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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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  • 09/07/14--11:23: Riddim Reviews
  • ForwardEver recently published some new riddim compilation reviews over at United Reggae site.

    Jump For Joy riddim review
    Maxfield Avenue riddim review

    Both collections feature excellent line-ups and production. Read a little more below or follow the links for a full report!

    Jump For Joy riddim
    As if we didn’t need more evidence that reggae from the Virgin Islands is every bit as accomplished and well-produced as its Jamaican equivalent, Splatterhouse Productions brings for Jump For Joy, a 15-tracks riddim excursion of the highest caliber.

    With an experienced Jamaican music team on board, including master drummer Sly Dunbar, keys-man Donald Dennis and guitar legend Earl “Chinna” Smith, this project already had an advantage. They conjure a honeyed mid-tempo one-drop rhythm that has all the vital elements: tasteful guitar accents, bright and colorful keys and piano, and Dunbar’s heavyweight thump.

    Producer J. Carrington and mixing engineer Dean Pond didn’t skimp on talent, bringing in VI talents Pressure, Ras Batch, Danny I and Army, American singer Notch, as well as Jamaican greats Junior Reid, Sizzla and Lutan Fyah. For most riddim juggling fans that would seal it. But the surprise on this set are the strong performances from the newer talent.

    On “Smile” crooner Maurice’s voice has a touch of Da’Ville’s delicate, soulful delivery. Paired with some delicious backing singers and overdubs, it’s a solid lovers rock track. Likewise, Rema impresses with her crisp and present singing, while singjay Mada Nile has the confidence and strength of an artist like Queen Ifrica on the message-imbued “Bended Knees.”

    Overall, Jump For Joy is another solid and sweet set from the Vis, proving that the wider Caribbean holds much promise for the reggae’s future. 

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    Check out the video for Chronixx's "Capture Land," the latest feature track from his Billboard-topping album Dread & Terrible.

    Large Up has a nice review and profile of the video shoot, mentioning that the video was shot by Jerome D of Top Dawg Entertainment, the same director responsible for Kendrick Lamar's "Swimming Pools" video.

    Overall, Chronixx's auspicious rise reminds ForwardEver of 80/90s roots singer, Ini Kamoze, who, like Chronixx broke through via his Sly & Robbie-produced mini-album. Kamoze's "World A Music" was later sampled for Damian Marley's smash "Welcome To Jamrock." Chronixx's looks to have the same poise, songcraft and message-driven lyrics as Kamoze at his peak.

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    Red Bull's latest Culture Clash event in San Fran was an unqualified success. Despite some issues with muddy sound quality, the night delivered on the promise of exclusive live appearances (from Too $hort, Mr. Vegas and more) and heated dubplate-laden battles between four supremely talented DJ crews. (More on the four crew's in Magnetic's preview). 

    Each of the four crews performed 15 minute sets. After each complete round in which the various crews DJ'd, the crowd was asked to asked to cheer for their favorite and the noise level was recorded by a decibel meter. The loudest crowd response would determine the winner.

    Here's an abbreviated recap of the four rounds. Any gaps in coverage are due to yours truly taking time to snap photos and enjoy the proceedings. 

    Dub Mission

    Round 1: Temperature's Rising
    After doors opened at 9 p.m., crowds are still filling the venue at 10. Tormenta Tropical (DJ Oro11, Bersa Discos, DJ Theory) and Dirtybird (Claude Von Stroke, Justin Martin) have done their opening sets.

    Triple Threat (DJ Apollo, Shortkut, Fran Boogie) play a batch of sing-a-long hip-hop anthems and get the first real crowd reaction, as the DMC-champ DJs flex some of their patented scratch prowess.

    Dub Mission (DJ Sep, Maneesh The Twister, Kush Arora, J-Boogie) bring out live horns (trumpet, sax, trombone) to play over Dawn Penn's "No No No" instrumental. MC Zulu is the hosting the stage along with emcee Deuce Eclipse. DJ Sep spins the opening set. They get a strong reaction from their supporters.

    Pretty standard sets from the other competitors: Tropical bass from Tormenta Tropical, and house and club beats from Dirtybird.

    Round 2: The Selector
    Dirtybird brings out DJ Craze (video) from Miami, the first big guest of the evening. They end their set with full-sized costumed bird mascots on stage dancing to a dubplate of house classic "Beat That Bitch" changed to "Beat That Bird (With A Bat)."

    Triple Threat start their set with a selection of all-Bay Area hip-hop, then they bring on Lyrics Born who sings "Calling Out" live. Then Zumbi from Zion-I performs live, and the climax is a appearance by the entire Souls of Mischief. (video) They deliver their hit "That's When You Lost" live. The song's lyrics are, of course, directed as a diss at the other sound competitors.

    Dub Mission's Maneesh The Twister hypes the crowd with his reggae-remix and drum & bass blends.

    Los Rakas
    Tormenta Tropical start round two with a dancehall set, then they bring out Bay Area bilingual hip-hop/reggarton crew Los Rakas live. (video)

    At this stage of competition, Triple Threat is the running favorite, with Dirtybird second, Dub Mission third.

    Round 3: Sleeping With The Enemy
    Each crew takes on another's style of music. 

    Triple Threat play reggae against Dub Mission dropping Major Lazer,  J-Boog and Junior Gong dub plates. Then they announce they're going after all the crews and cleverly drop some tropical bass and house dubplates.

    Dub Mission's J-Boogie (Om Records) plays electronic beats against Dirtybird, including a different dubplate version of "Beat That Bird (With A  Bat)". The Dub Mission crew proceed to pantomime beating down one of the bird mascots on their stage.

    Dirtybird bring out Diplo from Major Lazer to a very noticeable crowd reaction.

    It is announced that Tormenta Tropical wins Round 3. Crowd is booing. 

    Round 4: The Decider
    Dub MIssion opens with J-Boog "Nice To Know You" dub plate. They bring Mega Banton on stage for "Never Heard A Sound" hip-hop remix, then bring out Timex Social Club's Michael Marshall live to sing hook of "I Got Five on It" (the Luniz hit), and also his own hit "Rumors." (video

    Tormenta Tropical follow with heated dancehall and tropical bangers, then up the ante by bringing out Jamaican performer Mr. Vegas, who sings "Heads High" and "I Am Blessed."

    Dirtybird open their set with two robot-clad figures dressed like Daft Punk (unconfirmed) behind the decks. 

    They they amp the crowd up considerably by bringing up Pharoahe Monch who performs "Simon Says," immediately followed by Bay Area legend Too $hort.  It looks like game-over at this point.

    Triple Threat open with more dubplates but play back a Cutty Ranks dub that Dub Mission had already spun. *(Almost every crew re-played something another crew had previously spun, a major foul in traditional dancehall sound clash rules.

    Triple Threat playa Snoop Dogg dub plate, then bring out house singer Crystal Waters who performs "Gypsy Woman (Homeless)". 

