Tag Archives: US reggae

G-funk roots from Rick Haze

cover170x170U.S. producer Rick Haze recently dropped a new album titled The Dopest Roots, an eleven track set where he continues to work with other U.S. based acts, and the album includes collaborations with Midnite, Inna Vision, Arise Roots and SkillinJah. The set comes with four vocal cuts, six dubby instrumentals and one intro.

The Dopest Roots is blunted like a G-funk album and brings back memories of the early 90s with whiny synths and lazy and fat beats. It’s said to be produced and recorded in memory of the late and great Jamaican producer and mixing engineer King Tubby and two of the tracks include name checks.

This album is heavier and more uncompromising compared to most reggae from the U.S. The bass lines are weighty, the arrangements are rather sparse throughout the set and the mood is ethereal and meditative, partly thanks to the slow and powerful riddims.

Definitely not the usual U.S. reggae album and definitely one to check out if like your reggae slow and heavy.

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10 Ft. Ganja Plant delivers another solid instrumental set

PrintU.S. reggae band 10 Ft. Ganja Pant continues to deliver solid instrumental sets. On their tenth album and the third installment in their on-going instrumental only Deadly Shots series 10 Ft. Ganja Plant offers ten charming cuts.

The album collects a mix of upbeat tracks and slower jams rooted in late 60s and early 70s Jamaica. Most of them are dominated by a soulful guitar or a groovy organ and they are clearly influenced by bands such as The Hippy Boys, The Crystalites and The Dynamites.

Included on the set is the wonderful Castor Bean, the haunting Angel Trumpet and the Middle Eastern-flavoured Oleander.

10 Ft. Ganja Plant is a spin-off of the more progressive and psychedelic reggae band John Brown’s Body, and they have been making music for more than 14 years. And this beautiful instrumental series is a well-deserved addition to their more contemporary catalogue.

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Gentle vibrations on SOJA’s Amid the Noise and Haste

UMG_cvrart_00880882205058_01_RGB72_1500x1500_14UMGIM22532.170x170-75The U.S. reggae scene has never been really thriving, and most reggae coming from the States is usually pretty lightweight and often heavily inspired by rock and punk. It has changed a bit though, much thanks to the prospering VI reggae scene and bands and artists like Midnite, Pressure, Niyorah and Bambú Station.

And the U.S. reggae scene is also much of a domestic scene and local acts tour North America like crazy. One of those acts is the immensely popular Soldiers of Jah Army (SOJA), an eight piece band that has been together for 17 years.

Their fifth album Amid the Noise and Haste is as radio-friendly as their previous sets with influences from pop, rock, latin and hip-hop. And its title nails the sound, because this album certainly doesn’t run towards a red light and singer and fan favorite Jacob Hemphill barely raises his frail and nasal voice. It’s full of slow jams and laid-back grooves with a more buoyant cut here and a muscular guitar solo there.

Amid the Noise and Haste is partly produced by Jamaican-born super producer Supa Dups, known as a founding member and owner of the Miami-based Black Chiney sound system. But he is also known for working with several reggae, dancehall and hip-hop heavyweights, and he has managed to win no less than three producer’s Grammys for his work with Drake, Bruno Mars and Eminem.

Several guest artists are featured on the album – Damian Marley, Collie Buddz, Michael Franti, J Boog, Anuhea, Nahko, Trevor Young, Alfred the MC, Bobby Lee and Mala Rodriguez. According to SOJA these performers help to demonstrate each song and either relate or convey messages of social resistance, environmental consciousness and personal reflection.

They want the listener to connect with his or hers inner self and take control over one’s own destiny while listening to gently vibrating reggae music.

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Soja teams up with Grammy winning producer on new album

U.S. reggae band Soja announce their new album and drops the initial single I Believe, a song featuring Michael Franti and Nahko.

The pop-infused I Believe is taken from Soja’s upcoming fifth album Amid the Noise and Haste, a set expected to be put out in July or August. The single was produced by multiple Grammy award winning Jamaican producer Supa Dups, who has previously worked with best-selling artists such as Bruno Mars, Rihanna, Eminem and John Legend. And I Believe certainly has a strong crossover potential.

“’I Believe‘ is about life; being kind to others and making the most out of the time we have with those that surround us,” says lead singer and guitarist Jacob Hemphill in a press release, and adds:

“Whether we are family, friends or strangers, how we treat one another and energy we share dictates our existence.”

Over the course of the past few years, Soja has sold more than 200,000 albums and headlined shows in more than 20 countries around the world. They have also been touring like maniacs and have die-hard followers following them from city to city.

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A good time with Super Tough

CS2475123-02A-BIGSuper Tough is the brainchild of California-based veteran musicians Wally Sound and Bruce Benjamin. In 2007 they dropped their debut album, a set that featured several Jamaican and local singers, for example Al Pancho, Rankin Scroo and Tony Moses.

It has taken seven years for the follow-up, which was released a few weeks ago. Super Tough II collects vocal cuts and dub versions and features collaborations with Earl Zero, Lymie Murray, Tony Moses, Toussaint the Liberator, Gina Rene and X-Factor finalist Chris Rene.

Super Tough II is not the usual reggae album and offers rich influences from 60s soul and early funk. It’s non-traditional reggae with a twist. Just listen to album opener and feet stomper Take the Money and Run from Toussaint the Liberator, where his deep soul voice battles the raw drums, bass and guitar. Or Gina Rene’s smooth doo-woper Baby It’s You, a song that resembles George Michael’s top selling single Faith.

