Tag Archives: Queen Ifrica

Queen Ifrica’s eclectic second album

unnamedIt took eight long years for Queen Ifrica to put out her third album Climb, the follow-up to Montego Bay, which dropped in 2009 and included the moving single Daddy.

It seems like the album has been eagerly awaited since the set immediately climbed to #1 on the Billboard Reggae Chart. And this is a set that will appeal to a broad spectrum of fans. It’s an eclectic album showcasing a number of moods and styles.

Much of it is a crossover matter with romantic themes and affairs of the heart. Check the bouncy first single Trueversation with Damian Marley for example. Or That’s How It Is Sometime, complete with strings and xylophone, and the slick Good Man.

But Queen Ifrica offers harder sounds as well. Lie Dem Ah Tell is fierce dancehall and Grabba is a slice of ferocious contemporary nyabinghi where the Queen spits lyrics over a percussion-driven rhythm.

Best of the bunch – a thick bunch since it comes with a hefty 17 tracks – is however the gospel-infused I Can’t Breathe, which borrows from the traditional hymn Swing Low, Sweet Chariot, or the militant ska track Rebellion.

I guess Queen Ifrica has collected lots of recorded material over these eight years, but Climb would have been even better if a few of the cuts would have shelved for later projects.

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Sophia Squire’s reggae life

Sophia SquireAccomplished singer and singjay Sophia Squire has released a number of big tunes over the years. Some of her best were released last year, and were featured on one riddim albums such as Bob Locko, Diamonds and Gold and Gyal Season.

Now she has a fresh and full EP put out on France’s 149 Records. The EP features five scorching tracks where Sophia Squire’s nonchalant and confident singing style is showcased over well-crafted live riddims.

Reggae Life is a great set spinning while waiting for new full-lengths efforts from the likes of Queen Omega and Queen Ifrica.

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Passionate with a rock-twist on Mystikal Revolution’s debut album

disc-3125-mystikal-revolution-divide-and-ruleIf you’ve followed this blog for a while you probably know that I’m not a huge fan of combining rock guitar and rock arrangements with reggae. It’s often – not always – a poor combination that should be avoided.

Luckily enough there are times when it works pretty well. This is the case with Jamaican six piece band Mystikal Revolution’s debut album Divide and Rule. They’re part of the ongoing Jamaican resurgence of live bands that have going on for a while now.

Divide and Rule was exclusively released in Jamaica more than a month ago and it didn’t hit the world market until April 9. It collects 13 tracks with fierce social commentaries and sweet romancing as well as the upbeat sing-along friendly Reggae Skanking, where strained, gruff and passionate lead singer Sanjay Barrett shares vocal duties with slick veteran Bunny Rugs and the always reliable Tarrus Riley.

Other reggae royalty that turns up to pay respect to this talented band are Sizzla and Queen Ifrica.

The set is self-produced and their take on reggae is raw with a straightforward rock twist. The lead guitar is prominent and there are several rock-flavored solos throughout the album, particularly in the title track and the excellent Sizzla combination Gangster Story.

There are also more traditional sounds on Divide and Rule, for example classic Marley reggae in the dramatic Revolution with a melody that sounds custom-made for a Broadway musical.

Mystikal Revolution manages to get away with their homage to guitar heroes like Slash and Yngwie Malmsteen. Their grooves, their passion and their integrity to go their own way can’t be ignored.

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Reggae albums to look forward to in 2013

Most of the lists collecting best of 2012 are now published – Reggaemani has one more on the way though – and I guess most of us are looking forward to what to expect of 2013. Only a week of the new year has however passed, but I know I’m already thirsty for new albums. Luckily enough several album releases have been made public. Some confirmed, while some are rumours.

There are a number of big releases ahead and since last year was tasty, expectations are high and to be honest I’m quite excited, particularly about the full-length studio sets from Tarrus Riley, Captain Sinbad, Sizzla, Meta & The Cornerstones and Lutan Fyah.

Check the full list below and you’ll hopefully be as wound up as I am.

The list doesn’t cover reissues or compilations and is no particular order.

Anthony B
The recording of the album has just begun. It’s produced by Austria’s House of Riddim and will hopefully see the light of day in March.

Captain Sinbad
This veteran, old school deejay released his debut album with Henry “Junjo” Lawes back in the early 80’s and since those days he hasn’t recorded much. But last year he put out three must-have singles on Maximum Sound and producer Frenchie has announced that he and the Captain has something very special cooking.

Christopher Ellis
The son of the great Alton Ellis has had his debut album produced by Stephen and Damian Marley and that is certainly promising.

