Reflecting on the high that was Ancient Future Live with Protoje and the Indiggnation fills me with a sense of deep appreciation for the cohesive and stellar display of musicianship that was conveyed February 20th, 2016 under a fully moon lit sky in Kingston, Jamaica.
Reggae music is still king and the full cast of appearances for the night testified to this in lyrical delivery, vocal ability and skillful instrumental support. The high points of the evening are many and I intend to share my impressions of the Ancient Future Live experience. To date, it is the most impeccable production I have seen locally and I want to salute Protoje and his team for the high quality standard he strives to maintain. It speaks volumes about his understanding of not only producing stellar music but transitioning that to a live experience with the audience in a very organic space.
The Shell Band Stand provided the perfect ambiance to “fulljoy” introductory musical selections for the evening from Yaadcore. No stranger to the reggae revival terrain, the musical connoisseur guided patrons through a diverse mix of reggae royalty's finest songs and kept patrons entertained until the start of the show. The task of introducing the man and band of the evening was most suitably and efficiently done by Dutty Bookman.
The Indiggnation greeted the now swelling Hope Gardens space with clear and crisp sounds which beckoned on stage, Protoje. He opened the musical feast with Criminal, Track 2 from the album. The musical experience of Ancient Future Live had begun. His presence on stage reflected the years of experience playing internationally to various audiences across the globe, but you could tell it was a joy to be able to give his home this special show the only one of its kind since his first album in 2010.
As the opening notes of Protection rang out through the venue Protoje handed over the spotlight to Mortimer who heralded a throng to pull closer to the stage as they performed Track 1 from the album. Judging from the reaction of fans this was a favourite. Following this Protoje launched into Warrior on which he was featured with Kabaka Pyramid. To the audience's delight, he was giving us Ancient Future Live a fusion of sounds, songs and styles. This was quickly followed by his rendition of Police in helicopter before the seamless transition to All Will Have to Change then Bubbling, track 4 and 8 respectively. Protoje followed on closing with lines from Jah 9’s Steamers a Bubble and his own Marijuana.
Protoje was amply supported in sound and precision by the InDiggNation. They provided a sonically brillant experience like no other. Every member played their part to keep proper timing and tune which added extra flair to the evening of music. I did not just see quality, I felt and heard it in my mind body.
The packaged experience was also made complete with visuals on screen produced by creatives Taj Francis and Yannick Reid. They provided visual brilliance to the story being told on stage and were a perfect complement to the aura created by melting pot of audience steeped in musical appreciation reciprocating what they were receiving from the Indiggnation.
As the Ancient Future album continued to unfold song by song Protoje continued to intersperse, songs from various musical influences such as Baby Cham and Bounty Killa Look into My Eyes & Another Level). They were quite appropriate and really created a feeling of nostalgia. I believe it also spoke to the multidimensionality of artistic influences on the artist, which had personified itself into the manifestation of Ancient Future album. This was the introduction to Styling track 5, which was presented in fine style (pun intended). I was quite impressed with Paris Lamont’s support of Protoje’s delivery on keyboard. He rendered Black Uhuru Shine Eye Gal, Outkast So fresh and So Clean with Protoje sealing the deal with lyrical excerpts from Keida’s Jamaican Boy. It was perfect.
The man of the moment Diggy also displayed his skillful lyricism delivering fresh freestyles to the delight of his overwhelmingly adoring following. He was joined on stage shortly thereafter by the lovely Sevana and together they gave us Love Gone Cold, track 6 twisted with No Lipstick from the 7 Year Itch album. This segued into Who Can You Call track 10. The features from the previous two albums continued with musical mention of Roll and Come My Way from the 8th Year Affair.
Sudden Flight track 7 was next on the agenda which saw Sevana returning to the stage joined by the small axe, Jesse Royal. Surprise Guest, Agent Sasco, joined the trio on stage to much delight and welcome, his presence injected more excitement to the building pitch of high vibes. Protoje closed out this section with Hail Ras Tafari from the 8th Year Affair. Chronixx joined him to perform track 3, Who Knows, which has enjoyed widespread success. The musical comradery was as usual nice to see and experience, Chronixx ‘s melodies are unmatched and his delivery of Spanish Town Rockin’ and Smile Jamaica were quality and definite crowd pleasers.
It was at this juncture that as we say “di dancehall mash up” when Protoje called his mother, Lorna Bennett, on stage who showcased her deejay skills. The audience was overcome and showed their appreciation with fingers in air, confirming that musical shots had been fired. It was simply a joy to see so much support and love displayed in this moment. In this moment I felt the words he bellowed “This is Protoje! This is the Indiggnation, Reggae wi a play n we do this everyday”. The Flame closed out the night’s performances with Kabaka Pyramid coming on stage to put the icing on a well-produced and flawless experience.
The full cast then returned to the stage to resounding applause from their now grateful recipients who knew well they had just experienced magic. Ancient Future Live was worth every dollar and cent spent to make the production come alive and provide an experience like no other. It is a standard for how music should be delivered to an audience and an ode to the journey of the man with the seven year Itch a celebration of his accomplishments and testament to his solid presence in the musical landscape. If you missed it, you missed an evening of musicianship extraordinaire sealed with love and joy that only the King’s music can provide. Reggae lives it never died, Live Music is Living music; this remains my testimony after basking in the experience that was Ancient Future Live.
Go out and get the album available on I-tunes and support the artist. You may also like to read my review of the album Protoje’s Ancient Future: The Progression. It was a pleasure to convey in words a memorable night of music with a message.
Photos contributed by Jaysmilez Photography
Jamaica Music Conference 2015: Sustaining an Industry
November 25, 2015
This year’s staging of the Jamaica Music Conference (JMC) provided an excellent opportunity for those working formally and informally in the industry, locally and internationally to discuss problems but also find solutions to some of the challenges facing the sector. It also provided an opportunity to interact with students from the Haile Selassie I High School which has been a focal point of goodwill for the JMC.
What follows is a synopsis of the JMC weekend of panel discussions as well as a brief commentary on other events for the three days of activities commencing on November 20, 2015. It is my intent to focus on the insight and gleanings, which were most significant to I experience from what was arguably an essential grounding for all who were in attendance.
Service Day 2015
Each year’s activities begin with a Service Day which involves students from the Haile Selassie High School. This year, students were taken to an organic farm in St. Catherine and were also exposed to a film capturing the work of Habesha Incorporated. Many of them were easily engaged when expressing themselves through live performances, which gave them an opportunity to show skills in drumming and vocal performances. The team was heartened at their willingness and boldness but also the courage shown by those who at first appeared shy and unwilling to participate.
Despite this, there is much to be done to ease issues of concern relating to how the youths value and view themselves. There is much work to be done to reach them right where they are, and show them another way from what they are perhaps used to in less fortunate circumstances of life in which many find themselves. In visiting the school, it’s also noted that once a year is not enough and immediately thoughts of how to create a greater impact comes to mind because the ultimate hope is that a positive influence will turn the tide to necessary change which will stem a disturbing cycle of self-destruction. We have a mammoth task ahead.
Day 1 Panel 1 –- “The Role of Education in Creating Independent Music Professionals & a Sustainable Music Industry”
The first panel consisted of Hugh Douse, UWI Lecturer at the Institute of Caribbean Studies and Rayven Amani, Founder of the Jamaica’s Best School Band Competition. Salient points discussed emphasized the importance of training for all professions in the industry especially as it relates educating the youth to see music and the performing arts as seriously as other professions are taken in terms of preparation.
The discussion also pointed out the importance of not just recognizing talent but also helping individuals reach their potential. Ms. Amani spoke specifically to having to give a wakeup call to students who only see the glittery side of being a performer. Also highlighted was the lack of music programs in high schools, with fewer schools actually having students sit the exam. This obviously was sending the wrong message to those interested in moving forward in this direction. Mr. Douse emphasized this with statistics and exposed the weaknesses of even the Ministry’s role in making music a priority. Solutions offered were for those interested to take advantage of training opportunities, like those created by the Institute and Edna Manley. Closing points and advice were to take the craft as seriously as any entrepreneurial endeavor. Adequate training and preparation was hailed as the answer to raising the profile of the industry in the minds of parents of the talented youth, Jamaica’s society and a means by which we can measured on the international stage.
Day 1 Panel 2 –- “Developing and Protecting your Brand”
Distinguished panelists Marcus Goffe, Attorney and Jamaica Intellectual Property Office (JIPO) Trademark Manager, Joavan Puran, Visual Artist and Stephen Newland of the Rootz Underground Band participated. Mr. Puran shared his passion for his art and invited deep contemplation of what it takes to build a brand while Mr. Goffe provided important information relating to registering trademarks. Stephen Newland of the Rootz Underground band offered advice on building one's brand and revenue stream through merchandising during touring. The following are useful resources for further contemplation for those looking to protect their brand.
https://www.jipo.gov.jm/ (Jamaica Intellectual Property Office)
http://www.copyright.gov (US copyright Office)
http://www.uspto.gov/trademark (US Patents and Trademark Office)
Day 1 Panel 3 – “The Women of the Jamaica Music Industry”
This panel was the most spirited of the day’s activities and it’s no secret as to the cause; it raised for discussion the point of how gender is perceived in a perceptibly male dominated field. It consisted of Denise Isis Miller Radio Host and Event Promoter, Kareece Lawrence, Publicist and Manager, Masani Montague, Booking Agent and Promoter and Leslie Ann Welsh, Production Manager, Anubis and Manifesto Jamaica. The women shared their experiences some negative and others positive in the industry which also pointed out possible ways in which relations for business could be improved between the opposite gender as well as working relationships among women in the industry. It was noted that there needs to be a greater atmosphere of cooperation and also inculcate a culture of respect for the valuable contribution of women to the industry.
Day 2 Panel 1 – “Music and Social Change”
Member of Parliament Olivia “Babsy” Grange and Joan Webley, Founder of Nanook Enterprises were the panelists for this discussion. Ms. Grange shared at length her within the music industry in Canada as well as in Jamaica in addition to her involvement in the “Abi” Reggae festival which was held earlier in April of this year in the Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire (Ivory Coast in Africa). Ms. Webley also shared her experiences as part of United Purpose tour in Europe earlier this year. Lessons shared were for a more united effort to declare a Jamaican presence at these overseas festivals in light of the fact that Jamaica’s Reggae Sunsplash had inspired Rototom Sunsplash, yet it appeared that the due or respect was not being reciprocated locally. Proactive response suggested was to look at how communally the creative community could garner financial gain as well recognition in the overseas market.
