Tag Archives: Flava McGregor

Musiq Soulchild and Syleena Johnson break barriers with new reggae album

Musiq-Souldchild-Syleena-Johnson-9ine-AlbumAcclaimed neo-soul/R&B singers Musiq (Soulchild) and Syleena Johnson have teamed up with producer Kemar ”Flava” McGregor for a set of nine slick and midtempo contemporary reggae duets.

9ine was written and recorded in only nine days – hence the album title – and was supposed to have hit the streets in March last year, but was delayed until September. The album is a strictly reggae affair, even though it’s highly influenced by sexy R&B, stylish soul and sophisticated pop.

Both singers get to plenty of space to showcase their vocal proweness – at their own and together. Both are highly talented and they have effortlessly acclimatized to Flava’s gentle, but sometimes plastic, reggae grooves.

Highlights include album opener Alright – especially its break – and Feel the Fire, a romantic piece that borrows heavily from Billy Joel’s 80s hit We Didn’t Start the Fire.

With the uplifting 9ine Musiq, Syleena Johnson and Kemar McGregor break barriers, but don’t expect any more reggae from this trio soon. In an interview with Boomshots Syleena Johnson speaks freely about the working relationship with Kemar McGregor, a relationship that seems to have had its fair share of difficulties.

Anyhow, both singers are definately up for recording more reggae and it would be a certified scorcher if they could work with producers giving them riddims with more edge and depth. U.S. production trio Zion I Kings could probably make wonders with Musiq and Syleena Johnson.

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Sadiki’s messages of love still shine through

269112201-1U.S. based reggae singer Sadiki is mainly known for his journeys in the lovers rock genre, and his third and latest album Jah Is The Only King is described in a press release as a clear departure from his previous sound.

But don’t let the title or a press release fool you. This album is not a clear departure from what he has been doing for years. Sure, there are a bunch of tracks with cultural or conscious topics, but the majority of the album is dedicated to romance and affairs of the heart.

Even though the album is mostly smooth as a baby’s butt, it’s a well-produced and well-sung effort produced by a number of people from around the globe – Kemar “Flava” McGregor from the U.S. Chris Peckings and Lloyd Mullings from the UK, Arena 026 Music from the Netherlands, First T & Kross from France, Enjoint from Japan and HearMeNow from Switzerland.

Sadiki has proven numerous times before that he’s an excellent vocalist, and on this album he’s as great as always. It’s soulful, powerful and sometimes it sounds like he’s singing while walking on eggshells.

There are several songs worthy of special attention, particularly Lovers Flight over Leroy Sibbles’ Break Up To Make Up, the motherly celebration aptly titled Mama, the up-tempo and patois intense Destiny’s Child and Live Some Life, which borrows its horn part from Susan Cadogan’s Hurt So Good.

Jah Is The Only King might not be the cultural set implied by the title, but when the material is as strong as these twelve tracks I don’t really care about titles or topics. It’s the music that counts.

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Etana offers a mixed bag on Free Expressions

On Etana’s sophomore album Free Expressions she shows a more mature side of herself. She has managed to pen 12 of the 14 tunes and has also collaborated with a variety of producers, including lovers rock specialist Kemar “Flava” McGregor and Curtis Lynch, a producer that shows a new, more melodic side of himself this time.

Free Expressions includes several previously released tunes, such as Mockingbird, Happy Heart, August Town, Heart Broken and I Know You Love Me. And those are some of the best tunes. Other highlights include the gospel-tinged I Got You produced by talented duo Alborosie & Specialist, and War, with an opening guitar hook very similar to Max Romeo’s classic Chase the Devil. On War Etana also delivers with furious energy.

Sadly, there are some dull moments too. It’s tough to cope with My Name Is – a song that certainly has hit potential, but not my kind of music with its synthesizer effects similar to Jon & Vangelis I’ll Find My Way Home and a chorus that echoes from It’s Gonna Be Me by 90’s boy band ‘N Sync.

I’m not over excited about the intense and schizophrenic Venting either. It’s just too much instruments and vocals that fight for my attention.

The album is a fusion of reggae, lovers rock, pop and neo-soul and Etana’s singing sometimes resembles the voice of Alicia Keys. If you like your reggae soul styled and heavenly melodic – then this is a must have.

