Tag Archives: Dubtonic Kru

No ordinary dub album from Dubtonic Kru

dubtonickru_dubconsciousDubtonic Kru – one of the baddest bands from Jamaica – is back with a new blazing album. Conscious Dub collects eleven tracks and is a mix of different styles and genres and is not – as the title indicates – a dub album.

Conscious Dub is a cocktail of dub versions of previous released material and new smashing vocal cuts. Pitchy Patchy comes with a scorching organ and Guiding Light is driven by a haunting guitar solo and echoing keys, while the smooth The Highest fades out with some stylish deejaying.

Microphone duties is shared with Rasta revivalists Protoje and Iba Mahr along with the lesser known Jamaican vocalist J Militia. Protoje graces the strong Mankind with laid-back verses and Iba Mahr lends his voice to the repatriation cut Somewhere Inna Africa.

Positive and uplifting. As always with the Kru.

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Evolution is Dubtonic Kru’s best yet

6PAN1TIt’s almost impossible today to write a story about a Jamaican band without referring to the ongoing band and live music resurgence in Jamaica with outfits like Raging Fyah, Uprising Roots Band and Mystikal Revolution, one of the latest additions.

Five piece Dubtonic Kru is however far from newcomers. They’re more like pioneers on the contemporary Jamaican live band circuit. They won Global Battle of the Bands in 2011 and have toured U.S. and Europe many times. Their third and latest album Evolution is due tomorrow and showcases an inspired, talented and skanking band that is not afraid of mixing their favorite genres into a steaming melting pot of roots reggae, soul, funk, dub, pop, dancehall and rock.

Evolution collects 13 tracks and ranges from rock-tinged dancehall in the Kool Johnny Kool combination Rub a Dub Style to psychedelic, twisted dub on the appropriately titled Cloud 9 and hardcore nyabinghi on the magnificent Jah Works, a track that could easily be mistaken for something from the Ras Michael camp.

In between these are a number of jovial one drops, a great version of The Ethiopians’ rocksteady classic Train to Skaville and the honest and heartfelt reggae love story Reggae Vibez, a track featuring Shabba Ranks sing-a-like Jamar “Ratigan” Kelly, who puts it very eloquently “Well, I’ve been around the world, listened to a lot of hits, ain’t no music like this, some say reggae was a accident, but I say it was a gift…”.

Dubtonic Kru is a Third World for the 21th century and Evolution is a great leap forward for the Kru who has presented their best set yet.

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The Jamaican band craze continues

P-E-N-T-A-T-E-U-C-H, Pentateuch. Try to spell this band name quick. I have, and I wasn’t too successful. Fortunately though, Pentateuch’s music is easier to get acquainted with.

This hard-spelled band has taken their name from the first five books of the Old Testament and is one of the latest additions in the recent Jamaican band craze fueled by veterans such as Dubtonic Kru.

They formed in 2009 at the legendary Edna Manley College of the Visual and Performing Arts in Kingston and their debut single Black Face led to a collaboration with producer Paul “Computer Paul” Blake, who has helmed production on their debut album The Genesis, which also happens to be the name of the first book in the Old Testament.

This 14 track set with a distinct 70’s UK feel to it features mostly roots reggae with lyrics dealing with familiar themes such as emancipation, equality and repatriation.

But it also boasts smooth lovers cuts like Changed Girl and the acoustic Unwritten. Most surprising is however the closing tune Nothing But Love, a track with a clear 80’s soul vibe with its pulsating bass lines, pounding drums, rock guitar and a memorable keyboard hook.

Kevor Williams’ fragile and gentle singing is at its best in the up-tempo tunes, especially the Bunny Wailer cover Armagideon and Kingston, which is very similar to early Black Uhuru with its haunting backing vocals.

The Genesis bodes well for future releases and shows that there is still an interest for Jamaican bands and live recorded music.

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The revival of the band and live music in Jamaica

Reggae music is often about solo artists rather than bands or groups, especially in recent years. But something has happened. Live music has had resurgence in popularity in Jamaica, several bands have formed and they’re touring the world. Reggaemani has talked to The Uprising Roots Band and Dubtonic Kru to learn the story behind the upswing.

