A Reggae Legend’s Daughter Creating Conscious Reverberations
Forty years ago Maxwell Livingston Smith, better known as Max Romeo, released his classic album War Inna Babylon on Island Records. The album featured classic hits like “Chase The Devil” (which would later be sampled by Kanye West for Jay Z’s song “Lucifer”). This song sent fans into a frenzy with its balance of spiritual and conscious lyrics over the Lee “Scratch” Perry–produced riddim. Max Romeo “put on his iron shirt” and chased the Devil out of Earth with his lyrical prowess—and he’s still making music to this day. Now, four decades later, it should come as no surprise that his daughter is stepping forward along a similar path. Azana Makeeda Smith, aka Xana Romeo, brings a unique feminine fierceness with her incendiary lyrics. She has a great vocal range and her enunciation is clear and precise, adding to the palpable power of her music. With her debut album, Wake Up releasing today, we linked with Xana Romeo, CEO of Charmax Music to discuss her debut album. Interview After The Jump…
Angel Love: Hail Sis, Xana Romeo
Xana Romeo: Yes I. Greetings I sister
Angel Love: How did you find your niche in music?
Xana Romeo: My dad introduced me to instruments at a young age and he also introduced me to the studio early in my life so it was destiny that brought me here. In terms of how I started out, I wanted to do dancehall as a young artist, but it really was not matching my personality so I came back to the music of my father, roots reggae. I have learned so much from my father and I feel honored, but I also strive to find my own way of creating this type of music.
Max Romeo Earthstrong Celebration at Kingston Dub Club 2015 (Xana Performs “Glitters Ain’t Gold” and “Rate Rasta” with Gabre Selassie on the 1’s and 2’s)
Angel Love: Tell us about the experience of touring with your dad this summer.
Xana Romeo: It was so great! In fact, my whole family was on this tour. We toured 25 cities and my sister did background vocals; my brothers, Rolando and Romero were on the drums and also did lead vocals with my dad, my mom was selling merchandise. This was a very special tour for me.
Angel Love: Very cool that the whole family was together. The music on the “Wake Up “album is an impressive body of work. You have a great voice and you reminded me of Dezarie on the song “King of Zion.” I actually admired not just the lyrics but how you delivered them.
Xana Romeo: That’s my goal; I really want people to feel my music. The purpose of my music is the message. When someone listens to Xana Romeo’s songs I want them to feel inspired and motivated to carry out any personal self-cleansing by the renewal of their minds. Dezarie happens to be one of my greatest inspirations; I listened to a lot of her music in working on my own album.
Angel Love: Most of the songs had roots reggae beats but I like the dancehall feel of “Glitters Ain’t Gold.”
Xana Romeo: All the production was by Omar Jackson, Jallanzo (Dubtonic Kru) and I really took my time in creating the sound of my music with him. It is a roots album with dub treatment in the mix but I still try to have some other sounds intertwined. Yeah “Glitters Ain’t Gold” does have that dancehall vibe.
Angel Love: Diving into the songwriting, “Rate Rasta” had very poignant lyrics. Tell me about this track.
Xana Romeo: It actually really does come from a deep place. My son has dreadlocks and just started kindergarten here and the teacher was calling me with requests to put his hair in a ponytail and even after the ponytail she then said she can’t teach my son with “his hair like that” and wanted to me to cut his hair. It was a very trying time for me and my young son. It took me like 15–30 minutes to let it out in song at my home studio, The Red Ark Studio. But he is doing well now he attends a school where other children have locs too. The “Rate Rasta” song is about the discrimination we faced as a family and in the Rasta community at large. There is also a dub version of this tune on the album too.
“The purpose of my music is the message. When someone listens to Xana Romeo’s songs I want them to feel inspired and motivated to carry out any personal self-cleansing by the renewal of their minds.”-Xana Romeo
Angel Love: I am glad you found a new environment for your son to excel and grow in. We have to have a strong sense of sprituality to get through these trials and tribulations. Tell me about the lyrics of “King of Zion.”
Xana Romeo: This song is dedicated to the “Giver of Life,” His Imperial Majesty, yes in H.I.M. I put my trust.
Angel Love: Trust in a higher power, and walk a “Righteous Path”
Xana Romeo: Yes “Righteous Path” is another song dedicated to trodding Rastafari way. Blessed is the man who chooses the righteous path.
