Tag Archives: Tuff Lion

Sahra Indio’s The Tru I is a joy from start to finish

sahra-indio-the-tru-iSome gems are harder to find than others. Or maybe I’m just not always doing my homework properly. Because U.S. singer Sahra Indio’s third album The Tru I has been reviewed on United Reggae and she has also shared disc with well-known artists such as Lutan Fyah, The Itals and I Octane on the compilation Dread & Alive: The Lost Tapes Volume 1. But for some reason I missed out on this wonderful singer.

Sahra “Bush Mama” Indio has a deep, soothing and breezy voice and sings – sometimes with a flow reminiscent of rapping or singjaying – with a strong American accent. She moved from the U.S. mainland to Hawaii about 30 years ago and today she lives an off-grid lifestyle on the countryside. She has been in the music business for almost 20 years and her debut album was put out in 2003. Four years later it was time for its follow-up Change, a set partly produced by Tuff Lion, master guitarist and former member of Bambú Station.

On The Tru I she has teamed up with producers from the U.S., Jamaica and Europe, including Italy, Austria, the UK and France. This has given the album something of a split impression, since there are some rootsy efforts, some tracks with a clear pop crossover feeling and some cuts with a heavyweight and atmospheric dub edge.

But in the end it all makes sense, partly thanks to the strong riddims, partly thanks to Sahra Indio’s relevant lyrics about conscious living and uplifting, confident singing, which is a joy from start to finish.

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Bambú Station represents roots reggae

The U.S. Virgin Islands’ thriving roots rocking reggae scene have produced several great talents in the past ten years with trail blazers Midnite and their front man, singer and lyricist Vaughn Benjamin leading the way.

Bambú Station is another powerful band from the same group of islands. The band’s founder, lead singer and lyricist Jalani Horton hails from St. Thomas, and was in 1999 joined by bass player Andy Llanos and guitarist Tuff Lion. Their debut recording was Amadou Diallo, a heartfelt tribute to the Guinean immigrant who died in a hail of police bullets in New York City 13 years ago.

Children of Exodus is Bambú Station’s fourth full-length studio album, and follows their six years old Breaking the Soil. The album has the same laid-back atmosphere and is full of bubbly and natural riddims mesmerizing the listener.

Jalani Horton’s singing is accompanied by beautiful and well-arranged harmonies that uplift his mostly tough themed and insightful lyrics.

The album contains 16 cuts, of which two are short interludes and one a two minute tale of Bambú Station’s vision and mission set only to bass and percussion.

The partly acoustic All We Have is the most alluring moment of the album and sets a perfect tone to a bonfire at the beach.

The Virgin Islands offer way more than the relentless roots from Midnite, and Bambú Station is a great example of the many mighty talented musicians coming from this musically blessed group of islands.

Children of Exodus is currently available as digital download and CD.

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Toussaint is a singer on a mission

Mixing styles and genres is difficult. To have a clear and easy labelled style is usually easier and more commercially successful. Someone who has managed to combine his two favourite genres is American singer Toussaint. Reggaemani had a chat with him just before he went on a 16 day tour.

Toussaint started his singing career like many other great singers – in the church. He’s the son of a preacher man, so church was a natural place outside his childhood home in Indiana. At home, his parents often played music. Mostly gospel and old school soul from legendary record labels Stax and Motown.

− I’ve always listened to music, but when I was younger I had to sneak out from home to listen to reggae and hip-hop, Toussaint laughs on the phone from San Francisco, where he is to set off on a U.S. tour with NiyoRah and Tuff Lion.

Toussaint is in a great mood, and describes himself as ‘psyched’ at the moment. The tour lasts 16 days through three states and he performs every night.

Something that probably also brightens his mood is his reggae debut album Black Gold, released the same day as we talk.
− The album has been well received so far and I was just on Facebook to ignite my fans, he says.

Toussaint successfully combines soul and reggae

Mashing up genres
On Black Gold Toussaint successfully combines soul and reggae. His blend of genres might be too much reggae for soul fans, while reggae fans find it too soulful. But I think he handles the mix very well.

− Over the years I’ve tried as many genres and styles as possible, whether funk, soul, jazz, reggae or hip-hop. With Black Gold I wanted to mash up genres. Mash up soul and culture, he says eagerly, and continues:

− For the first time in my life I’ve been able to do my own thing without having to compromise. I work with people who understand what I want to do and have the same ideas as myself. In Soulive, it was more difficult. We had different ideas, but it was an important experience to tour and perform live on stage.

Toussaint says that there is no difference for him to sing soul or reggae.

− Singing is a spiritual experience for me and it doesn’t matter what genre it is. I come from soul music and that’s my strength. But if I need to rhyme, I can do that too.

Afro-American issues
The concept of Black Gold is African heritage and history. It deals, among other things, with Afro-American issues. Toussaint says that there are big challenges ahead, and immediately becomes more serious, though obviously still close to laughter.

− Afro-Americans are facing difficult times. I believe that we have what it takes to conquer, he says, and quickly adds:

− I mean conquer in a spiritual sense and that Afro-Americans need to stand firm.

Toussaint says that in the U.S. black equals criminal and that people don’t understand what that really means.

− People don’t realize that power, to be judged, he says, and continues:

− It’s the same violence all over the U.S. It’s in New York, Los Angeles and even in Indiana where I’m from and that’s supposed to be a hick-state.

“You can’t own land if you’re dead at 25”
Toussaint has obviously put much thought into the lyrics and concept of Black Gold. And when I ask him if he has a solution for the problems he is quiet for a moment and then fires off several opinions and ideas.

− We need more self-determination. You can’t own any land if you’re dead at 25, he laughs, and then gets serious again:

− First we need to realize that we have problems and second we need to be aware of misconceptions about manhood and womanhood. We have to realize that we’re worth something. That we’re capable of great things.

A big heart is not enough
He wants to contribute to the cause, for instance through working with young people and teaching them history.

− I’d like to start a foundation and do workshops and things. Right now I’m just gathering capital to do greater things. Because you must have money. You can’t approach youths and say ‘Hey, I got this big heart, do you want to eat?‘ he laughs again and says:

− I want to be honest in my lyrics. I don’t write fluff. I want to show the problems we’re facing.

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