Every month, Reshma B drops a little sunshine-lifted joy into the Clash inbox, and we're always happy to share her latest Reggae & Dancehall round-up with you lovely reader types. And so...
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Vybz Kartel has beaten his first murder case. The acquittal comes as something of a shock as Kartel’s been behind bars for so long it was starting to feel like he would never make it out.
But on July 24th a Jamaican Supreme Court judge rejected two questionable witness statements in the 2011 shooting of Barrington ‘Bossy’ Burton. The judge ruled that police have failed to make their case after keeping ‘the Werlboss’ in custody for almost two years.
The second murder case – for the beating of Clive ‘Lizard’ Williams – will be tried in November. According to the DJ’s lawyer, Christian Tavares-Finson, that case should be the easier of the two to defend.
In keeping with the trend of hip-hop/reggae mash-ups, on August 5th the Harlem collective A$AP Mob gathered in downtown NYC for a showcase of A$AP Ferg’s (pictured) new album, ‘Trap Lord’.
Between gunshot sounds, Ferg romanced the crowd as they tanked up on Henny cocktails, DJing the album’s complete tracklist from his laptop and breaking down who did what behind the scenes.
Considering his Trinidadian origins, it’s no surprise that Ferg’s album has an all-around island edge. Proud Mob boss A$AP Yams took time out to tell nonbelievers to “kiss my ass”.
Closing out in style, the mob partied to Ferg’s track 'Shabba’ featuring A$AP Rocky. Check out Ferg chatting about why he chose to devote a song to the dancehall icon Shabba Ranks and what to expect from the rest of ‘Trap Lord’, just recently released.
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RDX are back pon the case with a sexy new cut called 'Ride It' produced by Black Sheep music. “Bubble, bubble, bubble, like coffee inna di pot / Gyal wine till you feel sup’m pop inna yo back.”
Agent Sasco talks roots and reality on ‘Look a Start’. The rub-a-dub track, produced by Lenky for Diwali Records, preaches patience and positivity: “Creep before you walk, walk before you run.” After that, just go hard and dun.
Busy Signal sounds like he’s on the bad-boy flex at the moment. His latest releases, ‘Feel Like (Dem Bad)’ on the Sniper riddim and ‘Mek Duppy’, a flip of
Future’s ‘Good Kush’ finds the Hotthead in murder mode. As long as it inspires good music, we’re not mad.
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On July 22nd, Greensleeves released two King Jammy’s box sets, each containing four full albums recorded at the legendary studio in the Waterhouse section of Kingston.
‘Vocal Superstars at King Jammy’s’ collects the classics as Dennis Brown’s ‘The Exit’, Gregory Isaacs’ ‘Come Along’, Sugar Minott’s ‘Showcase’ and Horace Andy’s ‘Haul and Jack-Up’.
Then there’s the ‘Rootsman Vibrations’ box set, which includes Johnny Osbourne’s ‘Fally Ranking’, Hugh Mundell’s ‘Jah Fire’, Barry Brown’s ‘Showcase’ and don’t sleep on Noel Phillips’ ‘Youth Man Vibrations’. Older heads may already have some of these in their crates, but a crisp new digital version wouldn’t hurt.
Various-artists collection ‘Dub Rockers Vol. 1’ drops August 27th via VP and features collaborations between Jamaican stars and international reggae acts. The opening track, ‘No Cocaine’ by Slightly Stoopid, Inner Circle and Capleton, gives you some idea of the project’s creative direction.
On the romantic tip, Anuhea and Tarrus Riley steam it up with ‘Only Man In the World’ (video below), while S.O.J.A.’s ‘I Tried’ features Gentleman and Tamika on a tale of a love gone wrong. You know what they say: try, try again.
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Fresh riddims in rotation this month include the ‘WiFi’ with voicings by Tifa (‘Tiki Tiki’), Aidonia (‘Flamingo’), and Jahmiel (‘Nutten Nuh Come Easy’).
JA Productions’ ‘Overdrive’ riddim is packed with tough selections. Some of the standouts include RDX’s ‘Island Girl’, Mavado’s 'Give It All To Me’ and Popcaan’s ‘Smile Again’.
