Tag Archives: Lion D

The Italian reggae scene showcased on new compilation

unnamedThe European reggae scene is today probably stronger than ever before and countries like Spain, UK, Germany and Italy are particularly interesting with several talents touring parts of the world.

A new – not brand new since it was put out in January – compilation spotlights the Italian reggae scene and includes a number of strong moments. It presents artists and bands that have reached beyond the national borders, such as Lion D and Raphael. They – among five more artists – have recorded new tunes made especially for Stronger Than Ever.

Niam and DotVibes Crew are responsible for an album far from opera divas and bedroom balladeers. It presents a thriving reggae scene full of confidence, talent and creativity.

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Solid second album from Raphael

unnamedItalian singer Raphael returns with a new album following his 2013 solo debut Mind Vs Heart. He has been active on the reggae scene for about 15 years and has with his former band Eazy Skankers dropped two sets.

Reggae Survival is a strong follow up and much more cohesive than its predecessor which was somewhat more eclectic. This is straight up contemporary and uplifting roots reggae with live instrumentation – including a brass section supervised by legendary Jamaican sax maestro Dean Fraser – and infectious melodies.

The album and its 14 tracks, including four skits and one dub version, was recorded between Jamaica, the U.S. and Italy and produced by Don Sugar and Raphael supported by Italy’s own Bizzarri Records and France’s Irie Ites.

Raphael turns his eyes on social rights, human values and universal love. On Who Dem a Pree he and Lion D criticizes an emerging Big Brother society and on Joka Soundbwoy Raphael teams up with Triston Palma for a rendition of the latter’s Joker Smoker. Best of the bunch is however Sweet Motherland, with its strong appeal to Raphael’s African origin, along with Rise Up and A Place For Me.

Italy’s reggae scene has obviously lots of talent. Alborosie is the most well-known example, but others, like Raphael and Lion D, are gearing up to face a global audience too.

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Alborosie brings forward a rootsy side of Lion D

unnamedItalian/Nigerian artist Lion D – one finest talents on the contemporary European reggae scene – has recently released his new album Heartical Soul, which follows the super solid Bring Back the Vibes, released two years ago.

About a year ago Lion D flew from Europe to Jamaica to hook up with fellow Italian musician Alborosie, who resides in Jamaica. He spent a month in Alborosie’s Shengen Studio in Kingston and the first cut from the collaboration was the uplifting title track, a song later followed by two other singles – the bouncy early 80s flavoured Ruff inna Town and the rootsy ganja anthem Blaze Up.

Heartical Soul is Lion D’s fourth album and his most rootsy set so far. His previous efforts have been hip-hop infused contemporary European one drop, while Heartical Soul is more Jamaican sounding.

Lion D is at the top of his game deejaying rather than singing as showcased on Ruff inna Town and Be Strong, on which he borrows from Anthony Red Rose and King Tubby’s smashing Tempo riddim.

This album comes with two standout Italian artists – Alborosie being one of the leading reggae artists today and Lion D who has now come on strong on two consecutive sets. With their passion for music and reggae they have created a Jamaican reggae album with sounds of roots, dancehall, ska and dub.

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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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Seriously deadly vibes on Lion D’s third album

liond-bringbackthevibesItalian/Nigerian singer and singjay Lion D’s third and latest album Bring Back the Vibes is a perfect example of how great contemporary European reggae can sound. It has the usual blend of one drop riddims, hip-hop, soul and dancehall, but this album also incorporates gospel and blues, mostly in the form of a sweet harmonica provided by Lee Jaffe, who played with Bob Marley and The Wailers.

The album aims to bring roots reggae and dancehall from the 80’s and 90’s into the spotlight. And the result is very successful, even though Bring Back the Vibes has a very contemporary feel with its high energy and hip-hop flavored beats.

It’s positive and conscious and Lion D deals with spirituality, romance, unity, equality, struggle for work – something German roots reggae singer Uwe Banton also did on his latest album Mental War – and self-respect, as in one of the album’s several highlights – No Bleaching Cream.

The tasty and tight riddims are mostly supplied by the Livity Band and composed by Magista. Onboard is also talented Jamaican singer Nikki Burt, who provides excellent harmonies on several songs, and a number of guest artists – Ras Tewelde, Gappy Ranks, Skarra Mucci and Blacky Grace.

The album collects 18 songs, of which two are short interludes from the cult motion picture Rockers and one a cappella intro and one acoustic outro. There are actually several acoustic efforts, and the ukulele-led So Beautiful sounds like someone has put Bruno Mars in a studio in Kingston.

The set mixes unreleased and already released material as well as relicks and fresh originals. A lethal hip-hop fueled version of Inner Circle’s monster hit Sweat (A La La La Long) turns up surprisingly, whereas versions of Carl Meeks’ Weh Dem Fah, Eek-A-Mouse’s Wa-Do-Dem, The Techniques You Don’t Care and Jackie Mitto’s Mission Impossible are more expected choices.

Lion D’s deep voice and phrasing sounds a bit like dancehall superstar Busy Signal, and where he uses the catchphrase “hotter” Lion D favors “wah dis” in a similar manner. Lion D is also – just as Busy Signal – a versatile performer that can go from singing to gruff deejaying in just a few.

The press release describes Lion D as one of the most promising talents on the international reggae scene. Not sure that’s true, but he’s definitely – along with artists like Skarra Mucci and Gappy Ranks – one of Europe’s most interesting individual artists and one to keep an eye on.

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