Day 2 Panel 2 – “Reaching the People: The Direct to Consumer Relationship”
The panel was chaired Delroy Thompson, Founder of Juice TV, Media and Streaming Services, Kabaka Pyramid, Recording Artist, Ricky Trooper, Sound Trooper System and Masani Montague, Founder, Upfront Theatre, Rasta Fest and Sistah Fest. Ms. Montague spoke at length regarding her organizing for the Sistah Fest and Rasta Fest and her work in Toronto. Kabaka shared briefly on touring recently in Europe. He shared that having a professional team is important that will help you organize efficiently. Mr. Thompson shared on his work on the Abi Reggae International Music Festival. Ricky Trooper spoke of the importance of sound systems in creating that all important buzz for an artist yet seemingly this recognition is not reciprocated to those involved in the culture. Reaching the people involves taking the music to them. He spoke to his early days and involvement with the music and his passion for it.
Day 2 Panel 3 – “Navigating Prime Time”
Contributions came from Kendall Minter Esq. Entertainment Attorney, Agent Sasco (formerly known as Assassin), Garfield “Chin” Bourne, Manager& Promoter of Irish and Chin Promotions and Winford Williams, Creator and TV host, Onstage TV. Mr. Minter shared advice as it relates to artist rights to protect their music.
It was interesting to note that many were not fully informed of their rights including some panelists who were artists. I think this speaks to the value of such a conference to even those seasoned in the business. Irish and Chin spoke to how he built his brand but also highlighted issues that come with booking artists for shows and also the seeming decline in dancehall music as well as overcharging by some artists. Winford Williams shared his wealth of experience from producing shows to hosting Onstage, which is without argument a growing brand in the Jamaican media landscape as well as in other territories. He spoke to using you tube as a platform to reach persons live, thereby expanding the audience reach. The lingering feeling was to first educate yourself on your rights and have supporting documentation to support agreements made between artists and producers. It was also emphasized that we need to join societies or groups that represent our art to also take advantage of getting in the know of the industry.
In between the discussions, on Friday and Saturday, attendees of the conference were feted to acoustic and band supported performances on both nights. The stage shows featured acts such as Jah Bouks, Lymie Murray, Asante Amen, Rayven Amani, Samory I, Feluke, the Marcus Garvey Revolutionary Guards, and an appearance by Iba Mahr to launch his LP, Diamond Sox, all rolled into the Conscious Reggae Party brand. There were also brief reasonings with the audience by this year’s revolutionary Speaker, Mutabaruka, and the reggaelutionary speaker and one of the JMC's founders Dejazmatch Kwasi Bonsu. It was a thought provoking and fulsome weekend. We anticipate further growth in the coming year and encourage wholeheartedly all who work in the industry to attend where possible. You will not be disappointed. BLAK IWA TV also looks forward to the continued partnership with the JMC team.
Protoje's Ancient Future: The Progression
Art expressed in its various forms represents a story, a journey of sorts that sees the creator, taking us the audience, through their experiences as they happen. Such is the most recent album released from Protoje entitled Ancient Future produced by Winta James. By name, the project released March 10TH, 2015, emphatically implies a merger of styles and sounds from the 80’s era, melting into the present which will, in a way, pave the way for the future.
The Ancient Future experience opens with “Protection”, a track that sets the tone for this musical journey we are about to take. This solemn but solid song features the haunting and raspy vocals of Mortimer backed by semi heavy bass and xylophone accompaniments. The story begins explaining the jungle life, which comes with growing fame and notoriety and clearly states Protoje’s intention to go out for his own.
Scratching his seven year itch and some time now since the 8th year affair, I feel like Protoje lets us into the challenges he faces as king on his throne, a man with a legacy building. Despite these challenges and those who seek to destroy the roots of the youth’s unity, he cautions and calls for vigilance among associations and reminds that the “lion nuh turn when dog barking”. He expresses commitment to the trod, establishing the roots of movement and its resulting impact on the youth.
“I RATHER MARCH ALONE THAN FI MARCH BACK HOME
TELL ME QUEEN SAY ME LOST THE THRONE, NO
THIS WAS BUILT ON THE POWER OF THE TRUTH
DISCOVERING THE COWARDS AND EMPOWERING THE YOUTH”
He will not accept defeat with the power of truth as his sure foundation. He expounds, “Enemies in disguise wanna see my demise, …cause I see that in life you achieve supmn nice, but achieve sumen twice is a problem” to those who would devour the fruit and “chop the root”. We see exactly the pickle in which he now resides when he considers how his progression appears to be stumbling block to many looking on at his steady rise. Protoje comes back from this dilemma stating his sharp lyrical resilience and indeed reaffirming the “clarity weh speak”, through his words and indeed that we receive from his works. He closes by sending “strength out to the wise and protection for the meek”. Mortimer seals the warning with the following wise words:
“CAUSE OUT HERE IN THIS JUNGLE WE ROAM
EVERY KING HAS HIS THRONE
AND IF YOU ENTER MY ZONE
I VOW TO PROTECT MY OWN, PROTECT MY OWN
I WILL PROTECT MY OWN, PROTECT MY OWN”
Introductions complete, we enter the realms of the Ancient Future. Moving to the upbeat and catchy “Criminal”, Protoje delivers a straight sharp arrow to those who he feels are responsible for some atrocities. Sampling and updating “General” by InI Kamoze. He summarizes the crisis which involves certain key events representing the pinnacle of injustices against Ras Tafari, the harassment and death of Leonard Howell, Peter Tosh and Free I. He repeats “oh dem a criminal, watch it dem criminal, whole a dem a criminal” but a we follow Jah Law... see dem a fraud wid dem tra la la la…” Regardless of all these acts “we nuh retreat we jus gone to the east”. Emphatically, Protoje chants:
“THAT COULDN’T STOP THE MESSAGE THIS A SELASSIE PLACE”
Ras Tafari faces no defeat because “Jah a the main shield and the eye dem stay peeled”. With this confidence and vigilance, Protoje segues into “Who Knows” accompanied by Chronixx easing some of the heavy discussion already had but still maintaining and staying with the topic at hand.
He expounds on the simple provisions of rural life which makes one thankful, no doubt reflecting close to real life experiences in the breadbasket parish. He closes with the ultimate goal and mission succinctly stated in the lyrics:
“AFRICA INNA WE SOUL
BUT A JAH INNA WE HEART
IT IS OF IMPORTANCE FI I&I GATHER
IF WE CANNOT SHOW NOW A BALANCE AT WE YARD
HOW DO WE PROPOSE THEN TO CARRY IT ABROAD
CANNOT GO TO ETHIOPIA AND YOU NUH HAVE A PLAN
THE BUILDING OF A NATION A HAND A HELP A HAND
EVERYONE ONE A LOVE A ONE
A MAN IS JUST A MAN
IT SHALL BE A CORONATION WHEN WE LAND”
To get to the goal, “All will have to Change” this next track emphasizes the role of each man in his destiny. Each must change in his own way and do his own thing. The movement is as collective as it is individual. Protoje comments that though we speak of revolution, we must also speak of the evolution of mind. After all what is the revolution but the consciousness of the individuals who revolute.
Ancient Future’s tone changes with “Stylin” and so begins the story of love spoiling. It is now more personal and intimate perspectives. One other change that must happen is letting things go that cannot be changed. Protoje makes no bones about it, the love affair has ended, the “quart pan full”.
The love left behind because of the stylin’ transitions to “Love Gone Cold”. This one features the clean and passionate vocals of Sevana against electric guitar. An upbeat tale of moving on and finally closing the chapter, the chorus summarizes the state of the over love affair.
“LOVE GONE COLD
GAVE YOU ALL I HAD YES I PLAYED MY ROLE
CANNOT GIVE YOU MORE THAN THAT
I LOVE YOU BUT I’M NOT COMING BACK”
“Suddent Flight” drops gritty on the scene appropriately accompanied by Jesse Royal and Sevana in her second feature. Protoje declares the objective of this one to “warn the ghetto yutes about the choice wah dem a make”. He poignantly presents the ills of being trapped in political partisan plots with the examples of betrayal of those like, Jim Brown and Christopher “Dudus” Coke. He encourages instead and presents the antithesis if one wants to represent delivering the following lyrics:
“SO BREDDA BREDDA IF YOU WAR TONIGHT
CARRY THE SCARS OF A GARVEYITE
CARRY THE FIRE OF A MELCHEZIDECK
MENTALLY GET UNCHAINED
A ONE GOAL A ONE AIM A THE SAME WHA YOU SAYING”
Sevana soulfully further encourages one “…to stay true to the things you know are right, nothing worth the gain, you attain by sudden flight, brother keep your goals in sight, even in the darkest night, have faith in the father in the Father the one who shines light”.
Jesse Royal seals the deal with his rebel lyrical delivery, calling for the brothers to “straight up, wake up, lay down their arms, real tools you fi take up”. I can only hope the brothers are listening and “stay up way up” recognize their power and show “the cowards what we’re made of”.
“Bubblin” is the ode to herb on the album, extolling the healing properties and ital nature of the green. Protoje gives permission to “get lifted” as he gives various accounts of the communal use of herb for meditation. The song also comments on the hot topic of ganja legalization more specifically in Jamaica. Its purpose is fully served, providing for some additional highlighting of the matter as a solution for many ills now plaguing the people.
“RUFFER PON THE GOVERNMENT FREE UP ECONOMY
…. SLAVE OWNER LAW COME TELL ME YOU NUH SEE IT SO
GET UP OUT YOU SEAT AND DO SOMETHING FOR THE PEOPLE”
In and of itself the use of herb is not even being glorified but is an accepted way of life.
“Answer to Your Name” takes us back into time to the era of ska, telling the story of a surprise visit to a lover in a distant land. The story telling methodology heavy in this one creates the most perfect scenes. Truthfully, as I listened this song more carefully and looked at the lyrics, I thought how cleverly this was delivered. The mental picture was painted so well that I could imagine the dance, the circumstances and while it was a slightly serious situation, in true Diggy style Protoje remained calm and turned the situation on its head asking his lover who refuses to acknowledge him, “Girl why don’t you answer to your name”. This was playful and enjoyable to say the least and would do well with accompanying visuals.
