I noticed the recent uproar caused by, and massive publicity being given to Billboard Magazine, who announced their best of 2015 recently. The initial blip that came on my radar was a Jamaica Observer article, but since then I have seen many of my peers in the reggae industry, especially those representing Jamaica, sounding off and voicing their disapproval of Billboard as if this was an objective award selection.
This controversy inspired my inquisitive mind so I did some research into Billboard Magazine’s previous year’s Reggae superlatives and found that it’s solely based on Reggae Album sales and these statistics have never been friendly to Jamaican performers. Check the history over the past 5 years:
No Jamaicans have been Reggae Artist of the Year according to Billboard Magazine
By simply visiting Billboard’s website and reviewing the rankings I saw that what happened in 2015 – a non-Jamaican crowned Artist of the Year – also happened in 2014, 2013, and so on and so forth. No one slammed the magazine when California-based reggae group Rebelution, Israel’s Matisyahu, or American rappers NAS and Snoop Lion were crowned.
If anything, Jamaican reggae artists, supporters, and the media alike should be reporting that 2015 was the best year in recent history for Jamaican reggae acts as evidenced by releases from Morgan Heritage, Protoje, Jah Cure, and Kymani Marley all selling well enough to be on the 2015 Reggae Album charts. Yes, Joss Stone (UK) sold more, but in prior years only the Marley name could be found consistently among the top selling reggae albums reported by Billboard.
Congratulations to the aforementioned artists carrying the reggae banner in 2015. How can we continue this resurgence of Jamaican reggae and secure a place for artists from the genre’s homeland on international music charts, and concert stages? Start by putting your money where your mouth is. Vote for the artist you love by buying their album.
Everyone knows that reggae is best appreciated loud through a sound system with a stomach shuddering bass. This is not what one normally associates with music heard through the internet – the speakers on most laptops are not going to do justice to King Tubby’s dubs or Prince Far I’s vocals. However, the internet has brought lots of good things for the world of reggae and Jamaican music.
In 2010, a young Jamaican entrepreneur and computer programmer created a new reggae/dancehall computer game which was reported in The Gleaner. Alex Morrisey, who previously created the famous website jamaicanmusic.com, called the game Songwrita and hopes it will be played by fans all around the world. His earlier website is a fantastic resource for anyone who wants to know about Jamaican music.
The idea behind the game is that you have to catch various song lyrics as they fall from the sky while you name the artiste – it also links in to iTunes too, so you can buy the music you like. Morrisey told The Gleaner that “I am delighted to have launched this game because dancehall and reggae music is an international entertainment staple that influences so many cultures around the world – Songwrita will definitely help to bring popularity to upcoming artistes and further establish the strength of our music around the globe – something that we are all proud of.”
This wouldn’t be the first time music has inspired a computer game. Music is found in everything from corporate blockbusters like the Grand Theft Auto games, which include lots of great tunes, to smaller games, like pocketfruity.com and Kerrang Radio‘s collaboration on Stairway to 7. Other internet entrepreneurs have looked to Facebook and other social media for inspiration rather than games. The website muzikspace.com is a Caribbean online community where people can meet other music fans and share music, images and videos. An interesting project that is currently seeking funding on the crowd funding website Kickstarter is Trendy Reggae. This is a social utility for reggae and dancehall music fans to discover new music and gigs. The app was created by Tarique Smith (based out of New York) and Calvin Brown (based in Kingston) and you can help funding it until the end of Monday May 12th 2014. Another good reggae community site is reggaelution.com, so check that out too.
There are many other good reggae themed websites – and ours should surely be right at the top – and here is one of the best: For anyone who live in the UK or Europe generally, David Rodigan‘s site rodigan.com should be a saved your bookmarks. Rodigan is a legend in the UK where he has been DJing reggae since the 70s on the radio and live, he has even won the Champion Trophy at World Clash Reset in New York in 2012. This man has a serious passion for the music.
A few other websites you can try to find music, videos or to chat to fellow reggae fans are yardflex.com which has lots of news about Jamaica in general, but music in particular; dancehallreggae.com has loads of videos and lots of forums where fans can chat with others; if you’re just after a forum dancehallareaz.com forum is a great place to chat; and if you’re just after videos reggaetopten.com has lots of good stuff.
