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The month's goings-on in Dancehall and Reggae...

Another month of statements & counter-statements, and the Gaza crew are all up in the mix as usual. Shortly after Kartel officially disbanded the Portmore Empire, Popcaan issued a statement regarding his working relationship with former members of the crew:

“The world already knows that my career was launched from the greatest dancehall school and business entity, The Portmore Empire/Adidjaheim Records led by Vybz Kartel,” Papi told the world in his statement. “Since Vybz Kartel’s incarceration in September 2011 I remained a loyal and contributing member of this unit until May 2012 when the Portmore Empire was dissolved.”

Although he’s always repped Gaza to the fullest, apparently Popcaan felt the need to clarify his position because he started working with a new booking agent following Kartel’s incarceration: “Rumors started as early as September 2011 that I had left the Portmore Empire, this was not so... I have worked hard and stayed focused on my career with my main intention to make sure that the music from the Portmore Empire was being released and the brand remained in the forefront of the dancehall music industry.”

All of this would be fine except that Gaza Slim - who recently joined the new PG13 crew along with former Portmore Empire artist Tommy Lee - issued her own statement questioning Popcaan’s loyalty to the Werlboss: “Everyone is releasing statements re Portmore Empire, some more truthful than others, so I think it’s time to release mine. The statement released by Popcaan (which I doubt was written by him considering how grammatically correct it was) is nothing but lies in an attempt at keeping the support of Gaza fans, and by Gaza, I mean Kartel because he is Gaza.” She went on to allege that Popcaan has not visited Kartel in prison because “a certain producer” told Papi to stay far from him. It’s all very mysterious.

Meanwhile Vybz Kartel’s management released yet another statement, this time denying that the prolific artist has been recording while behind bars. Some of his latest releases caused speculation—particularly 'Back to Life', a track about prison which Kartel claims he recorded some time ago: “Various songs containing material from Vybz Kartel have surfaced since his arrest, including a collaboration with Busta Rhymes and a song titled ‘Back to Life,’ which have sparked rumors that the artist has been recording at the Horizon Adult Remand Centre. Adidjahiem Records would like to make it explicitly clear that both songs were recorded prior to his arrest. The single 'Wine and Go Down' by Busta Rhymes ft. Vybz Kartel was recorded at Donovan ‘Don Corleon’ Bennett’s studio in 2010 in a session that was broadcast live on U-stream. The lyrics contained in 'Back to Life' were also recorded in 2010... Those same lyrics were re-used on a different track to create 'Back to Life'.

Of course the best way to clear everything up once and for all would be for Kartel himself to come out and speak on the matter—or better yet, voice some new tunes—but until then we’ll just have to keep listening for another statement.

With summertime in full swing, you know the music is getting hotter than ever.

Spice is bending her back right back on the Mattress Riddim - you may not be ready for the raw version. While Stacious is in “Ecstasy” (''use your c*cky and tump up me belly”). The guys voicing on the riddim include Beenie Man, Aidonia, and Black Ryno. This is one riddim track that’s not suggested to be used in a candlelight setting.

The trend continues on the Bad Behaviour Riddim from Young Vibez productions with Popcaan’s 'Whine Up' and Flava Don’s 'Yuh Body'. And on Rose Green Productions’ Flirt Riddim we’ve got who else but the 'girls dem sugar' himself, Beenie Man, in true style with 'Dem Gal Bizniz'.

Getting out of the bed mode, Don Corleon's brand new Peenie Wallie Riddim is in heavy rotation with big tunes like Sean Paul’s 'Caught' and Kartel’s 'Real Friend' (wonder when he voiced that one?)

This month the dancehall girls have come out to play and they are playing for keeps!

In timely fashion—following the big diamond jubilee celebrations—these ladies are out to prove that Queen Elizabeth is not the only one rocking a crown.

Tifa is full of stamina with 'Hold On' on the Poolside riddim. Cecile & Timberlee got all the new rules locked down on “New Rule”—please take note of rule number 3, “we know fi position.” And on Sly & Robbie's Taxi production, 'Rebel', Danielle & Cherine are dressed to kill with “me tight tight shorts & me split pon me dress.”

Spice always down her lyrics with a passion, but she seems particularly fired up on 'Hide & Do', a tune where she calls out all the guys for their under-cover behaviour. Hope it doesn’t leave a bad taste in anybody’s mouth.

Meanwhile Queen of the Dancehall Lady Saw jumps on the Killa riddim to ask 'Wha Do Some Gal'. It’s a good question, but I think you already know the answer. These girls are doing whatever they want.

Introducing to the world a newcomer dancehall girl, Stylish. And what better way to hit the scene than to pair up with the Werlboss? Kartel & Stylish get together on the Cosmos riddim with a straight-up track called 'Love Don't Lie'. (“So when you say pack up and gwan—u better mean it.”)

Some real talk with Tanya and Marcia with their new track 'Want Love': “If it’s love that you want, you have to do much more than chant.”

And on the man dem front, Gully Gaad Mavado is making the connection between “More Money More Gyal'' on his new collab with Chipmunk. Yes, ironically enough they're focused on the girls—of course.

This summer it’s all about Wayne Wonder’s new album 'My Way', set to be released on his own Singso label. The smooth dancehall singer just dropped the video for 'Caught Up,' his first single from the album, and it’s all about a crazy love triangle where the girls turn the tables with a little help from a taser stun gun. If the rest of the album is anything like this, I’m buying two copies.

On the UK dancehall front, get ready for the latest instalment of Lady Chann’s 'Dun Dem' mixtape trilogy to hit the streets (interview to follow). From what I’ve heard so far I can confirm its gonna be #Nang!

Of course you know the hottest concerts are about to come round in summertime.

Reggae Sumfest is always a massive event, but this year its 20th staging happens to fall on the 50th year of JA independence. 'The biggest reggae show on earth' kicks off July 15th in Montego Bay Jamaica, and the lineup is already amazing with Shabba Ranks, Jr. Gong, R.Kelly, and Trey Songz. But you can be sure this year is going to be full of surprises. For all the latest info, log on to the official Sumfest website

And just in case you can’t make it to Jamrock this year, don’t worry. Jr. Gong will be rocking closer to home during Respect JA 50—12 days of reggae concerts at the indig02 kicking off just as the Olympics get under way with not one but two nights of Jr Gong.

Unfortunately not all the news is good on the live reggae scene. If you were planning on attending the One Love Festival, you better rethink your plans as the promoters have decided to cancel due to “oversaturation” ( Better luck next year.

Last month RGAT was privileged to have been present for a very special event in reggae history session. Legendary music producer Clive Chin unveiled the first of a treasure trove of unreleased recordings culled from the vaults of Randy’s Records. Comprising thousands of reels of audio tapes dating from the heyday of Ska and early Reggae (1968-1978) the Randy’s Vaults contain all the biggest names in Jamaican music—including Bob Marley, Peter Tosh, Dennis Brown, Gregory Isaacs, Alton Ellis, John Holt, Lord Creator, Count Machuki, U-Roy, The Skatalites, to name a few. For this reason, the opening of the Randy’s vaults represents a major event in the history of recorded music on par with Berry Gordy’s Motown Records or the famous Alan Lomax recordings at the Smithsonian Institute. Check out the full interview here:

There was something #nostalgic about hearing these fresh cuts from some of the Greats of Reggae. Trust and believe that you’re going to be hearing some major stuff to come out of this. The first selection(s) will be released to the public this fall. All I can say right now is that I felt like I was practically in the studio with some top Jamaican artists from way back. Watch this space for more scorchers from the Randy’s vaults!

Words by Reshma B (@ReshmaB_RGAT)

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