Tag Archives: Jah9

Mad Professor adds another dimension to Jah9´s 9

unnamedVeteran UK producer and dub mixologist Mad Professor has teamed up with Jah9 to add a dubby to her latest album 9. In The Midst Of The Storm was originally released for Record Store Day in April, but is now widely available, which is very welcome, since this album is exceptional.

9 was one of the best sets released last year and its dub counterpart is just as great. Mad Professor has deconstructed the songs and puts focus on various musical elements, drums and bass of course, but also percussion, horns and guitar.

It’s a free-spirited album where Mad Professor has been let loose on his mixing desk. The result is hypnotic and dreamy and challenges the listener. Check for example the sparse I Aware Dub with its ferocious, yet bright, flute dropping in and out of the mix or the psychedelic Dub Prevail with is militant percussion.

Mad Professor manages to put another dimension to the original album and together with Jah9 he pushes musical boundaries for a spiritual sonic journey.

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Jah9 continues to impress on new album 9

unnamedIn 2014 Jah9 introduced new vibes to the contemporary Jamaican reggae scene. Her widely acclaimed debut album New Name was produced by Rory Gilligan from Stone Love and she was a fresh voice with an unusual sounding album. It was jazzy, soulful and slightly psychedelic with free-spirited consciousness.

On her new album 9 – the follow-up to New Name – she has collaborated with a bunch of new names. She is however the main producer of this thought-provoking set, but with help from Andrew Campbell, Bregt “Puraman” De Boever, Earl “Chinna” Smith, Akae Beka aka Vaughn Benjamin, Tippy I from I Grade Records and Zion I Kings and Franklyn Irving.

9 mm Vol. 2: Pre-Album Groundings was a mixtape that preceded 9. It was a blazing set that boded very well for the full-length. And 9 actually fulfills high expectations. 9 is the natural follow-up to New Name. Jah9 has carefully crafted this hypnotic and challenging album – check the nine-minute-long spiritual journey In the Spirit – and it balances consciousness and intellect with peace, love and unity.

With this album Jah9 continues to push musical and lyrical boundaries and it will be a journey to follow her future career.

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Mixtape galore – Kabaka Pyramid, Jah9 and OBF Soundsystem

Over the past months at least three ultra-solid mixtapes have been put out. I’m talking about Kabaka Pyramid & Walshy Fire & Major Lazer, Jah9 and O.B.F. Soundsystem featuring Ishabel & Wildlife. All three are absolutely devastating.

Kabaka Pyramid & Walshy Fire & Major Lazer – Accurate
Kabaka Pyramid started in the music business as a rapper, but turned into reggae. On this musical gem Walshy Fire and Major Lazer let him rap and toast over classic riddims and hip-hop beats showcasing his ill skills. It also features a number of exclusives and collaborators like Raekwon of Wu-Tang Clan, Chronixx, Protoje, Pressure and Hempress Sativa. Just press play and enjoy.

Jah9 – 9 mm Vol. 2: Pre-Album Groundings
With this mixtape one of Jamaica’s finest and most honest singer’s gears up for her highly-anticipated second album 9, out on September 9. This part two instalment follows her 9 mm Vol. 1: Message Music – released in 2012 prior to her debut album – and features original and never-before-heard tracks where Jah9 shines both musically and spiritually. With a number of covers she also celebrates some of her musical role models – Nina Simone’s Misunderstood, Tracy Chapman’s She’s Got A Ticket, Ras Michael’s New Name and Dennis Brown’s Bloody City are all features. And so is a fresh Sizzla medley. Sit back, press play and enjoy.

O.B.F. Soundsystem featuring Ishabel & Wildlife & Friends – The Voice of Lightning & Thunder
This killer new mixtape from French soundsystem O.B.F certainly lives it to its title. Brimstone and fire with gravel-voiced vocalist Wildlife and the versatile Ishabel along with a number of other artists, including Jesse Royal, Charlie P and Pupajim. O.B.F has also enlisted the help from other producers and riddims from Dubkasm, Maximum Sound and Mungo’s Hi Fi are also included. This one is a certified scorcher, so turn up the volume, lock the door and hope the neighbours aren’t home.