    The final voting:
    The clash was decided by which crew received the loudest crowd-noise reading on the decibel meter. After each round, each crew's name was announced and a decibel reading was taken. No winner was announced for Round 1. Round Two was won by Triple Threat,  and Round 3 was won by Tormenta Tropical (under protest by Dirtybird's supporters). 

    After the final round of crowd cheering, it was determined there was a tie between Dirtybird and Triple Threat. Equal amounts of the crowd began chanting in unison for their preferred crew, either Dir-ty-bird" or "Tri-ple Threat."

    The judges announced that another crowd vote would be taken to break the tie. After the crowd cheer was recorded on the Db meter, Triple Threat was announced as winner. However, it seemed the crowd consensus that after all the big guests that Dirtybird had brought up, they deserved the win. But Triple Threat impressed with quality mixing throughout, big guests in the second and fourth rounds and original dubplates. Each of the crews deserve credit for the countless hours of practice, phone calls and organizing it took to get their special sets together.

    Selected tweets:
    "No matter the victor, this is the craziest thing I've ever been to."

    "Jamaica's best performer of this generation @MrVegasMusic just showed San Fran how it's done #redbullcultureclash"

    D-Sharp @djDSharp "This #redbullcultureclash event in SF is probably the best show I've been to in a minute!! #hellafresh"

    Tormenta stage with emcee, dancers and diss signs

    Mega Banton (left) and Timex Social Club's Michael Marshall

    Apollo & Shortkut of Triple Threat

    Lights and crowds at Red Bull Culture Clash SF

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    Check out an excerpt from my article on Tokyo's Dub Store Records below, and read the full piece over at Bandcamp.

    Dub Store has really changed the game for collectors and Jamaican music enthusiasts alike by forging deals with institutions like Federal Recording Company, home to the Kentone, Federal and Merritone imprints, which delivered countless hits in the ska and rocksteady era. Then there’s Dub Store’s collection of hard-to-find titles on King Tubby’s Firehouse label, deep cuts from Bunny Wailer’s Solomonic label, sublime roots by Kiddus I and Glen Brown, and the list goes on.

    So how did this obsession with releasing rare reggae music from respected Jamaican imprints like Studio One, Merritone, and Redman International arise? We chatted via email with a very busy Mr. Ienaga on Dub Store’s origins and motivations, and their experiences in Jamaica unearthing the island’s finest recordings. [Read more here...]
    Speaking of Bandcamp, Kabaka Pyramid associate Koro Fyah is offering a free track on the site. More excellent roots revival reggae, with the same flavor as Chronixx, Dre Island or Protoje. Download it here.

    Keep an eye out for a few big new releases for November: Silly Walks Discotheque Presents Clock Tower Riddim and sing-jay Cali P's latest album Healing of the Nation (Hemp Higher Productions). Clock Tower features production from Jr Blender, who's currently co-producing the upcoming Major Lazer album. Featured artists on the riddim set include Gentleman, Queen Ifrica, Esco LeviMorgan Heritage and more.

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    Pressure Sounds, England's foremost vintage reggae reissue label, issues their latest collection, Full Up, highlighting the career of the prolific Bunny "Striker" Lee.

    These "early reggae productions" harken from a time when Jamaican music was still transitioning from genteel and soulful rocksteady sounds into faster, more insistent uptempo reggae.

    The slower "one-drop" reggae beat was still a few years off, but tracks like Stranger Cole's "When I Get My Freedom" convey a roots-era conviction. In contrast, other tracks simply play on the television and movie interests of the day ("Payton Place," Death Rides A Horse.")

    The Independent newspaper recently ran an excellent profile of the producer. This excerpt, chock-full of facts, give you a taste:

    He created the “flying cymbal”, or “flyers”, the stripped-down crash of a high hat, first played by drummer Carlton “Santa” Davis on Johnny Clarke’s 1974 hit “None Shall Escape the Judgement”. “Flyers”, one of reggae’s most distinctive sounds, was inspired by Lee’s love of fried chicken wings. The famous one-drop snare drum stroke made famous by Bob Marley’s 1979 cry “Feel it in the one drop” was invented much earlier, claims Bunny. It exists on Bunny’s late-Sixties hit for Max Romeo, “People Get Ready”.

    And some words from the the Pressure Sounds press release:
    Bunny ‘Striker’ Lee ‘Mrs Pottinger used to call me “the ghost that haunts the studio”. Man would say “how come you have so many baby mothers? Where you get the time?” Because I was always in the studio.’

    It is July 2006 and I am working on a recording session for Bunny ‘Striker’ Lee for the first time. Bunny has arranged for 5 different singers to come round to my tiny bedroom studio in Dalston to voice some tunes, and as he is running late we have started without him. The first singer up is struggling to nail the tune after five or six takes, when Bunny and his entourage arrive in a flurry of laughter and multiple ringtones. Immediately the level of energy and excitement in the studio is ramped up. Bunny shouts a few words of encouragement and the singer nails his performance in the next take. From then on the session moves quickly, with Striker offering gentle guidance, the occasional suggestion for lyrics, and frequent cries of support: ‘G’wan, you great!’ 

    After 3 hours all the tunes and a version are recorded and mixed, and two weeks later the songs are out in the shops on seven inch vinyl. It has been an archetypal Bunny Lee session, quick and spontaneous, getting the best out of all involved. No one leaves with money in their pockets, but some have been given rhythm tracks for their own productions, and all are walking just a bit taller than when they came in.

    Rewinding to February 1968, a slim and dapper young Jamaican touched down for the first time in an icy, snowbound Britain. Bunny Lee had achieved instant success at home with his first releases the year before, but did not have the funds to compete for airtime with the established Jamaican producers. He had now come to London to do business with Chris Blackwell’s Island Records, and immediately saw that the rewards from the English market would be key to his success in Jamaica. By building business relationships abroad, Bunny could gain a competitive edge over his rivals that made up for his lack of finances. And so began an intricate process of international networking that continues to this day.

    Errol Dunkley ‘Bunny Lee come from England with that word “reggae”. Him say the record companies in England would like the beat to be a little faster.’

    Full Up is available now as a digital or vinyl release.

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    New Kingston
    2014 was dominated by US and Pacific Rim-based reggae-rock artists. The Green, Rebelution, SOJA and the Dirty Heads were the among the groups that outpaced strong releases from Jamaican acts like Sly & Robbie, Shaggy, Chronixx, and DuaneStephenson. Meanwhile, international artists like London's Hollie Cook and Canada's Esco Levi and Magic also made significant inroads with global reggae audiences.

    2015 may see more of the same but perhaps it will be tempered by stronger output from higher profile Jamaican talents. Time will tell. In the meantime, here's a peak at notable new titles coming soon or ready for your listening enjoyment now.

    Out now:Dub Syndicate'sHard Food, from the UK/Jamaica outfit founded by On-U Sound producer Adrian Sherwood and the tragically murdered Style Scott, former drummer with the Roots Radics band. The album features heavy cameos from Bunny Wailer, U-Roy and Lee Scratch Perry. Reggaeville has a heartfelt review, aptly placing the release into the important context it deserves. For more on Style Scott's legacy, view The Guardian's respectful obit.

