One of my most anticipated releases this year dropped last week. I’m talking about Jamaican superior chanter and singer Jesse Royal and his debut album Lily of Da Valley,a 14 track set including already familiar cuts like Finally and Modern Day Judas along with recent singles like the Jo Mersa Marley combination Generation and Always Be Around.
Jesse Royal has been in the music business since his early 20s and dropped some of his earliest material for the Xterminator label, nowadays XTM Nation, led by Philip “Fattis” Burrell’s son Kareem Burrell. Early singles like Hatred is the Obsolete Route and One Eye Open boded well for the future and in 2013 he broke big with the massive Modern Day Judes on Winta James’ Rootsman riddim, probably best known for Chronixx’ Here Comes Trouble.
Further strong singles soon followed, including Preying On the Weak, Raging Storm, Cool And Deadly and Blowing In the Wind. And now his debut album has finally arrived. It comes with ten previously unreleased cuts and carries both conscious messages pushing for positive changes along with party starters and love songs.
The powerful album opener 400 Years is a battle against oppression while both Roll Me Something and Finally praises the herb. The Natty Rico combination Full Moon is something of an oddity with its electro beat and Major Lazer-influenced synthesizer hook. It’s insanely catchy, but takes a few listens to get acquainted with.
Lily of Da Valley showcases Jesse Royal’s sparkling and versatile vocal delivery and sense for infectious melodies and hooks. It’s certainly a well-rounded debut offering a little something for everyone.
So let’s follow Jesse Royal’s instructions on the breezy and 80s sounding Rock It Tonight – “hey there DJ, won’t you put this one upon reply, I don’t want this party to decay, gonna be a soul shakedown tonight”.
Over the past years several European reggae artists have relocated to Jamaica to pursue a musical dream. Alborosie moved from Italy many, many years ago and is nowadays a Jamaican citizen. Cali P from Switzerland/Guadeloupe moved in 2010 and in 2014 Catalan singer Irie Souljah settled there as well.
And Irie Souljah’s debut album Immigrant is the fruit of his new life in the Caribbean and it was recorded entirely in Jamaica with production by Irie Souljah and Genis Trani from Reggaeland.
The title of this album – and its title track – carries some urgency and is certainly relevant in a time of war and crisis – “who is the immigrant, we are living in the same land, sharing the same sun, who is the immigrant, we are coming from the same mom, mother of creation, who is the immigrant, no matter where you come from this is not important”. It’s important to keep this in mind when refugees from, for example, the Middle East and Africa leave their countries in search of a better life.
Immigrant collects 13 tracks – including two solid dub versions and one inspired melodica cut – and offers contemporary roots reggae with a few lighter dancehall excursions as well. Bouncy and uplifting with messages of unity and love. Highlights include the thumping first single Learn & Grow and its follow up Immigrant.
Musicians and guest artists involved in this album – Jesse Royal, Kabaka Pyramid, Sly & Robbie, Style Scott, Lee Jaffe and Nambo Robinson – should give a clear idea of what to expect.
Choruses usually get all the credit in a song. It’s often catchy and infectious and easy to like. But what about the verses? They are certainly more than just a highway to the chorus.
My favourite verses at the moment are from two of the main proponents of the Jamaican reggae revival. I’m talking about Chronixx and Jesse Royal.
It’s not often Chronixx voices a one riddim track compilation, but he is featured on On the Corner riddim. I guess when you get a call from Damian Marley you won’t let the man down. All cuts voiced are superb, but Chronixx’ Ghetto People stands out slightly above the others, partly thanks to the second verse where Chronixx lets loose his slick and unique singjay mode. Listen below at 1,07 minutes into the song.
Jesse Royal murders every time he stands in front of a microphone and his combination with Protoje and Sevana is no exception. He is stylistically superior and his verse on Sudden Flight is murderously slick. He rides the riddim like a surfer riding a wave. Listen below at 1,59 minutes into the song.
While we wait for his debut full-length album Jamaican singer Jesse Royal has joined forces with Major Lazer’s Walshy Fire for a fierce mixtape titled Royally Speaking.
This is Jesse Royal’s third official mixtape and his first with Walshy Fire, a DJ and producer that has previously dropped storming sets with Addis Pablo and Chronixx.
Jesse Royal is part of Jamaica’s recent roots revival scene, a scene that features artists like the above-mentioned Addis Pablo and Chronixx, but also Protoje, Kelissa, Iba Mahr, Dre Island, Loyal Flames, Jah9 and Micah Shemaiah.
Royally Speaking comes with 25 tracks excellently mixed together by Walshy Fire. It comes with original cuts, interludes, dubplates and hip-hop-flavoured remixes.
Listen, download and check the full track list over at Soundcloud.
Following Reggaemani’s top 50 tunes, 25 best albums and the best ten reissues come five favourite mixtapes.
All five mixtapes come from new and aspiring Jamaican Rasta singers. The new generation if you will, a generation following conscious giants like Luciano, Sizzla, Capleton and Buju Banton. Four artists that made names for themselves in the 90s and now they have serious competition from aspiring young singers and deejays that aim for world dominance with an eclectic mix of roots reggae, hip-hop, soul, rock and pop.
Chronixx put it eloquently in a recent interview with NPR.org – “We are not going to do it like Bob Marley did or like Burning Spear did. We are using their blueprint to bring on a new generation of works.”
Below is a top five list in no particular order and a link to each mixtape on Soundcloud. Check em’!
Protoje & Yaadcore – Music From My Heart
Exco Levi & Mighty Crown – Official Mixtape 2014
Kabaka Pyramid & Livity Moments – Accurate Mixtape
Dre Island & King I-Vier – Rastafari Way
Jesse Royal & DJ Tall Up – In Comes the Small Axe