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Tiken Jah Fakoly covers classic reggae on Racines

1443178659_racinesSince Alpha Blondy has increasingly moved towards rock and pop music, Ivorian reggae star Tiken Jah Fakoly is Africa’s king of reggae. At least if you ask me.

On his new album Racines – Roots in English – he travels back to his roots and covers some of the songs he danced to as a youth. He has re-shaped eleven mostly classic reggae joints, cuts originally voiced by reggae luminaries such as Bob Marley, Peter Tosh, Max Romeo, Burning Spear, Junior Byles, Buju Banton, Junior Murvin and Alpha Blondy.

To recreate their masterpieces he is joined by Ken Boothe, Max Romeo, U Roy and Jah9 on vocals along with Sly & Robbie as riddim section. The foundation of the album was recorded in Jamaica and it was later overdubbed in Mali adding traditional African instrumentation. The result is excellent and Tiken Jah Fakoly presents his own versions of these classics and gives them a new bright shining light.

According to the press release Tiken Jah Fakoly has previously not really allowed himself to record cover versions. And with this album he certainly pays a very personal homage to some of the artists and musicians that helped to create reggae. As Bob Marley once said, and quoted in the press release, “reggae will come back to Africa”.

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Jah9 heads on first U.S. tour

Jah9 is ready to head on her first U.S. tour.

Jah9 is ready to head on her first U.S. tour.

Jah9 took the world by storm two years ago when she dropped her much anticipated debut album New Name. Since then she has put out a few singles, and now starts a new chapter – her first U.S. tour on February 4 to 8.

Reggae has never been huge in the U.S., even though Bob Marley sold well in the 70s and 80s. A few singles have also been successful on the charts and the latest one to climb high is Gyptian’s monster smash Hold You, released in 2010.

But away from the charts is an ongoing roots resurgence. It can be felt and heard both in the U.S. and Jamaica where artists such as Protoje and Chronixx have started making names for themselves. The most successful is definitely young Chronixx who graced The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon with Here Comes Trouble last July.

Janine “Jah9” Cunningham is also part of the reggae revival, or Rastafari movement as she puts it.

“This movement is Rastafari, and it is a resurgence of consciousness. It is not just in the music, it is in all forms of expression and the arts. All of the forms of the feminine which are no more dominant in our time and space, especially in this new age that we’re being ushered into. An age where the principals of the feminine, principles of self-conquering heart, principles of nurturing and care and love are more significant to us as a people than war and competition. That’s the essence of the movement,” explains Jah9.

More than music
It’s more than reggae. It’s more than music. And it’s more than Jamaica. It’s driven by certain Rastafari principals and ideals.

“Fortunately we as Jamaican youth have tapped into that current, and are using that to create and share the messages with the world,” she says.

And because it’s not merely about music, the success is built on the teachings of Rastafari, Bob Marley and Burning Spear; two artists that have made a tremendous impact around the world.

“They have always put Rastafari and principles of Marcus Garvey and knowledge of self and kind sustainable living and all of these things. They’ve always put them to the fore. Whatever their personal life entailed, when they were given an opportunity to speak they spoke on behalf of Rastafari, on behalf of consciousness, and I think that is we have also tapped into, what our message is resounding throughout the Earth,” explains Jah9.new_name_cover

Bringing the roots and culture
Jah9’s debut album New Name was highly praised when it came out. The set was produced by Rory Gilligan of Stone Love and has a sound far from the ordinary. It’s conscious, spiritual and has a smoky jazz vibe to it.

And now she’ll be performing her material live on her first U.S. tour. Between February 4 and 8 she visits Raleigh, Washington, New York City, Stowe and New Jersey.

“It’s a really good opportunity [to tour in the U.S.] because that is a market that reggae music made a significant impact in, but more of late Jamaican reggae music hasn’t really had an opportunity to shine in that space. So it feels really fitting to be able to bring the experience of roots and culture to the U.S. Especially because a few of the dates I will be there with my brothers, Midnite, so it’s a really good opportunity to really share a particularly poignant significant message of Rastafari and liberation in the U.S., especially at a time like this,” says Jah9.

Jah9 has been described as Jamaica’s best-kept secret by veteran musician Mikey Bennett.

Jah9 has been described as Jamaica’s best-kept secret by veteran musician Mikey Bennett.