Angel Love: Let’s talk about the song “Mercy Please” Straight venom lyrics for the wickedness and the album’s title track “Wake Up,” a call to action for conscious awareness of societal issues.
Xana Romeo: Yeah I write so you can really feel what I’m saying and connect with it as the listener. One day I was sitting in a cafe and heard people discussing “Mercy Please” and it really made me see that people were really getting my music and what I am trying to bring across . That is a great feeling for a new artist. I am so thankful for the many compliments on social media.
/They lock up the ganja man and dem no lock up the pedophile because them wicked and dem nasty and dem vile/ —Xana Romeo, “Mercy Please” Lyrics
Angel Love: How was it to collaborate with Yaadcore for the “Mercy Please” mixtape?
Xana Romeo: I was so honored to work with Yaadcore on this project and we really took our time to make the end product just right. I actually learned so much working with him and it was great having him collaborate with me to give the world a preview of my music.
Angel Love: Speaking of Yaadcore, I see you were rocking one of the “I am Yaadcore” T-shirts. Your fashion is really cool by the way, you actually wear makeup and have fun with it.
Xana Romeo: I got so much heat for wearing make-up from some Rastas while I was on tour. I feel like this: as long as I am not looking like a totally different person, it’s OK to be creative with makeup and other fashions. As long as I am not changing who I am.
“I feel like this: as long as I am not looking like a totally different person, it’s OK to be creative with makeup and other fashions. As long as I am not changing who I am.” – Xana Romeo
Angel Love: This is a great inspiration for young women; to embrace their natural style without compromising who they are.
Xana Romeo: Exactly! I can wear a skirt as long as I don’t expose too much. I actually did not have locks when I started doing music. I love art so I look at fashion to be a form of creativity.
Angel Love: I love your locks and loc adornments. I look at makeup and fashion as creative outlets, as well. Continue to be you and I think that there are many who will appreciate this. It’s been a pleasure speaking with you. I am wishing you the very best with your music career. Thanks for sharing with Boomshots Magazine.
Xana Romeo: Thank you, Char and thank you Boomshots Magazine.
Official Website for Xana Romeo
Xana’s highly anticipated debut album WakeUp is an 11-track album containing the perfect culmination of conscious messages and invigorating beats. The album includes six full-length songs and five special dub treatments of these tunes. This is an album where you can really meditate on its lyrics and let it play frrom beginning to end. The production on this album is superb with Omar Jackson, Jallanzo (Dubtonic Kru) as the Executive Producer. Other producers on this album include: Azizzi Romeo, Calvin “Firsteye” Bennion, BlackLindy and Romax Romeo. You can tell from the overall sound of the “Wake Up ” album, that this artist took the time to craft her original sound and deliver universal messages from her personal life experiences and beliefs. Her voice is sure to captivate audiences globally.
01. King Of Zion
02. Wake Up
03. Mercy Please
04. Glitter Ain’t Gold
05. Rate Rasta
06. Righteous Path
07. Righteous Path Dub
08. Wake Up Dub
09. Mercy Please Dub
10. Glitter Ain’t Gold Dub
11. Rate Rasta Dub
Record Label: Charmax Music, Mix by: Jallanzo, Mastered: Anchor Recording Studio
Photos from the “Wake Up” Album Listening Party on December 1, 2016 at Stones Throw Bar in Kingston, Jamaica, during Kingston Music Week :
The Dub Empress: Xana Romeo
Event Coordinator, Joan Nanook Webley and Azizzi Romeo (brother of Xana Romeo and artist on Charmax Label).
Veteran Reggae Artist, Beenie Man came through to show his support for this new artist.
Max Romeo and Beenie Man (this photograph is a collector’s item)
Rory Stone Love and Xana Romeo converse
Fashion was definitely part of this event with Designer MamaYashi wearing an “Ethopian Angel” top and “Lemongrass” skirt from her latest collection, “Roots Divine. ” Xana Romeo selected a pure white tube dress with a Masai necklace laced with Cori shells as a stunning accessory. Up and coming artist Zia Benjamin strikes her pose in a camouflage baby doll dress also designed by Mamayashi with Red, Green and Gold accents.
All in all it was a beautiful reception for Xana Romeo, family and friends.
**All Photos by Live Fast Ja Photography
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