Tag Archives: Romain Virgo

Romain Virgo’s Lifted bodes well for new album in 2016

unnamed25-year old Jamaican singing sensation Romain Virgo won popular Jamaican TV show Rising Stars in 2007 and he has since been taken under super producer Donovan Germain’s wings. He has put out two albums – one self-titled in 2010 and The System in 2012 – as well as winning numerous awards within the Caribbean community, including Entertainer of the Year by The Jamaica Recording Industry Association and the Prime Minister’s Youth Award for Excellence in his native country.

Now Romain Virgo returns with the eight track EP Lifted, an effort setting high expectations on his upcoming third album Love Sick, slated for release in 2016.

The set opens with Lifted, a song with sparse arrangements custom-made for auditioning for any talent show since it shows his strengths as a vocalist. But things get rougher and tougher on the three following cuts – the poignant God Inna Mi Corner, the massive Assassin combination Fade Away and the dubstep-influenced Badda Man with slightly too gritty guitars.

But there is no Romain Virgo set without romance and Lifted collects three smooth bedroom teasers and heart pleasers – Stars Across the Sky, Stay With Me and Soul Provider.

Lifted blends consciousness and social commentaries with love songs and intoxicating rhythms and it bodes well for his new album.

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Solid debut album from Exco Levi

disc-3295-exco-levi-country-manOn Jamaican singjay Exco Levi’s debut album Country Man he fulfils his dream of working with one the giants in the reggae industry – Donovan Germain and his Penthouse imprint.

Donovan Germain has previously worked with successful artists like Buju Banton and the late Garnett Silk, but he’s also responsible for discovering Romain Virgo, who also teams up with Exco Levi on the excellent Get It In Your Head.

Country Man collects previously released songs along with new material and is largely an autobiographical album where Exco Levi over a hefty 19 tracks tells stories about growing up in the Jamaican countryside, going to church and walking around with no shoes. It’s his life experiences and his journey so far.

On City Life Exco Levi paints a harsh picture of Kingston living – “It’s not a nice life, make sure you know the streets… and people get missing, without nobody know, city life, where people don’t trust the cops, cus the only time they see them is when another youth drops, city life, where people break the stop light, bullet echoes in the distance anytime it touch night”. And on a beautiful version of Twinkle Brother’s mighty Since I Throw the Comb Away he sings about the realities you face being a Rasta.

As usual when Donovan Germain is involved this album is jam-packed with sweet melodies, infectious hooks and grand arrangements. Country Man is solid and well-crafted contemporary Jamaican roots music.

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A darker side of Protoje

disc-3108-protoje-the-8-year-affairJamaican singjay Protoje’s second album The 8 Year Affair is – just like its predecessor – a mix of previously released masterpieces and fresh gems. And just like last time most of the set is produced by his cousin Don Corleon.

It also contains a number of combinations. This time Romain Virgo, Tessanne Chin, Chris Watts and Toi are invited to the party.

The 8 Year Affair collects sweet and tender ballads where Protoje longs for his special queen, but it also, and more importantly, contains several dark minor key masterpieces, showcasing a new, deeper and more melancholic side of Protoje and beat maker Don Corleon. And I like it. A lot actually. Some of the bass lines presented on this album will make your living room start humming.

Don Corleon has glanced at some of the key dancehall producers from the early 80’s and it’s not only Kingston Be Wise that echoes vintage Sly & Robbie. What he has added is a touch of hip-hop and a ton of energy. A few surprises also turns up and most unexpected is the affectionate violin in Come My Way.

Protoje has obviously matured over the two years since his debut set and I hope he’ll stay on this path and not start to stray.

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More of the same from Romain Virgo

Jamaican sweetheart Romain Virgo is back with his second album, the follow-up to his much acclaimed self-titled debut album from two years back, released when he was only 20 years old.

The System has been preceded by several strong tunes, among them Wha Dis Pon Me on the Go Fi Her riddim and the infectious first single I Am Rich In Love.