As the name suggests, John John’s ‘Inna Rub A Dub Style’ riddim is a vintage dubbed-out sound featuring roots-oriented tunes: Tarrus Riley’s ‘Money Cry’, Sizzla’s ‘Big Surprise’, Chronixx’s ‘Alpha & Omega’, Mykal Roze’s ‘Rude Bwoy’ and I-Octane’s ‘Love We A Deal Wid’ (below).
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There’s only one city to be in this bank holiday weekend as London gears up for Notting Hill Carnival, held on August 25th and 26th.
This year, Damian Marley, Stephen Marley, Julian Marley and the whole Ghetto Youths posse will heat up the Red Bull Stage along with David Rodigan.
Rampage sound system will be back, too, to celebrate their 20th anniversary at the largest street fest in Europe. Expect to see their stage filled with home-grown talents like Stylo G and Ms Dynamite among other guests. Check their official website for full event details.
The captain of the big ship Freddie McGregor sets sail on his European tour this month. UK stops include Manchester, Leicester, Newcastle, London and this year’s Leeds Reggae Festival on August 25th .
The Jazz Cafe in London will host two great gigs this month as dancehall crooner Mr. Vegas takes the stage on August 21st, while UK lovers rock master Bitty McLean touches down on August 30.
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July was all about Reggae Sumfest as the Greatest Reggae Show on Earth took place for its 21st year in Mobay and pulled it out the bag once again.
Headliners Flo Rida and Miguel took to JA like it was as natural as can be. Miguel blew the crowd away with a surprise cover of Bob Marley’s ‘Stir It Up’ while Flo Rida took over the Digicel party in true Miami style, kicking it in the pool with his trainers on and a bottle of Dom Pérignon in his hand. His crew even put up $5,000 for the girl who showed off the best twerkin’ skills. Talk about inspiration!
International Night 1 was packed with the biggest names in reggae, from Barrington Levy – whose voice just seems to get better as the man gets older – to a real off-the-cuff performance from Beres Hammond, who took requests from the crowd and even called Shaggy onstage to perform their new song 'Can’t Fight This Feeling'.
Tarrus Riley and Romain Virgo also made their presence felt with powerful sets. Tarrus’ band took things to another level when they remixed ‘Good Girl Gone Band’ over the beat from Robin Thicke’s ‘Blurred Lines’. Jah Cure closed the night in top form, rocking the crowd with classics (‘Longing For’) and new cuts (‘That Girl’) and sprinkling his set with plenty of #RealTalk.
International Night 2 was all about Damian Marley, who turned in a fiery set of his own before calling Wayne Marshall, Aidonia, and Agent Sasco onstage to close things out by preforming their posse cut ‘Go Hard’. Chronixx also made his first Sumfest performance, thrilling the crowd with a set that proved how much the young singer and his Zinc Fence band have matured over the past year. Simply put, their swag tun up.
The Thursday-night-into-Friday-morning Dancehall Night saw great sets from Popcaan who held nothing back onstage and even threw his hat into the crowd. Spice did not disappoint her fans as she continues to try and top her entrance each year. This year she opted to take the stage wearing 13-inch heels. As if that was not enough, she did this while walking inside a giant plastic bubble. No surprise then that she slipped and fell midway through her opening tune, but a little tumble never hurt nobody.
Lady Saw announced her departure from the dancehall industry, promising to be back next year as a gospel artist. That didn’t stop her from recruiting an unsuspected young man from the crowd and laying him down on the stage to demonstrate her ‘Heels On’ technique.
I-Octane closed the night with a mad ‘Double Trouble’ performance featuring the Five Star General himself, Bounty Killer. And you already know Tommy Lee mashed up the place. The Montego Bay native took to the stage in true dancehall goth style and this time his accessories included red eyes!
Uncle Demon’s set opened with MC Nuffy relaying a message from Vybz Kartel: “I have four sons,” he reportedly said, “and three of them betrayed me.” Performing in front of a hometown crowd, Lee followed in the footsteps of Di Teacha by storming the stage with his entire Sparta Clan.
Get up on the Sparta crew and check out who's who. #Insane
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See ya next month!
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