Jah Cure Mix | Reggae Lover Podcast 87

Reggae Lover Podcast episode 87 features the voice of Jah Cure.

reggae

Born in October 1978 in Hanover, Jamaica, Jah Cure grew up in Kingston. He got the name Jah Cure from Capleton who he met while living in Kingston. Under the tutelage of Beres Hammond the hit song, King In This Jungle, a 1997 duet with Sizzla emerged.

Many of the songs Jah Cure released around that time became popular and won critical acclaim. Beres took him on tour to Europe and through the Caribbean with his Harmony House Records family. Cure emerged to be one of the brightest stars of 1997, which was an amazing year for reggae music and dancehall. The music of that period inspired me to start buying records and aspiring to be a selector. This mix focuses on songs from that time.

In November 1998 while driving in Montego Bay, Jah Cure got pulled over by the police and arrested. Charged with gun possession, robbery, and rape, he was found guilty and sentenced to 15 years in prison. He served in a correctional facility that had a digital recording studio that inmates could use. During his incarceration term, he recorded three albums and some singles, many of which topped charts in Jamaica.

Upon his release from jail on parole in July 2007 after serving 8 years of the sentence, Jah Cure came out with a fourth album, “Reflections… a new beginning.” Cure headlined and closed Reggae Sumfest that year in August. He signed to VP Records he launched Iyah Cure Productions.

Over the next several years he collaborated with top artists from the reggae, hip-hop, and R&B worlds. Jah Cure released the “Universal Cure” album in 2009 then came out with “The Cure,” which earned a Grammy nomination for Best Reggae Album in 2016.

The end of this mix features of lovers rock of which Jah Cure has released a great deal of recently. My main focus was the original, undiluted, grassroots material. The songs from before his incarceration are more soulful, inspirational, and rebellious. I wish Jah Cure much continued success in the future. He has a beautiful family and lots going in the music business.

That’s it for reggae lover podcast episode 87. Look out for a bonus live audio episode coming your way from BobFest ATL. Thank you for listening to this show dedicated to reggae lovers everywhere. One Love!

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Shabba Ranks Greatest Hits MP3 Download

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This is an episode of the syndicated Reggae Lover podcast produced for promotional purposes by Kahlil Wonda of Highlanda Sound featuring classic reggae music in a DJ mixed format. 

Click here to play this episode now.

Shabba Ranks

Click to Listen

The only dancehall artist to win the Grammy award in consecutive years, Shabba Ranks paved the way for all who came after him.  I omitted overly violent or slack lyrics here.  

This mix was requested by the Brooklyn, New York-based, AGARD, a fellow DJ and #reggaelover.

TRACKLIST

1 Heart Of A Lion
2 Respect
3 Flag Flow High featuring Cocoa Tea
4 Just Reality
5 Time Is Red featuring Cocoa Tea
6 Love Me Truly featuring Cocoa Tea
7 Don’t Follow Rumors featuring Carlton Livingston
8 Live Blanket
9 Housecall featuring Maxi Priest
10 Peanie Peanie
11 No Bother Dis Soundboy
12 Girls Wine
13 Golden Touch featuring Kadian Dixon
14 Roots and Culture
15 Kushungpeng featuring Mikey Spice
16 Champion Lover featuring Deborahe Glasgow
17 Don’t Test Me featuring Deborahe Glasgow
18 God Bless
19 Real Real featuring Thriller U
20 Best Baby Father
21 Caan Dun
22 Gal Yuh Good
23 Can’t Do The Work
24 Ting A Ling
25 Trailer Load

Official Music Video for Etana – Blessings feat. Alborosie

YouTube – Etana – Blessings feat. Alborosie.  The subject is love, we love the song, artists, and now the video.  Need I say more?