    Also out nowMarlon AsherIllusions, the latest album from the popular Trinidadian singer, famous for his hit "Ganja Farmer." British lovers rock singer Lady Lex has teamed up with rocksteady-influenced producer Peckings for Is This Love, a genuine set of songs built from original Treasure Isle and other rocksteady riddims. Canada's excellent dub-electronica producer Dubmatix is offering a free download from his latest release Mysterium Dub. And if a quality one-drop riddim juggling is your thing, grab the new Reggae Island Riddim that features Serani, Khago, Bugle, Nature and Dexta Daps among others.

    Singles-wise, there's some strong offerings out now, including Sevana Siren's sweet lovers rock track "A Bit Too Shy," produced by Winta James & Protoje for In.Digg.Nation Collective/Overstand Entertainment. On a similar tip is Germany's Sara Lugo featuring Protoje on "Really Like You," feel good reggae at it's best. Lugo's Hit Me With Music album is out now.

    Phil Watkis has a sincere one-drop track in "Falling For You." His voice recalls smooth '90s/00s romantic crooners like Beres Hammond, LloydBrown, Sanchez or Tony Curtis. For something a little bit rougher, yet still harkening back to classic digital dancehall, Serocee's "Rude Boy Selection" has it all: A Tenor Saw sample, rude low-end bass and gruff, baritone-timbre lyrics.

    January 20
    Northern California's Jah Sun  has linked with top-flight Austrian band and production team House of Riddim for New Paradigm. You can hear a killer album preview on Soundcloud. The album features solidly build modern roots reggae and conscious lyrics from this rising young sing-jay. 

    More established but always innovative, Italian/Jamaican artist Alborosie releases Sound The System Showcase, a dubby discomix rework of his most recent album. The new version features extended mixes and dubs.

    January 27
    Easy Star Records had a lot of big records and success in 2014, releasing new titles from Giant Panda Guerilla Dub Squad and Backbeat Soundsystem. Now the label has signed Brooklyn's New Kingston and will release Kingston City. This brother-led group bring an innovative new school approach to live roots reggae – a little like Morgan Heritage or Steel Pulse but definitely pushing their own aesthetic.

    While he had a long and prolific comedy and movie career, Eddie Murphy is evolving into quite a legitimate reggae singer. "Oh Jah Jah" is his best song to date, a slow one-drop roots track that would sound right at home on a Midnite album. The single is out digitally January 27.

    Premier UK label Pressure Sounds reissues a heavy album, Consider Yourself, by The Inturns on vinyl and digital formats. This vocal trio, produced by the great Phil Pratt, featured Viceroy's cofounder Wesley Tinglin on lead vocal. His passionate delivery was probably only bested at the time by Dennis Brown.

    February 3
    February 6 marks the celebration of what would have been Bob Marley's 70th birthday. The Marley Estate and Universal Music plan special releases throughout the year, commencing with Bob Marley & The WailersEasy Skanking in Boston '78 (Tuff Gong/Universal), a previously unreleased live set with accompanying Blu-Ray DVD. The show includes classics like "The Heathen" and "War" with the Barrett brothers rhythm section and I-Threes on backing vocals. Classically Wailers, at their prime. 

    African reggae has a long and fertile history with stars like Alpha Blondy and Lucky Dube garnering global acclaim. To this fold comes Ghana's Selasee Atiase & Fafa Family and their new release Time For Peace. My friend Garrett Baker summed it up nicely like this: "Ghana. A proud kingdom that’s flourished in the decades since independence. It’s the home of highlife, the musical style that spread all across Anglophone West Africa before taking a turn for the global. And highlife, sweetly blended with reggae and soul, is the root of Time for Peace, the new album by Selasee & Fafa Family."

    February 17
    Later in February Bay Area rocksteady soul crooner Rusty Zinn releases The Reggae Soul of Rusty Zinn. Zinn is a talented and experienced live musician and reggae fan to the core. The album should introduce his talents to many new ears. 

    Turning back the clock to Jamaica's most fertile era of roots reggae, the Yabby You's retrospectiveDread Prophecy is released on Shanachie. For those unfamiliar with Yabby You's legacy, he was a hugely influential singer and producer in the '70s who worked alongside King Tubby and produced great tracks by Big Youth, Trinity and Michael Prophet. Get to know this roots icon!

    And speaking of rare roots music, a real gem drops on the 17th with the ultra-rare reissueRed by Bunny Lion (a alias of the DJPuddy Roots of Killamanjaro& King Jammy$ sound systems. Produced by the great Linval Thompson (Johnny Clarke, Rod Taylor, Mystic Eyes) the album charts a crucial moment as roots reggae was transitioning to what would become rub-a-dub style dancehall. Check a preview below.

    March 10
    East London band The Skints mix reggae with other urban styles on their new album for Easy Star produced by Prince Fatty (Hollie Cook, Horseman etc). Infused with a punk and hip-hop attitude but solid reggae chops, the Skints unite myriad British sound system culture elements in a vibrant live presentation. Think The Clash mixed with Dizzy Rascal. Also in March Konshens' brother Delus releases a new album Public Relations.

    Coming soon: A reissue of Black Symbol's absolutely killer self-titled Black Symbol on Reggae Archive Records, a division of the ever-active Bristol Archive label. Like fellow Brits Misty In Roots or Jamaica's Twinkle Brothers this band specialized in truly "dread" heavy roots reggae. The singer has just a touch of Burning Spear's inflection, while the band fills in the spaces with superb guitar, organ and percussion-driven reggae. Each track on the album features a dub version.

    PS: For more news, check outClash Magazine's latest reggae round-up featuring new releases, videos and Jamaican event reviews.

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    Below is an excerpt from my Yabby You Dread Prophecy review for Pitchfork. A new 3-disc box set is out now on Shanachie Records, the first US label to release Yabby You's music.

    The new collection of Yabby You's great work during the 1970s and early 80s in Jamaica will hopefully shed more light on a cornerstone artist who has been vastly under-appreciated.

    Dread Prophecy: The Strange and Wonderful Story of Yabby You 

    Jamaican reggae artist Yabby You’s epic new three-disc box set opens with "Deliver Me From My Enemies", a song where his vocals ache with conviction as he interprets verses from the Book of Psalms. It’s the sound of an artist who had suffered and was suffering still, physically and economically, but not spiritually. This disposition endeared him to his ghetto peers even as he faced rejection from wider society. Though Sly & Robbie, the Clash and the Wailers bassist Aston "Family Man" Barrett revered his music, Yabby You remained obscure to most reggae fans.

    The searing work on Dread Prophecy: The Strange and Wonderful Story of Yabby You showcases an artist who deserves recognition on par with Bob Marley, Augustus Pablo or Burning Spear and hopefully elevates his legacy from its outsider status. Sadly, during his life, Yabby You (born Vivian Jackson) was doubly shunned: For being a dreadlocked youth who lived among Rastafarians at a time when they were despised by middle class Jamaicans, and also as an ardent Christian who rejected his Rasta brethren’s veneration of Haile Selassie as God.

