It seems that crowd-funding in the reggae industry actually works. There has been a few gems in recent years coming from that particular way of financing parts of a recording.
Sara Lugo and her label Oneness Records used Startnext to raise 4,000 euros to finish Hit Me with Music. I didn’t take part of the financing, but all of you who did – give yourselves an applause. Because Hit Me with Music is an excellent album, probably even better than her debut released more than three years ago.
Sara Lugo has an addictive and seductive voice, and she has been in the music business for more than ten years. Her biggest hit yet is probably the Kabaka Pyramid combination High & Windy, on the moody Reggaeville riddim, which is a relick of The Paragons’ Riding on a High and Windy Day. This combination was released in 2012 and is of course included on the new album.
Hit Me with Music is produced by a variety of different talents, for example Anthony “Altafaan” Senior, Umberto Echo, Giuseppe Coppola, Lionel Wharton and Moritz von Korff, and includes guest performances from Protoje, Ras Muhamad and the aforementioned Kabaka Pyramid.
It’s bright and positive from start to finish. Sara Lugo explores the gentle side of reggae with influences from soul, jazz and light electronic pop. Soldiers of Love could have been included on one of Hotel Costes lounge compilations and a singer like Lily Allen could probably have murdered for the breezy I Wish.
The harmonies are beautiful throughout the set and Sara Lugo has made yet another album custom-made for sitting on a Caribbean beach watching the waves gently break.
Germany’s Oneness Records showcase their work on the fresh compilation One Love One Heart Oneness, a set featuring 20 artists murdering 15 bouncy riddims.
Loads of talent is one of the main ingredients, beautiful melodies is another. The well-crafted riddims are built with live instrumentation, including bright horns on a number of cuts.
Highlights include an angry Buju Banton on a clever relick of Inner Circle’s Bad Boys, Naptali & Arofat’s elegant Jail Song and Sara Lugo & Kabaka Pyramid’s version of The Paragons’ Riding on a High and Windy Day.
One Love One Heart Oneness is evidence of a strong and thriving European reggae scene.
Italian singer Raphael has been on the scene for more than twelve years, but most people away from the Italian reggae scene has probably not heard much about him.
As part of Eazy Skankers he has put out two albums – To the Foundation in 2008 and Changes in 2011. And last year he dropped his debut solo set, a EP produced by Bizzarri Records and titled My Name is Raphael.
Apparently he has done something right because now he’s signed to IrieVibrations Records and his debut solo album Mind vs Heart has just reached the streets.
This 15 track set – 18 if you include three bonus cuts – is a catchy effort and very similar to IrieVibrations’ previous productions. It has a taste of R&B, soul, hip-hop and, nyabinghi and one drop reggae.
His singing style owes quite a lot to Bob Marley. He also tries to rap in the appropriately titled In Every Style. You have to give him credit for trying, but Raphael should stick to singing or maybe singjaying, as he also does on the same track. It works very well and he rides the bouncy riddim effortlessly.
Mind vs Heart is a rich, organic and mature solo debut with some crossover potential. Be sure to check it if you like well-produced European one drop.
About a year ago I wrote a piece on the vibrating French reggae scene. One of the interviewees was Pierre Bost, producer and co-founder of Special Delivery Music, a label that last year celebrated its tenth anniversary.
As a celebration Special Delivery now drops the 14 track compilation The 1st Decade 2001-2011.The compilation highlights some the most popular tracks recorded over the past ten years in Jamaica, the UK and France.
The compilation takes off in fine style with Morgan Heritage’s acoustic version of Have no Fear recorded in 2006 in Kingston and ends with upcoming super talent Chronixx’ Beat & A Mic and an exclusive track from Gappy Ranks recorded last year in London. All three tracks were produced and mixed by Bost & Bim, a duo responsible for nine cuts on the album.
Michael Rose was the first international artist to be put out on the label, and his Never Take it for Granted, recorded in 2002, is naturally included. Backing vocals on this song is provided by Trinibagoan singer and deejay Queen Omega. She also shares microphone duties with the incarcerated Buju Banton on Perfection.
The impressive line-up on the album also includes Sizzla’s Good over Evil, voiced on joyous version of the Itals’ classic Ina Dis Ya Time, the haunting Dem Doom by Capleton and J Boog’s So Far Gone, a tune released in 2010 but still remains in the top 200 on the U.S. iTunes chart and has become one of his biggest songs.
Special Delivery – the 1st Decade 2001-2011 drops as digital download on September 21 and includes no dull moments and perfectly showcases why many Jamaican artists look to Europe for well-produced and melodic one drop and dancehall riddims.