It collects 15 songs tuned both in a lovers mood as well as a more conscious one, with titles such as Food Fi the Plate and Broken Heart.

Recorded mostly at the famous Donovan Germain-owned Penthouse studio in Jamaica and with production helmed by Shane Brown, Niko Browne, Vikings and Donovan Germain himself, The System is destined to be a first-class set.

And it is, even though Romain Virgo repeats himself. The System is cooked according to the same tasty recipe as his debut, which means powerful energetic vocals on top of contemporary well-produced one drop riddims.

Standout cuts include the smooth rub a dub feeling of Fired Up Inside on a relick of the Beat Down Babylon riddim made famous by Junior Byles, Another Day, Another Dollar with a gentle saxophone courtesy of Dean Fraser and the pop masterpiece Ray of Sunshine, with a synthesizer that would have made P-funk veteran George Clinton of Funkadelic and Parliament proud.

The System will probably not win any awards for being the most unique or innovative album in 2012, but it contains enough strong melodies and captivating vocals to keep me interested.

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Reggae and country in a surprisingly healthy combination

I’ve never really thought about it until the news about VP Records’ recent compilation Reggae’s Gone Country hit me – country has been part of Jamaica for many years. One of the earliest examples of its influence being the mariachi horns in The Skatalites’ classic Occupation from the early 60’s, which borrows the riff from Johnny Cash’s Ring of Fire.

There are other examples as well. Bob Andy’s Games People Play and Ken Parker’s Kiss an Angel Good Morning, originally recorded by Joe South and Charley Pride respectively, are two of my favorites.

So Reggae’s Gone Country might not have come as a complete surprise for some. For me it did though.

VP has teamed up with Warner Music Nashville. They’ve paired reggae musicians and artists such as Sly & Robbie, Dean Fraser, Beres Hammond and Tarrus Riley with pedal steel player Mike Johnson and Jonathan Yudkin on fiddle/ banjo. Together they have put a reggae beat on 13 country standards in a mellow mood.

Some of the more familiar tunes include lover boy Romain Virgo’s take on The Gatlin Brothers’ California, with Larry Gatlin himself on contributing vocals, and Duane Stephenson’s cut of Suspicions, the late Eddie Rabbit’s smash hit. Both originally recorded in 1979.

The most striking tune is although Busy Signal’s The Gambler, a rendition of Kenny Rogers’ Grammy winner. I’m usually allergic to auto-tune, and this tune would normally have made me call the ambulance. But somehow it actually sounds pretty decent. I have to admit that it took a while, but now I’m stomping my feet and humming along.

Reggae’s Gone Country will probably not appeal to everyone, and I can only hope that it crosses over to the country listeners and gives reggae some good exposure. God knows reggae needs as much people onboard as possible.

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Romain Virgo knows how to please a crowd

Sweet voiced newcomer and wonderchild Romain Virgo is on his first European tour and last Friday he visited a cold Stockholm.

Romain Virgo enters the stage a few minutes past 1.00 am dressed in a down jacket and backed by French sound and label Special Delivery Music. He hits off with Mi Caan Sleep and the energy that he conveys during the first minutes sets the standard for the show. The jacket is pretty soon changed to a more practical shirt.

He performs almost all songs from his self titled debut album and also kicks in some recent singles such as a lethal cut of the recent relick on the Stalag riddim (Stagalag). The crowd seems familiar with most songs and when the bass hits in No Money the floor is boiling.

It’s hard to believe that Romain Virgo is only 20 years old. He knows how to manage his voice and can also handle a crowd, especially the ladies, for whom he dedicates most of songs.

Romain Virgo has proved himself on album and on stage. Hopefully he can get across to a wider audience and have a hit similar to Gyptian’s recent Hold You. The world is eagerly waiting for him and his music.