    Jackson’s story is one of a poor and sickly man who recorded with legends like the Skatalites’ Tommy McCook and iconic dub engineer King Tubby. He also produced brilliant music by Big Youth, Wayne Wade and Michael Prophet, all while marginally employed and restricted to crutches from debilitating rheumatoid arthritis.

    In a way, Jackson’s physical suffering echoed his music’s serious content. Songs like "Anti-Christ", "Warn the Nation" and "Jah Vengeance" are rife with apocalyptic references from the Book of Revelations and Jamaican proverbs, chastisements and moral teachings. Similarly, his vocal harmony group the Prophets embodied their name. They sermonized against lasciviousness ("Carnal Mind") and warned of the end days ("Babylon a Fall").

    Read the rest on Pitchfork.

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    5 New Must-Hear Reggae Tracks.Bubbling under but worth repeat listens!

    Ginjah "Africa Calling"Ginjah is probably the best vocalist taking inspiration from (and sounding more than a touch like) the late Garnett Silk. Others, including Singer Jah and I-Wayne, have their own takes and distinctions, but Ginjah embodies Silk's gentle vocal presence and soaring consciousness. Taken from the sunny riddim collection  Planet Reggae Rock Vol 1: Holiday Riddim "Africa Calling" features an inspired ode to the Motherland's glories over production that recalls Phillip "Fat Eyes" Burrell or Shane "Juke Boxx" Brown's best riddims. The vibe is joyful, and will definitely have you singing the chorus: "Calling, calling, I can hear Mama Africa calling for me..."

    Mel Dubé "Extra Side" (video) This heartfelt lovers rock cut on JohnJohn's remake of the Water Pumping" riddim shows this Canadian singer's sassy R&B-influenced approach. You can hear everything from Mary J Blige to Tessanne Chin in her delivery–its earthy and powerful. And you can't go wrong singing over a classic Channel One-era rhythm; "Water Pumping" was the pinnacle rub-a-dub dancehall reggae, and works its magic again via Dubé's confident track.

    Protoje "Answer To Your Name" (Listen) Taken from Protoje's new album Ancient Future, this absolutely brilliant ska number is the versatile neo-roots artist's tribute to the great proto-reggae beat that Jamaica exported around the world. The song, through clever wordplay, describes a relationship set in early-70s Brixton, England, and the Prince Buster sample in the chorus seals the mood perfectly. Watch him perform it live on BBC 1Xtra!

    Exco Levi "Country Man" (Watch) This is the title track from Exco's autobiographical new album. It serves a fitting introduction to the tour-de-force music that comes after. This track chronicles the differences between life in rural Jamaica, with abundant fruit trees and clean rivers to wash in, and city life in Kingston with its attendant perils. This album further chronicles Levi's country life via the songs "One Shirt," "One Room Shack" and "Suffering Man." Levi covers the Twinkle Brothers "Since I Throw The Comb Away"–a Rasta anthem long overdue for a tribute. The crisp production from Penthouse Studios' Donovan Germain couldn't be better. But really, Exco shows why he's won three consecutive Canadian Juno awards and quickly becoming roots reggae's most important breakout artist.

    Through The Roots "Bear With Me" A hybrid roots reggae and EDM track, San Diego's Through The Roots show why they're one of the West Coast's most promising up and coming bands. The catchy track conveys a hopeful, positive spirit through times of adversity. And, actually, the band experienced just that recently when their tour bus caught fire and burned, destroying much of their music gear, laptops and more. But they are a band with a bright future, and keeping true to the "Cali Roots" vibe the "Bear With me" video (see below) was filmed in Santa Cruz, California, with great shots of the beach and coastline.

    Video: Through The Roots "Bear With Me"

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    How do you make a big, big sound in reggae music?

    Simple: take an Irish production crew, a legendary Brooklyn MC and a Jamaican dancehall veteran and you get the new single from Dublin's Dirty Dubsters crew.

    "Big Sound," out now on Irish Moss Records, sees the Fu-Shickens' Chip Fu paired with Shaggy-collaborator Screechy Dan on a EP with remixes from eclectic beat genius DJ Vadim and jungle heavy Marcus Visionary.

    The original mix rides a fat 90s-style dancehall hip-hop lick of Studio One's crucial "Far East" riddim; the Vadim mix is a steady bubbling downtempo track and Visionary's mix is punchy, peak-time drum & bass. The whole set is a DJ and dancer's delight–a positive party rocker. Have a listen below, crack a Guinness and say "cheers" to this cool collabo.

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  • 06/01/15--21:28: Noisy Goes 2Tone
  • Are you ready to skank again? Do you remember The Specials, The (English) Beat, The Selector or Madness? No? Don't worry, VICE Magazine music affiliate Noisy has rolled out their latest historical music documentary: Under The Influence: 2 Tone Ska.

    The presentation covers British 2Tone ska music's broad impact on the wider world, from skinheads in China and stadium-bands in Mexico to America's "Thirds Wave" ska bands and today's practitioners. Rancid's Tim Armstrong narrates the proceedings, an apt choice given his front-row seat in 2Tone's evolution as a member of influential Berkeley ska-punk band Operation Ivy.

    Punk vet Don Letts, The Beat's Dave Wakeling and Ranking Roger and other seminal figures reflect on the music that would bring the races together via 2Tone's emphatic, political upbeat rhythm.

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    Jamaica's Kabaka Pyramid and Iba Mahr embark on the "Young Lions" tour, taking their conscious revolutionary messages across the US from June 11 to July 13 2015. Backed by Kabaka's band "The Bebble Rockers," each artist heartically represents the roots revival movement with conscious lyrics and crucial music that echoes foundation reggae artists like Burning Spear, Don Carlos or Black Uhuru.

    Hear a clip from Kabaka's latest single "Well Done" below, and check Iba's great "Haile" and "Great Is HIM" tracks out now.

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    Gulls Rhythm Force
    Here's an excerpt from my Bandcamp profile of Portland, Oregon's Boomarm Nation label, which delves into the City of Roses' thriving indie dub and electronic bass movement. Read the full piece over on Bandcamp.

    The stereotype is that on a visit to Portland, Oregon, you can expect to drink robust coffee, experience drizzly weather, and see a city teaming with single-gear bikes. But you can add another, perhaps unexpected, distinction to the City of Roses: dub capital of the United States. That’s right, the sound of Portland ripples with echo, and hefty bass loops emanate from studios, music venues, and living rooms all over town.

    How did a musical style that originated in Jamaica gain a zealous following in the Pacific Northwest? Like London, Paris, and a few other locales, Portland has gradually developed a tight-knit community of dub and sound system culture-influenced labels, producers, and club nights. Portland natives have also embraced Jamaica’s DIY approach to studios, distribution, and dubplates. Visit PDXInDub, curated by Portland DJ Craig “Monkeytek” Morton, to find a cadre of imprints, podcasters, graphic designers, mastering engineers, and craftspeople, all making the dub heartbeat pump.

