clash and recording career, Addies beat back many a Jamaican sound. Watch Addies mash up World Clash in 1994!


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    In case you missed it, here's the 2013 Grammy tribute to Bob Marley by Bruno Mars, Sting, Rihanna, Ziggy Marley and Damian "Jr. Gong" Marley, doing a brief rendition of "Could You be Loved."

    The tribute section in the video below starts at 4:00 minutes in, prior to that Mars sings his hit "Locked Out of Heaven," mashed up into Sting covering his former band The Police's "Walking On The Moon."

    There's an interesting backstory to how the performance came together, read this LA Times piece for the full account (although they misspell Damian Marley's name...)

    [RelatedMajor Lazer's reggae refix of "Locked Out of Heaven."]

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    2013 Grammy winner Jimmy Cliffwas a interview guest on PRX's music discussion program Sound Opinions.

    You can listen back to the full interview via this link. Jim and Greg do a decent job discussing Cliff's early years with Leslie Kong and Beverly's Records through his present work with Rancid's Tim Armstrong.

    From the Sound Opinions website intro:

    And speaking of Grammys, singer-songwriter Jimmy Cliff walked away with his second “Best Reggae Album” Grammy last week. Rebirth is Cliff’s 30th reggae record in a career that spans the history of the genre. Talking to Jim and Greg, he traces the evolution of reggae from party music celebrating Jamaican independence, to a more introspective music about roots, spirituality, and identity. While he may not be as famous as countryman Bob Marley, Cliff was instrumental in breaking reggae in the U.S. As the starring actor and songwriter for the cult filmThe Harder They Come, he introduced Americans to Rastafarian culture, dancehall music, and his own hits “You Can Get It If You Really Want” and “The Harder They Come.” Cliff might be a reggae founding father, but he’s no purist. He talks approvingly of punk’s adoption of reggae sounds and even returns the compliment: Rebirth features a cover of The Clash’s “Guns of Brixton,” a song originally inspired by The Harder They Come.

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    Dubtonic Kru and  Iba Mahr  have teamed up for a brilliant new roots track in honor of Black History Month.

    "Somewhere In Africa" speaks of the continent's importance and significant features, mentioning Ethiopia, Nigeria, Tanzania and other countries, and the achievements of pyramids, libraries and great societies that have prospered in Africa.

    As Luke Dixon keyboardist from Dubtonic Kru revealed via Riddimstream Media: "Somewhere Inna Africa is about our connection to the motherland and we wanted to proclaim that that is our home. We may not know our tribes but Africa is the connection that joins us all together. The greatness of the motherland is clear and we just wanted make people aware of themselves, their value and their history for Black History Month.”

    Learn more about Dubtonic Kru at their official website.

    Listen now!

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    In addition to a dye-cut record in the shape of a Clarks desert boot shoe, reggae label VP Records will also issue two crucial rare dub albums on vinyl for international Record Store Day, April 20, 2013.

    Winston EdwardsNatty Locks Dub was recorded at Lee Perry's Black Ark studio and also Joe Gibbs studio in 1974, and features a subtle, mystical style of instrumental music that reflected the growing Rasta spiritual consciousness of the time.

    VP sister label Greensleeves will also issue King Tubby Meets The Upsetter At The Grass Roots Of Dub from 1975, featuring 5 tracks a piece from King Tubby and Lee "Scratch" Perry.

    Natty Locks Dub Track Listing:
    Side A
    1. Natty Dub
    2. Big Daddy Amin
    3. Jah Shakin Dub
    4. Soul Fire Dub
    5. Macka Bee

    Side B
    6. Herbman Style From The Ghetto
    7. Jah Macka Dub
    8. Well Charge
    9. Gun Court In Red
    10. Lover Dub 

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    First off, if you haven't read Reggae Going International: The Bunny Striker Lee Story, you should. It's the prolific producer's story in his own words, taking us from ska to roots and beyond, with (as the Paragons famously sang) "memories by the score."

    Order the hardcover book (includes CD) from Amazon, Ernie B's or Jamaican Recordings; it lists for around US$22, so don't pay more than that. And check the preview for the forthcoming documentary below.

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    March and April have been good months for quality one-drop-style reggae riddims. New producers, labels and camps from Jamaica to Spain have stepped up with impressive collections. Some of the best include:

    Harp Riddim: This one from the Red Boyz crew is primarily a lover-rock affair, with solid ballads from UK veteran Maxi Priest, strong-voiced newcomers Herzon and Buggy Nhakente, plus a perfectly delivered cultural sing-jay track from Anthony B. The live band instrumentation includes string guitar and melodious backing vocals. The production reminiscent of Shane "Jukeboxx" Brown's work with Romain Virgo. Check it here.

    Tallawah Riddim:  A melodically complex creation from the Larger Than Life Records crew, the riddim's chord changes and instrumentation prove that this crew know their way around a studio. Care was also put in to the artist line-up, which includes some of roots music's most important veterans (Luciano, Pressure Buss-Pipe), as well as talented and outspoken developing artists (Esco Levi, Droop Lion and Bobby Hustle). Levi's fiery delivery and insightful word never disappoint, nor do Droop Lion's weary observations; he's a true roots warrior. Put this one at the front of your Serato crate or 7" box.

