Tag Archives: Hip-hop

Nomad Carlos travels back to the 70’s and 90’s

In reggae the 70’s is usually referred to as the golden age. According to several writers hip-hop also has it’s golden era – a period ranging from the late 80’s to the mid to late 90’s with artists such as Public Enemy, Nas, Wu-Tang Clan and many, many more.

It seems like several of the hip-hop artists coming Jamaica have been influenced by this period, and one of the latest additions is U.S-born, but Kingston raised, Nomad Carlos.

His first release was the mixtape Live From Yard hosted by DJ Ill Will and DJ Rockstar. Now it’s time for his debut album called Me Against the Grain.

This excellent album is available as free download and contains 15 tracks produced by nine different producers with their own sound. But somehow the album sounds surprisingly cohesive, and the only odd – in a good way – track is the Bob Marley-tinged reggae effort Make it Work.

There is however reggae influences throughout the album with some dub effects and reggae bass lines, but also the fresh Barrington Levy sample in Murder Mystic.

The eclectic beats range from the grim and militant, such as Track Killaz, to the dreamy acid jazz feel of The Grain and the initial single As Real As It Gets.

Nomad Carlos mixes his patois accent with standard U.S. phrasing and reflects on personal life and day to day experiences growing up and living in Kingston. And he doesn’t shy away from criticizing the government or the authorities, as could be heard in Murder Mystic, a love and hate story about living in Jamaica:

“…When election come around you hear the real murder music, gun fire beat its own rhythm, politicians stay in power when they should be in prison…”

“I grew up where corruption determines the life, you could pay of police and not get logged, it’s like we make crime look like it’s legal, you got a church every square mile, but the living still evil, you get by off the links you possess, pull a few strings, money they always accept, if there’s a murder, a robbery, a break-in, the cops takes an hour to get to the scene, yo, a joke thing, ain’t nothing gonna change…”

In the golden age of reggae lyrical political militancy was a key ingredient, and in the golden age of hip-hop militant beats and innovative sampling was hugely important. Nomad Carlos’ debut album is a melting pot of 70’s reggae and 90’s hip-hop done with a great deal of love.

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A reincarnated and reggaefied Snoop Dogg

Reggae and hip-hop have been in a lovable and fruitful relationship since hip-hop was born in New York City in the 70’s. And some of the most successful rappers have actually been Jamaican, according to a superb and recently published round up by LargeUp.com.

That’s why it may not come as a surprise that Snoop Dogg – one of the most popular hip-hop artists of all-time – has turned to reggae with his new alias Snoop Lion and the brand new Major Lazer produced track La La La.

However, it’s hard to take this step seriously and assess if it’s a marketing gimmick or not. Snoop Dogg is known for being a devoted ganja smoker though, but Diplo and Switch – the people behind Major Lazer – is known for clever marketing.

The PR campaign that comes with La La La is well-directed and also includes a documentary titled Reincarnated that follows Snoop Dogg’s journey to Jamaica to record an album with Diplo and his encounters with Jamaican people and Rastafarian culture.

Despite some authenticity issues with Snoop Lion, La La La is a great song with Snoop’s smooth and almost whispering vocals over a version of the mighty Artibella by Ken Boothe. It also features back-up vocals from the always reliable and soulful Jovi Rockwell.

It will be an entertaining and fascinating journey with Snoop Lion and I look forward to the upcoming album and the documentary.

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Lethal remix from Jonahgold

Swedish producer Jonahgold has done a dancehall remix of Dödens Portar by Houman Sebghati and Mary N’diaye.

The catchy remix is based on Augustus “Gussie” Clarke’s Rumours riddim, and is pretty far away from the original hip-hop version.

“I received an a cappella and just let it roll until my body chose the beat,” says Jonahgold.

Listen below and download it for free on Soundcloud.

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Lotek’s debut album is a fine blend of styles

Hip-hop and reggae have always had a tight relationship, even though many people today complain that Jamaica’s music industry is moving too much towards the U.S. hip-hop and RnB scene.

I have always been a great fan of mashing hip-hop with reggae, dub and dancehall. But it’s a fine line, and the results can sometimes be rather bland.

One who has just proven that hip-hop and reggae is a great match is Lotek, a UK award-winning producer and MC that currently resides in Melbourne, Australia.

His debut album International Dread – with its homage to The Harder They Come sleeve – is based on live-played reggae, dub and ska riddims over which he does his cockney MC:ing. The everyday lyrics are witty, sometimes too much on the novelty side, as in Never Gonna Drink Again or Drink Triples, See Double, Act Single.

International Dread is a versatile effort, and contains several nice surprises. As in Dreader Than Dread – over Bunny Lee’s wicked None Shall Escape the Judgement riddim – or Rebel HiFi. Both tunes metamorphose unexpectedly into something with a more wobbly bass after a few minutes.

If a fine and smart blend of reggae and hip-hop is your thing you should definitely look further into the Lotek catalogue.