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Finest Delivery Volume 2 in Stores Now

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Distributed by GREENSLEEVES RECORDS, SPECIAL DELIVERY MUSIC presents the best of his current work with a few recent hits like Morgan Heritage “Have no Fear” & Althea Hewitt “If i were a boy” but also few exclusives tracks from the best Jamaican artists of the moment like Sizzla, Richie Spice, Turbulence, Lukie D, Queen Ifrica, Luciano, Mykal Rose, Kiprich, and Demarco. The album will also introduce you to few new talents from different horizons like Ziggi (Holland), Million Stylez (Sweden), Jamelody (Trinidad), Oba Simba (Jamaica). Finest deliveryThe cover is one more time inspired by a famous Jamaican Rum label to give a Caribbean flavor to this album !

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Standing Soldier Demarco

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COLLIN ‘DEMARCO’ EDWARDS

As an artiste in the music industry, having a name that means ‘greatest lover’ leaves one to think that this person is a calm, soulful singer. But, with hit songs like Falling Soldiers and Duppy Know Who Fi Frighten, one would have to think twice when it comes to 25-year-old singjay and producer Collin ‘Demarco’ Edwards.

When TEENage asked him why that name, with a boyish smile on his face he replied: “Well it means greatest lover still, also mi middle name is Demar and the ‘Co’ stems from my first name.”

Only seven years in the music industry and Demarco has already made his mark locally and internationally. Doing collaborations with artistes like Foxy Brown (Dreams); Free, ex-presenter of BET’s 106 & Park; Elephant Man (Over World), Bounty Killer, Busy Signal, Lady Saw, Spice and Assassin, one could say he’s very versatile.

Demarco was not a model student, though he passed the Common Entrance Examinations for the school of his choice, Ardenne High. While at school he developed friendships with some ‘bad company’, he said, and that got him expelled. The same thing happened at Bridgeport High School.

His mother, who was abroad at the time, heard of her son’s reprehensible behaviour and promptly sent for him. At 16, Demarco migrated to the United States to live with his mother, unsure of what the future would hold for him there. Then along came music. His mother was, surprisingly, fully supportive of his efforts as a sinjay and producer.

Being a producer, he experiences the ups and downs of the music industry. Therefore, when he returned to Jamaica in December 2005, to finish what he started abroad, Demarco had no problem fitting into the Jamaican style of music management. Having signed to Starcut Records only good things are expected from this artiste.

TEENage later asked him what inspired him to write the song that got the most forward over the festive season, Falling Soldiers.

“A lot of my friends died so that was my main inspiration. Big up di people dem weh guaad mi,” said the singjay, who admires Lady Saw to the max.

TEENage then got ‘a little’ personal with the male singer and asked him about his personal life. With a smile that could calm any hurricane, he proudly speaks of his only child, “My daughter is the only one inna mi life”, he said, as the TEENage team looked on in anticipation. If only every man was like this about their child, one thought.

With the country’s high crime rate, Demarco feels that more conscious music will make a change. He hopes his song Betta Jamaica will have a positive effect on the crime rate.

When TEENage asked him if he was comfortable with present happenings in the music industry, he had this to say: “People start accepting the young artiste in the music business now, so it’s going positive.”

TEENage wants to thank Demarco for leaving a positive impact on dancehall music and wishes him all the best with his future plans.

SOURCE: Jamaicaobserver.com

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April Chart Toppers and New Releases – Dancehall Now Episode 21

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Dancehall Now
Image by highlanda via Flickr

This is the latest episode of the syndicated Dancehall Now podcast produced by Highlanda Sound System for April 27, 2009 featuring the very latest dancehall music in a full stereo radio broadcast format.

Dancehall Now is in keeping with Highlanda Sound’s stated mission to entertain and promote reggae music world wide. This show may contain language that may be considered by some to be offensive. Views expressed by artists and guests on this show are not necessarily shared or endorsed by Highlanda Sound.

