Reggae

WATCH THIS: Skip Marley “Let’s Take It Higher” A Boomshots Documentary

WATCH THIS: Skip Marley "Let's Take It Higher" A Boomshots Documentary

Awards Are Nice, But This Two-Time Grammy Nominee Answers To A Higher Calling

“Live if you wanna live,” Bob Marley declared at the outset of his landmark album Rastaman Vibration, released almost 45 years ago, in April 1976. In the years before Legend, Bob Marley & the Wailers’ 1984 greatest hits collection, which remains the best-selling reggae album of all time, Rastaman Vibration was the record that broke Marley to American audiences, becoming the first Marley LP to reach the Top 10 on the Billboard 200 albums chart.

On the second track, “Roots Rock Reggae,” Marley took new listeners by the hand and introduced them to a new sound from the faraway island of Jamaica. “Play I some music,” Bob sang, and the I Threes—Rita Marley, Marcia Griffiths, and Judy Mowatt—replied in unison, “This is reggae music.”

At the start of the second verse, the Tuff Gong pleaded with industry gatekeepers and radio programmers. “Play I on the R&B,” he sang. “I want all my people to see. We’re bubbling on the Top 100 just like a mighty dread.” Bob’s prophecy was fulfilled when the song reached No. 51 on Billboard’s Top 100, but R&B radio would prove harder to penetrate. The top R&B song of 1976 was “I Wish” by Stevie Wonder, who had performed with Marley at Jamaica’s National Stadium the year before. But even white groups like The Steve Miller Band, The Bee Gees, and Hall & Oates were getting more love on American R&B radio than Bob Marley at the time. By 1980 Bob was booked as an opening act for The Commodores at Madison Square Garden, and famously upstaged the headliners but Marley’s earthly mission was soon cut short, to be continued.

In May 2020, Bob’s grandson Skip Marley reached the top of Billboard’s Top Adult R&B Songs airplay chart with a gorgeous duet called “Slow Down” featuring R&B superstar H.E.R. The artists’ creative chemistry and song’s video made the track a fan favorite. “Slow Down” is nominated for Best R&B Song at the 2021 Grammy Awards this weekend. Skip’s debut project Higher Place is also nominated for the Best Reggae Album Grammy, a milestone in the 24-year-old singer/songwriter/musician/producer’s career.

In “Let’s Take It Higher,” a new Boomshots documentary premiering today on VIBE.com, Skip reflects on the honor of being nominated for the prestigious awards and of carrying on a mighty legacy in his own unique style. Video After The Jump…
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WATCH THIS: Yaadcore “Tension” Official Music Video PREMIERE

WATCH THIS: Yaadcore "Tension" Official Music Video PREMIERE

Ask Nuh Question, Nuh Badda Mention

Did you ever notice something about this journey called life? Funny how sometimes your moment of elevation is the same moment people around you start to feel you gone past your place. When things come to bump, you may be surprised to know who might end up praying for your downfall. More time you find the situation can lead to tension. Like just this morning, Yaadcore forward with a. big new tune. Caan say you never know—it’s been all over social media all weekend. In case you never get the memo, the top rootsman selector of this generation has his own label imprint 12 Yaad Records—because who better to curate some serious sounds? Elevation we say. And yes, he’s an artist too because why not?  Video After the Jump…  

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Watch The Documentary ‘Studio 17: The Lost Reggae Tapes’

Watch The Documentary 'Studio 17: The Lost Reggae Tapes'

New Doc Tells the Truth About Jamaica’s Recording Industry

Lee “Scratch” Perry has seen it all. The notoriously eccentric reggae producer, vocalist, and visionary has created classics with artists ranging from Bob Marley & The Wailers to The Clash and The Beastie Boys. A literal living legend, he may be the only person on earth to have collaborated and quarreled with such iconic Jamaican producers as Coxsone Dodd, Joe Gibbs, and King Tubby—and outlived them all. When he burned his own Black Ark studio to the ground in 1979, people called him a madman, but Scratch just has his own way of doing things.

