Guyanese born and Brooklyn bred Jahdan Blakkamoore has finally released his follow-up to the rightly acclaimed Babylon Nightmare, released in 2010. And Order of Distinction is yet another masterpiece from this ruthlessly versatile and talented singer, deejay, rapper, producer and Grammy-nominated songwriter.
Jahdan Blakkamoore isn’t a particularly prolific recording artist and Order of Distinction is only his third full-length, but he has also released singles and been key in a number of other artists careers, for example Snoop Dogg, aka Snoop Lion aka Snoopzilla, and his underrated reggae effort Reincarnated.
Order of Distinction is well-crafted from beginning to end and Jahdaan Blakkamoore is a innovative wordsmith delivering positive and insightful lyrics, ranging from sexy locers rock on Smood Blakk Skin and Everything I Love to the encouraging and electrofied Faith, the spiritual Come Back Around and the more boisterous and energetic Ting Tun Up! with Lady Leshurr and Melodic Yoza.
This set is mainly produced Zion I Kings – one of the best and hottest production crews today – along with Paper Stars, a production and writing duo forged between Jahdan Blakkamoore and Andrew “Moon” Bain, who is also part of Zion I Kings. But on board is also dancehall maestro Dre Skull and electro whiz Nate Mars.
Zion I Kings and affiliated labels Lustre Kings, Zion High Productions and I Grade are synonymous with reggae productions of the highest calibre. They are no strangers releasing both fresh talents and seasoned veterans, and they always deliver on putting out music with clever arrangements, innovative production and a conscious approach.
Jahdan Blakkmoore – one of Brooklyn’s finest reggae singers – dropped his sophomore album Babylon Nightmare in December last year, to wide critical acclaim. The album included the sweet single All Comes Back to One.
Now production crews Lustre Kings and LionDub International are releasing a remix EP of All Comes Back to One, which includes versions with influences from dubstep, drum & bass, one drop and nu-soul. The remix duties are handled by Nate Mars, Potential Badboy, LionDub, Nick Fantastic and Ticklah. The funky and soulful version BoBos Remix is available as free download. Check it here.
If that wasn’t enough, DJ Theory has just put out the refreshing Quick Money for free download, a tune full of reggae, hip-hop and soul. It uses a sample from Amadou & Mariam’sSabali – also used by Nas & Damian Marley for the mellow Patience – and comes with a lethal soca version courtesy of So Shifty. Check both tunes here.
For those that have followed Jahdan Blakkamoore since his days in Noble Society and were disappointed with his electronica infused debut album Buzzrock Warrior can relax. His second album – Babylon Nightmare – is a completely different story compared to the debut set.
The dubstep and electronica influences from European music have been switched towards Africa, Jamaica and old school hip-hop for this diverse set rooted in reggae, hip-hop and soul.
Babylon Nightware is produced by gifted producers Andrew “Moon” Bain of Lustre Kings, Laurent “Tippy” Alfred and Nick Fantastic. This U.S-based trio was the masterminds behind Toussaint’s solo debut Black Gold earlier this year. And that set is reminiscent of Babylon Nightmare.
However, Black Gold had more soul influences whereas Babylon Nightmare leans more towards hip-hop with live instrumentation. Listen for example to Against All Odds featuring his bands mates in Noble Society. This tune is basically hip-hop. And it’s very well executed.
Jahdan is immensely talented and has no problem riding riddims like Junior Kelly or Konshens. And he can sing like Pressure. This, together with the very varied riddims, makes Babylon Nightmare a very joyful listening from beginning to end. It’s never a dull moment.
The majority of the tunes are new. But some old time favorites show up. For example Flying High and Proverbs, titled after their riddims respectively. It’s also a real treat to listen to the wicked reworking of Golden City on the Rainbow riddim.
I was one of those that thought Buzzrock Warrior was a decent set. But with his second album, Jahdan has managed to outperform himself. If I haven’t already awarded album of the year, this one would have made it into the top ten.
Jahdan Blakkamoore made a name for himself in the trio Noble Society, an outfit that received the award Reggae Album of the Year on iTunes in 2008. Last year he dropped his solo debut Buzzrock Warrior, an album that received the same award. Next week he is about to drop his second effort. Reggaemani got a chance to speak to him about the new album and his desire to inspire.
Jahdan Blakkamoore. Photo: Amir Ebrahimi
Jahdan Blakkamoore was born in Guyana and moved to the U.S. at an early age. Now he’s based in Brooklyn, NYC, and spends all his time in the studio recording and learning.
He seems to have no musical boundaries. On Noble Society’s debut album Take Charge, he and his band mates Delie and Diego “Fuego” Campo tried their hands on many different styles ranging from one drop reggae and dancehall to hip-hop.
On Jahdan Blakkamoore’s solo debut in 2009 he explored raw digital bass lines in the field of electronica and dubstep.
− Buzzrock Warrior was very electronic and I was inspired by European house and jungle. It was supposed to be a mixtape, but ended up as an album, says Jahdan Blakkamoore on the phone from a recording studio in New York.
Jahdan in a new light
The first single from his sophomore album Babylon Nightmare is a different excursion compared to what he has previously put out. All Comes Back to One is partly acoustic, laid back and easy going.
− It’s a beautiful tune, states Jahdan and explains:
− It has a folky acoustic feeling and is about the concept of oneness. It’s a unique part of the album.
He describes Babylon Nightmare as a mixture of hip-hop and soul with a Caribbean feeling. And he emphasizes that it’s a musical album with live instrumentation such as live bass and horns.
Jahdan Blakkamoore – All Comes Back to One (single version)
Treats and surprises
Some of the tunes on the album have been featured on different compilations. But Jahdan has something up his sleeve.
− People might have heard some of the songs before, but the versions on Babylon Nightmare are different. It’s a little treat, a surprise, he says and gives an example:
− The album version of All Comes Back to One has horns and a different mix.
Babylon Nightmare is the antidote
Jahdan says that Babylon Nightmare is a conceptual album about the world we’re living in.
− We’re all facing negative elements created by ourselves. We created the babylon nightmare, he says in a serious tone, and continues:
− Babylon nightmare is mass confusion. But it can be utopia. We can change the nightmare. My personal antidote is to look inwards. You need to understand yourself. Learn about your culture and the true power of love.
Babylon nightmare is a state of mind that you can change. And Jahdan is willing to help.
− All songs on the album are bits of antidote to the nightmare. For example All Over the World [starts singing], it’s about reggae and that it’s everywhere. Love is everywhere.
− It’ll kick up doors for me and show me in the correct light. People will hold on to this album. It’s my best body of work to date and you can play it to your grandmother or your son.
− I want people to take my music seriously and I always want to have a message. I want to inspire and enlighten.
“Hot now and not later”
And he wants to be recognized now. Not in 20 years.
− Busy Signal gives me the chills when I hear his music. He’s on top of the game, Jahdan says, and continues:
− I want to be unique and have originality. If you’re a genius, you’re able to inspire your contemporaries, not 20 years later. People in your era need to say “wow” and recognize you for your music. Hot now and not later.