Right Click the file and select “Save As…” to download the entire mp3 file or just click to listen to the audio stream now. We sincerely hope you enjoy the selections. Please send your comments, feedback, and requests to podcast@highlanda.net or feel free to comment here. If you like what you hear please subscribe to get automatic updates when new shows are added.

Direct MP3 Download Link (Right-click and select “Save as…” to download)

Playlist

1 No Goodbye – Beres Hammond
2 Lioness on The Rise – Queen Ifrica
3 Tonight – Jovi Rockwell
4 Come Breed Me – Vybz Kartel featuring Indu
5 The Youths (Guitar Mix) – Wesley Diamond featuring Red Rat
6 Good Love – Wayne Marshall
7 Versility – Vybz Kartel featuring Indu
8 Hit The Gas – Tanto Metro and Devonte featuring Selena Serrano
9 Call On Me – Jah Cure featuring Phyllisia
10 Cease Fire – Jr. King, Zebulun, Deciple, and Revelation
11 Gimme Likkle – Beenie Man featuring Sexy P
12 Affi Come Back – Vybz Kartel
13 Never Change (From Mawning) – Chino
14 Bad Boys – Laden
15 Shine On Jamaica – Cherine Anderson
16 Blame It On The Weed – Wayne Marshall
17 War Bridge (Remix) – Bounty Killer
18 Out and Bad Bogle Tribute – RDX
19 Inna Life (Refixx) – Laden
20 Good Girl – Tarrus Riley featuring Konshens
21 Tell It Like It Is – Stevie Face
22 Coming Home – Stevie Face
23 A Thousand Miles Away – Ras Penco

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Reggae Vault Classics 15

This is the latest episode of the syndicated Reggae Vault Classics podcast produced by Kahlil Wonda of Highlanda Sound for the week of April 13, 2009 featuring classic reggae music in a DJ mixed format with no talking.

The Crown Prince of Reggae himself, the late Mr. Dennis Emmanuel Brown kicks off this week’s freestyle mix with Whip Them Jah, Here I Come, and Money In My Pocket. Since last week’s show was devoted to the music of just one artist, I wanted to make sure I covered all other bases this time around. Therefore, this week’s episode features all singers and gives you some Studio One selections, but also includes labels like Trojan Records, Joe Gibbs, and Techniques. The playlist spans from the 1960s with original John Holt, Derrick Morgan, and Sugar Minott through the 1990s with Buju Banton, Beenie Man, and Terry Ganzie. There’s even a bonus mix of Highlanda dubplate specials for the dubplate fans. Hopefully you will want this one to be stored safely in your Ipod where you can listen and share with others.

Right Click the file link and select “Save As…” to download the entire mp3 file or just click to listen to the audio stream now. We sincerely hope you enjoy the selections and mixing. Please send your comments, feedback, and requests to podcast@highlanda.net or feel free to comment right here. If you like what you hear please subscribe to get automatic updates when new shows are added.

Direct mp3 Download Link (right click and “save as”)

Playlist

1 Whip Them Jah – Dennis Brown
2 Here I Come – Dennis Brown
3 Money In My Pocket – Dennis Brown
4 Rude Boy Shufflin – Israel Vibration
5 Send Them Come – Terry Ganzie
6 Murderer – Buju Banton
7 Up Park Camp – John Holt
8 No Man’s Land – Cornell Campbell
9 Wolves And Leopards – Dennis Brown
10 Population – Burning Spear
11 A Love I Can Feel – Dennis Alcapone featuring John Holt
12 When I’m Ready – Freddie McGregor
13 Love You Still – George Scott
14 Don’t Fuss Or Fight – Barrington Levy
15 Never Gonna Give Jah Up – Sugar Minott
16 Collie Weed – Barrington Levy
17 Trodding Through The Jungle – Carlton Livingston
18 Sensimelia – Barrington Levy
19 Entertainment – Tristan Palmer
20 Under Me Sensi – Barrington Levy featuring Beenie Man
21 Cuss Cuss – Lloyd Robinson
22 Roll Call – Tenor Saw
23 Natural Mistic – Jennifer Lara
24 Tougher Than Tough (Rudie in Court) – Derrick Morgan
25 Oh DC – Sugar Minott

26 Bonus Dubplate Mix

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Official Music Video for Etana – Blessings feat. Alborosie

YouTube – Etana – Blessings feat. Alborosie. The subject is love, we love the song, we love reggae stars Etana and Alborosie, and now we love the video too. Need I say more?