This album is rough, rugged and it definitely sounds like they had a very good time when making it.

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Soul Majestic adds a little bit of sunlight

1549524_10152065791343017_7777914121444553710_nCalifornia reggae band Soul Majestic’s sunny fourth album Setting the Tone was financed through a successful Kickstarter campaign. And I’m grateful to all the hardcore fans that helped with the funding, because this is an excellent soundtrack for the summer. Or a dark and dreary winter day for that matter.

The band’s previous albums were recorded and mixed in various studios with different engineers and producers working behind the desk. But this time they were in charge of all things creative and the album was recorded in their own studio.

Soul Majestic has previously worked with reggae legends like Sly & Robbie and Anthony B, but also Queen Omega and Tony Moses. And they push the boundaries of contemporary reggae with their eclectic mix of roots reggae, pop, R&B, folk, country and even some psychedelic rock. It’s a partly unknown territory with beautiful melodies, dangerous dub and some electronic details.

The arrangements are sparse, often using only the bare essentials like bass, drums, keys and guitar, but sometimes also adding strings and horns. In comes the angelic vocal harmonizing and alternating male and female lead vocals. It’s sublime, beautiful and uplifting.

Soul Majestic is a name that comes with great obligations, but they manage to fulfil and deliver accordingly. A high quality and joyous album.

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Count in Rebelution

rebelution_count-me-inU.S. reggae rock band and Billboard Reggae Chart toppers Rebelution have a new album out on June 10. Count Me In is the band’s fourth album since their debut in 2007, when Courage to Grow was released.

Rebelution was formed in 2004 in Santa Barbara, California, and they have a strong following in the U.S., where they have toured relentlessly for the past years, just like their counterparts in Soja and Tribal Seeds.

Their new album was produced by the band themselves and features guest appearances by dancehall artist Collie Buddz and legendary roots reggae singer Don Carlos, who also shows up on the aforementioned Tribal Seeds’ new album Representing.

The album’s 11 tracks is in a press release described as positive, inspirational and encouraging and aim for having an optimistic impact on society and life.

“A lot of what we hear every day is that money measures success,” says vocalist Eric Rachmany, and adds:

“This new album is a reminder to spread love and positivity to the people around us – these are the true measures of success.”

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New rock reggae from Tribal Seeds

1895Californian Billboard Reggae Chart-topping reggae rockers Tribal Seeds drop their fourth studio album Representing on May 13, and the first single Fill it Up, featuring New Kingston, is already receiving airplay.

Representing holds twelve rock-infused reggae tracks and features Vaughn Benjamin of Midnite on the title track as well as Kyle McDonald of Slightly Stoopid on In Your Area. Reggae legends Don Carlos and Michael Rose show up on Blood Clot and Herb Stock respectively.

”This album promotes and inspires a positive and uplifting message which you can’t help but vibe to,” explains Tony-Ray Jacobo of Tribal Seeds.

Representing is a follow-up to Tribal Seeds’ 2011 EP Soundwaves and marks the band’s first full-length release since 2009’s The Harvest.

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A ground-shaking debut album from Tour de Force

ARTWORK_FRONTBrooklyn duo Tour de Force – Double Tiger and DJ Q-Mastah – champion bass music like few others on the U.S. reggae scene via their label Dub-Stuy and their 15,000-watt wooden speaker stack, a sound system directly aimed at destroying the Babylonian system. Needless to say, these two producers and beat makers live for the bass.

Their partly instrumental debut album Battle Cry follows the release of the excellent remix EP Old Time Love. This ten track set connects old and new, vintage and contemporary, bass-fuelled genres such as reggae, dancehall, dub and dubstep. It’s dark and gritty with pulsating and potent bass lines, sometimes accompanied by bright horns and echoing organ skanks.

Tour de Force are supported by four vocalists on five tracks – Brother Culture, Jahdan Blakkamore, Jay Speaker and Luciano. A powerful team of singers that help to lively up the murderous beats.

They manage to present twisted, explosive and forward-thinking adaptations of much-versioned riddims such as Sleng Teng (Pool Party), Satta Massagana (Warmongers) and Promised Land (Battle Cry).

Make sure to tell your neighbours before you spin this album, otherwise you might find yourself out on the street. Not everyone appreciate a real ground-shaker.

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Instrumental niceness on Jaime Hinckson’s debut album

a0794770146_10Was recently recommended to have a listen to U.S. reggae/jazz piano maestro Jaime Hinckson’s instrumental debut album Take Flight, released late last year. And it was certainly a pleasure to my ears.

Jaime Hinckson was introduced to classical piano at the age of seven through his piano teacher Miss Mac, referred to as an angel in disguise on his website. She later introduced him to Leslie Butler, a piano wiz that helped him to bridge the gap between classical music and contemporary jazz. Born in Miami to Jamaican parents, reggae was in his blood.

On Take Flight he cleverly covers old classics such as Bob Marley’s Waiting in Vain, Ken Boothe’s Moving Away, Michael Jackson’s Human Nature and The Maytal’s 54-46 Was My Number, but also more contemporary hit songs like John Legend’s Ordinary People and Bruno Mars’ When I Was Your Man.

The piano-driven and airy music is sparsely arranged with only drums, bass and guitar. A number of tracks however also include horns. The piano does most of the talking and drives the melody forward. It’s as much a jazz album as it’s a reggae album and today you don’t come across that mix often enough. Definately well worth checking out. Visit Jaime Hinckson’s website for a free listen to all of the tracks.

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