One rainy night in the English countryside, the British filmmaker Reshma B sat with Scratch in a spooky old mansion, interviewing the man who’s also known as The Upsetter, The Super Ape, and Pipecock Jackxon for her film Studio 17: The Lost Reggae Tapes, which has its worldwide debut today on Quincy Jones’s Qwest.TV and Jay-Z’s Tidal. Video and Full Story After the Jump…
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Buju Banton’s ‘Til Shiloh’ Marks 25 Year Milestone

Buju Banton's 'Til Shiloh' Marks 25 Year Milestone

Reasoning With The Gargamel On The Making of a Classic

Before Buju’s landmark album Til Shiloh was released in 1995, he stopped by the VIBE offices to give me a preview. We shut the door of my office, popped a cassette in the stereo, and burned a spliff in the middle of the day while I heard songs like “Untold Stories” and “Til I’m Laid to Rest” for the first time. Songs like “Champion” and “Murderer” were already dancehall anthems, as was the late Garnet Silk’s “Complaint,” which Buju had enhanced with his raggamuffin DJ flow. As we wrapped up the listening session it became clear to me that Buju had created a timeless classic. A quarter of a century later, Buju has gone over many hills and valleys and he’s still standing strong. He appeared on the cover of VIBE in celebration of his long-awaited album, Upside Down 2020, which has since been nominated for a Best Reggae Album Grammy Award. And today Til Shiloh, recently certified gold by the Recording Industry Institute of America, marks its 25th anniversary with a deluxe reissue that features three exciting new tracks. In honor of the occasion, here is the converstion we had on that day back in 1995.  Interview After The Jump… Read more »

“Dreams To Remember” Happy Birthday Toots

"Dreams To Remember" Happy Birthday Toots

Memories of A Legend On His Earthstrong

 

“Ready?” asked the drummer. “Yes sir!” Toots Hibbert replied.

The year was 1968, and Toots and the Maytals were about to make history at Federal recording studio in Kingston, Jamaica.

The drummer, Winston Grennan of Beverley’s All-Stars, counted off “1, 2…” and the band began to play a brand new sound. The fast-paced ska beat that took Jamaica by storm in the early ’60s had given way to a slower, sweeter sound known as rock steady around 1966. But on this day, the Maytals — a vocal trio comprising Toots and his friends Henry “Raleigh” Gordon and Nathaniel “Jerry” Mathias — were cutting a song called “Do the Reggay.”

Where rock steady songs were more delicate and romantic, the reggae beat was raw and muscular.

“I want to do the reggay with you,” Toots sang, his powerful voice cutting through the rhythm.

“Yeah yeah!” Raleigh and Jerry harmonized.

“Is this the new dance?” Toots went on. “Going around the town?” As soon as their song hit the streets, everybody in Kingston town wanted to do the new dance too.

Toots said the name was inspired by Jamaican slang for girls you see on the street. “From streggae to reggae,” he explained.

If you can sing a song that spawns an entire genre, that’s something. But if that genre goes on to impact global culture for the next half a century or so, you must truly be something special, someone astonishing. “Reggae has gone around the world now,” Toots told me in 2016. “And I never copyright it. If I had charged like a few cents, one cent, I would be a millionaire now.” Full Story After The Jump… Read more »

WATCH THIS: Sizzla “Without You” Official Music Video PREMIERE

WATCH THIS: Sizzla "Without You" Official Music Video PREMIERE

Some Sweet Love Songs From Kalonji

“Righteousness will always get a fight,” Sizzla Kalonji once told me, “and that is only to make you stronger.” That conversation took place in 1997, he year Sizzla electrified lovers of reggae and dancehall music with two landmark albums, Praise Ye Jah and Black Woman & Child. Sizzla has gone on to become one of the most prolific artists of his generation, releasing his most recent album, Million Times in September—a collection of 12 sweet love songs, touching on the sounds that made songs like “Just One of Those Days” and “Give Me A Try” so legendary. “Beautiful people want to listen to the beautiful reggae music,” Sizzla told me. “And you know reggae bashes against corruption. It’s not just a music to sing spirituality only and to make you feel good and sing love songs, conscious songs. And it’s good for social commentary, a very good music to be used for social commentary. And any little thing happen to the poor people, we’re quick to express ourselves on dancehall riddims and on the one-drop roots rock reggae riddim. And what we’re explaining and expressing is the total truth. It’s a music that can be used for expressing our innermost feelings and thoughts.” Today VIBE and Boomshots proudly premiere the new music video from the album “Without You.” Big Up Kalonji every time.  Video After The Jump…
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Ziggy Marley Votes For The First Time Ever