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Interview: Bitty McLean

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bitty-mclean1“I’ve never been in the comfort zone. I started my career on an international level.”

Birmingham born Bitty McLean hit the UK pop charts in the 90s with covers of the Shirelles Dedicated To The One I Love and Fats Domino’s It Keeps Rainin’. Since then he’s released On Bond Street, a set of revived Treasure Isle rhythms that garnered huge respect for this fresh faced, silky voiced link to reggae’s formative years. Now, he’s releasing Movin’ On, a collaboration with the Rhythm Twins, Sly Dunbar and Robbie Shakespeare. He and Angus Taylor had a chat about the record, his influences and the state of the reggae scene today…

What first inspired you to become a singer?

Bitty McLean

I always say my dad’s sound system was my first insight. If it wasn’t for my dad having a sound system and playing pre-release music and rhythm and blues in the house on a daily basis music wouldn’t have been in the blood so to speak! My Dad’s sound system, the big speakers, the valve amps, that was just a regular thing round the house as a child growing up. So that was my first insight into music. Singing? That was kind of incidental to be honest. I didn’t set out saying “I want to be a singer” but I think I remember one time just messing around on the sound system with my brothers and I just started singing – it was like “Wooah!” “Do that again!” “How did you do that?” So it kind of started from there, I was about eight yours old, and by the time I was ten, eleven, I was singing on local sounds in Birmingham, Wassifah, Now Generation, we’d have like Carnival at Handsworth Park, which would have fifteen, twenty sounds playing in the park and you’d just bounce from one sounds to another, just like create a vibe, just kind of improvise? They’d bring a rhythm track and you’d just improvise a style or a vibe and then move onto the next sound. That’s how I got my apprenticeship so to speak as a singer around sound systems in Birmingham.

Who were your favourite singers when growing up?

Again, it was all out of my dad’s record box. It would be people like Delroy Wilson, who was the first singer I could relate to because my Christian name is Delroy. He was my favourite. And John Holt, Jackie Edwards and Nat King Cole. He was like a Sunday singer. On a Sunday [in my house] it would be nice soft easy singers like Nat King Cole, John Holt and Alton [Ellis]. I mean we’ve been spoilt in reggae music haven’t we? So it was always the best to be honest. There was rarely if ever a bad artist that came out of Jamaica in the early period, in the Seventies, which I grew up in. Anything you heard on wax was, nine times out of ten, a wicked artist on a wicked rhythm track so I’ve kind of been spoilt in that sense.

And which up and coming singers do you like right now?

(THINKS)… Etana! And Queen Ifrica. I think those two took last year. The impact they had in the last twelve to sixteen months has been wicked. It’s been long overdue that we had some more females breaking through in reggae music. And Tarrus is going on good as well. So yeah, mainly the singers to be honest. I’m not really into the dancehall feel, singers are more my kind of thing. I don’t believe there’s enough singers out there man. There’s kind of an imbalance of deejays to singers so we’re kind of a rare breed in the popular reggae scene of the moment.

You get a lot of deejays trying to sing as well…

(LAUGHS) No comment!!! I plead the Fifth Amendment! I’m not making any comment on that! Haha!

Are you pleased with your new album?