    It’s also fitting that the city, which has a thriving, grassroots, indie/punk scene (think house shows, alternative venues, collaborative artist projects), would adopt an avant-garde approach to the genre. Theirs is dub music on the razor’s edge: a confluence of styles affected as much by Adrian Sherwood’s post-punk-influenced On-U Sounds or London dubstep crew Digital Mystikz, as it is by African music and the legendary Jamaican producer King Tubby. These sounds, along with drum & bass, UK steppers dub, garage house and other hybrid bass-driven musics, are unified under the international umbrella of “sound system culture,” a movement that galvanizes Portland’s disparate dub practitioners. Along with eclectic global influences, PDX producers embrace old and new technology, and formats, too—releasing tracks digitally, as well as on 7″ vinyl and cassette.

    This expansive environment proved the ideal space for multi-instrumentalist/producer and Portland native Jesse Munro Johnson (a.k.a. Gulls) to launch the Boomarm Nationlabel in 2010. Founded as a blog two years prior, Johnson drew inspiration from similar sites devoted to exotic, worldly sounds like Awesome Tapes From Africa and Glowing Raw, along with emerging labels trading in global dance beats, such as Bersa Discos,ZZK, and Dutty Artz. Johnson juggles running the label with raising two sons, working his day job as freelance mixing engineer, performing live, and working for a friend’s food truck.

    “I started the label as a means to release some of my own music in a series of 12″ records,” says Johnson. “Our first official release in 2010 was Gulls’ Mean Sound 12″, and as a label we very quickly grew into a more collaborative international affair.” Back in 2011, Boomarm collaborated with Portland’s Sahel Sounds and brought together a crew of producers to remix the Music For Saharan Cellphones compilation. Some of those producers, like Turkey-based El Mahdy Jr. and iSKELETOR, would later release solo projects on the label.

    Continuing their international outlook, Boomarm Nation’s latest release,Her.Imperial.Majesty, is by mysterious Filipino collective Seekersinternational (SKRS), and exemplifies Johnson’s knack for finding subversive talent from anywhere in the world. Her.Imperial.Majesty is chock-full of arresting sound-clash samples, tape snippets, and skittering electronic beats—anchored by errant bass programming that somehow keeps the whole swerving concoction on the rails. Even the album’s title is subversive, taking a reverential reference to Ethiopian king and Rastafarian patriarch Haile Selassie and transforming it into what Johnson calls “a respectful nod to the power of the feminine energy and its root within us all.” Continue reading on Bandcamp

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    Watch the new video by rising singjay Kabaka Pyramid for "Well Done," produced by Damian "Jr. Gong" Marley. The tune is on Ghetto Youth International's On The Cornerriddim.

    In the song, Kabaka calls out careless, corrupt politicians and leaders who've ruined the world for personal gain.

    While the track has a serious message the rhythm track is bubbling and danceable, a potent combination from an artist who is setting a high bar for conscious, thoughtful reggae. Check the video below.

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  • 01/05/16--19:05: Top Ten Reggae Albums 2015
  • The year in reggae 2015 was a fertile one, with modern roots reggae and crucial vintage reissues keeping pace with previous years, as some exciting new breakthrough artists added vibrancy to an already resplendent body of music.

    Familiar labels, including VP, Pressure Sounds and Easy Star released some of the year’s best offerings indies like Jah Youth Productions, Nowtime Sound,Hot Milk and others did a fine job at releasing strong titles.

    I was happy to see many of my favorites align with veteran industry player Rob Kenner at Billboard’s Reggae Top Ten for 2015. Generally, my tastes are closer to the independent titles covered into Reggaeville and United Reggae. The former publication is polling its readers on your favorite releases of the past year (voting ends January 10). In coming days I'll be adding comments and background information about some of these releases. For now,  scan your favorite music services for clips and enjoy this cool and deadly selection.

    1. Jah Cure – The Cure (VP)
    2. Mr. Vegas – Lovers Rock & Soul (MV Music)
    3. Exco Levi – Country Man (Penthouse)
    4. Morgan Heritage – Strictly Roots (CTBC Music Group / EMPIRE)
    5. Michah Shemiah – Original Dread (Descendant Music)
    6. Protoje – Ancient Future ( March, In.Digg.Nation Collective / Overstand)
    7. New Kingston – Kingston City (Easy Star)
    8. Mark Wonder – Scrolls of the Levite ( Nowtime Sound)
    9. Alborosie – Dub of Thrones (Greensleeves/ VP Records)
    10. Million Stylez –  Revelation Time (Adonai Music)

    1. Keida – Ebb and Flow (Great Whyte Entertainment)
    2. RC – Boss Man EP (K and R Production)
    3. Gentleman’s Dub Club – The Big Smoke (Easy Star/ Ranking Records)
    4. Mellow Mood – 2 the World (La Tempesta Dischi)
    5. Anthony Que – Terrence Matthie (Black and Yellow Entertainment)

    Music Works' Gussie Clark

    1. Jimmy Riley – Live To Know It (Pressure Sounds)
    2. Various Artists – Reggae Anthology: Gussie Clarke - From The Foundation (VP Records)
    3. Mr. Spaulding – Twelve Tribe of Israel: Anthology (Hot Milk Records)
    4. Black Symbol – Black Symbol (Bristol Archive)
    5. Byron Lee & The Dragonaires – Uptown Top Ranking (VP)
    6. Various Artists – Sherwood At The Controls: Volume 1 1979 - 1984 (On-U Sound)
    7. Various Artists – Bunny 'Striker' Lee & Friends: Next Cut! Dub Plates, Rare Sides & Unreleased Cuts 
    8. Various Artists – Reggae Anthology: King Jammy's Roots, Reality and Sleng Teng
    9. Bob Marley & The Wailers – Easy Skanking in Boston '78 (The Island Def Jam Music Group)
    10. Lynn Taitt & The Jetts and Beverlys All Stars – Hot & Rich Rocksteady (tie) / Hopeton Lewis – Take It Easy With The Rock Steady Beat (Dub Store)

    1. Jah Sun & House of Riddim – New Paradigm (House of Riddim)
    2. Rampalion – Inside The Kete Heart (Drug Recordings / VPAL Music)
    3. Hot Rain – It Crazy But It Life (We Dem People)
    4. E.N Young - Live Love Stay Up (Roots Musician Records)
    5. Humble Servant Band – Greatest Gift ( One Way Records & Jah Youth Productions)
    6. Earth Beat Movement – Right Road (Earth Beat Movement)
    7. Mixed Culture – Movement In Roots (New World Sounds & Jah Youth Productions)
    8. Blend Mishkin & Roots Evolution – Survival of the Fittest (Nice Up!)
    9. Dubbest – Light Flashes (Dubbest)
    10.  Lion D – Heartical Soul ( Bizzarri Records Srl)

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    Labels We Love: Foundation Channel
    From ForwardEver's article in XLR8R Magazine
    For this imprint’s roster of music makers, it all begins with dub. 

