The latest from Clash’s resident expert on all things reggae and dancehall, Reshma B…
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Vybz Kartel is still behind bars awaiting trial for the murder of Clive ‘Lizard’ Williams. But that doesn’t mean that his music career isn’t on and popping. On September 24th Tads Records release a new album entitled ‘Kartel Forever: Trilogy’, which contains a mixture of recent hits and previously unreleased tracks. “Even though I am incarcerated, I am still up to the time,” the artist’s quoted as saying. “This album shows that I get stronger with each passing second.”
The MOBO Awards announced the shortlist of nominees for this year’s ceremony, to be held in Glasgow on October 19th. The Best Reggae Act nominees are on point as usual, with Mavado, Popcaan, Sean Paul, Stylo G, and Tarrus Riley getting nods. (Check here for the full rundown.) The big news is that Stylo is also included amongst the 10 finalists in the Best Newcomer category. He may not be new to the reggae world, but Stylo appears to be breaking new ground. Wonder what Mr. Swagga Dem will be rocking on the red carpet…
When film director Perry Henzell asked Jimmy Cliff if he thought he could write music for a movie he was working on, the reggae star replied, “What do you mean if I ‘think’? I can do anything!” That can-do spirit eventually led Cliff to star in The Harder They Come, the cult classic that introduced Jamaican music and culture to the world. The movie celebrated the 40th anniversary of its US debut this month, and to mark the event the film has been remastered and shown in theatres across the globe. Screenings on this side of the Atlantic include London, Edinburgh and Glasgow. Check here for full details.
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Mavado and Nicki Minaj join forces on ‘Give It All To Me’, a sexy, slow-burning love song built by Justus for JA Productions featuring his trademark blend of heavy bass and twinkling keys. The Gully Gad and Nicki recently shot a video for the tune, so watch out for more next-level movements from these two.
Between the two of them Sean Paul and Damian Marley have collaborated with everybody from Nas to Beyoncé. But new song ‘Riot’ marks the first time the two have come together on the same track. Produced by Hard Work, the track ranges from old-school dub to EDM to cutting-edge dancehall, while the boys spit hot bars about treating the youths right – or else!
The name Assassin (aka Agent Sasco) has been buzzing ever since he blessed Kanye West with some blazing lyrics for the song ‘I’m In It’ off the album ‘Yeezus’ (Clash review). Now Sasco is back with a new video for his song ‘Shell’. He performed the tune in NYC during Hot 97’s big Labor Day concert, On Da Reggae Tip, and shelled the place down. Peep the new vid below: “Nothing no left fi shell down when we done shell.”
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Sean Kingston (pictured) dropped a new album, ‘Back 2 Life’ on September 10th, his first full-length release since a terrible jet ski accident in 2011. If you’re feeling singles like ‘Shotta Love’, then get ready for more yardie flavour. During his listening party in Chelsea NYC, Sean played the whole album and dropped a straight-up dancehall tune on the ‘Sleng Teng’ riddim featuring Busta Rhymes spitting his best patois flow.
Seems like Kingston is feeling his JA roots right now, and to celebrate he’ll be performing in Kingston, Jamaica on September 25th. Check out Sean breaking down his favourite reggae and dancehall tracks below…
Shaggy may be the most successful pop artist to come out of the dancehall scene, but he’s exploring a heavier roots sound on his latest album, ‘Out Of Many, One Music’.
Dropping September 24th, the album features tracks laid by Sly Dunbar and Robbie Shakespeare and production by Shaggy’s long-time collaborator Sting International as well as Lenky Marsden, the man responsible for the massive ‘Diwali’ riddim. With guest vocals by Beres Hammond, Ne-Yo, Damian Marley, Konshens, Chronixx and more, ‘Out Of Many, One Music’ highlights a whole new side of Mr Boombastic.
After celebrating 50 years of Jamaican independence on his last album, ‘Sweet Jamaica’, Mr Vegas is getting back the dancehall sound that made him famous. Also out September 24th, ‘Bruk It Down 2.0’ includes production by Clevie, Danny Browne and Jah Snowcone with guest appearances by reggae crooner Lukie D, dancehall veteran Flourgon and a calypso-flavoured remix of Vegas’ international dancefloor-filler ‘Bruk It Down’ featuring Bajan soca queen Alison Hinds.
