This episode takes a look at the world of reggae backing bands and the legends they support.
Our guest is Stevie Culture, a musician from the west coast of Jamaica who’s has been playing and performing Reggae music for more than 2 decades.
The backing band culture seldom gets highlighted or explored though it’s a major part of Jamaican music culture. This is a tribute to the musicians in the background, working to support the major Reggae artists.
Reggae Backing Band Culture
Every big show is facilitated by these amazing people behind the scenes. They never get the recognition they deserve – until now that is.
Stevie Culture has been a member of major reggae backing bands, Sane Band, the Fifth Extension, Prophecy Band, and Ninja Force Band. He has been on stage with some of the greatest artists of all time including Dennis Brown, Freddie McGregor, Yellow Man, Garnet Silk, and Capleton. He has traveled around the world touring and playing reggae music. We are grateful that he could share these stories on your platform.
We caught up with Diego Herrera, the Reggae/Caribbean Music Curator and Programmer for Pandora Media. He curates the popular New Reggae Now playlist.
Diego is entrenched within the culture and has been for a long time. As you may know, we’ve been working with Pandora to help push reggae music. Our podcast is featured on Pandora and we curate playlists on Pandora as well.
We had a very interesting, informative conversation. You will love it. We loved it! Diego works in the ecosystem touching the artists, labels, and the distribution channel. We pull back the curtain and shed some light on what happens on the back end at digital streaming services.
We all use these platforms to listen to content, but how do they really work? What are the inner workings? We learn about that plus get Diego’s refreshing perspective on new reggae now and the state of the culture. He comes from a very knowledgeable point of view. Of course, after the main segment, we present the Buzzworthy, Tastemaker, and SoundClash update segments.
Buju Banton denounces mask-wearing.
David Rodigan and Cedella Marley receive Jamaican Order of Distinction honors.
Barrington Levy in the studio with DJ Kahled.
Official music video for Koffee’s “Pressure” Remix featuring Buju Banton.
Downbeat pays epic tribute to fallen reggae icon Bunny “Striker” Lee on LP International’s Real Talk IG Live Show.
[Soundclash News] The No Jing Bang clash tournament Grand Final was Saturday, October 10th. Sponsored by the world’s #1 DJ software platform Serato, the final featured Tek 9 from Brooklyn versus Kanabis from Antigua.
[Podcast Interview] Sean Paul responds to criticisms for labeling dancehall clash culture as “slavery mentality.” – Watch Now via The Fix
[Sound Clash Audio] Eagle Force vs Love People vs Super Gold vs Inferno 10/20 (45 Shop Lock) JA ( Finals) – Listen
We talk to Maxi Priest and Jonathan Emile who collaborated on Emile’s recently released “Babylon is Falling” Remix.
Reggae music has always been at the forefront of social and political issues. One example is Bob Marley’s participation in the Amandla Festival of 1979 in Boston. There, Marley performed in support of the anti-apartheid movement and the liberation of South Africa.
A few short months ago, the entire world was shaken when George Floyd lost his life. People protested, buildings and businesses burned – all while in the middle of a worldwide pandemic. Race relations were already strained, but this event managed to trigger both a national and international outcry for change and justice.
“Babylon is Falling” is a song that has put a voice to the change. The song features 2 artists (Jonathan Emile and Maxi Priest) from different generations coming together to speak on what they’ve been through, and what’s to come.
We held reasoning on the following with Maxi Priest and Jonathan Emile:
How did the Remix to “Babylon is Falling” featuring Maxi Priest come about?
Different flavors of racism in the UK, Canada, and the Southern U.S.
The concept behind “Spaces In Between,” Jonathan’s debut reggae album.
Maxi Priest’s excitement for his forthcoming album, “United State of Mind.”
Why are some Caribbean people afraid to go back to the region?
Billboard’s disrespect towards dancehall culture with their Verzuz cover.
What is the responsibility of musicians in fighting oppression?
The problem with trying to control musicians’ creative output.
