Tag Archives: Maroon 5

Eloquent pop-reggae on R. City’s debut album

RCityALBUMR. City, formerly Rock City, is brothers Theron and Timothy. They were born in St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands, but moved to Atlanta and later settling in Miami on the U.S. mainland. Their career took off when they started writing for Akon and since then the duo has penned several top hits for a variety of artists, including Rihanna’s Man Down and Miley Cyrus’ We Can’t Stop, as well as contributing to Grammy-nominated albums by Ariana Grande and Iggy Azalea.

But now they have moved from the background to the spotlight. On their debut album What Dreams Are Made Of they tell stories from their childhood and how they landed where they are today. It’s a story about chasing dreams, struggle and hard work – “we went to Atlanta and decided we wasn’t going to leave, with 20 dollars in the pocket and some old jeans, came across a few sales men that sold dreams, but we wasn’t going to quit, by no means, we started meeting with labels, and we were laughed at, like, you from an island trying to rap, go home, please”, puts it nicely.

First single off this uplifting album was the Billboard to ten hitter Locked Away, an ridiculously infectious single featuring the vocal talents of Maroon 5’s lead singer Adam Levine. This Caribbean flavoured pop gem also recently got a dancehall remix treatment, making it even tastier.

What Dreams Are Made Of breaks musical barriers, but stands firmly on Caribbean ground. R. City manages to effortlessly combine dancehall and reggae with hip-hop, R&B, pop and dance music resulting in an insanely catchy and bouncy album full of Caribbean vibes. Imagine Fugees meets Popcaan meets Rihanna.

This is stylish and sunny Caribbean pop of the highest order and it’s just impossible not to move your feet or nod your head when Broadway – which gives Barrington Levy a nice nod – or the brutal Live By the Gun blast through the speakers. And it’s just as impossible not to be touched by beautiful songs like Save My Soul or Don’t You Worry.

A clever and uplifting album that would probably have made it onto my top 25 reggae albums in 2015 list if I had heard about it earlier, even though it’s not really a reggae album.

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New studio album from Sly & Robbie

SLY-ROBBIE-Album-Reggae-ConnectionLegendary Grammy-winning production duo Sly & Robbie rally in artists from Japan, Jamaica and the U.S. for their new album Reggae Connection. With nine Grammy nominations and two Grammy wins the esteemed Jamaican drum and bass duo is no strangers to success and their music has changed the reggae landscape several times during the past 30 years.

Reggae Connection is the follow up release to their 2013 Grammy-nominated reggae album New Legend – Jamaica 50th Edition. This new ten track compilation features an eclectic group of musicians over Sly & Robbie’s riddims. The album’s first single Gangsta Luv is sung by the up-and-coming all girl Jamaican group KGN21 with dancehall legend Mr. Vegas thrown in the mix.

The set also features a number of cover versions, including a reggae rendition of Maroon 5’s One More Night from Jamaican songstress Nioma and a dancehall-flavored version of The Wonder Girls’ Nobody.

In addition to singers from their native country, Sly & Robbie have invited multiple vocalists from around the globe. Hawaiian roots-reggae singer Irie Love lends her emotive vocals to So In Love while with no less than four Japanese singers are featured on the album.

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Brina’s debut album boasts a myriad of influences

In May last year I received a promotion e-mail from Kieran C Murray, a Scottish producer and musician. The e-mail contained a double A-side single from a to me unknown Jamaican singer by the name of Brina, who later turned out to be married with Kieran C Murray.

For some reason it took me a week or two before I listened to Real Reggae Music/Listen, and when the music hit me I was almost blown away. It sounded like reggae did in the early 70’s – joyous, up-beat and with plenty of fine-tuned harmonies.

A few weeks ago Brina’s debut album was released. Under One Sun contains twelve songs, and includes her debut A-side single along with the second single Lala Vizuri (Sleep My Little Baby). The other nine songs are previously unreleased.

Under One Sun was recorded in Jamaica and is rooted in the school of one drop, but influences from other genres are apparent throughout the album. You can trace gospel, funk, rock, latin-jazz and Brazilian grooves in instrumentation, arrangements and vocals. All blended together in a pop mixer.

Brina has a powerful voice, at times reminiscent of Marcia Griffiths, and she can skillfully play with melody and handle unexpected tempo changes.

The strongest tracks are still her debut single, but the Dubtonic Kru-produced Daughter of Zion is almost as solid.

Under One Sun however suffers a bit from sounding like a Disney soundtrack to an children’s movie, and The Lion King sometimes comes to mind.

But it is certainly well-produced and very talented people have been involved, ranging from legendary mixing engineer Errol Brown and vocalist Toots Hibbert to Jon Rezin and John Barnes III, who has worked with artists such as Santana, War and Maroon 5.

Under One Sun is available on all major digital download stores and as CD from selected retailers.

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