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TJ Productions can usually be counted on to serve up something hot and fresh. His latest release, the ‘Toasted’ riddim', does not disappoint. With voicings by Aidonia, Vybz Kartel, RDX and Konshens, the riddim is sure to run the dance for the foreseeable future.
Looks like Lenky has been keeping very busy. His ‘Look A Start’ riddim is a crisp, clean one-drop track featuring standout selections by the likes of Agent Sasco and Richie Spice.
Cash Flow’s ‘Bell Foot’ riddim boasts an action-packed line-up of artists representing for the girls. Beenie Man, Alaine, Cecile, Chris Martin and Stein all do their part to make the riddim ring out loud.
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Fresh off a successful stateside tour with the Ghetto Youths International crew, Christopher Ellis returns to the UK for a one-night stand at London’s the Jazz Cafe on September 28th. After a triumphant set at SOB’s in NYC, it feels like he’s ready to take over London when he reaches home. Look for him to tear down the place with his latest hit, ‘Better Than Love’.
On Sunday September 29th, all roads lead to Brixton Academy for the massive Reggae Salute show. The line-up features Luciano, I-Octane, Etana, Christopher Martin and Chuck Fenda. This concert will have something for everybody, from smooth vocals to rough and rugged dancehall.
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Inside the Hammerstein Ballroom on Manhattan’s west side, a mysterious bearded man with long curls and a red bandana strolled onto the stage unannounced. None of the 2,500 people who came for Hot 97 FM’s On Da Reggae Tip concert had any idea who it was – until he opened his mouth and the unmistakable voice of Super Cat filled the place, driving the sold-out crowd into a frenzy. It was the first public appearance by the certified dancehall legend in over five years, making it undoubtedly one of the biggest high points for reggae shows this summer.
NYC celebrated its Labor Day weekend with a string of first-rate shows starting with On Da Reggae Tip’s annual showcase of the hottest dancehall, reggae, and soca stars. The stage was set on fire by the likes of Cham, who turned things up with wifey Miss O, and Mavado, who brought out surprise guests DJ Khaled and Nicki Minaj (though unfortunately her mic didn’t work well enough to hear her rap on ‘Give it All To Me’). Also in top shape was Beenie Man, who’d been vibing in the city all week, kicking off the celebrations with a performance on BET’s 106 & Park alongside Mr Vegas and Wayne Wonder.
The legends kept coming as the party moved to Barclays Center in Brooklyn for Irie Jamboree’s Caribbean Fever Music Festival. Saturday was a soca fix featuring the likes of Alison Hinds, Bunji Garlin and Fayann Lyons tearing up the stage. Sunday saw an all-star reggae cast and despite a small blip – the backing band for the entire night missed their flight (possibly more than a small blip – Ed) – I-Octane started the night off on a super high. The rasta dancehall star took his catalogue from ‘Lose A Friend’ all the way to ‘Buss A Blank,’ ensuring that there was no way the evening was going to be a struggle. And the best was yet to come, in the form of Lady Saw and Shabba Ranks.
It’s been a minute since NYC has seen ‘big dutty stinkin’ Shabba, who seems to have the same energy as he did 25 years ago. And if that wasn’t enough, his guest was Capleton. Between the two acts it’s safe to say that Barclays was poppin’.
However the evening truly belonged to Lady Saw, who was on rare form – whether she was on the warpath, or just in a zone, she gave the performance of a lifetime. Flinging down hit after hit – ‘Two Man Me Have’, ‘Man Is The Least’ and ‘Hardcore’ – her message was clear: a woman like her is not to be messed with, nor is she planning to retire from dancehall any time soon. Then she came to the climax: “Oh Beenie Man. you make me stretch to the ceiling.” Yep, the Doctor himself joined Saw onstage to perform their duet, ‘Healing’, offering a timely reminder to every ecstatic fan in the house why they love this music so much.
Labor Day Monday closed off the weekend with bare-as-you-dare feather and sequin costumes for Brooklyn’s Eastern Parkway parade followed by a Ghetto Youths showcase at SOB’s in Manhattan. Black Am I, Christopher Ellis, Jo Mersa and Wayne Marshall had the crowd in the palm of their hands only to take it to another level when Jr. Gong joined Marshall onstage for ‘Go Hard & Done’. Then out of nowhere Stephen and Julian Marley stepped up on stage. That’s the way you close out Labour Day.
Check out Beenie Man backstage after his performance on BET's 106 & Park…
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See ya next month!
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