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.
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.
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!