This month’s goings on in Dancehall and Reggae...
Last month we found out that VYBZ KARTEL is taking back to social media despite being behind bars. This month Di Teacha has revealed a 5-page letter from inside. He is letting the world know why “he is not who Babylon say he is.” The handwritten letter was sent shortly after the latest postponement in Kartel’s long-delayed trial—the artist was arrested way back at the top of October 2011. “I'm being painted as this evil 'D.J. by day, don by night' murderer who is society's number one cause of crime and violence,” Kartel writes. “The police is using the media to slaughter me and as such I don't think I will get a fair trial... They have tried my case in the public & found me guilty.” There's also talks of Kartel releasing a new roots and culture album and possibly even a gospel album in the pipeline. Word is that he's also turned veggie. He already did that tune about how "You can't get pum pum a prison." So why not give up meat altogether?
MAVADO has been riding high ever since getting back his U.S. visa in July of 2011—he was one of several top dancehall artists whose visas were revoked in 2009—but this month comes news of him being tangled up in bribery scheme to get the visa back. Apparently an employee of the U.S. embassy in Kingston is now facing years in prison for a variety of infractions including accepting expensive watches as well as VIP passes to Jamaican nightclubs and a private birthday party with the Gully Gad. It’s a tiny little issue that I'm sure has been a little annoying for Mavado, although he hasn't been charged with any wrongdoing. Meanwhile the Stulla is still doing his thing in the U.S. As he says in a recent song called “It Ain’t Easy”: “Me have a message fi the haters them.... Them can’t stop me with their demon curse.”
On the UK front STYLO G drops his first single on the 3 Beat label, distributed by Universal Music Group—making major moves innit. “Soundbwoy” got some speakers burning! You already know this south London boy is dropping bombs everywhere, from gallis to ganja tunes and always with that certain swagga.
JO MERSA is back with a track called “Comfortable” that has the ladies feeling this young rebel. Grandson of Bob Marley, son of Stephen marley, Jo’s the latest addition to the Ghetto Youth International crew headed up by Damien, Stephen and Julian Marley. Comfortable must be how he feels with himself as the new artist performs alongside his dad and Jr. Gong and seems to take it all in stride. When I asked him if he felt any pressure sharing the stage with veterans, he said, “You kinda put the pressure on right now cause I wasn’t thinking about it at that moment” (Oops!) This ghetto youth keeps it well-rounded with a generous portion of of both roots and dancehall in his music—true raggamuffin style! I got to kick it with Jo M during his tour with the crew and chatted about how him Bad So. If you don’t, know get to know:
Aidonia gets straight to the point on his latest single, produced by Di Genius. After all the toe action (“Tip Pon Ur Toe” / “Bend Down & Touch Ur Toe”) it’s time for action, straight up. The song is called “Tip Pon Di Cocky” and I’d say this one needs no intro! If you need a tune to get you in the mood for a dirty night, maybe this might do sup’m?
Jah Cure took his sweet time putting together the recently released "World Cry" album (almost three years if memory serves), but since dropping that long-awaited long player he's been back in a steady groove. His latest release is "Stronger," a super-sweet tune about making love under the moonlight and other romantic stuff voiced on Don Corleone's Scriptures riddim. Say what you will about Cure but the man knows his way around a love song. Last time I was in Jamaica I caught up with Cure who wore Louboutin's as we kicked it poolside about Mavado, Rick Ross, Keri Hilson and why he should be able to wear whatever shoes he pleases even if he is a Rastaman. After all, he's also a star. And just when we thought we'd seen it all, Scratch Perry dropped by unexpectedly. All in all, quite an entertaining afternoon:
The GHETTO YOUTHS INTERNATIONAL crew have set up shop for real this time and they are talking business. Their new album, Set Up Shop Volume 1, is full up of madd collabs & new crew members—killer tracks already heard include Wayne Marshall's “Go Hard,” Christopher Ellis's “Don't Change Ur Number” and DAMIEN JR GONG's “Affairs of the Heart” as well as the title track. But if you ain’t already experienced the full album yet, you need to get familiar with GONG's latest number “Dem Neva Mek It.” This one is straight-up for the girls who take no shorts—yep, if you can’t handle the competition get out the game. I guess if you’re settling down with a ghetto youth you better know how to stay on point! It is often said that certain dancehall artists are “lyrical geniuses.” Well don’t sleep on Zilla’s lyrics here, his dancehall swag tun up! And he sure can chat about de gyal dem: “Them neva stand a chance..ur picture pin up while dem pin down.” #rockandroll Meanwhile his big brother STEPHEN MARLEY always knows how to pull it out of the bag. Here he drops some wicked collaborations, including one with AKON and BUJU BANTON called “My Conclusion” - another great production straight out of the Lion’s Den. If you loved “Jah Army,” this is your tune. He’s also got a sweet collab with CHRISTOPHER ELLIS and JAH CURE, making this album very much a well-rounded collection. The song is called “The End of Time.” #needwesaymore Repping for the ladies, ETANA has just released her latest album “Better Tomorrow” on VP Records, and it’s a soulful collection from the powerful vocalist. The album was recorded at Tuff Gong Studio and a majority of produced by SHANE BROWN of Jukeboxx Productions so you know the tracks are on point. PROTOJE released his album “The 8 Year Affair”–the follow-up to his last album “The 7 Year Itch.” He says the titles were inspired by the 1950s film with Marilyn Monroe. Apparently he has the same relationship with music that men have with women?!? Joining the ranks of a generation of hot new culture artists, Protoje sure is on the come up and with a little help from his bredren DON CORLEONE he’s developed his on sound on the street. Protoje explains why the affair comes after the itch:
Hot riddims in rotation include the 'Soak-ka' riddim which include voicings from RDX, Demarco,Tiana and more & SPICE unleashes her signature style on ''Whine & Guh Down.”
Good Good’s 'Team Brit Jam' riddim features D’Angel “No Camouflage” and Blak Ryno with “Life Story.” And 'The Steppa' riddim sees voicings from the World Boss and Gaza slim. The one-drop fans are definitely feeling the 'Rootsman' riddim from Overstand productions. Every track on here hits hard, from Chronixx “Here Comes Trouble” to Tarrus Riley “Cold Girl.”
It’s the countdown to SXSW and as always Austin, Texas is gonna be taken over with the who's who of music. This year if you’re looking to find some reggae and dancehall be sure not to miss the LionFest as SNOOP's gonna be in town... and put your lighters up cause the Gully Gad is also set to be repping. And then at the end of the month, March 30, two of the greatest rub-a-dub sound systems of all time—King Stur Gav and Volcano Hi Power—will be rocking the 02 Academy Brixton with legendary DJs like Daddy U-Roy the Teacher, King Yellow Man, Cocoa Tea, Frankie Paul, and Brigadier Jerry on the mic. Classical dancehall vibes!
TO WRAP UP
The month of Feb saw a whole heap of global events to celebrate reggae month and on this side of the world the British Reggae Awards were on and poppin’ at the Indig02. Apart from the freezing cold Brit weather everything else was pretty cool–including some nice live performances. Everybody from the Scottish band I Foundation to rising lovers rock star Lovella Ellis were all on form on the night. On the award front David Rodigan picked up one for Best Radio Personality, Skibu picked up two awards along with Gappy Ranks and both Lovella and Christopher Ellis picked up best female / male newcomer. Guess this music fing runs in the Ellis family… #Allinadayswork See ya next month!
Words by Reshma B