“Who Can you Call?” slows the pace down and brings us back to the journey of the growing legacy. In this one, Protoje confesses to getting caught up in the game, after all he is human and becomes even more relatable as we see his story as something that befalls so many before. He however, cautions that “money it is not all, cause when the dough ends, who can you call?” The supporting female background vocals provide a proper prick to the conscience. I think on this track he cleanses his conscience of the struggles he has faced and leaves the listener to really reflect on the realities of life in the money chase. He posits for close consideration
“AND DO YOU THINK THAT WITH THE LAST BREATH THAT YOU TAKE
YOU’LL BE SITTING THINKING BOUT THE MONEY THAT YOU MADE
HOUSES THAT YOU LIVED IN CARS YOU DROVE THE BILLS YOU PAID
AND YET IT IS THE FOCUS WHAT WE DO AND WHAT WE SAY
WHAT WE GIVE WE ENERGY
SO YOU SPEND YOUR LIFE A WORK
ACTING LIKE THE MONEY WILL BE WITH YOU IN THE HEARSE”
It is rightly so that we need this refocus button to reset the priorities if you will. We must assess ourselves to see what life in the living of it is really all about. It is appropriate that “The Flame” opens thus:
“FOREVER THE SAME
IS ONLY JAH LOVE WILL REMAIN
FOREVER THE SAME
NEVER THE FORTUNE NOR THE FAME”
This one seals up Ancient Future with a feature by Kabaka Pyramid. It is always a pleasure to have these two meet. Two lyrically potent of Jah army, warriors in their individual rights. Protoje reiterates his commitment to the cause “Babylon shall fall to knees and cyaan out the flame” stating thus:
“HAND COULDA TIRED BUT THE BANNER HAFFI FLY”
I believe my favourite part of this album is the final delivery from Protoje. Somehow once he echoes the final words, I am already so taken by the content of the last verse, I haven’t even realized the song has ended till I hear the silence. Seems my mind just catches up with my emotions and while I listen for more I realize alas it’s over and my appetite burns within. Deliberately and carefully done to inspire the looking forward for the next chapter, I am sure.
What I enjoyed most about Protoje's Ancient Future is his artful sharing of his journey. Inherent in it is his ability to pay homage to the past, while remaining present and preparing you for a greater feast to come. It almost feels like a melting pot experience. A smorgasbord of pleasurable sounds which is so refreshing to the ear.
His lyrical word play never ceases to amaze and the content always leaves the listener with something to learn or peruse more deeply. Of course they represent the thoughts of the man and where he is on his journey.
Ancient Future is a contemporary masterpiece and history will tell this, the work “becomes less about the tune them wah a spin…, but knowing the work was the best it coulda been”. Protoje is a growing master of his craft and as a music lover, I am excited to see where he will take us all next. Brilliant! Fullgratulations Protoje, Winta James and the entire Team who contributed to the complete work.
Blessings from this Sistren.
What the Reggae Revival means to me –A live music lover’s perspective
For the last two years I have experienced life changes, which have taken me on interesting journeys and provided truly invaluable experiences. Believe it or not the now acclaimed reggae revival has had as much to do with it as any other thing that has impacted me greatly during this time.
Let me take you back to when I wasn’t even inside this community at all just on the outskirts looking for something different, indeed searching for something to replace the mundane. In this search, I kind of stumbled upon the live music scene which wasn't new in and of itself but it was the certain specific word sound message my spirit longed for in short that drew me in.
I needed something real that I could connect with in a meaning full way. It was then about 2010 and I hadn’t even heard of the term reggae revival, or its meaning, what I was drawn to were the sounds, the rhythm of live music which spoke to my soul.
I recall vividly my first Wickie Wackie hearing the sounds of the Raging Fyah and revisiting to see Chronixx, accompanied by Infinite on guitar for the first time, the glee and excitement of buying the Judgement Day album and having it on repeat to my heart’s content then researching to uncover more brought me to discover Nomaddz, Kabaka Pyramid, Jesse Royal and many more.
Then there was Protoje and his arguments, which led me to fall in Rasta Love, purchasing the 7 year Itch from his knapsack in Port Royal. I thought how fresh and original this whole experience was. Lover of reggae music that I was how could I resist this.
This was also the first time I saw and heard the soulful moving sounds of Jah 9. I believe now all the occurrences culminated into the yellow brick to where I am today working alongside those who want to see this music reach the masses. The message of course is the most critical.
I followed the crumbs all the way to the conscious emerald city, which now shines so brightly for the world to see. This is how the revival has impacted me. It coincided with a pivotal awakening of a dormant giant, an overtaking of my consciousness and pointing of a light to look within before acting externally to not only feel good, but stand as my own person in the confidence that what I felt in my spirit all these years was true as my authentic natural whole self.
Yes the music has been that to me but it has also afforded me the chance to interact with some bright beautiful souls who all in some way connected by this unifying thread. I could not have written this into my life but I accept my place in this universe. I remain grateful for all my divine relations and to all with whom I have connected and give thanks for the sharing of Nrg, space and time.
In the words of the Wailing Wailers…”Music goin’ to teach them one lesson, THIS YAH rebel, music goin’ to teach them one lesson”. To all ones who represent this rebel spirit in their art remember the message. It is for the reviving of the people’s consciousness. We are all messenjahs in our own rights. As we move forward, let’s not lose sight of the path along which we have come. I am still a fan but I also know there is a lot of work to be done. I extend my hand to you so we can work together to see each through.
In all things I am because we are, reggae will never die in the hearts of the people. Keep contributing however you do to show the world that this movement is not about “I, its us”( Protoje).
Royally Speaking - The Second Edition
- October 1, 2014
Royally Speaking featuring the Small Axe Jesse Royal premiered for the second time on the Usain Bolt Tracks and Records behind the screen series stage, last evening September 30th 2014.
The popular Sports Bar in Kingston was a lively melting pot of patrons as all awaited the arrival of the Small Axe on stage. Close to midnight, Kamila McDonald-Alcock welcomed the now burgeoning gathering, in her role as host for the night's proceedings. Shortly thereafter, the band in place opened with an instrumental version of Sizzla's 'Solid as a Rock'. This was followed by Kamila’s introduction of Jesse Royal. The Royal One entered the stage to screams and woots, in signature style skanking to the “rootical” playing of “so long Ras Tafari a call u so long.”
The Palace Pickney's first selection was ‘Hotter the Battle’ to which he received a warm welcome. It was immediately obvious that the Small Axe was ready for business. He easily transitioned to the single ‘Muddy Road’ which was featured his Royally Speaking mixtape recently released by Major Lazer. He was in undeniable command of the stage; drawing for ‘Wadada’ featured on the In Comes the Small Axe mixtape. The vibration and energy in the venue seemed to be rising as each selection was given to the people.
If you were in the gathering and never knew of Jesse Royal before tonight, you might perhaps have been ashamed, as you perused the audience enraptured by this performance, chanting ‘Wadadadadadadada’, it was really something to both behold and feel. This felt like a reggae rockers revolution part, chopping lyrics from ‘Greedy Babylon’ was Jesse's next axe of choice. The small in stature Lion with a big voice and big lyrics stood tall in principle against the oppressor and spoke for the people.
I took note of the confidence and growth I was witnessing. This was the Royal completely in his zone. He gave impromptu lyrics as is his signature style, easing easily into ‘Little Did They Know’ from XTM Nation’s The Living Heart album. Then something fairly new was inserted “Gimme likkle herb mek mi calm dung mi nerves” as The Royal One asked Richie Spice to join him on stage. They performed ‘Herb Burner’ together much to the delight of patrons. It was a pleasant surprise and added extra spice to the already sweet deal.
Noteworthy was how Jesse provided complimentary support to Spice, humility and respect were displayed as he gave a strength to his fellow colleague. Jesse then turned his attention to his female fans sweetly presenting ‘Butterflies’ and ‘Baby Let Me Be’ with its jazzy, neo-soul feel, his movements on stage personifying the music coursing through him much to the delight of the audience.
As he moved, rocked and swayed, I saw a man fully in tuned and aware of his passion, this musical offering wasn't just a performance he was offering himself; he became love personified in our presence. The lyrics “if u have got someone, hold them tight” provided a beautiful ambiance in the moment, a sweet note to wrap up the tribute.
Acoustic guitar sounds then transitioned the moment to introduce the opening notes for ‘Journey’, a personal favourite from the Royally speaking mixtape The Palace pickney delivered a most passionate performance which was a soul uplifting reminder, echoing the message “its never ok to quit”. He then did something special he segued into Damian Marley's ‘Road to Zion’. Jesse just knows how to mix it up like that, perfect! He was then joined on stage by Nature who delivered an electrifying performance of ‘World Peace,’ which was a nice compliment.
We were then transported to ‘Dreams of Africa’, “the resources in the west are drying up”, Jesse stated, facts that we live and know so well, but “Africa still has so much to give.” It was at this juncture, Kabaka Pyramid joined the Royal One on stage, with what seems like a yet to be released song, delivering his own commentary on the state of affairs in the west, expressing in satirical congrats to the government for the decriminalization of herb. Dre Island then joined the duo on stage delivering ‘Uptown Downtown’ and Protoge’s ‘Resist not Evil’ amply covered by Kabaka.
The Roots Man Riddim then heralded the entrance of Jah 9 who offered ‘Reverence’ in her usual serious and calm tones. The only Warriess on stage, she beautifully complimented the Kings with her vocals. The house was rocking at this point having their fill of such talent and comradery, when the Young General Chronixx entered stage right delivering ‘Here Comes Trouble’, ‘Capture Land’ along with ‘Spirulina’.
Musical Ites were gained and maintained, you were entertained and edutained. To seal the beautiful sharing of gifts, Jesse closed with ‘This Morning’ in fine style to a now very grateful and pleased audience. Our cups were filled and I dare say overflowing. Jamaica and the world have taken note and it’s now glaringly obvious that these youths will not be denied. This movement will continue to inspire growth and the rise of consciousness will continue. It is indeed here to stay.
Kudos to the organizing members of the team for putting on an excellent show and for the love offering from a definite prodigy of this time, Jesse Royal, the Palace Pickney and Small Axe was all we needed and more. He didn't leave us wanting. Supported of course, by a stellar band and ‘bredrens and sistrens’ of like ilk, only made the evening that much sweeter. Usain Bolt’s Tracks and Records Behind the Screen Series could not have ended its first season for 2014 in finer style. Royally Speaking was effortless and fluid. Love was definitely in the house for all those who gathered.
It was a pleasure to be there to experience and report in my words its impact.
Love, Love, Love! To one and all
BLAK IWA TV.