Not just an entertainer
She says she tries not to have many expectations on the tour, but she has a clear aim – to give the U.S. East Coast an opportunity to see the culture of Rastafari. And as she’s a young Rastafari woman she also wants to kind of be an example.

“We bring elements of believity, that’s why I we’re calling it the dub-treatment rather than just ‘Jah9 coming to entertain ’. So it is really going to be more of an experience, a sharing, than just one entertaining event,” she says.

On several of the date she will support VI reggae trailblazers Midnite, her brothers as she calls them. She’s honoured to be able to perform along them and it will be the third time they share stage. Together they will create an experience rather than just a show.

“I think it is a great opportunity for healing and for growth and development of spirit. And I think the persons who come out will get an opportunity to be truly blessed. And even for us, our performance will also have an opportunity to share with each other and also be blessed,” she explains.

Spreading consciousness in 2015
Jah9 didn’t release much last year, but in October she dropped the single Revolution Lullaby, an unusual bright cut produced by Bregt Puraman and released in celebration of the crowning of Haile Selassie. This year seems to be different though and much is happening for Jah9 in 2015.

“Singles and new free download mixed tape, with information mixed with music, as well as another EP project with Rory Stonelove. Some of my own productions coming forward as well this year,” she reveals, and adds:

“There is also community activism through the dub treatment, through yoga and dub, through omega vibrations, projects which are specifically targeting women in particular. And hopefully this year we will be able to enter the South American markets and the continent of Africa in a real way with more than just entertainment, but with empowerment and crucial, crucial learning.”

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New single and video from Jah9

Today marks the 84th anniversary of the Coronation of Haile Selassie. And in celebration of his crowning Jah9 offers a free download of her brand new single Revolution Lullaby. This track shows a brighter side of Jah9 and will be available for free for 24 hours over at Souncloud.

Revolution Lullaby is by its producer Bregt Puraman – of Lost Ark Music and Pura Vida – described as nyabinghi meets jazz on dub. For the track Jah9 has also invited her musical director Sheldon “Atiiba” Bernard to play flute.

“It has now been fully established that I am a militant artist through the subject matter and reverence of my live presentation, so it is now an appropriate time to balance with a nurturing, more playful side,” says Jah9.

“I was immediately touched by her voice and the music. Jah9 is a star on the rise in reggae and I knew it right away. Give thanks to Jah9 for this amazing project,” says Bregt Puraman, and continues:

“The inspiration for this riddim at night when I got a message from Jah9. She was traveling from gig to gig late at night and I called it On Jah Road riddim, and it was the first riddim I sent to her. I immediately knew I wanted to make a nyabinghi riddim because of the strong spiritual vibes in her music and I knew it was going to work,” he says, and concludes:

“I really like this tune because it’s a woman with an angelic voice on nyabinghi, and most of the times nyabinghi is sung by men. Omega power makes it very unique.”

Earlier this year Jah9 dropped her militant and acclaimed debut album New Name and she has been busy touring and Revolution Lullaby is her first single since mid-2013.

Avocado is that spoon full of sugar to make the medicine go down. Revolution Lullaby is some of that bitter medicine but it is laced with its own comfort in the reassuring optimism that despite the state of the world, Jah is in control,” states Jah9.avocado cover

Jah9 will also soon release the official visuals for Avocado, taken from New Name. In-tune with the theme of the playful, 80’s styled and dancehall inspired song, the video will be just as light, bright and lively showing a more feminine side to the usually militant songstress. The release for the Avocado visuals is slated for November 9.

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Half-year report 2013 – 15 best albums yet

The first six months of 2013 have offered a number of glorious albums from Jamaican, U.S. and European artists and producers. My 15 favorites are listed below and if you’re curious about how it sounds you’re more than welcome to check the accompanying Spotify playlist here, where a majority of the releases are included. You can also check a review of each album by clicking the link to the set.

The list includes no reissues and is in no particular order.

Captain Sinbad – Reggae Music Will Mad Unu!
This veteran deejay made his musical comeback for Frenchie more than 20 years after his latest release. The LP and the version for digital platforms have different track lists, and I suggest you check out the vinyl version.

Cornel Campbell – New Scroll
The sweet high tenor voice courtesy of Cornel Campbell is set to magnificent music from the highly talented production trio Zion I Kings.

