Tag Archives: Roots

The Viceroys back in full glory

The Viceroys Memories RVBAbout five years ago I had the opportunity to interview Spanish producer, mixing engineer and musician Roberto Sánchez. In the interview he mentioned a few dream projects and one of those was working with Jamaica harmony trio The Viceroys. That’s no longer a dream and the project has materialized.

Memories is a the second showcase album on Iroko Records produced by Roberto Sánchez along with Iroko’s own Herve Brizec, and it follows Noel Ellis’ Zion.

This brand new album includes six beautiful vocal cuts directly followed by their ground shaking dub counterpart. Just listen to All I Dub. When the bass line drops it’s like you want to shed a tear.

And just like all other productions coming from Roberto Sánchez and his Lone Ark Riddim Force this sounds vintage to the bone. This could have been a forgotten gem recorded by The Viceroys at Channel One back in the late 70s.

This is heavy roots. This is roots full of culture and consciousness. Just like way back when.



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An excellent overview of King Jammy and his music

unnamedReggae and dancehall powerhouse VP Records continue their Reggae Anthology series with an excellent overview of King Jammy and his productions.

King Jammy – initially Prince Jammy but crowned after a sound system dance in 1985 – is one of Jamaica’s most successful and influential producers and mixing engineers responsible for several game-changers, including Wayne Smith’s massive hit Under Me Sleng Teng, which has since its release in 1985 been versioned a thousand times.

The new compilation Roots, Reality and Sleng Teng collects both culture and entertainment and is a comprehensive collection covering King Jammy’s productions throughout the various styles and eras of reggae, including the biblical messages of dread 70s roots to boastful early dancehall and ragga.

Collected are several well-known cuts, for example Johnny Osbourne’s Water Pumping, Junior Reid’s Boom-Shack-a-Lack, Half Pint’s Money Man Skank, Chaka Demus’ Original Kuff and Pinchers’ Bandelero.

But there are also a number of rare items to found. Check for example the 12” mix of Black Uhuru’s Bad Girl with deejaying from Scorcher & Nicodemus or The Fantells’ – previously known as Beltones – eerie, yet beautiful, Where You Gonna Run. Several of these rare cuts are also available on the vinyl release of this crucial anthology.

The three discs – including the DVD documentary King at the Controls – shows King Jammy’s range and diversity as a producer as well as his unique talent for keeping up with the times and driving the music forward.


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No fillers on Raging Fyah’s second album Destiny

ragingfyah-destiny_01With the excellent single Nah Look Back Jamaican five piece band Raging Fyah took the acclaimed selector and radio personality David Rodigan by storm, and he put the single on his compilation Masterpiece, a double disc showcasing his formative years and what he believes could be the future of reggae.

Raging Fyah’s authentic roots-rocking reggae might well represent the future of reggae, even though their sound builds on traditional roots and the likes of Bob Marley, Peter Tosh, Third World and Zap Pow. Soulful and mellow with a contemporary flare.

Destiny – which drops on June 17 – is a captivating album with mostly conscious and uplifting lyrics about overcoming obstacles and fighting for justice and equality. There is however no raging here.

The melodies and the arrangements are beautiful and it’s hard not to get overwhelmed by a sweet piano ballad like Brave or pulsating non-stop rocking rockers like Barriers and Step Outta Babylon.

Their debut album Judgement Day was released in 2011, but didn’t have the proper distribution. So Destiny comes in a box with the debut included. And what a box it is. Powerful, yet sophisticated, and blazing, but cool. Acquiring this box is a no-brainer if you ask me.


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Solid third album from Rob Symeonn

RobSymeonnIndigenousAlbumArtYesterday and today I had a smile on my face when I walked to work. Why? I was listening to Rob Symeonn’s uplifting third album Indigenous, a set produced by Sweden’s Jonahgold, Hawaii’s Jah Youth Productions and New York City’s Ticklah.

Jamaican ex-patriot Rob Symeonn has been recording for more than two decades, but is probably not a household name in the reggae industry, perhaps because he hasn’t been terribly productive. But his singles and albums have been very solid, and so is Indigenous.