The “Living Heart” of Xterminator Productions
A Tribute to Philip “Fatis” Burrell
Living Heart Volume 1 produced jointly by Kareem Burrell and father Philip “Fatis” Burrell is a twelve track tribute to the life and works of the patriarch of XTM.Nation. It also represents a silver anniversary celebration for Xterminator Productions; however the songs chosen for the compilation are nothing short of golden. So is this opportunity to share my humble thoughts on the legacy of such an astute name in the musical arena, who is Philip “Fatis” Burrell.
From the first guitar strum on the first track song “Part of One Big Family” featuring Luciano, there is an immediate feeling of love and family, emotions strongly connected to the heart are stirred by The Messenger.
Luciano is perfect on this one as the Living Heart of XTM opens itself to the world. He repeats these lyrics ‘I’m a part of your father’s family, we’re apart of one big father’s family, you’re part of my Father’s family’. Family it seems is a very important theme and rightly so as son salutes father with respect. For what is family without the heart of love and togetherness? This one could very much be the album’s anthem.
The legendary Lee Scratch Perry is featured on “Stand in Love”, track two from the album. His delivery is simple and whimsical, no stranger to the eccentric, he delivers gems of wisdom. He pays tribute to the glory and power of love. No doubt Philip “Fatis” Burrell life was one of love and giving. We are encouraged to ‘manifest your dream’, and here the dream is fulfilled with the rise and legacy of XTM.Nation, which lives in Kareem Burrell.
Track three “Shield and Guide” finds voice with Pressure. It’s a noteworthy ode to Jah being our shield and guide. The saxophone support provided by Dean Fraser is stellar. You won’t be able to resist moving to its catchy rhythm and lyrics, giving you a genuine reggae feel with the full support of band in tow. This easily segues into the more deliberately fiery “Show Dem How fi Blaze” with Jah Man featuring Jesse Royal, who are a perfect combination on this track. This one will be a sure hit.
Listening to this production of both tracks provides glimpses of the perfection and quality work put into the music by the XTM.Nation Team. Setting themselves apart from all others they continue to blaze a trail of excellence. The Xterminator Label will “live on while d rest a cascade”, from inception to present day, creating hits and making timeless music.
Gentleman softens the fire created by Jesse Royal and Jah Man, with “Eyes wide open”. He opens with the lyrics ‘So many idle words been spoken but no righteousness in the meaning’, this heralds the truth that XTM.Nation stands for righteous words, to uplift and not just to obtain hype. As someone who has appreciated the works of Kareem Burrell teamed with Jesse Royal, I can fully second this assessment of the music put out by the label.
Music for a change, a message for change, transforming from the inside, Sizzla chants on track five entitled “Daylight”, “Teach us for what it’s worth… Give us Ras Tafari first”. This is a signature Sizzla track; high notes included showing his versatility and firm meditation which has made him beloved in the hearts of many. “Your good deeds will be your strength for tomorrow”, how true and accurate these words apply to the works done by Philip “Fatis” Burrell. His works continue to bring good through those he “fed” in his living days. Befitting the relationship forged between both men, Sizzla delivers his tribute in fine style to his former Manager and Mentor who played a significant role in his ascendancy and legendary contribution to reggae music.
Track six “We pop it off” is lyrically potent, delivered by Ini Kamoze, the upbeat rhythms with Ini Kamoze’s witty lyrical content is a perfect marriage. After a few listens, I began to think of Jesse Royal royal speaking, rebellious but with a righteous cause. I can trace in the musical timeline incarnations in each generation of artists and producers alike, the preservation of authentic sound, consistent themes and fire energy in the music.
After this “direct hit” declaration by Ini Kamoze, I am now completely convinced that Xterminator “nuh graze”, yes wi musically yes wi pop it off”. Who can disagree with those words, certainly no lover of authentic and resonating music which is Living Heart Volume 1.
The album then moves easily to “Little did they know” featuring the wise words from the small axe, Jesse Royal. The Palace pickney eases out speaking truth authentically on this one, declaring himself “Selassie Son fi true, nuh care weh dem hail from nuh bizniz a who”. Defiant but not arrogantly so, letting his unique message be heard, it is signature Jesse style, wise message music and lyrics.
The next track entitled “Oh My Father” is a raw, acoustic and organic presentation by Buju Banton. It was a definite treat hearing the acoustic set, delivered with true passion as a prayer to the Most High. One on one communion with the Father, this is music in its most revealing state, just a guitar played by legendary Earl Chinna Smith, a voice and all the experiences of the singer laid out on the track. It made me think of the loss that must have been felt by the family and loved ones by the XTM.Nation family when Philip ‘Fatis’ Burrell transitioned. It could also have easily been a father‘s prayer to ask the Most High to watch over his family as he transitioned, wishing all “a perfect and pleasant day” as he trod on. I couldn’t help but also think of Buju’s incarceration as he sings his heart out. This song is the most cathartic of the collection.
After this emotional outpouring, “Do It Now” helps you pick up the pieces of the sensed loss, as the great Beres Ford Hammond delivers sweetly in fine style an ode to staying in the moment while recalling memories of good times spent with loved ones, no doubt referencing times spent with the Burrell family. He gently persuades you to ‘When you love … love strong, do it now”. As I soaked this one in, the production is again flawless and so is Berris‘s classic soulful sound. This one is a true testament and example to great music. Again saxophonist Dean Frazer is exemplary.
An even sweeter delivery follows with Kayla Bliss singing “One More Chance”, the first of the feminine energy on the album. She delivers a soulful lover’s rock piece supported by beautiful musical accompaniment. She represents well the new generation of XTM.Nation continuity in providing soul satisfying music. The second female voice on the album is easily recognizable, Nadine Sutherland with her rendition of “Pair of Wings”. Living Heart closes beautifully with this one, the piano and Nadine’s voice are heavenly and the delivery is also emotional as we come to the conclusion in musical tribute to Philip “Fatis” Burrell, the man and his works. The works spanning two generations speak to the larger than life stature of the work that began and continues with XTM.Nation. Philip “Fatis” Burrell was a man as evidenced by the works of his mind and hands, spiritual but connected to his time, his ability to identify unique talent and also work with artists to provide high quality and timeless productions, show he was a man with a deep sense of appreciation for purposefulness.
“Music was not just a business but a spiritual force” – John Massouri, these words conclude and summarize my response to this musical tribute. “There are no limitations to music”, how true this is just take a listen to Jesse Royal and Kayla Bliss protégés of the new era of XTM.Nation. My ears and soul were blessed with this album, I found it aesthetically beautiful but it also provided inspiration for my own sense of purpose as a writer. Living Heart Volume 1 gets full marks for providing a musical history lesson with some of the greatest voices in Reggae and the rising stars of the current generation.
Thanks to Sameel Kush I for affording me this opportunity and special salute to the Burrell and XTM.Nation Family for the contribution to music which will stand forever. Manifested dreams live on forever. Long Live Xterminator, Rise and Shine XTM. Nation, stand and rise forever.
BLAK IWA TV
The Dub Treatment with Janine ‘Jah9’ Cunningham
‘An offering of Service to the Afrikan Commune-ity”
February 27, 2014
The wonderful opportunity was extended to BLAK IWA TV which we humbly accepted, to stream the event dubbed “The Dub Treatment” with our Warriess Priestess, Sister Janine Jah9 Cunningham and others from the Revival Community on February 27, 2014. I thought how grand to ring in the one year commemoration of Jah 9’s New Name Album by bringing this auspicious event to the internet family overseas and elsewhere and to also be associated with such a celebration of Life, Art and Ras Tafari. This was indeed perfect synchronicity. From the moment I saw the event being advertised, a little seed was planted and here it had come to bloom.
Yoga on Dub opened the evening with participants fully equipped with Yoga mats on the grounds of the Country Side Club. The instructor was quite pleasant and meticulous during the exercises and participants seemed grateful for the occasion to bring themselves back to alignment and balance. In her closing remarks Jah 9 remarked that yoga is not an ‘uptown ting’ it’s for everyone. Herself a yoga instructor, she was seen assisting participants during the exercises; I smiled and thought this is a true woman of service.
The yoga session ended and the next segment of the gathering was opened in traditional Afrikan style with the offering of libations complete with re-calling the names of those transitioned by the audience. It was a powerful experience to hear each one call the name of beloved from memory and into the moment paying homage to the ancestors gone before us. I personally, was especially moved because the memory of a dear friend who recently transitioned was still fresh so in like manner I spoke his name and felt the warmth of his presence again.
With this acknowledgement complete, Abbebe Payne was introduced to begin his spoken word offering. His delivery, as always, was potent, passionate and emotive. This was followed by fashion display from Iya Wear, designed by Arlene Paisley and pieces form Mamayashi’s collection and then a presentation of Afrikan Dance. The apparel lines for women were as beautiful to behold as the ‘womb-men’ who wore them. Filling in the spaces was Rory Stone Love echoing sounds of dub throughout the venue.
It was then time for Jah9 to make her presence felt in word sound offerings. She began with ‘Intentions’ firmly backed by her newly formed band The Dub Treatment, this was followed by ‘Gratitude’. In between delivering the lines, she emphasized the importance of gratitude in one’s attitude to override all negativity. Her words burned in me as I realized this was not just words from a song but a call to become your higher self.
“Brothers” was delivered in tribute to all man of right who inspire and lead within the community. This hit a deep note as Jah 9 commented on the imbalance in relationships and the need to have mutual love and respect between partners, as mirrored in the example of Emperor Haile Selassie I and Empress Menen I.
From “Brothers” she transitioned easily into spicy ‘Avocado,’ then segued into ‘Taken Up’. In this moment, it hit me that “New Name” album was more than a musical compilation, it is an entire work of dedication and love towards the upliftment of the I in I likewise to all I’s in the commune-ity.
While we were taken up, we floated over to the Kush Treatment segment which was dedicated to the demystification of Herb, the steamers and using the Herb as medicine, Jah 9 took us to the school, demonstrating the use of the steamers and cited personal benefits of harnessing the healing properties of herb.
This was quite educational as well as eye opening. She cited that this was also preparation for the pending decriminalization of the herb in Jamaica. I felt like this was needed, I had never been to any event where conscious efforts were made to educate persons instead of just speaking of herb use as a means to just get “high”. Professor K’adamawe K’nIfe then delivered in almost lightening speed a discourse on the usefulness of herb for Industry Medicine and Food drawing the analogy that Herb and all its benefits could replace the debt situation of the country. It was a conscious but concise and revealing discourse.