Dubtonic Kru – Evolution
Has been in the making for over a year and the recently released single Jah Love promises well.

Etana – Better Tomorrow
Etana’s much anticipated third album is mostly produced by young mastermind Shane C. Brown, who was responsible for Busy Signal’s highly praised Reggae Music Again released last year.

Iba Mahr
Together with Chronixx Iba Mahr is one of the most promising young talents from Jamaica and hopefully he’ll be able to deliver on a full album set.

Jah9
Hyped Jamaican singer that has been taken under the wings of producer Rory Stonelove and her latest single Jungle showcases an interesting jazz-influenced talent.

Jesse Royal
One of the strongest singjay’s from the XTM. Nation camp, led by the late and great producer Phillip “Fattis” Burrell’s son Kareem Burrell.

Lutan Fyah
The always reliable VI-based producer Tippy I of I Grade Records is putting finishing touches to an album with the prolific Jamaican chanter. Collaborations between Jamaica and the Virgin Islands are usually interesting and this will probably not be an exception.

Meta & The Cornerstones – Ancient Power
After his debut album Forward Music – released in 2008 – he was dubbed the African Bob Marley by the New York Times. This follow-up album was recorded and produced in Jamaica and has lots of great collaborations – Capleton, U Roy and Damian Marley. It was supposed to have hit the streets last year, but was pushed forward to March 2013. I’m confident it was worth the wait.

Morgan Heritage – Here Come the Kings
In August last year the royal reggae family released their first new studio recordings in years and at the same time they announced a new album, a set due in March.

Nazarenes
Early last year Tippy I announced a dub reworking of Nazarenes’ album Meditation released in April, but it was pushed forward due to albums from Ras Batch and Lutan Fyah.

Perfect
Has almost finished his brand new album with House of Riddim and it’s set for release in March.

Protoje – 8 Year Affair
Protoje has once again teamed-up with his producing cousin Don Corleon for the follow-up to his highly regarded debut album 7 Year Itch released two years ago.

Queen Ifrica – Play Day
The fierce queen of contemporary reggae has released two scorching albums and several top notch singles, of which Tiad of da Supm Ya is the latest and certainly proves she’s still a force to be reckoned with.

Sizzla
Every Sizzla album is met with huge anticipation, but when I heard he had recorded an album with Australian producer Mista Savona to be released in 2013 I got a little more excited than usual.

Snoop Lion
I was not the only one that got a big surprise when hip-hop superstar Snoop Dogg turned Snoop Lion and dropped three Major Lazer produced singles, of which two were well-above average. Let’s now wait for the album and see if this is a marketing gimmick or not.

Tarrus Riley
His new studio album follows last year’s acclaimed acoustic set and is supposed to hit the streets in May.

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The rebellious daughter

Queen Ifrica is one of few female roots reggae singers today, and has had hits such as the anti child molesting Daddy or the reminiscing Times Like These. As the daughter of ska and rock steady vocalist Derrick Morgan she has music in her veins.

In an interview I did with her on the last night of Uppsala Reggae Festival she reveals that she defied her mother when she became a devoted Rastafarian. Check the interview over at United Reggae.

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Decent debut album from Junior X

Jamaican Rastafarian singer, sometimes singjay, Junior X, or just Jr. X, made an impression on me in 2009 when I stumbled upon Love We Need, a duet with Zamunda and Perfect. The same year he also contributed to Pow Pow’s excellent Surfer riddim.

But Junior X started much earlier. In the early 90’s he auditioned for producer Dave Kelly, and in the early 21st century he recorded an album for Dennis Wright that wasn’t put out.

He recorded another album, this time for Herbs House. But this one wasn’t released either, apart from a few tunes. One of those was Plead My Cause, included on Junior X’ third album. A set that was released digitally earlier this year, and has now been put out physically as well.

Plead My Cause – as the album is titled – is a conscious effort full of social commentaries set to mostly contemporary one drop riddims, but also a few in the more dancehall oriented vein.

The strongest efforts being One More Night with its sing-a-long chorus and the hidden combinations Look No Further and Never Stop Trying with Queen Ifrica and Gyptian respectively. Hidden, because it’s not stated anywhere that these artists contribute to the songs. A bit strange since both Queen Ifrica and Gyptian are more well-known than Junior X himself.

Plead My Cause is a decent debut from this promising artist. I hope he can continue in the same strong style as One More Night, Love We Need or the recently released Sizzla combination Changes on SherKhan’s Electricity riddim.