Reggae bands in Jamaica have always been around in one form or another. One of the earliest examples being The Skatalites, a band that later transformed into several different outfits – The Supersonics and Sound Dimension being just two examples.

In the 70’s other bands emerged, often with a somewhat loose line-up. Members played in several different constellations and changed names depending on the producer or label that hired them.

These bands were often backing or studio bands without a regular singer.

When reggae was digitalized in the mid 80’s the need for bands and “real” musicians decreased. The riddims were laid using keyboards and drum machines instead of using real bass and drums.

Now things might have changed. According to a recent interview Reggaemani did with Ray Darwin roots is back. And with that said, bands are back.

“People want more roots. Everyone’s going back to the roots, they see the value of roots reggae. Dub roots from Jamaica. There’s a new era of musicians graduating from the Edna Manley College. Really amazing musicians,” he said to Reggaemani.

And there are several bands active in Jamaica at the moment; some of them have been playing for many, many years.

A new cycle
Deleon “Jubba” White formed Dubtonic Kru about 15 years ago with Strickland Stone. He and his fellow band mates recently won the Global Battle of the Bands where they were up against 17 other countries.

L-R - Deleon White, Omar Johnson, Strickland Stone, Luke Dixon and Horace Morgan.

“Well, you see, the music industry is a cycle. It’s a new wave of what’s happening now,” says Jubba on the phone from Poland where the Kru recently finished their Celebration tour, and continues:

“Conscious music is at the center stage again. Youths are involved in this movement. But it’s not necessarily the end of the dancehall cycle. And I don’t want to see an end. It’s all about the evolution of the music. Variety is the spice of life,” he laughs.

Rashaun “Kush” McAnuff is the drummer in The Uprising Roots Band and was literally born into the music business as the son of vocalist and recording artist Winston McAnuff. He and his band have been playing together since 2006 and put out their debut album Skyfiya earlier this year.

Kush says he loves foundation music and positive music, and he seems happy about the resurgence of bands and live music in Jamaica. He describes the factors behind the upswing:

“It’s about revival. The youths don’t pay attention to where reggae is coming from. It’s a call for righteousness and awakening.”

Equality and family
Being in a band means equality. And when talking to Kush it’s obvious that The Uprising Roots Band has a “no man is an island” mindset.

The Uprising Roots Band. L-R - Lloyd Palmer, Ruel Ashburn, Joseph Sutherland and Rashaun McAnuff.

“Each person is a sound. No one is higher than anyone else. Equality in the group is important. It’s about teamwork and everyone is important. We’re not a band, we’re family.

Jubba also mentions the family analogy and adds that a common goal is important too.

“Me and Stone have played together for about 15 years, but other members have changed. We have a common goal – love and passion for music. We’re like a family. A family that plays together stays together,” explains Jubba.

The Kru promotes live music
Jubba and his Kru are heavily involved in the live scene in Jamaica and have worked hard to promote it. Mainly through the yearly concert Bands Incorporated and the regular Friday night show Plug ‘N Play.

“We started Bands Incorporated about five years ago. It features upcoming bands and older bands. Not so much solo artists,” explains Jubba, and continues:

“Plug ‘N Play takes place on Friday nights at the legendary Jonkanoo Lounge at Wyndham Hotel in Kingston. It features as many young artists as possible. We give them a stage and a practice session to increase their live skills. Peer them with older artists.”

Several experienced artists have been part of the Plug ‘N Play format to help the younger ones. Some of these being Toots Hibbert, Capleton, Chuck Fender, Ken Boothe, Gyptian and Protoje. An impressive list to say the least.

“You name them, they’ve probably been there,” states Jubba, and continues:

“Some dancehall artists have come through the show. But it’s about uplifting music. You have to respect the standard of Plug ‘N Play. But it is has not anything to do with segregation. It’s about clean vibes.”

“A new generation of musicians from Jamaica”
Another factor that might have something to do with the recent upswing is the Edna Manley College of the Visual and Performing Arts.

“I’m a past student and Edna Manley College did a lot for me, alongside touring and being on the road. It created a good balance for me,” says Jubba, and continues:

“The level has increased. The students are able to bond and practice. There’s a new generation of musicians from Jamaica,” he believes and concludes:

“The number of bands will definitely increase. We are contacted every week. It’s shocking and motivating.”

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