To wash all of this knowledge down were performances by Keida with ‘Ganja Tea’, Kumar Bent of Raging Fyah with ‘Ganjah’, Micah Shemaiah with 'Ganja Farmer' which featured Infinite, Selah and Chronixx. Then he performed 'Reggae Rock it' which features Infinite and Matthias. Jahkime then performed 'Farmer Dem' featuring Kazam and Exile Di Brave then segued into 'Kannabis' joined by Micah Shemaiah, Infinite and Chronixx. Micah Shemaiah was especially impressive. The man known as ‘The Voice’ was in fine form and the infinitely talented Infinite was in his element. All worked together well adding lots of flavor and spice to this tribute to the “green”. The “Nrg”and synergy was unmistakable. Then Alexandria gave her quick contributions. Later Kazam Davis entered stage front and was rejoined by Jahkime and Exile di Brave, for ‘Ganja Farmer’. Nomaddz then provided a colourful rendition of ‘Ganja Stain’ as only they alone can, to close the proceedings.
I must not forget to mention that also highlighted in the village was the artwork of visual artists, most noteworthy Djet Damani Layne who had painted the Mural of Emperor Haile Selassie I and Empress Menen. This provided a most beautiful backdrop for the proceedings as well presence of arts and craft from several other contributors which were laid out for viewing. There was also an artist who could be seen front stage creating, as Jah 9 performed her first set, no doubt drawing inspiration from the night’s entire proceedings. It was definitely a time to let the creative juices flow.
In celebration of Ras Tafari, Ras Ivi Tafari, A Rastafarian elder within the ‘commune-ity’ provided a historical context for Ras Tafari ‘s ascension to the throne of Ethiopia. He gave sufficient facts of His Majesty’s birth, coronation and its significance. This was especially informative. As the programme had progressed, it began to seep in that there were inevitably those in the ‘commune-ity’ who perhaps had attended with the intention of just being entertained but there was enough information and history for all to leave with something newly learnt. This bit soaked in most deeply for I, the name Ras mean ‘The Head One’ and Tafari means ‘to be feared;’ translation the Head One to be feared. As I heard this, immediately in my consciousness, came the words every knee shall bow to the Most High.
Quite befitting this moment, Jah 9 returned to the stage and with the prowess of a Warriess Priestess performed ‘New Name’ complete with perfect hornsmanship from her band. She then moved on to ‘Preacher Man’ and closed her performance with ‘Reverence’. The presentation was made complete with an impromptu nyahbinghi, with drumming and singing (chanting), bringing a beautiful vibration in closing to an already soul edifying event.
This presentation of Life, Art and Ras Tafari had taken the audience through a beautiful progression to a most “fillfulling” climax. Jah 9 closed with asking persons to love ferociously and confidently: beautiful words to those who had witnessed this supremely epic event. The Dub Treatment was organic edutainment with all three ingredients, live music, arts (spoken word, fashion, dance and art), and herb within the commune-ity led by the Omega "Nrg" (energy) as expressed in Janine Jah 9 Cunningham, amply and sufficiently supported by a most creative and inspired team. It was an event like no other I have ever been and I make no apologies. It set standards which I believe display the modesty, humility in service that are attributes of Jah 9 and they were demonstrated as needed for I ‘commune-ity’ in this time. Much Thanks to the team and to all who contributed to The Dub Treatment. Team BLAK IWA TV was extremely happy to be there, to bring it to the international audience by live stream as I also record in words, the impression it made on me. I give mighty thankhs.
Love, Light and Blissings I send to all till next time.
Royally Speaking with the Small Axe Jesse Royal
Usain Bolt Tracks and Records “Behind the Screen Series”
July 30, 2013
The evening dubbed “Royally Speaking” showcasing the talent and music of the one and only Jesse Royal was hosted at the Usain Bolt Tracks and Records restaurant this Tuesday July 30, 2013. For most patrons who started arriving at the venue at the hour advertised, they had felt the irresistible need to be present and not miss the opportunity to have a full set done by the Royal One. I could not be excluded from this very exclusive opportunity.
While most early birds were liming, enjoying the ambiance of the bar and eats offered by the very popular spot in Kingston, made famous by its affiliation to world’s fastest man, many could be seen milling around anticipating the start of what was expected to be an unforgettable night.
Special mention should be made of the XTM Nation team who were visible, as well as what I am sure were supporters, clad in In Comes the Small Axe shirts. Other noteworthy supporters were No-Maddz, Jah 9, Suzie Q, Kelissa, Chronixx, Raging Fyah and Keznamdi.
Photographers took the opportunity to capture the moments unfolding. The vibes definitely building with sounds of notable names in Reggae pumping music in the venue, the like of Romain Virgo, Iba Mahr, Jah Bouks, Sizzla and Chronixx. The Band arrived in place at minutes after 11 starting their sound checks.
It was after 11:30 pm when Donisha Prendergast MC of the show greeted the already almost full to capacity filled venue and welcomed all to the beginning of Royally Speaking. She quickly introduced Jah 9 to open the stage.
Jah 9 made her entrance with New Name, extending blissing and greetings in word, sound and power. She was well received and as usual delivered a soul stirring performance. In reflecting, it seems she performed a blessing of the stage, paving the path for the entrance of Black Royalty, Jesse Royal. He joined her on stage to the sounds of drumming, chanting ‘So Long Ras Tafari a call u so long?’ He was greeted with whistles and hoots from fans obviously pleased that the show was finally underway. He began with Hotter the Battle which brought instant vibes.
Simply dressed the one proclaimed as the Small Axe delivered Modern Day Judas, which got resounding musical shots from fans who sang along with him. Jesse had his usual fun with the alliterative enunciations which is noteworthy of his musical style. The ‘Small Axe’ did not hesitate to chop down Babylon fluidly delivering Hatred is Obsolete and Raindrops with quick succession.
Supported by solid musicians the Royal One’s message was positively amplified. Next was One Eye Open and Talk to Me. From Jesse Royal’s message, one consistent theme runs like a universal thread, he is a speaker for the poor and needy, those who have no voice and he is always about the plight of the people. His word sound chants down Babylon who, in his words is “Greedy and robbing from the needy”.
His next segment featured songs like Butterflies and Feel Your Pain with lyrics sugar sweet for the empresses and ‘warriesses’ in attendance. It was a treat to hear Some Day which was delivered in fine style, I glimpsed Alaine Laughton in the audience taken up by the words “I know that it will be ok better muss come around some day, some way”, hands clasped over her heart and eyes closed. This confirmed what I already knew of the enchantment and healing that music with the right message provides. My faith was restored in this very fact that someday, today all would be and is indeed well.
The show then took flight with the upbeat and popular This Morning remixed with Light like a Feather. Jesse Royal proved that he is “light like a Feather but definitely heavy” with lyrical content and ability to “siddung pon a riddim”, much to the delight of his adoring fans. No-one was or could have been disappointed at this point. As I watched him perform I could not help but remember his performance at the The Resistance in December 2012, when Elise Kelly recalled Philip ‘Fattis’ Burrell’s comments about Jesse and how he is “jus royal as yuh look at him”. I smiled seeing the fulfilment before my eyes.
In closing, Jesse Royal’s message was for all to “know your power, hold your power, respect the power you have and the power of the music”, sound words indeed, in a society where many turn away from their responsibility, forgetting the creative power of word sound. With the crowd at this point calling for more, Chronixx, Kelissa and Keznamdi joined Jesse on stage and gave fans an unscripted live on the spot performance. They performed Warrior featuring Protoje from Kabaka Pyramid’s Rebel Music EP as well as Gideon from Kelissa’s Rebel In Disguise EP featuring Keznamdi. It was a beautiful final 15 minutes for unity in the reggae revival. Chronixx then closed the proceedings with Capitalist.
Jesse Royal is Black Royalty personified, the small axe for greedy Babylon and it was certainly an engaging and powerful experience to partake of such a beautiful spread of inspired works. Much Thanks to the artists who continue to show their support and unity in this movement to bring conscious music to the people. Salute to the XTM Nation family, well done and more works to come in the Gideon. It was blissing as always to share in the moment.
BLAK IWA TV
Rise of, the Album, New Name by Jah 9
- February 26, 2013
How do I begin to even try to capture in words this deeply moving Empress of unmistakable royalty and her music? I scarce can find words. Poet, performer, singer and I would now add a likkle DJ “inna her bones”.
The long, long awaited album launch was held at the Red Bones Café in Kingston. When I arrived, the crowd was thick, and literally shoulder-to-shoulder huddled around the small stage.
Proceedings had already gotten underway and as I joined the waiting patrons, Elise Kelly of Irie FM’s Easy Skankin show was about to announce a dance presentation but before this, two CD giveaways to very happy patrons.
Then after a brief delay, the dance presentation was done to “Inner Voice” from the album. In very short order the mixed band of talented musicians entered the stage. You know there is love and humility when one can have Chronixx be the banner (flag) man for the evening. Settled and in place, Jah 9 began her astounding performance, with “Jungle”. A very passionate showing, it was evident that this album this music this woman was all about the Most High, Jah Ras Tafari.
Next came the solid “Intentions”, the words, sound and power unmistakable identifiable and synonymous to 9’s mm, delivering musical shots to the heart of Babylon. Jah 9 then switched the concentration to “Mr. Right” and the spicy “Avocado” in tribute to all the real men latent and manifest.
I must make mention of these gifted musicians; the sound is stellar live and in living colour. It is obvious that the potency of the album comes in the intense work of not just the songstress but also the musical entourage, which consists of the greats and also the very talented. Teamwork of the highest order and producing credit should be given to Rory Gilligan of Stone Love.
As I stood almost transfixed as was most of the audience, in awe of the performance, Jah 9 continued with “Legitimate” amply supported on stage by Protoje. At this interlude, she mentioned her service to humanity as a Yoga Instructor and had the audience perform a deep breathing exercise. I thought how different but also how beneficial. This servant of the Most High carries within herself a true understanding of her place and role in this life. She encouraged all to create their destiny, by exhaling all the things that no longer serve us and retain the things that are of a deeper and higher calling. She closed her musical offering with “Mr. Preacher Man” and “New Name”.
The evening then concluded with questions from the audience to the artist and special mentions to the team producing and participating in the project. From the answers and her presence this womb-man is a servant at heart, gifted, serious but also balanced. So I went to purchase New Name having waited for this album for so long, anticipating the feast to come.
Go out and get it, this is a definite keeper for time to come, timeless. Give thanks Jah 9 and all those who have worked on the project. This really resonated. This music brings me blessing.