Jahcoustix – Frequency
German singer Jahcoustix wanted to make a more diverse album, but Frequency is his most consistent and cohesive set yet.

Trinity – Eye to Eye
Gruff voiced pioneering deejay Trinity teamed-up with Irie Ites for this retro sounding musical feast.

Malika Madremana – The Race
High school teacher by day and singer by night. Judging by this wonderful album Malika Madremana should focus on her music.

Meta & The Cornerstones – Ancient Power
Bob Marley-sounding Meta Dia moved from his home country Senegal to New York City and was exposed to an array of musical styles. His second album is roots reggae at its finest.

Jah Sun – Rise as One
Best album yet from this reliable U.S. deejay.

Lion D – Bring Back the Vibes
Rising star on the European and global reggae scene that has managed to make a catchy album full of foundation vibes.

Chezidek  The Order of Melchezedik
In 2010 Chezidek teamed-up with Dutch label JahSolidRock for his critically acclaimed album Judgement Time. In April this year the same label dropped Chezidek’s new album The Order of Melchezedik, and needless to say – they put out another powerful set of Rasta anthems.

The Lions – This Generation
13 musicians and four lead singers were involved the making of this soulful album that could be cherished by youths and elders alike.

Black Roots – On the Ground in Dub
One of the best UK reggae bands that reunited last year for the album On the Ground. This is the heavy dub version that contains some inspired mixing.

Etana – Better Tomorrow
Etana’s most cohesive yet and offers a soulful something for everyone.

Protoje – The 8 Year Affair
One of the leaders of the new generation of Jamaican conscious artists. This, his second album, is darker and heavier compared to his debut album The 7 Year Itch.

Jah9 – New Name
Debut album from the conscious Jah9. Her jazzy and breezy voice floats over hard riddims produced by Rory from Stone Love.

Lloyd Brown – New Veteran
Probably one of the most consistent artists – in any genre – in the world. Lloyd Brown usually drops at least one album per year and the quality is remarkably high.

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Jah9 delivers a relentless Jamaican roots album

disc-3110-jah9-new-nameIn January last year I wrote a piece about fresh talents for the future. The list included conscious female singer and poet Jah9, a singer who I had an overwhelming encounter with on Protoje’s debut album The 7 Year Itch.

Now she has released her debut album New Name, produced by Rory Gilligan from Stone Love. It’s a striking, mature and contemporary roots effort without any major cross-over attempts. Jah9’s solid and sophisticated voice floats over muscular and relentless bass lines, echo-laid drums, dramatic horns and bright flute.

It sounds like she has done this forever and it’s hard to believe that New Name is her debut set. But, then again, she developed her craft on the Jamaican live music scene, which has probably given her valuable experiences and many opportunities to cultivate and foster her own style.

Among the several highlights are the powerful and previously released title track, the uplifting single Jungle and the percussion heavy closing track Inner Voice.

New Name is now available on CD and digital platforms.

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I’m enjoying a 7 Year Itch

Last year Jamaican singer/singjay Protoje came to prominence with his debut single Arguments, produced by his cousin Don Corleon.

Now Protoje is about to release his debut album 7 Year Itch, also produced by Don Corleon. The release has been preceded by a well orchestrated marketing campaign – free download of single J.A, a documentary called The 7 Year Wish, an album sampler, and last but not least, a bunch of strong singles, all included on the album.

The songs on 7 Year Itch have been written over seven years and Protoje sings about this process in the percussion driven title track and album opener. The album is characterized by strong pop melodies and a vintage reggae feeling on most of the tracks. The only exception is the electric contemporary dancehall in Overtime.

Bob Marley’s spirit rests heavily on several of the songs and sometimes it sounds like The I-Threes are signing the background vocals.

Protoje has also invited three guest artists – well known singers Ky-Mani Marley and Gentleman as well as upcoming female singer Jah9, whose jazz-tinged and Erykah Badu-esque voice beautifully suits Protoje’s patois heavy delivery.

I’ve been looking forward to the 7 Year Itch album for a long time and I’m very happy to say that it fulfilled my expectations. Protoje has obviously had a great mentor when making this album and it’s an itch that I’m glad to have experienced.

The album is due on January 25 and will be available digitally as well as physically.

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