Ziggy Marley Votes For The First Time Ever

Music To Inspire A Movement

No more long talking from politicians. Today, the people have their say at the ballot box. Judging by the number of voters who showed up early this year, the 2020 election is going to smash all records for voter participation. With a deadly pandemic, wildfires, floods, economic pressure, and a struggle for survival playing out from the tweets to the streets, the stakes have never been higher. All of which goes to show why Ziggy Marley decided to vote this year for the first time ever. Video After The Jump…

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WATCH THIS: Kabaka Pyramid “Nice Up Di Dance” Official Music Video

WATCH THIS: Kabaka Pyramid "Nice Up Di Dance" Official Music Video

Nice Up Di Dance

When I asked Clement S. Dodd, the founding father of the Jamaican music industry, which of his many recordings he was proudest of, the producer known as Sir Coxsone paused and stroked his white-whiskered chin. ”There is so much, getting back to ‘One Love’ and ‘Simmer Down,’ ” he said, mentioning two of The Wailers’ first big hits, recorded when a short-haired teenager named Bob Marley was living in a room behind Dodd’s studio. From legendary reggae bands like the Wailers and Burning Spear to the Skatalites, Studio One became Jamaica’s answer to Motown. Of all the great tracks he produced, Mr. Dodd finally selected his favorite. ”Real Rock,” he said, then began laughing. ”Oh God. ‘Real Rock’ really strong. It’s on top.”

Originally recorded by the ace Studio One reggae band known as Sound Dimension, the “Real Rock” rhythm track that has been used for countless classic tunes, from Willi Williams’ “Armagideon Time” (1977) to Dennis Brown’s “Stop The Fussing and Fighting” (1977). None was more entertaining than Michigan & Smiley’s “Nice Up The Dance.” Papa Michigan & General Smiley’s rollicking combination brings the joys of a live dancehall session to life. It takes a certain caliber of artist to handle a rhythm like the “Real Rock.” So when producer Jeremy Harding was challenged to remake the Michigan & Smiley 1979 classic for the forthcoming VP Records project Dancehall Anthems, there was really only one logical choice—Kabaka Pyramid. An ace lyricist equally adept at classic roots reggae, hip-hop, and dancehall, Kabaka does full justice to Michigan & Smiley’s original while infusing its classic verses with his own unique energy and verbal wizardry. Video After The Jump…
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WATCH THIS: Protoje ft. Wiz Khalifa “A VIBE” Visualizer

WATCH THIS: Protoje ft. Wiz Khalifa "A VIBE" Visualizer

Bares Vibes An’ Ting

You know how when you blaze a spliff in the morning and you hold A VIBE but then later on your forget what you did the whole rest of the day? Protoje’s new album is kinda like that. It’s titled In Search of Lost Time, and it’s rolling out via his Indigg Collective partnership with RCA. That’s a big deal since because when was the last time a Jamaican artist set up their own international joint venture? Take a minute, think about it, and let us know if you can think of anybody else ever. Protoje’s always been about his business. Back in 2016 he told Boomshots “If you can’t own your masters, lef’ the slaveship.” So he stuck with that vision and leveraged an agreement for himself and Indigg artists Lila Ike and Sevana. Respect is due for making moves to ensure that reggae music is treated with respect. Fresh off his collaboration with the Unruly Boss “Like Royalty,” Protoje is back with another high-profile combination. For the latest joint off In Search of Lost Time, Diggy links with Wiz for a smoked-out session that could only be called “A VIBE.” Check out the full interview with Protoje and Reshma B after the jump. Visualizer After The Jump…