Oneness and Love
Arts in the Park
- February 24, 2013
Having experienced Arts in the Park, in its first staging, at the famous Hope Gardens of Kingston, Jamaica, I can sincerely say I could not have chosen better use of my time. It’s only natural that where live music is playing, I should venture, this also being a free event, only would have sweetened the deal for me to attend. How fitting that the sponsors made the event free to allow as many patrons as possible to fill the venue and also to experience certainly a stellar line up of some of the best live performers of this generation of artists.
Arriving at minutes to 4pm on this very warm Sunday evening, from the gates of the prominent gardens, one could hear the sounds of Pentateuch signaling that the event had already gotten underway. Upon entry, greetings came in the form songs from their debut album, The Genesis. The hard-hitting reality of “Kingston” life was sent home in the vocals of Kevor Williams on the track of the same name. Additional tastes from the album were “Going Home” and what can be considered a favourite, “Black Face” a song about black self-acceptance.
I could tell from the energy that passed over me in gentle waves that this was going to be an easy and groovy vibe. Across the venue, attendees had already gotten comfortable some on blankets, others seated in fold out chairs, families and groups alike of all different ages and shades, united in support of the artists about to present on stage.
After Pentateuch’s set, the host for the evening, Shaggy filled the interlude for the next band with comical banter and a welcome, to those in attendance. He then invited a new artist to come on stage by the name of Ashani. He performed a cover of John Legend’s “Stay with You” before quickly making way for the Rootz Underground.
Introductory notes from the musicians and powerful vocals from the female backup vocalist opened the set with the Bob Marley’s “War”, a beautiful beginning which segued into a deeply “rootsy” performance of “Unknown Soldiers”. I could feel my soul rising to the deep vibration of the words and sounds emitted. Warming the vibe now, Rootz filtered into “Hammer”, “Time is an Illusion” and with electric energy Stephen Newland chanted to Jah children to “Live Up and don’t mek dem turn you down”. This was truly spiritual experience.
The words “Time is an illusion to hide eternity”, so we should “take a step to reality, to what is real” resonated with me and I thought what could be more real than this vibration of roots music on a nature’s grand stage. I thought “this is bliss.” Rootz continued the vibe with “Farming”, making the audience now fully ready to receive the rest of the musical feast, to have music feed our structures and give us higher meditation.
At the close of their set, Shaggy returned to introduce yet another young act, Diamond Chip who made a short but spicy contribution, next representatives from Blaze the Stage, MTV, BET, RCA and Sony were introduced to the audience. With their exit, No-Maddz began their set up to encouraging screams from the audience.
In their usual signature postures, the Bongo Band members, Sheldon Shepherd (the returning resident), Oneil Peart (Onie P), Everaldo Creary (The Homelesz Gene) and BirdEye (The-Not-for-Rent-a-Dread) opened with the jazzy upbeat “Bongo Band” then transitioned to “Mountain Lion” leaving no doubt as to their prowess. Slowing down the pace they continued with a soulful rendition of a tale of holding on to love while being away from your lover.
Their usual dynamic and epic energy was shared generously with the audience as the classic “Rise above Profanity” was supported in echoing tones and words. This closed the Bongo Band’s contribution to the Arts in the Park with the audience begging for more.
After such a beautiful beginning, Protoje and the InDiggNation made their entrance. Fresh off the resounding performance at Edna Manley the previous night and The Eighth Year Affair album launch just over a week ago, no introduction was really needed as the youth pulled to the stage, to drink in the musical blissings to come.
Protoje began his soul stirring performance with hybrid mix of “InI” and Dread” from the current and previous album. I was in awe as I watched the growth of Protoje as a performer. It was evident that the entire band was also fully united in bringing the music to the people.
This was what we were indeed longing for, he then launched into “This is Not a Marijuana Song”, and mentioned that the youth were now educated and could defend any stance taken, stressing that the herb should not be abused. Next in the seamless queue was an acapella introduction to “Who Dem a Program”.
There was no mistake, the Reggae Revival Movement is alive, and Protoje, stated unequivocally that the movement is united pointing to the roots of performances at Jamnesia alongside others such as No-maddz, Kabaka Pyramid and Chronixx. I could not have agreed more having seen first firsthand these performances before many of these artists had become “known”.
Other coveted tracks from the album performed were “Hail Ras Tafari” and “Kingston Be Wise”. The hard-hitting, blood-pumping performance ended with the assertion that it was now Ras Tafari time and the InDiggNation really did #WaketheTownandTellthePeople.
D Blue Print Band was next on stage and they delivered a rousing performance with lover’s rock songs such as “Welcome to My Heart” and “Baby Boo” of course showing everyone why they were back to back winners in the Global Battle of the Bands Competition.
Denyque then joined them on stage and performed a newly written track with one of D Blue Print guitarists as acoustic accompaniment joined them. She then launched into her performance with “Hooked on Me” and “Make Me Believe You”. Her presence along with the D Blue Print gave a nice variety to the acts that had graced the stage so far.
At this juncture VC was brought on stage and he delivered to much of the audience’s delight the memorable hit “By His Deeds”. Late evening had now set in and the full moon’s appearance ushered in the Raging Fyah. They were also welcomed by enthusiastic screams from the audience. Of note as has become quite customary, the Edna Manley College was amply represented in the supportive audience.
Raging Fyah once again delivered another consistent performance. Now seasoned, patrons rocked to the sounds of the fire band as they delivered “R.A.F (Royal African Soldiers)”, “Nah Look Back”, “Far Away”, “Judgement Day” and “Karma” in fine style. Kumar Bent, lead vocalist just impresses more and more every time I see him perform; he appears enraptured in the music as he delivers a deeply soulful performance. I must also make mention of the drummer Anthony Watson who always does an exquisite job. They are definitely one of my favourite roots band. Rocking and swaying to good music, bliss for the soul; what more could anyone ask for, Jah music.
A great vocalist then graced the stage in the person of the well-known rock reggae queen Tessanne Chin. She gave a powerhouse performance of her hit “Hide Away” and also “You got what I need”, and as brawta a cover of “The Reason” by Hoobastank. The C-Sharpe Band was up next, performing songs like “Book of Rules”, “Reggae My story”, “I’ll be there” and “The Invitation” in an unrelenting display of musical perfection. I was impressed as I was formally seeing the group for the first time. As we say here in Jamaica “everyting plug in nutten nuh plug out”. It was a noteworthy performance.
At the interlude, Dre Island entered with Zincfence Band and performed “Ras Tafari Way”, he received a warm reception from the audience. Then the self-proclaimed General Himself, Chronixx, joined his band, ZincFence opening with “Beat and a Mic”. The beats with the mic, kept coming as he unleashed his slew of now notable songs starting with “Start a Fyah”, “Modern Warefare” sandwiched by “Aint No Giving In” and referencing Kelissa’s “Keep Climbing” and Kabaka Pyramid’s “No Capitalist” as easily as if both artists were present.
Sweetly wooing the audience, Chronixx offered the soulfully reflective “They Don’t Know”. The flow then became more upbeat with “Behind Curtain”, “Here Comes Trouble”, “Warrior” and “Odd Ras” (Nah Follow Nuhbody, BUSS). The musical bus engine was now at its final destination, this performance brought down the curtains on Arts in the Park.
It was truly a beautiful investment of time and talent. It was a blessing to be there.
Let’s hope the movement to Live Music will continue to be a beacon of light and hope for the people who really appreciate it in its rawest form. Blissed Love and salute to all the performers. I am Warrior Sistren and it’s a pleasure to bring my experiences in words to you.
“The 8th Year Affair delivered with Ease and Grace”
-February 13, 2013
It’s a warm evening on February 12th 2013 and it’s also the date for the listening session for the long awaited sophomore album from Protoje, The 8TH Year Affair. The venue chosen is the Tuff Gong Studios on Marcus Garvey Drive.
My first time on the grounds of one of Reggae’s landmark sites filled me with sense of expectation, anticipating something great, and as I entered through the gates, I was greeted with musical tributes from the Black Love Sound. I thought how fitting.
An event of this nature was not without the presence of some of the integral contributors to the Reggae Revival movement. I-Nations Books and Necessities and Veggie Meals on Wheels represented well, providing “food” for the minds and the temples of those gathered for this special event.
Patrons slowly gathered meeting and greeting as we awaited the official start of the programme. Among them were Jason Lee Worton, Anubis Communications, Gideon from the Jah Ova Evil movement, Conkarah, Dutty Bookman, Bebble Rock, Mystical Revolution Band, Keida, Jah 9, I Wayne Chuck Fender and Black as Cole band, just to name a few, amply providing support to the movement by their presence.
The host for the evening was the Royal Roots Queen Elise Kelly, from IRIE FM’s “Easy Skankin” show. She brought salutations at minutes past 9pm. In her address, she encouraged the youth to stay focused on good music, expressing her joy to be alive at this important time when the music is at this critical changing point. She likened this era to the 70s when the music of the legends was at its height and creating a stir amongst the people and to see it again, meant that good music would continually survive.
After a brief introduction from Mama Elise, Dutty Bookman, author of Tried and True took the podium adding his greetings. Dutty shared his thoughts on Protoje, who he called his “true brother”. In endearing tone accompanied with words, he spoke of Protoje’s work as music from the heart, which stemmed from the life, lived from his heart. Referencing the music of the era past such as the works of Bob Marley and Peter Tosh, he briefly summarized what the Reggae Revival movement was about, placing the Revival in its rightful context, as an energy of and for this time. He pointed out that the uprising of such ones as Chronixx and Jah Ova Evil movement, was only the surface of the Revival, and against this background, he admonished those present to pay attention to the music but also focus on building the Creative Industry of the nation because this is where the movement could be used for nation building.
After these sobering words, Mama Elise returned and made room for ZJ Sparks from ZIP FM, who shared her thoughts on the man and music of the moment. She emphasized that from her interaction with both, she found there is an embedded pace and intelligence in the lyrics and the delivery of Protoje’s craft. She also mentioned that it is critical to note that in delivering the product, many seeds had been sown and indeed are still be sown to make sure the music’s message reaches as wide an audience as possible. The focus was not simply to reach the current recipients in the immediate generation but those to come. In closing Sparks made special mention of Billy Mystic, who has been integral in providing a stage for the promulgation of artists from the Revival via venues such as Jamnesia and Wickie Wackie.
The next item on the programme was a video presentation on the album. In speaking of his works, Protoje alluded to the reward of inner satisfaction which comes when a work represents the best of which we are capable. The images on screen showed the artist as performer but also life behind the music. It was definitely refreshing to see the images captured, gatherings to eat, cook and play football, smiling faces all around, just features of everyday life. This spoke to and confirmed the humility and realism I had come to associate with Protoje.