I’m always pleased with my work to be honest man. It’s like my baby. You spend nine months, a year, a year and a half working on an album. You can never predict the success of a record. It’s never happened like that for me from day one when I first started making records. So I just do my best and hope that there’s an audience out there that will appreciate the music and the standard productionwise, vocal, melody whatever – you know what I mean? It’s a big world out there so I’m sure there’ll be a few. I know my mum will be one of my fans! (LAUGHS) But yeah that’s the only thing you can say to be honest. If I wasn’t happy with it, it wouldn’t be on wax and it wouldn’t be on cd. So I’m more than happy with all my products in that sense man. Like I say, you can never predict success and that’s not really my vision when it comes to making music. I just want to do my thing and bring what I can do to the platform of reggae music…

And move on?

Yeah! (LAUGHS) Move on as opposed to standing still! Instead of doing the same thing year in year out. That’s the thing for me, I’ve never been in the comfort zone. I kind of started my career on an international level. And where some artists might think “I’m in a comfort zone. I’ve sold lots of records now. I can sit back in fourth gear now and just cruise through this” that’s not really my mentality as an artist. I come from a sound system background which is like, every dance you play is different, every crowd you play for is different so you have to up your gear every time you step on stage. Every time you’re in the studio you have to move into a different gear and give a hundred percent every time man. It’s not an easy road and I don’t necessarily want it to be an easy road. Working with Sly & Robbie kind of ups the gears a few notches to push myself as an artist, as a writer and as a singer as well.

The album combines different styles. Was that something you set out to do from the start?

I think the vein for the album is really Sly & Robbie. They’re so versatile that everything they play whether its soul influenced, or roots or rockers, you can always say Sly & Robbie. There’s an ongoing vein through the album, which is the consistency of Sly & Robbie. Their influence goes back for however many years they’ve been doing what they’re doing. From Grace Jones, Gregory [Isaacs], Dennis [Brown] you name it they’ve been there and played for all the top notch artists. So that’s the vein through the album for me. Whether it’s an old rhythm track, a brand new song or a cover, the interpretation that Sly & Robbie can bring to a song or a rhythm, their stamp, is unmistakeable.

How did you come to work with Sly & Robbie again?

It was kind of incidental you know? We’d just released On Bond Street which was the album prior to Movin’ On. And I had a call from someone saying “somebody’s looking for you, they want to do an album with you, Sly & Robbie” and I thought it was a joke to be honest, “yeah, yeah, yeah whatever”. Then I got a call from Hawaii from some friends of mine who run a label saying “this guy based in France is trying to get hold of you. He’s been round the world trying to find you and he wants to do an album with Sly & Robbie”. And what it was, was he had mentioned my name to Sly & Robbie and they’d said “we know Bitty, we’ve worked together and stuff”, and they’d heard On Bond Street. So it was just like, yeah, conversation, and they were like “cool, we’d love to do some work with Bitty” and we started from there to be honest. There was talk of doing a Studio 1 album after On Bond Street (because that was based on old Treasure Isle rhythm tracks from Duke Reid’s studio). But I think things happen for a reason in music and I don’t think it would have been much of a progression doing an album from the same rocksteady period straight after Bond Street. Working with Sly & Robbie was like moving up a notch. It was like “okay, I’m going to have to sit down and start writing some songs and bring something to the table because I know when Sly & Robbie get together it’s going to be awesome”. So there was no kind of record company [pressure] no preconception. Just a simple conversation and from there it was “Bitty anything you want to use from the old catalogue and then come down to Jamaica and we’ll lick some new rhythm tracks”. In 2006 I was in Jamaica and we laid some new rhythms. And by then I’d started sampling some of the old Taxi catalogue, songs like Gregory’s Oh What A Feeling, Sitting And Watching by Dennis Brown. There’s a barrage of rhythms we used, some of which haven’t made this album. A Barrage from that eighties era which I’ve still got to work with. So that was it really: just an incidental conversation.

What are Sly & Robbie like to work with?

