In the history of reggae music it’s often referred to labels and producers in the so-called golden era, i.e. the 70’s and Bob Marley’s heydays. Lee Perry at Black Ark, Coxsone Dodd at Studio One and Duke Reid at Tresure Isle regularly pops up.
But there are of course many, many other key labels and producers, and one of the most important ones in recent years is Frenchie, who operates and owns Maximum Sound and its subsidiaries Calabash, Pull Up My Selecta! and the most recent addition Maximum Sound Bwoy Killers.
He has run Maximum Sound for 20 years and has put out a truckload of hard-bouncing dancehall and spiritual and relentless roots and culture, including Junior Kelly’s Tough Life, Fantan Mojah’s Stronger and Sean Paul’s Back Off. He was also involved in the creation of the world famous Diwali riddim and served as executive producer for Mr. Vegas’ breakthrough album Heads High.
Since it’s Maximum Sound’s 20th anniversary this year I had a chat with Frenchie about his career, the music industry and a broken fridge. Check the full story over at United Reggae and be sure to keep an eye out for an anniversary compilation dropping on September 16.
Fantan Mojah takes part in the younger generation of bobo dreads, a Rastafarian wing lead by artists such as Sizzla, Capleton and Anthony B. High-octane deejays that made a name for themselves with their angry vocal style and lyrics of godly living.
And this evening at Sweden’s Öland Roots Festival Fantan Mojah certainly represents. He has enough energy to power a small city and a confidence that touches on hubris.
He is supported by Austrian House of Riddim and, on some tunes, Zareb. He starts off with a chant to Jah and continues with well-known and less familiar songs, including Nah Build Great Man, the Jah Cure original King in This Jungle and King of Kings. And the royal theme returns later on in the concert when Fantan Mojah points to the festival’s two promoters and exclaims “I’m the fucking king, I’m the king of Sweden”.
But his confidence reaches beyond that. Fantan Mojah shouts, in a tribute to a number of legendary Jamaican artists, that he’s “the next fucking legend”. He also takes the opportunity to act reverend to bless and consecrate two loving couples on the stage, an act that gets mixed reactions. Some in the crowd seem embarrassed while others cheer as one of the couples passionately kiss.
Fantan Mojah’s long talks are at times parodic. He rants at length about equality, justice, contempt of politicians and hatred of paedophiles, and requests raised hands – or “lion paws” – from all those in the audience who agree with him. Needless to say, not many disagree that paedophiles belong behind bars. The crowd yields to the artist and raises hundreds of lion paws.
Fantan Mojah undoubtedly gives a massive performance and for the most part the audience is onboard. For example, he manages to keep hands clapping throughout Hail the King. A great achievement when we’re approaching the wee hours of the morning.
The last day of Swedish Öland Roots Festival was darkened by lightning, thunder and heavy rain. But that didn’t stop the concerts and the audience could enjoy acts such as Chezidek, Zareb and Fantan Mojah.
Chezidek is first out and enters the stage at 9pm supported by Denmark’s Roots Harmonics Band.
He trots onto the stage dressed in a black wind jacket, sunglasses, a rasta scarf and blue jeans. There’s a meagre crowd in front of the stage, most likely due to the weather. But Chezidek does his best to boost the crowd and delivers tunes from most of his almost a decade-long career.
He performs a stripped-down version of his hit song Inna di Road and at the end of the Leave the Trees, does a brief imitation of the late Jacob Miller, which generates great applause.
Chezidek has a delicate voice that cracks easily, and doesn’t hit all the notes – particularly the highest ones – perfectly. But this evening he uses his whole voice range and succeeds surprisingly well.
The beginning of the show is a bit sleepy and dispassionate, but over the course of the concert Chezidek’s energy steadily increases, and by the end he skips and runs back and forth across the stage. Although he puts in a high gear for the two encores Bun di Ganja and Call Pon Dem, I have to say Chezidek’s performance was all in all too laid-back to ignite the Öland forest.
Öland Roots is Sweden’s next biggest reggae festival. And this year, the crew behind the “cosiest festival in Sweden” has really outdone themselves. Apart from well-renowned domestic acts such as Helt Off and Kapten Röd, they’ve managed to include Konshens, Chezidek, Fantan Mojah and Zareb.
The festival starts on Friday July 16th and ends on Saturday July 17th. Reggaemani will cover the festival and I’ll hopefully be able to write both concert reviews and interviews.