Bunji Garlin – Carnival Tabanca EP – Artwork
Bunji releases a brand new EP to vocalize his Trinidad & Tobago Carnival sentiments. According to Urban Dictionary, “Tabanca,” is defined as “an extreme sadness and/or a depression following one’s breakup or separation from one’s significant other.” Not one to dwell on the sadness, Bunji also includes “Red Light District,” “Carnival Tabanca (Vikings remix),” and this year’s Carnival anthem “Truck On D Road” on the EP. Full track list below:
1. Carnival Tabanca
2. Truck On D Road
3. Red Light District
4. Carnival Tabanca (Vikings remix)
Jamaican imprint Tad’s Record releases the latest installation in their hit dancehall compilation series, Phantom Vol. 3, available worldwide now.
The album features the biggest names in dancehall music and showcases the hottest tunes straight from the dance halls in Jamaica, to keep the genre alive and fans satisfied year-round.
Boasting 31 electrifying singles, Phantom Vol. 3 features hit singles that are already tearing up the airwaves in Jamaica, including I-Octane with “Gal A Gimmie Bun,” Mavado with “Million Dollar Man” and Vybz Kartel with”Lighter.”
The album also sees the likes of dancehall heavy-hitters Konshens,Popcaan and Tommy Lee Sparta, giving aficionados the very best in dancehall music today.
“Phantom Vol. 3 is our third installment in the hit series, which has found a home with dancehall fans around the globe,” reveals Tad Dawkins, President of Tad’s Records.
“Each year, Tad’s Records strives to bring the latest and best music from the Jamaican music industry to the global fan base and this album fulfills that mission.
It also makes obvious that the genre is alive and well, both at home and internationally.”
Phantom Vol. 3 is now available worldwide from all major digital retailers, including iTunes and Amazon, from Tad’s Record. For more information,please visit tadsrecord.com.
1. Konshens – No Hesitation (I’m Coming)
2. I-Octane – Gal a Gimmi Bun
3. Mavado – Mr Tek Weh Yu Gal
4. Tommy Lee Sparta – ExplicitBun Nu Nu (Raw)
5. Tommy Lee Sparta – Bun Nu Nu (Clean)
6. Popcaan – Naughty Girl
7. Popcaan – When We Party
8. Vybz Kartel – Lighter
9. I-Octane – Bun It and Laugh
10. Vybz Kartel – ExplicitWeed Smoker (Raw)
11. Vybz Kartel – Weed Smoker (Clean)
12. Mavado – Million Dollar Man
13. Mavado – At the Top
14. Vybz Kartel – Mr Bleach Chin
15. Mavado – ExplicitMarch Out (Raw)
16. Mavado – March Out (Clean)
17. Konshens – ExplicitFrom Yuh See Me (Raw)
18. Konshens – From Yuh See Me (Clean)
19. I-Octane – Buss a Blank
20. Popcaan – ExplicitKilla From Me Born (Raw)
21. Popcaan – Killa From Me Born (Clean)
22. Tommy Lee Sparta – ExplicitDem Nuh Bad (Raw)
23. Tommy Lee Sparta – Dem Nuh Bad (Clean)
24. Tommy Lee Sparta – ExplicitDi Mechanic (Raw)
25. Tommy Lee Sparta – Di Mechanic (Clean)
26. Konshens – ExplicitBad Gal (Raw)
27. Konshens – Bad Gal (Clean)
28. Popcaan – ExplicitCoolie Gyal (Raw)
29. Popcaan – Coolie Gyal (Clean)
30. I-Octane – Fly Ova Badmind
31. Tommy Lee Sparta – Lyrical Bomber
Within a week of its release, Morgan Heritage‘s “Perfect Love Song” hit number #1 on the iTunes Japan Reggae chart.
from left to right: Gramps, Una, Mojo, Lukes, Peetah
Although no artists like to be compared to another, Reggae’s royalty Morgan Heritage have been referred to as the “Rolling Stones” of Reggae music. Their longevity, their sold out arenas and festivals, and their worldwide chart topping music make them a contender for the music hall of fame.
Murmurs of critics who have heard tracks from the upcoming “Here Come The Kings” studio album, are in consent that the work is Grammy worthy. “Here Come The Kings” is slated to be released June 4th worldwide.
Morgan Heritage is preparing for a promotional tour in the North East of the United States to support the growing success of their “Perfect Love Song” single.
Below are some of the dates for the upcoming weeks and log on to Facebook.com/MorganHeritage to keep up to date with future appearances.
See Morgan Heritage Live:
March 13 New Haven, CT Toads Place
March 14 NY, NY BB Kings
March 15 Boston, MA Kays Oasis
March 16 Albany, NY The Polish Community Center