The set holds a healthy 15 tracks, of which two are previously released singles and one already featured on Jah Youth’s Indo riddim album.

Despite being directed by three producers from different parts of the world, Indigenous is surprisingly consistent. It’s partly deep, dark and dubby, for example the haunting Life is Precious and the smoky Respect Due, but it’s also positive and uplifting, as in the skanking Grass is Greener or the joyous Because of You, a version of Japanese crooner Kyu Sakamoto’s 60s smash hit Ue o Muite Arukō aka Sukiyaki.

Rob Symeonn is a confident and sincere singer and this is certainly a strong set from an underrated and under recorded artist.

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Winston Reedy goes back to his roots

UK singer Winston Reedy was part of The Cimarons in the 70’s and early 80’s, a band that made the excellent roots album On the Rock. When the band split up Winston Reedy went solo and released a bunch of very successful lovers tunes, including Dim the Light and Paradise in Your Eyes.

Now he’s back where it all started – roots reggae. Make a Change is his brand new album. It’s done in collaboration with French band The Donkey Jaw Bone, who last year worked with Derajah on his debut set Paris is Burning.

Make a Change is in the same meditative rootsy vein. Its 15 tracks are mostly based on original live recorded riddims with sublime horns arrangements. But compared to the Derajah set it has one big difference. Winston Reedy himself.

He is a very competent vocalist. He sings with confidence, his tone is gentle and he sounds laid-back. It’s soothing and natural.

Winston Reedy also shows his versatility in Thy Kingdom Come, where he takes on a more deejay influenced approach accompanied by an intense flute.

Make a Change should appeal to roots romancers worldwide, and is currently available as digital download and CD.

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Modern Rockers vol. 1 is yet another scorcher from the Netherlands

I’m getting kind of tired of writing this over and over, but there’s yet another strong album coming from the Netherlands. And I have a feeling other strong sets are on the way.

Dutch/Surinamese singer Joggo recently made his album debut with Modern Rockers vol.1. He came across strong three years ago with Beware, a cut of Massive B’s haunting Kingdom riddim.

Since then he has made some equally impressive singles, like Gun Down (included on the album) and the summery All My Life on the Love You More riddim put out last year.

Modern Rockers vol. 1 is mainly produced by Jah Decko of Dredda Records and includes eleven tunes, where of the majority is previously unreleased.

There’s hardly a dull moment. Catchy choruses and lots of nanana’s and yeah, yeah, yeah’s are some of the ingredients. Just listen to Peace & Love, You Don’t Know or the strong album opener DJ play Me Some Roots.

The harmonies and backing vocals are close to 70’s Steel Pulse and Aswad, while the arrangements and music is in the modern roots vein with live instrumentation.

Joggo’s singing is devout and direct. He has a sincere desperate tone in his voice and sings with great confidence.

Modern Rockers vol. 1 is an impressive and promising debut, and I hope to hear more from Joggo in the near future.


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Mikey General misses the mark

Mikey General - Born to RuleIn November of last year Mikey General – veteran singer and long time friend of Luciano – dropped his latest album Born to Rule, a 14 track set full of modern roots and released on his and Luciano’s jointly owned imprint Qabalah First Music.

Mikey General started his career in the UK in the early 80’s and relocated to Jamaica in the beginning of the 90’s. He has recorded with some of the best producers in Jamaica, including the mighty Phillip “Fatis” Burrell.

Even though he has put out several albums, recorded with many prominent producers and had the backing of Luciano, Mikey General hasn’t had a big breakthrough yet. And in my opinion this album won’t change his stardom.

My biggest issue with the General is his voice. It is high pitched, light, complaining and too thin for my taste. At times it is reminiscent of Horace Andy, but not as personal.

For me, Mikey General is at his best on singles, such as the great Jah Jah Have the Handle, released some months ago on the JahSolidRock label or the dubby Tell it Like it Is produced by Ryan Moore of Twilight Circus. His voice just doesn’t hold for 14 tunes in a row.