    Some labels are intrinsically motivated by a mission. For the Portland- and Detroit-based Foundation Channel, that quest is to preserve and promote electronic music’s dub roots. They go at it with the zeal of faith healers anointing listeners with material drawing from original roots-reggae instrumentation and vocals, augmented with both analog and digital dub mixing techniques. They’ve christened their eclectic brand of bass music “subwise,” and have released compilations and EPs devoted to expanding on their sonic palette.
    In 2012, label co-founder Evan Glicker, who records as Satta Don Dada, began reaching out to his dub producer peers to connect and trade music. But as the Detroit native’s contact list grew, his focus turned to assembling a compilation that would showcase fresh talent representing the kind of earthy, echo-drenched sounds he favored, and reintroduce reggae DNA into bass music’s increasingly aggressive, alien structure. At the time, mainstream “brostep” had reached a popular apex in the U.S.—and Glicker aimed to counter the trend.
    Glicker contacted his eventual label partner, Portland resident Douglas Keeney (a.k.a. Modi Bardo),to contribute a track. At the time, Keeney had been working for producer DZ’s Badman Press label, and knew the ins and outs of the music business. Keeney also had a deep appreciation for all things dub, so joining Foundation Channel’s missionary activities made perfect sense. “We were both into dubstep and slow-and-low reggae-influenced bass music,” Keeney explains. “At the time, the reggae sound [in dubstep] was on its way out.”

    Originally planned as a series of casual posts to Soundcloud, the project became a serious venture after the label secured tracks from U.K. talents DJ Madd and Cotti, plus American heavies Roommate, Djunya, Matty G and Dubsworth. Foundation Channel Volume 1 was released July 2013. Proceeds from the collection were donated to Street Child Africa, a conscious move to connect the label’s sounds to greater social issues. “We wanted to do the compilation as a charity-based project,” says Glicker. “The idea was to get the general gist of the label out there and tie it in with something deeper, to give back to something foundational as well.”
    “Whether it’s a future-sounding track, or an expansion on the remix concept, the roots [of what we do] are always in dub.”
    Things moved fast from there with the Foundation Channel Remixes collection hitting the streets at the start of 2015, followed by several new EPs, albums and remixes. Contributing to their rapid output was Glicker and Keeney’s mutual agreement on the label’s core sound and where they want to take it. Both share the view that electronic music and remix culture have their origins in dub; the Jamaican music innovation is the centerpiece for all their releases. “All our releases and everyone we sign to the label has that same idea,” says Keeney. “Whether it’s a future-sounding track, or an expansion on the remix concept, the roots [of what we do] are always in dub.”
    From that base, Foundation Channel’s releases expand into diverse electronic styles, from Golden Eye’s G-funk-tinged dubstep to Tusk One’s ethereal, minimalist tracks, to Glicker and Keeney’s own low-end bass work. As Keeney sees it, although the label was set up to pay homage to everything dub, they want to keep things open to experimentation. Recently, the label has started working closer with vocalists, including Canada’s Collinjahand Jamaica’s Carlton Livingston, to name a few.
    “We really want to work with the originators,” explains Keeney. “In fact, Golden Eye and myself recently just put a free track on Soundcloud called “Run Dem” featuring Ranking Joe.” A veteran of Jamaican sound systems like Ray Symbolic Hi-Fi since the ’70s, Ranking Joe lent his distinctive toasting style to the track. Glicker says the label is exploring releases with other original Jamaican icons, including Horace Andy, but they’re just as motivated to feature newer vocal talents. “We have a track that Doug made with Canada’s Clinton Slywe’re excited about and hoping to get out in the new year,” says Glicker. “I had a track in works with U.K. singer Rod Azlan, but he’s just so busy right now that it will be a while before that one comes out.”
    The pair have been devoting so much energy to collaborative projects and EPs by other artists that they haven’t had time to execute their own releases recently. They’re looking to change that soon. “I would like to see a Modi and Satta album in 2016,” Keeney says. “We have a lot of tracks started, so we’re definitely moving in that direction. Ultimately, our aim is to keep exploring within in our own sound—and see how far we can take it.”
    Building The Foundation: Key Releases

    Golden Eye Mutual EP
    The EP sees brooding reggae-fueled dubstep and brassy West Coast G-funk spread over four tracks, each revealing a varied take on the formula. “Hustlin’ and “Mutual Dub” are clean, synth-lead numbers that sound like an exquisitely stoned Dr. Dre making dubstep.”Fully Loaded” has a vintage Dub Police or Tempa quality to it, while “Saturate” is jazz chillstep reminiscent of Silkie’s R&B-tinged work. Keeney describes Golden Eye as a “really interesting guy” who lives off the grid, deep in the Northern California wilderness. “He’s got a serious analog studio with tape machines, vintage EQ units and stuff he’s built from kits,” he says, noting that the artist’s style is a culmination of things he grew up with: West Coast gangster music and reggae. “He’s got a really
    clear, clean sound that’s still dirty at the same time, Keeney describes. “It has that analog stink on it.”
    Professor Stone Bush Dubs (The Ital Collection)
    Spatial, minimal dub, with live and electronic instrumentation from a prolific American producer. Think Deadbeat remixing On-U Sound label.
    Tusk One Rite of Passage EPTusk One explores expansive foreign territories on sparse, moody bass tracks that blend in intricate minimal beats, ethnic percussion and atmospheric field recordings. If electronic experimentalists Muslimgauze or Pole were remixed by Digital Mystikz it might sounds like this. Tusk started his music endeavors under the guise DJ Porkchop. Keeney remembers hearing a set in ‘09 while he was “quite medicated”. “He went from super-deep dubwise to artists like Martyn and 2562, to really grimey garage, to 8-bit, to jungle-meets-world-meets-dub stuff,” Keeney recalls. “He blew my mind. I connected with him and his sound had developed a lot; it’s not restricted to any tempo. It sounds like he’s drawing from Rhythm & Sound, Basic Channel to heavier dubstep or footwork sounds. He’s an exciting addition to our family.”
    Satta Don Dada & Modi Bardo The Coolie Rockers EP
    Dub samples get chopped, edited and radically reshaped on this essential Foundation Channel release. Imagine snippets of King Tubby reel–to-reel tapes fed into a glitchy sampler. Add echo and mix. The result is fresh take on original roots dub that captures the original’s fervent spirit and adds its own futurist twist. Label cofounders Glicker and Keeney serve various original mixes while Professor Stone, Matt Green and Golden Eye add prodigious versions of their own.