Free Expressions hit the shelves on February 8.


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Etana expresses herself freely

Reggae singer and songwriter Etana is set to drop her sophomore album Free Expressions in early February. The album has been preceded by strong singles such as Mockingbird, August Town and Heart Broken. Reggaemani got a chat with her from her home island of Jamaica.

Etana started her musical career in female vocal group Gift in 2000. But she soon left the outfit because she didn’t like the widespread stereotyping of female artists.  Now she is doing music on her own terms instead.

“It’s a major difference now when I can decide everything for myself. I can do things my way and record what I want. I’m being able to express myself. It’s a natural vibe, natural energy”, says Etana on the phone from Jamaica.

Some years after she had left the group a friend introduced her to singer Richie Spice’s former management Fifth Element Records and she agreed to follow him on tour as a backup vocalist.

The label obviously recognized her huge talent and managed to persuade her to record the single Wrong Address, a single that was rewarded with heavy radio rotation and also climbed to number 1 on several Jamaican charts.

In 2008 she dropped her debut album The Strong One to wide critical acclaim, partly due to hit songs such as I’m Not Afraid on Kemar “Flava” McGregor’s wicked Rub-a-Dub riddim and Alborosie duet Blessings.

On her new album Free Expressions she has continued working with Flava McGregor and Alborosie. But she has also invited UK master producer Curtis Lynch for some tough tunes.

“The label recommended me to work with Curtis Lynch, so he flew to Jamaica and we met at Gussie Clarke’s studio. The chemistry was great and all the songs came out just like that. I think the first song we recorded was Move On, then Heart Broken and last August Town. It was a good connection”, says Etana.

She says that the new album was produced a little differently from the first. Most of the sessions were less planned which has given the album more of a free vibe. On Free Expressions Etana has also written most of the material herself, something that might also have had an effect on the different vibe during recording.

 “It feels good to do most things by myself and VP never gives me a hard time production wise or video wise. I’m very excited that I’ve come up with an entire album”.

She explains that the new album is more reggae compared to The Strong One and that the debut was more of an introduction to her music.

Free Expressions hit the streets on February 8th and then she will go on tour to the U.S. and Europe.

“I’ll probably start touring in America and then spend much time in Europe and the UK”, she says and reveals her hopes on Free Expressions:

“I hope it will take me to the next level and that it will make me continue to grow. Everything is possible and you never know where it’s going to go”.


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Capletons eld brinner ut

För ett år sedan skrev jag krönikan ”Unga arga män, gamla lugna gubbar”. Tesen var ungefär ju äldre desto mjäkigare.

Det stämmer in på fyrtioplussaren Capleton. Nya plattan I-Ternal Fire – den första på sex år – är lugnare än någonsin. För de som följt honom har utvecklingen kanske varit naturlig – han har blivit lugnare och lugnare för varje platta under 2000-talet. Men I-ternal Fire är dessvärre provocerande mjäkig. På Reign of Fire från 2004 fanns tendenser till en velourfarsa, men jag trodde inte att det skulle gå så här långt. Borta är högoktaniga dancehallpärlor som Real Hot och tunga rootsdängor som That Day Will Come.

Visst, det finns bra låtar på I-Ternal Fire, men det är långt mellan guldklimparna. Acres, på rytmen Indescretions producerad av Shane C. Brown, släpptes förra året och är plattans starkaste spår. Them Get Corel blandar spansk gitarr med nyabinghi och funkar faktiskt ganska bra. When I Come To Town har bra verser, men brister i refrängen eftersom Capleton envisas med att sjunga. Det här är ett problem på flera låtar. Han är en tung deejay med en stenbrottsröst av det elakare slaget när han tar i. Men sjunga kan han inte.

De största problemen finns i balladerna. Och de är alldeles för många. Mammahyllningen Mama You Strong, med sina plastiga syntar, är ingen av hans bättre låtar i karriären.

Faktum är att han inte ens lyckas göra en särskilt bra version av Kemar ”Flava” McGregors monsterrytm Rub A Dub från 2008.

Capleton har gått från att hälla bensin på en majbrasa till att lägga pinnar på en lägereld. Han måste få bättre fjutt på glöden. More fire!


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