And maybe that is why the best tune is Ababa Janhoy with Luciano and Ethiopian singer Haile Roots. This combination is based on an Arabic tinged riddim and the lyrics are partly sung in Amharic.

Born to Rule is a statement of self spiritualization and righteousness, but I can’t say that I feel motivated afterwards.

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Reggaemani presents – Food for Your Soul

My first mix in 2011 is based on a bunch of tunes from 2010 that in my view didn’t get the proper recognition when they were released. I haven’t heard many of them in other mixes and thought they deserve some attention from me.

Therefore, Food for Your Soul might be a bit eclectic, since there are many forms of reggae music included. There’s the usual European one drop, such as the Camel riddim. But included are also the Lee Perry infused roots in Fundracar and Komlan’s Kali Kali, Zion Train’s steppers reworking of Rainbow Children and some raving dancehall in the Screw Dem riddim.

Most productions are European, several from Germany and France.

As usual – Food for Your Soul is a continuous mix with no full tracks and some added sound effects. If you like what you hear, please support the artists, producers and labels and buy the tunes. Most of them are easily available on mp3, CD or vinyl.

Listen in the player below and download by clicking the link (right click, save as). You can also listen and download via Soundcloud. Turn it up loud and enjoy!

Reggaemani – Food For Your Soul

Artist – title (label – riddim)

1. Bunji Garlin & Faye Ann Lyons – No Gangsters (Supersonic Sound)
2. Bunji Garlin & Faye Ann Lyons – No Gangsters Instrumental (Supersonic Sound)
3. Bunji Garlin & Million Stylez – Long Time (Supersonic Sound)
4. Bunji Garlin & Million Stylez – Long Time Instrumental (Supersonic Sound)
5. Ghetto Priest – Evolution (Reggae Roast)
6. Ghetto Priest – Evolution (Richie Phoe dub remix) (Reggae Roast)
7. Fundracar & Komlan – Kali Kali (Renegade)
8. Fundracar & Komlan – Kali Dubwise (Professor Skank remix) (Renegade)
9. Alborosie & Wendy Rene – Tears (Megabass)
10. Jaba & Wendy Rene – After Laughter (Megabass)
11. Natty King – Don’t Be Foolish (House of Riddim – Camel)
12. Anthony Cruz – Who Dem (House of Riddim – Camel)
13. House of Riddim – Camel Riddim Version (House of Riddim – Camel)
14. Dixie Peach – Babylon (Own Mission – Bun Up)
15. Echo Minott – Nah Go Jail (Own Mission – Bun Up)
16. Own Mission Crew – Nah Go Jail Instrumental (Own Mission – Bun Up)
17. Ras Zacharri – I Don’t Know (Own Mission – Don’t Know)
18. Elijah Prophet – Can’t Trust Them (Own Mission – Don’t Know)
19. Own Mission Crew – Don’t Know Riddim Version (Own Mission – Don’t Know)
20. Zion Train & Brinsley Forde – Rainbow Children (Universal Egg)
21. Zion Train & Brinsley Forde – Rainbow Children Dub (Universal Egg)
22. Chezidek – More Trees (Cut Stone – Ghetto Steam)
23. Perfect – Tax Extortion (Cut Stone – Ghetto Steam)
24. Bosey – Ghetto Steam Instrumental (Cut Stone – Ghetto Steam)
25. Agent Sasco – Island Lover (Life Line – Set It Off)
26. Konshens – Simple Song (Life Line – Set It Off)
27. Nicholas “Niko” Browne – Set It Off Instrumental (Life Line – Set It Off)
28. Dreadsquad & Lady Chann – Money Ah Dem Good (Televison Tom Minimal Dub) (Superfly – Screw Dem)
29. Dreadsquad & Lady Chann – Money Ah Dem Good (African Beat – Screw Dem)
30. Top Cat – Buck Up (African Beat – Screw Dem)
31. Perfect – Reggae Music (African Beat – Screw Dem)

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NiyoRah is loaded with important messages

Virgin Island based singer and chanter NiyoRah dropped his third album Feel Your Presence in June and went on a U.S. tour with Toussaint in August. Reggaemani has had the opportunity to hear his thoughts on reggae music and what it was like to record in Jamaica.