He also spoke about the transition from the 7 Year Itch to the 8th Year Affair shedding light on the approach taken to cultivate the latter. Protoje pointed out the deliberate influences from the sounds of the 80s, from artists such as Ini Kamoze and Black Uhuru which had affected the feel and sounds of the album. He spoke of the need to save and preserve the quality of the music. His intent was to strengthen the music and he had no concern for those who would choose not to play his music, as the message would still get to the people. Working smartly and from the heart would bring its fruits.
Striking in his presentation, was the ease and grace with which he spoke, as songs such as I n I and Hail Ras Tafari provided the ambience to his even pace delivery. In relating his growth in Rastafari, he stated that the music manifested directly what he was experiencing in his life at this time, which is more of the King and more reverence. As a custodian for the music, he was endeavoring to put out the proper sound and quality.
In closing, he poignantly expressed the need to ensure the quality of the music, a quality that could not be confined to time or an era, in essence presenting timeless sounds.
Mama Elise then returned to the podium to introduce to the now mushrooming audience, a representative from the National Library of Jamaica who would be accepting a legal deposit of Protoje’s new album to the records at the Library. This would ensure the preservation and availability of the music to the public. After the handover was complete Protoje offered greetings to the audience thanking Mama Elise and ZJ Sparks for their support in the fight to keep good music on air.
He explained that his message was also that of bringing the Good News and cited I-Nation and others who are a part of the same mission. He emphasized the need to honor greatness among us when persons are able to appreciate this adoration, as well as sharing what we have partaken with others. He gave special thanks to Don Corleon, his Mother Lorna Bennett, Jason Lee Worton, Paris Lamont, Romaine Virgo, Tessanne Chin, Toi and Chris Watts, the supporting vocalists on the album, as well as those involved in the creative process such as Anubis Communications.
Protoje closed with requesting that the each person take on the 8th year affair challenge which was to share, if after listening you liked the album, with 8 persons. Closing salutations then followed and the Listening session began with Black Love Sound bringing the entire 8th Year Affair to the ears of the audience.
The final segment for the evening consisted of a questions and answers session and open floor for the audience to share their sentiments. Noteworthy statement made by one patron was the need for the music to speak more on repatriation to which Protoje provided a sufficiently solid response, he agreed and added that while it is important to speak of returning to Africa, it was important prior to this, to ensure that we equip ourselves so that we can make a valuable contribution to the Motherland.
This closed the night’s activities, bringing down the curtains to what was definitely sobering edutainment. So the bonus to the evening was purchasing the 8th Year Affair, delivered with such ease and grace. A solid piece of musical artwork from a lyrically fluid artist to who much respect is due.
It was my pleasure to be there and to bring you this review. Stick and Stay tuned to this page for more as the trod continues.
The Resistance – A Night to Be Remembered
Raging Fyah, Jah9, Jesse Royal, Kayla Bliss, and Sizzla Kolanji were the selected artists for the show appropriately dubbed “The Resistance”, organized by the Xterminator Productions team, which took place on December 27th 2012. The combination of these particular artists, carefully chosen, no doubt for their unique styles, would provide a balanced and excellent showcasing of roots reggae music to what would be expected a throng of supporters.
Under a perfect pale blue moon, South Beach Café was the scene of certainly one of the best-billed live music event for 2012. The venue was well under way to being filled to capacity when we arrived after 9pm. Alternative Music Limited provided musical ambiance for the growing multi-generational audience. Evident was the reach that roots music has had all along in its ability to unite all people.
The sweetly sung Sing from the “Little Lioness” Kelissa in addition to Rastafari Way by Dre Island, the voices of Cen-C Love, Kabaka Pyramid, the Jah Ova Evil Movement and Chronixx could be heard throughout the venue. Patrons mingled until almost half past 9 when Elise Kelly (Broadcaster from Irie FM) took the stage to extend welcome to patrons and give context and focus to the evening ahead. The mission was clear, resistance but to also commemorate in music, the life and works of the legendary producer, the late Phillip “Fattis” Burrell. She emphasized satisfaction with the music with a message and mission, from the second-generation reggae musicians.
Then, the already in place Raging Fyah band opened the show with Irie Vibe which got the crowd instantly rocking steady. Easily segueing into their next song Music Isn’t biased, lead Singer Kumar Bent and company left no doubt that they were leading the Resistance and would not be kept quiet; “rebel music” was going to be “starting up a riot”. Other tracks performed from their debut Judgement Day album included the “love from a distance” fan favorite, Far Away and then Running Away, Behold, title track Judgement Day, Cyaan Cool, Karma and Ganja. The Band’s performance was spiritually lifting and in closing after forty minutes of “fyah” music, one could feel the freedom in the resistance.
With a brief interlude of music from Uprising Roots and more, a word of thanks to sponsors of the event, and a band change to The Fire House Crew, accompanied by the legendary Earl “Chinna” Smith, Mama Elise brought on stage the “rootical” dub Queen Jah9. With her infectious lyrics, Janine “Jah9” Cunningham reverently and powerfully delivered Gratitude. In her charge to the audience, she stressed the need to become immune to the things not beneficial to the mission. She poignantly delivered “message music” starting with a performance of Legitimate, in which she was briefly joined by Protoje on stage. She then eased into her new single Jungle and closed with New Name.
She brought depth and strong vocals to the ears of patrons delivering a deeply rooted reminder and poetical message “connected to the source of life”. Her performance epitomized discipline and left the audience in serious contemplation of the messages delivered so deliberately accurate.
Before sight of the next artiste, Mama Elise admonished artists to show up for the mission with clean hands to allow the Creator to fully shine in the works. After extolling “Fattis” Burrell’s uncanny ability to recognize talent, Mama Elise introduced XTM Nation artist, the lovely songbird Kayla Bliss. First time performing in Jamaica, Kayla began humbly but eased confidently into Rock and Sway, Literal Love, and Tears of a Soldier. With her sweet soulfulness, she gave a fresh taste of her style to the audience. After closing her brief set, Kayla introduced the Palace “pickney” and XTM Nation stable mate himself Jesse Royal.
The Royal Jesse opened his set with Hotter the Battle setting the tone for the rest of his performance. His contagious alliterative enunciation was as pronounced on stage as on the Misheni Mixtape with songs such as Modern Day Judas, One Eye Open, Bittersweet and Talk to Me. He continued with the 2012 instant hit This Morning followed by Someday. Jesse was fluent as liquid in his performance. Transitioning between tracks flawlessly, the audience responded warmly to the one uttering royal “speakinz”. It was evident that this Son of the Most High struck the right chord with patrons who just couldn’t get enough. He completed his set with a duet with Kayla Bliss before exiting stage left.
Next was the long awaited performance of Sizzla “Dadda” Kolanji. Patrons moved closer to get their fill of Sizzla, who is arguably one of the most potent, prolific and influential proponents of Rastafari in the music business. Opening with Hosanna from the album of the same name, Kolanji set fire to the stage and audience, and the patrons responded with fingers in the air and bodies in motion to the reeling of each classical hit. From his splendored catalogue, Kolanji belted out Holding Firm and Got It Right Here to the roaring approval of fans.
Next came Guide Over Us, Praise Ye Jah, Make Dem Secure and Babylon Ah Listen. Sizzla could not hit a wrong note with any of his songs, music that has been rooted for many years in the consciousness of the people. Every line, every word bringing forth the message, resist babylon, resist the system, and embrace your Black self. The fire never missing, he moved quickly to Give dem a Ride, Why Should I and Good Ways. Like a gust of cool wind which served to fan the consistently burning fire, the emotive Ras Shiloh joined him on stage to sing Are You Satisfied, the fans by now chanting every word in unison, even joining in in his rendition of Garnett’s silk Zion in a Vision.
Sizzla returned center stage rousing his fans with Divide and Rule, Get to the Point, Give it To Dem and Be Strong. To balance the musical equation, he turned up the love dial with Woman I Need You, So Lovely and Give Me a Try. Feeling complete sweetness and filled to the brim with “perfect love and [Kolanji] security”, the cup now overflowed with Take Myself Away, Ultimate Hustler, Rise to the Occasion and Solid As a Rock. This ended the musical giant’s contribution to the Resistance. He easily took the show though well supported by the previous artists.
If you missed The Resistance, you missed drinking from the wellspring of one of the best live shows for 2012. The resounding message in the Resistance seemed to be fitting tribute to Fattis, one of the giants in Reggae Music, preserving the foundation and maintaining the integrity of the work started by legends before, putting the world on notice that the future of Xterminator (now XTM Nation) is in very good hands under Fattis’ son Kareem “Reemus” Burrell. I know, I had my fill and those who attended will agree it was a stellar event. 2013 seems a good look for the resurgence and revival of Reggae music. Stay locked to this page for more exciting events as the train to Zion stays on the move.
The Take Over: Yard Hop’s Best
Dubbed The Takeover, a medium sized gathering of loyal fans gathered to soak in first hand a showcase of some of the lyrical talent that dominates Jamaica’s Hip Hop landscape, on December 15, 2012 at the “Funky Munky” located at 17 Holborn Road, New Kingston.
Billed for the premiere event were the likes of Kabaka Pyramid, The Sickest Drama, Five Steez and Nomad Carlos. With heavy promotion on social sites such as twitter, I was as intrigued and curious to see what these lyrical giants had to offer, this being my virgin initiation attending a yard hop show. My appetite having already been wet with War for Peace and the newly introduced Me against the Grain by Five Steez and Nomad Carlos respectively, it was time to see who would deliver in live and living colour.
A professionally dressed stage with only the speakers was the setting where the “battle” would begin and it did at minutes after 11 with Nomad Carlos, mic in hand and supporting beats. He opened with “Conquer” from his mix tape and quickly followed with the catchy “Live Good”. Then, he introduced the reggae mix “Time”. As each song was performed I became very aware of the fact that based on the little I had seen, there was proof enough that the show was of a high caliber.
It was also apparent to me that the genre is seemingly unappreciated but blessed with gifted artists. It sank in that “time will move any mountain” and I rested in the fact that at least with a show like this persons would be introduced to yet another rising example of our young people doing the seemingly difficult with much commitment. An encouragement I thought and a spear to those quick to condemn certain artistic expression.
