Category Archives: News

New book focuses on women in reggae

small coverThere are hundreds of books written about Bob Marley, reggae and dancehall, but none have been all about the women. Now all that has changed thanks to Heather Augustyn, a correspondent for The Times of Northwest Indiana, U.S., and an adjunct professor at Purdue University’s North Central campus as well as the author of Don Drummond: The Genius and Tragedy of the World’s Greatest Trombonist, Ska: An Oral History and Ska: The Rhythm of Liberation.

Songbirds: Pioneering Women in Jamaican Music is the first the first book about women ni reggae, many of whom are critical to the ska explosion in the 60s or the global rise of roots reggae in the 70s.

The book is a detailed look at the daughters, wives and mothers in reggae; the vocalists, instrumentalists, producers, dancers and deejays who helped to shape the course of Jamaican music on the island and worldwide.

This is Heather Augustyn’s fourth book and she spent two years researching it. It features dozens of interviews with a number of key individuals, including Millie Small, Enid Cumberland of Keith & Enid, Janet Enright, Jamaica’s first female guitarist who performed jazz in the 1950s, Marcia Griffiths and members of the first all-girl ska band, the Carnations.

Songbirds: Pioneering Women in Jamaican Music is the story about women in reggae, women that has often been harassed and received little or no pay to perform as backup singers or alongside or in front of the male musicians. It’s also the story about women who found a way to share their talent in a culture and industry that is often marked by masculinity and along the way they changed the course of music all over the world.

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New compilation from the Marley’s

unnamedGhetto Youths International, the record label owned and operated by Bob Marley’s sons Damian, Julian and Stephen, will release the brand new compilation Set Up Shop Vol. 2 on December 23. The 15-track compilation follows volume 1, released exclusively on iTunes in February 2013.

The new album is primarily produced by the Grammy-winning brothers Stephen and Damian Marley. The set features new and already released material from the entire Ghetto Youths roster, including Jo Mersa, Black-Am-I, Christopher Ellis, Wayne Marshall and the label’s founders, along with dancehall artist Cham.

Damian Marley’s Is It Worth It? (Gunman World) is lead single off the compilation and will be accompanied by short film music video directed by Nabil Elderkin, who has previously worked with Kanye West, Nicki Minaj and Frank Ocean.

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Irievibrations Records tell the story of Jamaican music production

Acclaimed Austrian label Irievibrations Records – led by Syrix and Professa – have produced an insightful short documentary series about the art of Jamaican music production. It’s an intimate look behind the art and history of how reggae music is crafted in its native Jamaica.

The first season of Studio Chronicles covers producers and mixing engineers like King Jammy, Stephen Stewart, who currently owns and operates the legendary Harry J studio, Don Corleon and Gussie Clarke. Featured artists and musicians include Konshens and his brother Delus along with Junior Kelly and Sly Dunbar.

The first three episodes are now available on Youtube and you can check the trailer below.

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Kabaka Pyramid drops new mixtape as free download

Jamaican singjay Kabaka Pyramid – who started his career as a rapper – has just put out a fresh mixtape together with Livity Movement’s Dev Kutta.

Titled The Lyricist showcases the talent and lyrical ability of Kabaka Pyramid who has been recently dubbed a conscious revolutionary lyricist.

“When coming up with the title it was so simple, because whenever listening to Kabaka Pyramid I always say he is ‘The Truth’ or a real lyricist. So I didn’t want to impose my views by calling the mix ‘The Truth’ I will let the listeners be the judge, but you can’t deny that he is ‘The Lyricist’,” says Dev Kutta.

The set collects 24 cuts and throughout the set one can hear excerpts of Kabaka Pyramid discussing different views on reggae and Rastafari. Included are combinations with Chronixx, Masicka, Exco Levi, Tarrus Riley, Protoje, Sizzla and Dre Island.

Several fan favourites can also be heard on the set, for example Liberal Opposer and Selassie Souljahz.

Check the mixtape below or over at Soundcloud.

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West African musicians unite against Ebola

A collective of West African artists have united to raise awareness about Ebola and help to raise funds to support Doctors without Borders in West Africa.

The song Africa Stop Ebola by Collectif Africa Stop Ebola is a heartfelt cry to stop the disease and it has clear and upfront messages about what one can do to help.

Africa Stop Ebola is sung in French and local languages. It’s honest and warm and includes performances from no less than 14 singers, rappers and musicians, including Tiken Jah Fakoly, Amadou & Mariam, Salif Keita, Oumou Sangare, Kandia Kora, Mory Kante, Sia Tolno, Barbara Kanam, Didier Awadi, Marcus, Mokobé, Sekou Kouyaté and Ludovic N’Holle.

The song is now available as digital download on all major retailers and streaming services. All profits will be donated to Doctors without Borders, an international humanitarian organisation that provides independent medical aid and emergency relief.