In June I published a review of Feel Your Presence and stated that NiyoRah is a hidden gem. And I still believe that’s correct. His music may be widely present in the U.S, but here in Europe I wouldn’t say that he is too well-known.

And that’s a shame. Because Feel Your Presence is a great album that will hopefully appeal even to those that aren’t into the VI-reggae scene.

NiyoRah started his career in the group Star Lion Family – a collective of seven VI-reggae artists including the well-known Pressure Busspipe – and is nowadays a solo artist.

Special mission
He has previously worked with Laurent “Tippy” Alfred, a producer and label owner that has done some great VI-reggae, a genre NiyoRah describes as earthy, celestial and bright. It’s also a type of music that he thinks is uplifting.

– I feel courageous and triumphant when I listen to our artists from the Virgin Islands. It’s almost like the Creator has downloaded important messages within us to present to the people of the world and beyond, writes NiyoRah in an e-mail to Reggaemani, and continues:

– Our writing approach is the one thing that’s unique because we take time to write intelligent and spiritual songs. We try hard not to rush or hustle the music.

Confident in VI-reggae
NiyoRah seems very confident in VI-reggae and believes that the genre differentiates from other reggae music due to its frequency and richness of the sound.

– It’s a sound that resonates because our producers go deep within to find something that doesn’t sound like anything constructed before, while keeping the primary foundation of powerful drum and bass.

Read before you sign
NiyoRah is grateful for the opportunity to share what’s in his heart and soul as well as to represent a good and honest lifestyle. But he also has a business approach.

– I cherish independence and being an example for other artists to follow in terms of entrepreneurship. Artists should investigate labels before they sign contracts because some don’t take the time, or don’t have the skills, to push artists properly.

Feel Your Presence was recorded in Jamaica and put out on his own label Denkenesh, so NiyoRah has supposedly had some problems with labels in the past.

“Music is truly a means of survival”
According to NiyoRah, working in Jamaica was not that different from St. Croix. But one thing seemed to make an impression.

– In Jamaica, music is truly a means of survival. There are many artists that hover around the recording facilities looking for a “bly” from producers. In St. Croix, the environment is more personal. I can deal with either environment. Both environments are blessed.

Promotion matters
Feel Your Presence is mainly one drop roots reggae, a genre not heard in Jamaica much anymore. Some people – myself for one – feel that there’s a decline in music coming from Jamaica. It’s not reggae anymore. NiyoRah doesn’t agree and writes that it’s just a matter of promotion.

– I don’t think there is a decline in reggae. I’ve heard many wonderful albums from artists the world hasn’t heard as of yet. There seems to be a decline because of where the most vital media/promotion outlets put their focus. They are responsible for choosing and pushing the music, he writes, and concludes:

– Dancehall is not reggae. Roots music with a soulful vibe is reggae. My view of reggae will always be one hundred percent positive!


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New label from Frenchie

One of the greatest producers of contemporary reggae music – Frenchie – has set up a new label for roots and steppers. The new imprint is named Calabash and will only put out 10 inches.

The first four releases are lethal remixes of Jah Mason, Alborosie, Luciano and Yami Bolo produced by Russ Disciples. Frenchie himself sat in the executive chair.

− I tried to give him [Russ D] some guidance on how I wanted the riddim to sound. He is one of the best UK steppers musicians/producers today and as I’ve known his brother Lol Bell-Brown for years we made the link, writes Frenchie in an e-mail to Reggaemani, and continues:

− I’ve always thought that a lot of those UK roots productions had great riddims, but the vocals are sometimes not quite up to the standard of the music.

The first four releases are limited to 700 copies each. There will be more releases next year, mainly remixed by Russ D and some other producers in the same genre.

− I might do some myself as well, but it’s a different branch basically from my Maximum Sound imprint.


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