    Carlton Livingston & Modi Bardo “Country Livin'”
    This forthcoming track features Jamaican singer Carlton Livingston, left, whose 1983 track “100 Weight of Collie Weed” is an all time ganja-smokers classic. Livingston’s soft vocals add a gentle counterpoint to Modi Bardo’s weighty, reggae-infused bass backdrop. Glicker connected with the reggae icon via Twitter, sent over some of Doug’s tracks to the now Brooklyn-based artist and the tune quickly came together. Keeney notes that when Satta eventually met Carlton in Brooklyn to shoot a video, the artists generously introduced him to the local reggae community, offered tips on distribution, and opened his network to the label.
    Modi Bardo & Collinjah “Ganja Ting”This upcoming track features Jamaica-born and Canada-based singer Collinjah, right. Keeney describes him as a versatile artist with a command of dancehall lyrics, uplifting roots vocals and dub chanting. “The work we’ve done with him sounds explosive,” Keeney enthuses. “He really gets both the dub aesthetic and hip-hop and is able to join them. Ultimately dub and electronic is where we started with the label, but we’re also stretching out,” say Keeney who adds that the collaboration see his own early-90s hip-hop production ideas mixed with Collinjah dancehall and dub background. “It was just what naturally happened when we mixed our sounds.”
    Follow Foundation Channel on the label’s blog, hear the tunes at Soundcloud; and buy the music via Bandcamp.

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    Get ready to rocksteady! The soulful Jamaican music style sees its 50th anniversary celebrated with a commemorative vinyl 7" box set available on Record Store Day, April 16, 2016.

    The collection on 17 North Parade Records (VP Record's archive imprint) features tracks by The Gaylads (pictured left) Hopeton Lewis, Errol Dunklrey,The Heptones, The Paragons,The Ethiopians, The Melodians and more.

    The music that followed Jamaican's speedy ska craze famously arrived one very hot summer in 1966 when audiences needed a slower-tempo music to groove to. Many point to Hopeton Lewis' "Take It Easy" as the first rocksteady song, but many can stake a claim as developing soul-drenched, American R&B-influenced genre.

    The 14-track, seven-disc vinyl package includes postcards, stickers and other memorabilia in addition to the sought-after tracks. The label will also issues a broader 20-song CD collection for International Reggae Day in July. The set includes versions of songs that haven't easily been available on vinyl for years.

    The label describes rocksteady as a music style that "used elements of rhythm and blues (R&B), jazz, ska as well as African and Latin American drumming, [and] was a successor of ska and precursor to reggae."

    Indeed, rocksteady has had an enduring legacy, spawning new bands like Hepcat, The Aggrolites and others, movies and even club nights such as San Francisco's popular Festival 68.

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    True to their name, Western Standard Time Ska Orchestra is both a West Coast-based ensemble and combine hearty 1930s/40s big band jazz touches with lively Jamaican ska arrangements. Their new EP is available now as a limited vinyl release and digital download from Rare Breed Recordings.

    WSTSO's cover of Derrick Harriott's "Monkey Ska" features Greg Lee and Alex Desert of Hepcat, while their remake of The Wailers' "Love and Affection" features LA revivalists The Expanders.

    The full orchestra consists of jazz musicians who currently perform with the Clayton Hamilton Jazz Orchestra, Gordon Goodwin’s Big Phat Band, Luckman Jazz Orchestra, Bob Mintzer’s Big Band, and The Brian Setzer Orchestra.

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    Freddie McGregor, Maxi Priest, Romain Virgo, Raging Fyah, Jah9, Christopher Ellis, The Green, Katchafire and Jah Cure are just a few of the top flight artists that will put reggae's Crown Prince, Dennis Emmanuel Brown, back in the spotlight.

    We Remember Dennis Brown drops June 3 on VP Records and will highlight the Jamaican singer's storied career. Although he he passed away in 1999 (age 42), Brown was a major influence on several generations of artists.

    Early in his career he found success covering American R&B hits; his mid-career found him equally successful in roots and especially lovers rock idioms, and toward the end he successfully scored hits in the dancehall arena.

    He worked with legendary producers, from Joe Gibbs and Niney The Observer, through GussieClarke and King Jammy. In many ways Brown was second only to Bob Marley in his overall impact on reggae, hence his title as it's Crown Prince.

    Through rub-a-dub anthems like "Your Love Got A Hold On Me" (covered by Sanchez), or thoughtful conscious numbers like "Wolves and Leopards" (redone by Richie Spice), you get a sense of the scope of the man's work. It was immense and impactful: He rejected violence with "I Don't Want to Be No General," and created uplifting spiritual anthems ("To The Foundation") that receive heartfelt deejay spins to this day.

    Few artists receive the posthumous acclaim that Brown has, and in his case, it's more than worthy and warranted.


    1. Iba Mahr, Jesse Royal, Keznamdi, Chronixx, Exco Levi, Kelissa, Jahmiel, Kabaka Pyramid & Rockaz Elements - I Need Your Love (Rasta Children)
    2. Bushman - Don't Want To Be No General
    3. The Green -  Promised Land
    4. Raging Fyah - Milk and Honey
    5. Christopher Ellis - Created By The Father
    6. Mutabaruka & Marla Brown - Words of Wisdom
    7. Chino - Melting Pot
    8. Yahsha - The Existence Of Jah
    9. Jamelody-  Halfway Up, Halfway Down
    10. Freddie McGregor - Little Village
    11. Mykal Rose - Easy Take It Easy
    12. Jah9 - Bloody City
    13. Richie Spice - Wolves and Leopards
    14. Shuga - Black Liberation
    15. VP Hit Team - To The Foundation
    16. Romain Virgo - Caress Me
    17. Marsha Ambrosius - Have You Ever
    18. No Maddz - Rocking Time 
    19. Maxi Preist - Love Me Always 
    20. Jamelody & Ikaya - Love Has Found Its Way
    21. Sanchez - Your Love Got A Hold On Me
    22. Katchafire - If I Had The World
    23. Etana - Should I
    24. Jah Cure - Ghetto Girl
    25. Christopher Martin - Baby Don't Do It
    26. Gyptian - How Can I
    27. Ikaya - For You
    28. Dalton Harris - No More Will I Roam
    29. Jah Vinci - Money in My Pocket
    30. VP Hit Team - Silhouette

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    Bunny Wailer: Still A Blackheart Man, story on NPR.

    Born Neville Livingston, Bunny is the last living original member of the legendary reggae group The Wailers, which he founded along with Peter Tosh and Bob Marley in the early 1960s.

    From his signature composition "Rastaman Chant" to other Wailers classics, and a few new songs as well, Bunny Wailer delivered a powerful trip down memory lane that night, and showed that he's still very much in the reggae game. So what made him tour after all these years?

    "Well, the time was calling, you know," he says. "It's a long time I haven't been out, and the fans are calling. The promoters are calling. So what do I do?"

    That night in New York, he said he was enjoying the tour so far, despite a few hiccups: "I got little flu. You know you come out sometimes and the weather changes, but I'm getting over that."

    This was his first U.S. tour in more than 20 years, though he did have to cancel the last few shows due to illness. The tour was billed as a 40th anniversary celebration of Blackheart Man, his first solo album, released just after he and Peter Tosh left the Wailers.

    "Well, the blackheart man is something that is related to our culture, custom and practice," he explains. "There was a kind of nickname that was given to the Rastaman: the blackheart man. Parents used to tell us, 'You be careful where you go. Watch out for the blackheart man.' So we grew up with the blackheart man being that kind of a challenge. Where we are concerned, we still maintain the order of the blackheart man."