Nomad Carlos continued his set with “Murder Music”, collaborated with voice of Barrington Levy; Five Steez joined him on stage briefly to perform the lively “Aww Snap”. Steez added a brisk and light energy to the stage and it was good to see both artists work the mic in a genre where “beef” usually separates artists.
At the end of the set, Nomad Carlos was applauded and he exited to an intermission with tracks from contemporaries Rick Ross and Fifty Cent providing the vibe for the crowd to intermingle. The host then introduced Five Steez and as quickly as he left, he re-entered the stage delivering “Yard Nigga Rap” and “Rebel Music” in fine style.
“Slaving on the Plantation” touched a relatable note and chord with the audience. I was appreciative as I think most that are in the fight to survive the corporate jungle / hustle, not necessarily happy but just to survive and “pay student loans”. Heads nodding and “woots” from the crowd signaled a warm reception.
Steez moved effortlessly through “Wanna be Free” and “Crown me King”. Synonymous with what little I have observed of him, on his grind, he made time, in between rhymes, to promote his album and that of the other merchandise available. With energy now in full gear, introductions came for the entrance of The Sickest Drama.
With explosive lyrics and potent content, he proved that he is a true veteran. To the new ears, The Sickest Drama delivered mature and expressive rhymes and definitely some of the “sickest” lyrics, leaving no doubt about his ability to get the audience to pay attention. In my book, an overall solid showing, he brought no drama but was on point as one of Yard Hop’s first pioneers.
With his exit came the entrance of the upcoming lyrical King Kabaka Pyramid. Kabaka P opened his set with the infamous rap infused; Equinoxx produced “King Kabaka (Run the Place) “to the delight of patrons.
Coming in hot, Kabaka continued with “The Sound”, “Rebel Music” and “Prophecy” "Betta Mus Come"(performed with Koro Fyah), mixing and infusing the roots reggae influence into his performance. This was a natural fit for the King and a perfect combination which added the extra shine to the puritanical Yard Hop evening. He also performed songs from his Transition Volume 1 and 2 albums which showcased his versatility and also early years in the music business.
Kabaka kept the crowd rocking till the wee hours of almost 2 am. His performance brought the curtains down on an accurate and proper evening of Yard Hop. The evening was filled to lyrical capacity with four of the best in business. I am sure those who were present, will agree in saluting these pioneers as they blaze the trail for authentic music. Give thanks to all the artists who made it special and represented Yard well. Live music is alive and well and isn’t it good to know.
Till next time, One love and always remember to give thanks.
“Rebels in the Garden”
- October 20, 2012
The Sunken Gardens of the Hope Gardens was transformed once again into the venue for the third, in a series of Roots Garden concerts hosted by the Rootz Underground Band.
The stage draped in the ites, green and gold colours provided a warm welcoming ambiance to the naturally beautiful settings. The show began at minutes to 10 pm with the opening act Chronixx who was backed by the ZincFence Band. The youthful vibrant Rebel opened with One Beat and a Mic then moving easily into Start a Fyah to announce his presence in the garden. The massive showed him love, loudest of that support came from Team Chronixx consisting of Keke Tomlinson, DaddiBarnz, Teflon and others.
Next in line were fresh favourites Modern Warfare, They Don’t Know and Somewhere. Kabaka Pyramid joined Chronixx on stage to perform the lyrically heavy King Kabaka, much to the delight of patrons, as both artists complimented each other. Chronixx then closed out his set with Behind Curtain, Warrior and the distinguishing Odd Ras.
Broadcaster Denise “Isis” Miller hosted the event with backing music from Rockers Sound Station with DJ Gabre Selassie. Support from the Live Music movement came with the presence of Jah 9, Kumar Bent and Demar Gayle of the Raging Fyah Band, Mackeehan and NoMaddz in the audience. Also in the garden was I-Nation, a frequent face and fixture at such events showcasing his catalogue of African centred/ Conscious books and other wares for sale to those interested in not just entertainment but edutainment.
At the band change interval, the Rocker’s Sound filled the garden with sounds of Peter Tosh’s Reggaemylitis, Legalize It, and Johnny B Goode.. The Rootz Underground Band then took the stage and began their usual electrifying performance with lead singer Stephen Newland. The Rootz performed the following from their seasoned catalogue, Herb Fields, Hammer, Farming and Time is an Illusion. Stephen was his usual eccentric self, pouring his entire being into the performance.
This spirited performance paved the way for the original Don Pinchers who was fashionably dressed to impress. He rinsed the classic hits; Enemies on the Border Line, Lift It Up Again, Siddung Pon It, Agony, Request to Denise, For Your Eyes Only, Champion Bubbler and Carpenter. The Bandlero showed all he hadn’t lost his touch. Patrons were rocking and calling for “wheel and come again” by the time he got through his set. He then gave a “buss” to new artists, Ricky West, Macka B and Kush Kush. Each gave their contribution to the steller line up.
Rootz Underground then reentered the stage and did their final number Victims of the System. As usual it was a joy to see this established band in their comfort zone. The finale was about to come, the performance of the legendary Half Pint. He promptly entered with Greetings, Holding On, Landlord and Winsome. Showing versatility in his craft, Half Pint pulled out a performance of The Melodians’ Come on Little Girl. He then pushed homeward with Substitute Lover, Level the Vibes, Be Good to Me, crowd favourite Political Fiction, One Big Family and finally closing his set with Victory.
The show finished on time to avoid a repeat of its premature shut down on the previous occasion. Patrons were fed a bit of the new in Reggae music and sufficient reminder of the roots of the music. Overall a well supported event, a great venue and vibe. Stay tuned for the next review of yet another showcase of original Jamaican talent.
Tribute to the Resolute “Stepping Razor” Peter Tosh
-October 18, 2012
The 68th birthday celebrations of Winston Hubert McIntosh affectionately called Peter Tosh, “Stepping Razor,” and “Red X” was commemorated with a Tribute in an evening of music and poetry at headquarters of Pulse’s Studio 38 on the eve of October 18th 2012.
It was not only for the yearly celebrations that many patrons gathered at this well supported event, but it was also to recognize the posthumous honor of Order of Merit which had finally been afforded to the Bush Doctor.
This was the recognizable feeling one felt, as you surveyed the audience of varying age groups and walks of life who had come to love this man and his musical legacy. The concert got off to a late start, but while patrons waited The Lloyd Parks Sound provided ample background nostalgia with Bob Marley’s One Drop, Zimbabwe, Ride Natty Ride, Rasta Man Live Up, Africa Unite, and So Much Trouble.
Very soon after that interlude, songs like Downpressor Man, I am that I am, Stepping Razor and Equal Rights filled the hot night air. In the audience was spotted Courtland “Gizmo” White (guitarist), Lead Singer Kumar Bent and Keyboardist Demar Gayle (from the Raging Fyah Band), Mutabaruka, DubKore and also arriving local singer D-Major.
The proceedings began at a quarter past 8 pm with greetings from Ibo Cooper, Lecturer at Edna Manley College and former keyboardist for the Third World Band. After brief apologies, the show began with a poetical tribute to Tosh by Tuffis “In Loving Memory of Red X”, poignantly remembering that Tosh’s songs were those you could survive on so much so that we can “rock to his songs to make us strong”.
This was followed by brief performances by new artists Neil Amos, Clifton Rattigan and L Stitch who gave lively introductions to the audience, then a Band Change accompanied by backdrop tunes such as Maga Dog, Stand Up for Your Rights and African. Next on the bill was Errol Bonnick former lead singer of the Live Wyya Band who performed Jah Guide in a manner reminiscent to Tosh’s haunting voice, much to the audience’s delight. Mr. Bonnick kept it rebel with tracks like My Religion is alive before making his exit.
2006 Digicel Rising Stars group One Third made their contribution with a rendition of Jah is My Keeper and Coming in Hot. After yet another band change, the audience was greeted with music from the Tuff Gong Band's lead singer, son of Bunny Wailer and his sister, Cen-C Love (singer and daughter of the former Wailer).
Dean Frazer also joined the troupe on stage and they performed with Tosh 1, son of Peter Tosh, Vampire, Downpressor Man, Equal Rights, I am that I am and from his upcoming EP Can't find no love. Tosh 1 ended his tribute on a high note. Reggae veteran Bushman quickly rendered Can’t Blame the Youths and two of his own Downtown and Lighthouse.
This was followed briefly with appearances by Copeland Forbes (renowned promoter) and Herbie Miller (former Manager for Tosh) recalling fond memories of Peter. The Lloyd Parks and We the People Band then opened backing Noddy Virtue (2005 Digicel Rising Stars Runner-up contestant) performance of Glass House. His showmanship was as usual spirited and vocally passionate.
This ushered the night’s hot-stepper veteran Pinchers, who wowed the audience with hit after hit, showing he had not lost his Bandelero status. Rinsing favourites such as For Your Eyes Only, Enemies on My Border, Agony, and Sit Dung Pon It he had the audience in a warm delight as he exited the stage after an excellent set.
Next was Warrior King with Never Go Where Pagans Go and Virtuous Woman. The next two sets belonged to the veteran groups The Mighty Diamonds and The Tamlins, who proved that good music only gets better with aging like fine wine. The Diamonds sparkled with hits like Have Mercy, Right Time Come, Pass the Kutchie and I Need a Roof. The Tamlins performed brilliantly showing their unity and togetherness sharing the stage in true honour to Tosh, sweetly delivering tracks like Sitting in the Park, Baltimore, and Crucial Times.
The audience was appreciative of Junior “One Blood” Reid’s hits such classics as One Blood, Fit, General Penitentiary, Shine Eye Gal Guess who’s coming Dinner and Johnny Be Good in tribute to Tosh. His was the closing set before Andrew Tosh entered the stage at 3 minutes to 12 am to usher in his Father’s birthday with a moment of silence.
After the somber moment, Andrew ignited the stage, decked in full white and dark glasses as his Father often was wont to wear, with almost identical vocals, he performed Mama Africa and Glass House. The Mystic Man seemed to be very much present in the tribute of the son. The audience’s thirst had finally been quenched with the multiple band changes the moment they had finally waited for to catch a small glimpse of the man dubbed Prophet and Teacher, in the likeness of his offspring.
He performed infamous tunes like Maga Dog, Legalize It and was joined by Sister Carol on stage who delivered biting lyrics in true “warri-ess” style. It was indeed a joy to share in this momentous occasion and tribute and at minutes after 12 the show was winding down in reggae roots fashion. Andrew Tosh closed the proceedings to what was a memorable celebration of Peter Tosh and it was my pleasure to bring the occasion to you.
Who am I?