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The ‘Marley’ Movie Premiere

The 'Marley' Movie Premiere

Reshma B Reporting From Emancipation Park in Kingston—April 19, 2012

This Friday, Kevin MacDonald’s acclaimed 2012 documentary film Marley will be re-released via virtual cinemas and drive-ins across the country as part of the year-long celebration of Bob Marley’s 75th anniversary. According to film’s distributor Blue Fox Entertainment, information about digital screenings of Marley can be found on MarleyMovie.com starting July 31. (Appropriately enough, Jamaica celebrates Emancipation Day on August 1.) The emotional and inspiring story follows Robert Nesta Marley from his upbringing in the rural Jamaican village of Nine Mile through his journey to Kingston’s tough Trenchtown neighborhood, where his musical career began. Featuring rare concert footage and exclusive interviews with Marley’s family and close friends, MacDonald’s goal was to get behind the legend and show us Marley the man. On April 19, 2012 the film had its Jamaican premiere at Kingston’s Emancipation Park, and I was one of the privileged few who attended the special screening. There were many VIP guests, including his wife Rita Marley and Island Records founder Chris Blackwell, who signed Marley to an international record deal, and of course Kevin MacDonald himself.  Video & Story After The Jump… 

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Koffee Opens Up About “Lockdown”

Koffee Opens Up About "Lockdown"

“Where Will We GO?”

There’s still a lot of time left in Summer 2020, but on this last day of July we are declaring Koffee’s “Lockdown” Boomshots official 2020 Summer anthem. Produced by Dane “Raygad” Ray from the Unruly camp, the song finds Koffee asking all of the questions everybody in the world is asking themselves right now. What will the future be like “when the quaratine thing done and everybody touch road?” As soon as we heard this tune we knew it was outta here! (That was way before we saw the video with cameos from Popcaan and Dre Island.) More than just a Covid-era contemplation, “Lockdown” is also a poignant love song that speaks to the challenges of romance during a time of viral pandemic. As such, it represents a milestone in Koffee’s catalog. At the ripe old age of 20, the youngest Reggae Grammy winner in history has given us her first love song—and without overthinking it one bit, she might just have given us a follow-up to rival her breakthrough smash “Toast.” When you hear Koffee sing “if you love me, you should let me…” it’s clear she is in her feelings on this one. Of course everybody wants to know who this song was inspired by, but all we can say about that is just cool. In her first interview since “Lockdown” dropped, Koffee tapped in with Reshma B via Instagram Live and spoke about the inspiration behind the tune.  Video After The Jump… 

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Junior Gong Pon Di Strong

Junior Gong Pon Di Strong

Reasoning With Zilla 25 Years Ago

Damian Marley was never intimidated by great expectations. Born  on this day in 1978, the youngest son of Robert Nest Marley did not hesitate to follow in some very large footsteps, entering the music industry at an early age. He started out singing in a group called The Shepherds, along with the children of reggae stars Freddie McGregor, Judy Mowatt, and “Cat” Coore of Third World. Former Shepherd Shiah Coore still plays bass in Damian’s band to this day.

During the mid 1990s Damian stepped out as a solo performer under the name Jr. Gong. On January 23 1995 he passed through New York City to promote the album Positively Reggae, a compilation of conscious tracks by dancehall artists like Shabba Ranks, Mad Cobra, Bounty Killer, and Patra with proceeds going to benefit Leaf of Life, a Jamaican organization for HIV-positive children.

This photo, shot by Brian Jahn during the same press run, gives you an idea of what his hair looked like back then. Today his dreadlocks are so long he has to tuck them into a backpack when he plays soccer. I had a chance to reason with Damian that day for my Boomshots column in VIBE. He seemed like a cool youth at the time, but I had no idea this convo would be the start of such a long-lasting friendship. After all he’s accomplished since then, D remains remarkably chill. The interview has never been published in its entirely. 25 years later seems like as good a time as any. Big Up Jr. Gong. Blessings pon di strong. Interview After The Jump…
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