    As a kid, Bunny was clearly unimpressed by warnings to stay away from Rastas.

    "I've been a blackheart man since four years of age," he says. "I used to play in the gullies, and one day we were there playing, and we just saw a foot come out of a manhole — just a foot. And every man, every youth, run from the scene. And when he came out, he had a flour bag shirt. ... He looked at me and said, 'So why you don't run?' I said, 'For what?' And I became a Rastaman from that day. From then on until now, my dreadlocks touch the ground when I stand."

    Listening back to early Wailers records like Burnin' and Catch a Fire, you can't miss the vocal chemistry these guys had, with Bunny taking the high tenor voice.

    "Bob, Peter and myself, we are totally responsible for the Wailers sound, and what the Wailers brought to the world, and left us a legacy," he says. "The thing about the Wailers is that we are always rehearsing. Always! Until we parted."

    All these years on, Bunny Wailer has no plans to retire. In 2013, he released an album called Reincarnated Souls with 50 tracks. They were all new songs, full of rebel politics and old-time Rastafarian religion, set to classic ska, rocksteady and reggae beats.

    Here the rest on NPR or below via the player.

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  • 06/20/16--14:19: Protoje Goes Royalty Free
  • Modern roots artist Protoje continues to push things forward with innovative lyrics and crisp production that draws on both one-drop reggae traditions and everything from contemporary R&B to electronic music. Enjoy this sample-heavy set of free downloads from one of reggae's progressive pioneers.

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    Rising roots empress and devoted yoga practicioner Jah9's new video for "Humble Mi" (directed by Ras Kassa) is out now. Her sophomore album 9 does not disappoint; its thoroughly steeped in conscious messages, organic and retro-roots flavored riddims and 9's searing, beautiful vocals. Her style is poetic, elegant and educating. See and hear more below.

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  • 02/08/17--23:41: Roots from All Nations
  • Roots reggae music continues to thrive and evolve from all different corners of the planet.

    From Jamaica, Chronixx (pictured left) embarks on a major tour, supported by his comrades in the reggae revival movement,  Jah 9, Jesse Royal, Kelissa, Mr. Williamz and Exco Levi. The Chronology Tour touches down across the entire United States from March through April.

    From France comes Conquering Sound (via Irie Ites distribution) latest riddim set -- a tribute to the late Yabby You, and this one does the "Jesus Dread" justice with a stellar troupe of artists and a modern take on the "Deliver Me From My Enemies" track that Yabby originally recorded.

    Hear the My Enemies Riddim - Megamix below.
    Tracklist :
    1 - SPECTACULAR – Jah Rise 0.00
    2 - LION D – Deh Yah 1.03
    3 - DJANTA – Steppin’in 1.50
    4 - LMK – Some A Dem 2.46
    5 - LUTAN FYAH – Modern Day Traitors 3.36
    6 - SIR JEAN – Together We Stronger 4.30

    British band Gentleman's Dub Club have a packed touring schedule ahead in 2017 following their breakthrough album The Big Smoke. Now signed to US label Easy Star, GDC will release Dubtopia on April 7. The Leeds band is made up of many well-rounded musicians specializing in every step of the composition process ensuring every detail of the band’s vision is seen through from the rehearsal room down to the mixing board. Gentleman’s Dub Club is a nine-member group including Jonathan Scratchley (vocals), Tommy Evans (drums), Luke Allwood (Keys), Nick Tyson (guitar), Toby Davies (bass, synth), Niall Lavelle (percussion), Matt Roberts (trumpet), Kieren Gallagher (sax), and Harry Devenish (sound). Listen below and grab the free download from SoundCloud.

    Jamaica and Slovakia link up via the Jah Ova Evil collective's new track and forthcoming album, "Forever Judah," which features up-and-coming female singjay Hempress Sativa.

    Jamaica's Jah Ova Evil was originally the artist name of it's founding member  J.O.E a.k.a. Alty George Nunes, and has now evolved into a collective united around strong and committed human values; their conscious music delivers messages of love, equality and solidarity. They aspire to a world where poverty no longer exists and where everyone lives in harmony with their environment.

    Jah Ova Evil is comprised of the Nunes family, including twins The Gideon (Aijah Nunes) and Selah (Jahnoi Nunes).

    This collective is well known very involved in the cultural life of Kingston and organizes weekly events during which young and old artists gather and share in reggae music collaborations.

    Jah Ova Evil collective's music has contributed to the birth of the reggae revival trend as well as the merging with jazz, soul, hip-hop and electronic music.

    This album is produced by Batelier Records, a young reggae music label based in Slovakia who were drawn to work with Jah Ova Evil collective because of their common values: "We believe in the potential of these artists who work together in order to influence our world!", "Our main effort is to support artists and producers who are struggling to bring those vibes to the people" said Renaud Devaliere, Founder of Batelier Records.

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    Watch young roots sensation Chronixx and his band, Zinc Fence Redemption light it up at the offices of National Public Radio with this Tiny Desk Concert -- a live set in the office of NPR Music.

    Set List:
    "Skankin' Sweet"
    "Spanish Town Rockin'"

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    Following on successful songs "Warning” (2015), “Ganja Train” (2016) and “This Feeling” (2017), roots reggae vocalist Mortimer is back with his latest track produced by Winta James (producer of Protoje and many successful riddims). 

    "Careful" is a brooding, dubby track with cautionary lyrics that recall Jamaica's deep roots traditions (Johnny Clarke, Cultural Roots, Viceroys, Wailing Souls etc.).  Check the video below and album soon come!

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    18-year-old Jamaican native Mikayla "Koffee" Simpson, releases her debut 
    single "Toast" on Columbia Records. Produced by Walshy Fire of Major Lazer and iZyBeats,
    the new track arrives as an ode to everything Koffee is thankful for in her life:
    her family and friends and the "blessings" that surround her on a daily basis. The
    song's colorful accompanying visual is directed by Xavier Damase and offers a candid
    first look at Koffee's world, with cameos from Chronixx and Protoje, told through
    the lively streets of her hometown.

    Born in Spanish Town, just outside of Kingston, Jamaica, Koffee began writing lyrics
    in her bedroom having been inspired by the likes of reggae legends Protoje and Supercat.

    In Janurary 2018, reggae hero Coco Tea brought Koffee onto the stage at Rebel Salute;
    her idol Protoje also asked her to perform with him, while Grammy-nominated Chronixx,
    one of Jamaica's biggest contemporary reggae stars and another huge inspiration,
    invited Koffee to join him on Seani B and Mistajam's recent BBC 1Xtra shows broadcast
    from Tough Gong Studios.

    Although small in stature and disarmingly unassuming, Koffee's modesty -- and height
    -- belies huge amounts of talent. The 5'0, self-described "sing-jay-guitarist" is
    one of the most exciting, forward-thinking, globally-focused teenage talents to 
    emerge this year.