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Romain Virgo knows lovers rock

A few weeks ago, I interviewed 20-year-old sensation Romain Virgo. In the interview he said he wants to please the ladies with his music. After listening to the self-titled debut, it is easy to say that this is indeed the case. Much of the material has an air of teenage love and many of the songs are lovers rock of the highest class, such as Love Doctor, Should I Call Her and Dark Skin Girl.

Romain Virgo is young, but he sings like he has been in the music business for a decade. He has an amazing control over of his voice and it is clear that he is classically trained. It’s soulful, heartfelt and often heartbreakingly beautiful. However, many of the songs are uplifting and a perfect soundtrack for lazy days on the beach.

Although Romain Virgo has a voice many singers can only dream about, he has had a great help in the producer’s chair. Legendary Donovan Germain has been producing since the 70’s and has worked with stars such as Freddie McGregor, Marcia Griffiths and Buju Banton. On this album he’s behind most of the songs, gems such as Mi Caan Sleep and Who Feel It Knows It, a duet with Etana.

But the best track is still Live Mi Life on the revitalized Boops Riddim signed Shane C. Brown, a young and upcoming producer with great talent.

Romain Virgo may be young, but he is already mentioned in the same sentence as established lovers rock stars such as Sanchez and Beres Hammond. A truly great effort and hopefully Romain Virgo continue in the same footsteps as those great singers.

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Romain Virgo vill behaga damerna

Jamaicanska underbarnet Romain Virgo är aktuell med sin självbetitlade debut som släpps den åttonde juni. Reggaemani har pratat med honom om tillståndet på Jamaica, hur det var att arbeta med legendariske producenten Donovan Germain och vad han influeras av.

Romain Virgo var bara 17 år gammal när han 2007 – som den yngste någonsin – vann tävlingen Digicel Rising Stars på Jamaica. Förra året släpptes en promoplatta på Penthouse Records med fyra låtar som lovande gott inför framtiden.

Nu är han kontrakterad till stora skivbolaget VP och släpper snart debutplattan som bär hans eget namn.

Jag får en pratstund med honom på telefon från Jamaica där han gör intervjuer med internationella medier. Läget i landet är kritiskt och över 60 personer har dödats under det undantagstillstånd som råder på ön.

− Det är tufft på Jamaica just nu och jag försöker att inte gå ut i onödan, säger han på kraftig patois, och tillägger att det inte är ett normaltillstånd på ön.

Något betydligt roligare att tala om är Romain Virgos platta som är klar efter omkring ett års arbete tillsammans med bland andra legendariske producenten Donovan Germain.

− Det är en riktigt bra känsla att skivan är klar och att arbeta med Donovan Germain har varit fantastiskt. Han har blivit något av en fadersfigur för mig, berättar Romain Virgo.

Romain Virgo skriver om egna upplevelser och saker som händer omkring honom, men menar att det ska vara upplyftande att lyssna på och gå att dansa till musiken. Han nämner också en särskilt viktig målgrupp.

− Att damerna uppskattar musiken är jätteviktigt, skrattar han och fortsätter:

− Men nya plattan innehåller förhoppningsvis något för alla.

Han växte upp med klassiska reggaeartister och säger sig ha influerats mycket av stjärnor som Bob Marley, Dennis Brown, Beres Hammond och Alton Ellis, som han också gjort en hyllning till.

− Det var Donovan Germain som föreslog en hyllning till Alton Ellis efter att han gick bort. Jag träffade aldrig Alton Ellis, men han är en riktig favorit. Jag kunde redan Breaking Up och Willow Tree så det var lätt att spela in Alton’s Medley.

Utöver kommande plattan försöker Romain Virgo fokusera på sina heltidsstudier vid Edna Manley College i Kingston. Och det har varit en hektisk tid.

− Jag är glad att jag har så förstående lärare. Jag har lagt mycket tid på att marknadsföra skivan och var i USA för en månad sedan. Förmodligen kommer jag att vara klar i skolan om två år och då kan jag fokusera helt på musiken.

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