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Midnite ride tru in December

VI reggae trailblazers Midnite is back with yet another album with acclaimed U.S. production trio Zion I KingsZion High Productions, I Grade Records and Lustre Kings.

Midnite is known for being prolific and I believe the upcoming Ride Tru album will be their third in 2014 and the second with Zion I Kings. They worked together on Beauty for the Ashes, which was released about ten months ago.

Ride Tru drops in December and you can check its initial single Credited below.

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New single and video from Jah9

Today marks the 84th anniversary of the Coronation of Haile Selassie. And in celebration of his crowning Jah9 offers a free download of her brand new single Revolution Lullaby. This track shows a brighter side of Jah9 and will be available for free for 24 hours over at Souncloud.

Revolution Lullaby is by its producer Bregt Puraman – of Lost Ark Music and Pura Vida – described as nyabinghi meets jazz on dub. For the track Jah9 has also invited her musical director Sheldon “Atiiba” Bernard to play flute.

“It has now been fully established that I am a militant artist through the subject matter and reverence of my live presentation, so it is now an appropriate time to balance with a nurturing, more playful side,” says Jah9.

“I was immediately touched by her voice and the music. Jah9 is a star on the rise in reggae and I knew it right away. Give thanks to Jah9 for this amazing project,” says Bregt Puraman, and continues:

“The inspiration for this riddim at night when I got a message from Jah9. She was traveling from gig to gig late at night and I called it On Jah Road riddim, and it was the first riddim I sent to her. I immediately knew I wanted to make a nyabinghi riddim because of the strong spiritual vibes in her music and I knew it was going to work,” he says, and concludes:

“I really like this tune because it’s a woman with an angelic voice on nyabinghi, and most of the times nyabinghi is sung by men. Omega power makes it very unique.”

Earlier this year Jah9 dropped her militant and acclaimed debut album New Name and she has been busy touring and Revolution Lullaby is her first single since mid-2013.

Avocado is that spoon full of sugar to make the medicine go down. Revolution Lullaby is some of that bitter medicine but it is laced with its own comfort in the reassuring optimism that despite the state of the world, Jah is in control,” states Jah9.avocado cover

Jah9 will also soon release the official visuals for Avocado, taken from New Name. In-tune with the theme of the playful, 80’s styled and dancehall inspired song, the video will be just as light, bright and lively showing a more feminine side to the usually militant songstress. The release for the Avocado visuals is slated for November 9.

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A free introduction to Dub Store Records

a2196568803_2Dub Store Records out Japan is one of the world’s premier reissue labels. They have focused largely on ska, rocksteady, reggae and dancehall and have over the years put out loads of non-commercial and long forgotten gems.

Labels they have worked with include Studio One, Jammy’s, Bunny Wailer’s Solomonic, Derrick Harriott’s Crystal, King Tubby’s Firehouse and many more.

Some of their gems are now available for free download over at Bandcamp. Dub Store has recently put out a brightly shining mini-compilation showcasing their activities. It’s a brief, yet very tasty, overview that leaves you thirsty for more.

Check it below and while you listen you can read this excellent interview with Naoki Lenaga, founder of Dub Store Records.

 

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War is in the dance!

One of last year’s best tunes was Keida’s excellent Stand For Something. Now – finally – comes a one riddim compilation with nine cuts of the heavyweight riddim. And it’s voiced by a great bunch of vocalists from Jamaica, Europe and the U.S.. How about Pressure, Bobby Hustle, Exco Levi, Khari Kill, Gappy Ranks, Rob Symeonn, Rocker-T, Addis Pablo & The Suns of Dub and of course Keida.

War is in the Dance riddim is produced by U.S.based Royal Order Music and drops on October 21. Until then you can check the megamix by Selecta Daniel below.

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Taj Weekes spreads love on new single off forthcoming album

16406-LHR_20Cover_20ArtSt. Lucian reggae singer and songwriter Taj Weekes has once again teamed up with his band Adowa for another album.

Love, Herb & Reggae drops early next year and the first single off the set – Here I Stand – will be released on October 28.

“Love is a human rights issue. That’s the important thing. We shouldn’t be defining people by their sexuality. Who’s the one to decide what’s ‘normal,’ anyway? What we need is more love in this world, more diversity. The single is me: I’m stating my position and taking my stand,” states Taj Weekes in a press release.

Taj Weekes has always experimented with arrangements and is no stranger to rock and pop. And this is showcased on Here I Stand. The reggae influence is subtle on this one, and the rhythm leans heavily towards tango (!) and blues.

“The reggae is still there, it’s just in a different place. The drums and bass add the flavor. We kept it simple to focus attention on the lyrics. We wanted it to be a track everyone would notice,” explains Taj Weekes, and adds:

“When I started out I just wanted to put a poem over a riddim. Now I’ve found my voice. I want to be true to the art form I’ve chosen, whatever comes from it.”

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