The last month’s goings on in reggae and dancehall, as always brought to Clash by the inimitable Reshma B…
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Last September marked the 40th anniversary of The Harder They Come’s American release, aka the moment Jamaican culture was introduced to the wider world through a movie screen. On April 1st, the star of the movie, Jamaican reggae legend Jimmy Cliff, turned 66. The Grammy winner, Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee and the man who auditioned a young Bob Marley has not slowed down a bit – he’s soon to begin a tour of Japan and Europe.
After a 65-day trial, Vybz Kartel’s verdict came back guilty (news). Although the dancehall World Boss maintains his innocence, on April 3rd he was sentenced to life in prison for the murder of Clive ‘Lizard’ Williams and will not be eligible for parole for 35 years. At the time of writing, the judge was still deliberating whether Kartel should be allowed to record while in prison, with a portion of the proceeds going to Williams’ family.
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On his 1974 song ‘Talkin’ Blues’, Bob Marley sang “Rock stone was my pillow”. Forty years later his son Stephen ‘Ragga’ Marley (pictured) has dropped a new track called ‘Rock Stone’, featuring Sizzla and Capleton. Taken from his album ‘Revelation Part 2: The Fruit of Life’, ‘Rock Stone’ exhibits a distinct EDM edge without losing its hardcore roots.
Last month Gyptian (pictured main) shot the video for his new Track, ‘Stuck’, produced by Ricky Blaze. The last time these two linked up they made the hit ‘Hold Yuh’, so if you thought that was catchy then you already know that this one’s gonna be hard to get out your head. In the meantime, Gippy's tune ‘Wine Slow’ gets a club makeover by UK garage producer Sticky. His ‘Wine Slow’ EP is set to release next month.
Tifa has been quiet for a little too long. There’s always a reason why this dancehall diva does what she does though, and keeping it under wraps is just part of the plan. She’s unleashed a few singles to keep her fans going, including her recent effort ‘I'm Still Standing’, produced by Donovan Germaine of Penthouse Records. It’s a straightforward message to let everyone know she ain’t about to go nowhere. And it’s nice to see the dancehall deejay showing that she has a singing voice to match her swag – check out Tifa talking about her plans for this year and how she deals with the obstacles in her path…
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Hollie Cook (pictured) is the daughter of The Sex Pistols’ drummer Paul Cook and her mother Jeni used to be a dancer with Culture Club. (Speaking of CC, Boy George – who’s reportedly working on new reggae tracks himself with Blackbeard Bovell, but more on that later – is Cook’s godfather.) Hollie recently released her second album of reggae music, fittingly titled ‘Twice’. Produced by Prince Fatty, the sound is lovers rock as sweet as ‘Milk and Honey’.
The late great Rastafarian melodica master Augustus Pablo produced countless dub classics with his mixing knowledge and his mouth-blown plastic organ. Among his best-known albums was the 1977 masterpiece ‘East Of The River Nile’, which will be re-released on vinyl through Shanachie Records.
Hollie Cook, ‘Twice’, from the album of the same name
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Fresh riddims in rotation this month include H20 Records’ ‘Good Book’ riddim, boasting an all-star line-up including Mavado, Konshens, Popcaan, Aidonia and Alkaline.
On The roots side, Liv Up Records’ latest riddim ‘Zion Train’ has voicings from ace vocalists Jah Cure, Tarrus Riley and Chris Martin as well as a new track by Alborosie called 'Rise'.
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Hot Wuk Spring Break is The Heatwave’s biggest party to date and is expected to be a sell-out affair at Electric Brixton on 18 April. It’s also in Nottingham, Leeds and Brighton – details here.
If soundclash is more your speed, the very next night (April 19th) at London’s Troxy sees top sound systems like Bass Odyssey (Jamaica) battling it out with King Addies (USA), Metro Media (Jamaica), Little Sample (UK), Heavy Hammer (Italy), Fire Links (Jamaica) and Jahman Nuclear (UK) at the UK Cup Clash. Returning after six years, it’s one not to miss.
Over in Jamaica, 21st Hapilos has emerged as one of the leading digital distributors in the dancehall reggae space, giving young Jamaican producers and artists a chance to develop their talents and reach a wider market. On April 19th they will hold their third annual Digital Awards to recognise the Top Video, Top Selling Single, Top Riddims and Top Reggae Singles. The winners are selected from raw sales data, which sets the 21st Hapilos Digital Awards apart from all other award shows. Konshens, Denyque and the UK’s own Stylo G will be among the artists performing at the ceremony.
Ziggy Marley won the latest Best Reggae Album Grammy for a live album. On April 23th, Bob’s eldest son brings his award-winning live show to Brixton’s Electric playing songs from a new album called ‘Fly Rasta’.
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Spring is the craziest time of the year for Miami. In late March, Miami Music Week has the city turned up to the max, hosting festivals, gigs, album playbacks, parties and after-parties. From the Winter Music Conference to the Ultra Music Festival, there is no rest for punters who flock in to see sets and performances from their favourite DJs and artists.
Amongst the madness, Red Bull Music set up shop on South Beach and transformed the Gale Hotel into the Red Bull Guest House, hosting some of the biggest names passing through the city for the weekend. From geeked-up lift operators to nail services shipped in from LA, not to mention breakfast parties until dawn, RBGH was strictly OTT. And while the weekend was dominated by EDM, it was impossible to miss the reggae and dancehall all over the place. After all, what is dancehall but a form of electronic dance music?
The first of three consecutive days of pool parties saw Skrillex’s OWSLA label showcase its roster of DJs. It’s hard not to be happy in the Miami sun, but when Skrillex hit the decks he seemed to be having a blast. Jumping up and down while he smoked cigs, the dark-haired EDM superstar drove the party crazy as he dropped mixes from his new album ‘Recess’, as well as some exclusive edits. He also played a reggae segment, incorporating his collaboration with Damien Marley, ‘Make It Bun Dem’, which has clocked over 80 million views on YouTube.
On day two the Mad Decent crew took over the Guest House with Diplo bringing his own unique style of dance, trap, and dancehall to the rooftop. From Beenie Man’s ‘Dude’ to Major Lazer’s ‘Bubble Butt’, he kept the place bubbling – and warned the crowd he would stop playing if they didn’t get in the pool and wild out. When he introduced Trinidad James (pictured), the girls were popping bottles of champagne as the ‘All Gold Everything’ rapper touched the mic wearing a Rasta hat. Trinidad is no stranger to the island sound – as his name suggests, he was born in Trinidad & Tobago before moving to Atlanta – and he’d just recently come back from Carnival. '”I love reggae more then rap,” he said after his performance, and judging by his extra-chilled demeanour maybe a reggae album might be something to consider?
Check out what Trinidad has to say about his upcoming album and watch out for the exclusive...
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See ya next month!