‘Babylon is Falling’ Remix – Jonathan Emile ft Maxi Priest
Two Artists from Different Generations Come Together to Sing About the State of the World Today:
Canadian-Jamaican artist Jonathan Emile and British-Jamaican artist Maxi Priest came together to create the Remix to “Babylon is Falling”, a track on Emile’s new album, “Spaces In Between.” The album is currently distributed by MindPeaceLove/Tuff Gong International. While the remix to the song was recorded back in January 2020, neither artist knew at the time that the song would become so relevant a few months later.
Emile is a bilingual (English & French), multi-talented singer-songwriter, producer, and Cancer survivor. His commanding voice resonates at the start of the song and draws the listener in immediately, asking if they know what their worth is, and then mentions the capitalistic society in which we live. He then explains that this can’t go on and eventually, something has to change (Babylon will fall).
“Growing up Black and Jamaican in Montreal, racism has been a fact of life. The institutional side was hidden but the interpersonal is still always present. As a Black person, you know you need to move cautiously to gain access, be accommodated, or have the opportunity to be treated with respect. This caution manifests in how you speak, how you read a room, and how you respond to racist banter or microaggressions.
Knowing that you’re seen as the other, alien, or ‘less than’ is at the forefront as you face people’s prejudice, always having to be an ambassador for your race. You become a master negotiator, code switcher, and an expert in de-escalation to preserve your body and reputation. This is a key concept in Spaces-In-Between. I am fortunate to have parents who provided me with tactics and strategies to avoid and cope with racism as a young Black Jamaican. The knowledge I received was built on their hard work and determination.”
Grammy-nominated Maxi Priest, best known for his Lover’s Rock and R&B/Reggae fusion tunes like “Close to You’ and “Wild World” comes in next, but he’s not singing about love this time. In fact, he’s Deejaying (rapping), which in itself is a rare sound for him. He rides the riddim with the smoothness that he’s best known for, but the content of the lyrics speak of the things he’s both experienced himself throughout the years growing up in England, and what he continues to see around him today. His message, like so many, is that he’s tired.
“Here we go again – We stand firm we nah ease up the pressure – Just like a volcano bubbling over – to take it to the heights you have fi step like a soldier”
Although both Emile and Priest come from different generations, they have many things in common, including being of Jamaican heritage, and growing up and living outside of Jamaica, which has impacted them.
Like so many people that live abroad, there are mixed feelings right now with what is happening with the racial, economic, and spiritual climate, and the uneasiness that it brings. “Babylon is Falling” is a song that resonates with everyone, no matter where you come from, or what age you are.
We list our Top 5 Revolutionary Reggae Songs of all time. Ras Jamal from Royal Ethiopian Sound joins the discussion to give his analysis.
We define what a revolutionary song is and how the music of the 70s differs from the messages in today’s music. There are different kinds of revolutions. The conversation takes us through some responses that have emerged as a result of today’s struggle for racial justice.
Anthony B, Sizzla, Jah9, Yeza, Kabaka Pyramid, Protoje, Akae Beka, Lutan Fyah, Warrior King, and Queen Ifrica are commended for their contributions to the movement. We each listed some honorable mentions in addition to our top 5 revolutionary reggae songs. Listen to the Pandora playlist inspired by this episode.
Kahlil Wonda’s Top 5 Revolutionary Reggae Songs
Bob Marley – Burning and Looting
Bob Marley – Revolution
Peter Tosh – Equal Rights
Sizzla – Made Of
Bob Marley – Slave Driver
AGARD’s Top 5 Revolutionary Reggae Songs
Bob Andy – Unchained
The Abyssinians – Declaration of Rights
Peter Tosh – Equal Rights
Dennis Brown – Revolution
Bob Marley – War
Ras Jamal’s Top 5 Revolutionary Reggae Songs
John Holt – Police In Helicopter
Bob Marley – War
Peter Tosh – Equal Rights
Dennis Brown – Revolution
Beres Hammond – Another Day In The System
We also debated:
Where is the revolutionary music of this generation?
What is the difference between conscious music and positive music?
Is reggae supposed to teach or help people?
Outside of revolutionary music, what tactics can lead to the results we seek?
Does an artist have to be a rasta to be conscious?
Protoje’s “In Search of Lost Time” album. Notable track, “In Bloom” ft. Lila Ike.