    Contagious Riddim: The Starrecently reported about producer Troyton Hinds' dabblings in R&B production, and you can hear a taste of it in this richly melodic production. More importantly this set includes Mavado's "Always On My Mind," one of his strongest recordings in a while. Vado's sings a guilty gangsta's ballad of forgiveness to the woman he's wronged, and his pitch and delivery are perfect. I-Octane, Alaine, Chino and Voicemail also turn in extremely strong takes. The other standout track on this collection is Jah Vinchi's "Ghetto Youths," in which he admits he can't bare to watch the news due to all the suffering of the 'youts. Heavy. Check the YouTube  preview mix

     Insecurity Riddim: Markus Records, which has released solid dancehall and one-drop productions in recent months steps up with a lovers riddim. The track listing includes songs by Khago, Romain Virgo, Da'Ville, Nicky B, Christopher Martin and a nice appearance from innovative '90s singer Ghost–a master of the falsetto, and he's still got it. Da'Ville talks about being "Joe Grine," gruff-voiced Khago sings about being "Hurt So Bad," while Romain is in pursuit of a much desired female. PR has enabled blogs like us to spread the word, so you can grab this oneright here.

    Re-Birth Riddim: This set is lead by Chronixx's ode to locks'ing up, "Dread," in which he chants, "Grow your natty, grow your dread my youth!" If the riddim sounds a touch like Eek-A-Mouse's "Ganja Smuggling," you're not imagining it. The minor chords and bass riffs is very similar.  Lutan Fyah comes in with a strong track, "Pressure," while Spectacular riffs on a similar theme with "Ease The Pressure," – that's a lot of pressure! But ah so Babylon a go. Production on this collection is notably by one of reggae's all-time best session bands, the Firehouse Crew, whose legacy stretches back into the '80s with producer King Tubby. Buy it here.
    Dreamland Riddim: Boasting big names like Capleton, Lutan Fyah, Frankie Paul and Sizzla this riddim compilation is a showcase of the vibe that Jamaica is on at the moment: reflective, spiritual and back to the roots. Mr. FP sounds just as criss as he did in the 80s, while up-and-coming artist Tyrical sounds strong and convincing on "Life Over Death." Hear a great preview mix too, just  follow this link. Or download here.

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  • 04/23/13--21:20: Protoje Tours West Coast

  • Reggae talent Protoje will tour California, Oregon and Washington June 14-30. The rising Jamaican artist, who is the son of 1970s reggae singer Lorna Bennett and counts producer Donovan "Don Corleon" Bennett as a cousin, released his second album this year titled The 8 Year Affair.

    The album, which features guest slots from Romain Virgo and Tessanne Chin has been receiving favorable reviews, and features the single "Kingston be Wise. " (see video).

    Hear more Protoje music on his Soundcloud page.

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    San Francisco by-way-of New York reggae-electronic fusionist Dub Gabriel has released his most ambitious album to date. 

    Raggabass Resistance, which dropped April 15, features a huge guest artist line-up: Jamaica's DJ godfather U-Roy and veterans Warrior Queen (Kode9, The Bug) and Brother Culture (Mungo's Hi Fi), plus new school talents Jahdan Blakkamore, Dr. Israel,  MC Zulu,Juakali– even alternative/goth legend David J of Bauhaus/Love & Rockets.

    The album and a bonus remix EP were made possibly partially through a successful Kickstarter campaign.

    Preview the album on Soundcloud or Bandcamp

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  • 04/25/13--23:02: The Reggae Sale
  • Normally ForwardEver doesn't do product placement, and of course this site has never done ads. But since we had a little something to do with this promotion, we thought readers would like to know that great albums from Barrington Levy, J Boog, Don Carlos, The Clash and Rootz Underground are on sale at Google Play.

    The image tile to the left is a little misleading as many titles are actually less than $5.99, which is a great deal in these financially tough times. Check it.

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    Canadian producer Dubmatix just dropped his latest album Rebel Massive (Renegade Media), and one bonus is this incredible video, which, in the span of 4 minutes manages to give the viewer a 360 view of all things reggae.

    From sound systems, to dubplate cutting to the clubs and parties, sit back and watch this great intro to Dubmatix's sound, and the things that influenced it.

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    Versatile reggae sing-jay Perfect Giddimani is back with an energetic new song, that you can download right here or preview below.

    The new track, titled "Ribbi Dubang Skeng," features crisp live "roots rocking" instrumentation and solid engineering from Austrian producer Sam Gilly of House of Riddim. A new album is soon to follow. Perfect's previous album, Back For The First Time dropped in 2011 and was produced by Lustre Kings. Find out more at Perfect's official Facebook page.

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    The captain of Big Ship Records, and father to artists Chino and Stephen "Di Genius" McGregor sails strong again with this great new song and video.

    Watch "Bag A Hype" from Freddie McGregor's latest album, Di Captain (VP Records).

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    With the careers of new roots sensations Kabaka Pyramid and Protoje both picking up stream (Kabaka was recently featured in Billboard's Next Big Sound chart, Pro's new album just dropped), it's a perfect time for a collaborative video to drop.

    "Warrior" is a has a memorable chorus and the track's haunting atmospheric production is well-suited for its militant message.

    Watch the video below and you can still grab the free download of Kabaka's debut EP over at Bandcamp.

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