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Too much sugar in Duane Stephenson’s soup

Three years ago Duane Stephenson scored a hit with the beautiful August Town, taken from his solo debut From August Town.

His debut was a 15 track blend of romance and culture on one drop and acoustic riddims. In my view a weak album that didn’t match the quality of his hit song.

Now Duane Stephenson is at it again and his sophomore album Black Gold hit the streets some weeks ago.

Black Gold is made after the same recipe as From August Town – primarily smooth one drop riddims and acoustic ballads. The production is mainly done by Dean Fraser and Duane Stephenson himself. However, two tunes are credited to Christopher Birchill and one to Kemar “Flava” McGregor.

Stay At Home is a combination with Queen Ifrica on the Movie Star riddim. Her energy blends very well with Duane Stephenson’s sincere and intimate singing. Soon as We Rise is also a combination, this time with Garnett Silk’s successor Ras Shiloh. This one is on Kemar “Flava” McGregor’s Classic riddim, a silky riddim with nice horn arrangements.

But Black Gold consists of too many soft ballads. Sure there are some great pop hooks, but also too many pompous arrangements and save the world lyrics.

Duane Stephenson wrote music for Luciano’s edgy United States of Africa, released earlier this year. It shows that Duane Stephenson certainly is able to write music that appeal to listeners that don’t sit around the campfire or hold ligthers in the air at concerts. He should have saved some of Luciano’s tunes for himself. Because this album lacks both edge and energy.

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Omar Perry har hittat formen

Omar Perry2009 är reggaebarnens år. Först ut var Queen Ifrica. Sen var det Tarrus Rileys tur. Och nu har stafettpinnen nått Lee Perrys son Omar Perry.

Can’t Stop Us Now är Omar Perrys uppföljare till 2007-års debut Man Free. Debuten var en solid insats som blandade roots med lovers med ska med dancehall. Lite spretig med andra ord, men en klart godkänd debut.

Den nya plattan är betydligt mer sammanhållen jämfört med sin föregångare. Här finns exempelvis ingen ska, men väl två dancehallutflykter och lite nyabinghi-takter.

Dancehallåtarna Right Right Left och Bring Me Joy är inte plattans starkaste och Omar Perry borde hålla sig till det han kan bäst – roots.

Omar Perrys sånginsatser påminner stundtals om Junior Kelly och Alborosie. Hans lätt arga singjay-stil passar mycket bra tillsammans med de poppigare tongångarna i avslutande Spiritually och den nyabinghi-influerade och lejonkungendoftande 911 (Memorial).

Omar Perry spelar säkert hela skivan igenom. Arvet från hans far märks på en cover av Junior Byles klassiska Beat Down Babylon och en version av Max Romeos Chase the Devil.

Av pappa Perrys experimentlusta märks inte mycket annat än en fet och annorlunda version av Ini Kamozes World a Music som gjorts världskänd genom Damian ”Jr. Gong” Marleys Welcome to Jamrock. Omar Perrys version heter Boom Town och är en riktigt stökig historia.

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Starkt andra album från Queen Ifrica

20iw1g6Det finns få kvinnor i reggaen, men de som finns håller genomgående hög kvalitet. Och Queen Ifrica är inget undantag. Som dotter till legendariske Derrick Morgan – mannen med hits som Conquering ruler, Fat man och Forward march – har hon reggaen i blodet.

Queen Ifrica slog igenom 2007 med singeln Below the waist och släppte samma år sin första fullängdare Fyah Mumma – en skiva som fick brett genomslag.

Nu har hennes andra platta Montego Bay nått skivdiskarna. Den har föregåtts av genomgående starka singlar som sorgliga Daddy samt Keep it to yourself och Choppa grade. Och nästan hela plattan håller samma höga standard. Kanske inte konstigt med producenter som erfarna Donovan Germain (mannen bakom Penthouse Records), Tony Rebel samt lovande Donovan Bennett bakom spakarna.

Queen Ifrica har ett oerhört tilltalande uttryckssätt – hon kan obehindrat pendla mellan singjay och skönsång samt blanda småhård dancehall med one drop. Lyssna exempelvis på titelspåret och jämför med avslutande balladen Streets are bloody eller den 90-talsdoftande dancehalldängan Don’t sign.

Till skillnad från många andra reggaeartister har Queen Ifrica lyckats att hålla en lagom längd på plattan. Att den endast innehåller tolv spår  signalerar att man valt låtarna med stor omsorg. Och det märks. Kvalitet bör premieras framför kvantitet.

Skivan är utgiven av VP Records och finns glädjande nog redan nu på Spotify.

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