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Check out Kabaka Pyramid’s debut EP

Jamaican singjay, rapper and producer Kabaka Pyramid has recently put out his debut EP Rebel Music through the label Bebble Rock. And it’s for free download over at Bandcamp.

Rebel Music is a conscious effort and contains ten tracks that fusion roots reggae, dancehall and hip-hop. According to the press release Kabaka Pyramid wants to spread positive messages of spirituality and conscious evolution.

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Reggaemani presents – A one drop hip-hop mix

Reggae and hip-hop have always had a symbiotic and close relationship. From the early days of Jamaican deejaying to today’s contemporary hip-hop scene.

DJ Kool Herc, one of the founding fathers of the hip-hop movement, was a Jamaican immigrant and wanted to have a sound system in the Bronx in the early 70’s. He built his own and brought a whole new culture to the world by doing so. The rest is as you say history.

My new mix is called One Drop Hip-Hop. As the name indicates the tunes brought together are reggae with a hip-hop vibe. The bass is loud and riddims are extraordinary pulsating.

There are many relicks here. For instance the Jah Children riddim and Billie Jean riddim. The former is a brilliant and very clever version on the None A Jah Jah Children riddim by Ras Michael & The Sons of Negus. The latter is a brand new version of the Billie Jean/Chim Cherry riddim, originally produced by Lee Perry, and made famous by American singjay Shinehead in the 80’s.

Other highlights includes the anthemic Rock the Spot from Ward 21 and the brutal Liberation Time by Capleton and rapper Noreaga. Be sure to take cover when this one blasts through your speakers. Noreaga’s fury delivery makes Capleton’s singjaying sound surprisingly serene.

As usual – One Drop Hip-Hop is a continuous mix with no full tracks and some added sound effects. If you like what you hear, please support the artists and labels and purchase the tunes. Most of them are easily available as mp3 or vinyl or CD.

Download by clicking the link (right click, save as). You can also listen and download on Soundcloud. Enjoy!

Reggaemani presents – A one drop hip-hop mix

Artist – song title (label – riddim)

1. Pressure – Ina Dancehall (Irie Ites – Strange Things)
2. Sena – Strange Days (Irie Ites – Strange Things)
3. Alborosie & Kymani Marley – Streets (Shengen)
4. Junior Kelly – Lots of Herb (Nowtime Sound – Jah Children)
5. Chezidek – Herbsman Rise Again (Nowtime Sound – Jah Children)
6. Moese Angel – Jah Jah Mission
7. Sizzla – Police Oppression (Irie Ites – Billie Jean)
8. Spectacular – Born in the Ghetto (Irie Ites – Billie Jean)
9. Ward 21 – Rock the Spot (Richvibes )
10. Sena – Work It (Ghetto Scorp – Eyes On My Purpose)
11. Lutan Fyah – Cut It (Ghetto Scorp – Eyes On My Purpose)
12. Nas & Damian Marley – Friends
13. Lutan Fyah & Spectacular – Kill Dem Sound (Irie Ites – Stop That Train)
14. Mr Benn & Blak Twang & Blackout JA – Long Time (Square One)
15. Mr Benn – Long Time Instrumental (Square One)
16. Capleton & Noreaga – Liberation Time (Kingstone – Cognition)

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Jeff Chang tells the story of hip-hop culture

I’ve broadened my horizons lately. Or not really actually. Hip-hop is sprung from reggae and the two music genres have much in common these days, particularly the dancehall coming from Jamaica.

Released in 2005 to wide critical acclaim Can’t Stop Won’t Stop: A History of the Hip-Hop Generation, take a close look on hip-hop. But it’s not really about the music. This book is rather about the culture and politics behind hip-hop and its four elements – Djing, rapping, graffiti and breakdancing. And author Jeff Chang puts the entire genre into a context of American, Afro-American and Jamaican society.

In its 544 pages, Jeff Chang describes the people, events, ideas and movements that shaped hip-hop, ranging from the 60’s up until the late 90’s. Apart from his massive research, Jeff Chang has also interviewed several important persons behind hip-hop culture, for instance Chuck D of Public Enemy, Africa Bambaataa and DJ Kool Herc.

The only artists that get a thorough description are Public Enemy and NWA, particularly Ice Cube. The former group represents east coast and the latter west cost. The majority of the book is rather about topics such as American politics in the 70’s, 80’s and early 90’s, police brutality and gang culture.

Can’t Stop Won’t Stop is a certainly a brilliant story of an underground movement which has found a worldwide audience with successful artists such as Jay-Z, who has made $63 over the past 12 months. It’s interesting to know that this movement started in Jamaica in the 60’s and got a wider recognition in the ghettos of 70’s New York.

I learned a lot reading this book. But I don’t know if I know more about the music itself. I’m most definitely more experienced in American culture and society.

If you’re interested in the music, buy yourself a copy of Check the Technique – Liner Notes For Hip-Hop Junkies instead. If you’ve read Jeff Chang’s book and want more, check the literature list at a university course in political science or sociology.

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