Easy. I’d worked with them back in ninety four, we’d done an unplugged session for Radio One where they were the house band. And you wouldn’t believe it. You think you’re going to meet people who are established in the business and they might be a bit egotistical and not want to talk to you and stuff like that. But it’s SO the opposite man! With Sly & Robbie there’s no ice to break. You can just be yourself and straight away you can talk about music or whatever. So they’re very easy in that sense. And I think I can say with hand on heart that there’s a mutual respect. I’ve been working with them now for a good period of time, we’ve just come back from Japan and stuff, and yeah there’s a mutual respect there. Obviously I’ve been listening to them from childhood. You can’t tell them that though because they’re still young see? (LAUGHS) But it’s very easy and they capture the vibe very quickly. There’s no dwelling or going round and round for hours on a rhythm track. They’re very quick in terms of interpreting your ideas. Easy is the word when working with them and it’s a pleasure every time, in the studio, on stage, it’s always wicked man.

All three of you know your way around a studio. Did it get crowded ‘round the desk?

(LAUGHS) Not really no. I kind of took a backseat in Jamaica because we worked at Sly & Robbie’s camp in their studio. So Rory Baker was the engineer where we were laying the tracks down. So that was cool for me just to take a backseat, do my little guide vocal while Sly was putting down his beats and Robbie Lyn and Robbie [Shakespeare] was doing his stuff. And it was like that to be honest because when I came back to England I’ve got my own little studio where I voice and stuff. So I was kind of cool with that really. I didn’t have to be sitting round the desk and Sly & Robbie were cool as well. They just let Rory engineer the session and it was an easy process. I tend to take charge when it comes to mixing! I like being in charge of the mix. I’ve always mixed everything. You’re going to say it all sounds rubbish now aren’t you??? (LAUGHS) I kind of like that last stage with the mixing and the mastering. I like to be involved and oversee that. I like the mix stage as well as recording, the last stage before it’s presented to the public ear so to speak.

And makes a good mix for you?

Oh that’s a hard one! That’s the million dollar question. It’s a bit like the lottery, no one would know. You could mix a track today and then mix it tomorrow and it has a totally different emphasis. In that sense it’s like painting a picture. You’ll never paint the same thing twice exactly the same. [With] Everything I mix the song dictates the mix. I don’t go in with like a set way of mixing, “that’s where the drums are set, that’s where the keyboard goes, that’s where the vocal goes”. I think the song decides how the mix pans out so I approach everything fresh like a blank piece of paper. The vocal’s the key though. Don’t tell Sly & Robbie that! (LAUGHS) But just make sure the vocal stands out! (LAUGHS)

I saw Sly & Robbie play last year and there were no vocals for about an hour!

Awww… that’s like the dub session! It’s that drum and bass to your head man! Wicked wicked. But I love that. They’re still out there gigging. Because it’s so funny that there’s always a new generation with reggae music. That’s something I’ve found throughout Europe. I do sound system shows in Germany, Italy or Sweden, and there’s a young audience from maybe eighteen upwards now who are into the modern kind of stuff which is out. But you’ve still got a generation which are looking back, which are saying “reggae’s not just a one dimensional thing. It’s not just dancehall, it’s rocksteady, there’s ska!” You know what I mean? And that’s what I find is really good which is why it’s good to have people like Sly & Robbie still on the road, still accessible for people to listen. Like I say, it’s not just one dimensional, reggae, it’s got many colours.

What made you cover Try A Little Tenderness and Lately on the album?

Lately was a tune from going back to the days of improvising on sound systems. And when I got to Jamaica in 2006 Sly gave me about four or five rhythm tracks and said, “Bitty just acclimatise yourself to Jamaica because we ain’t going to start no work for a few days. See what vibe you get on these rhythm tracks”. And when I heard the Taxi rhythm, because I think Buju [Banton] was out by then with Driver – big tune! – Lately just came to me. I think there’s actually video footage of me in the hotel room doing a little sound system thing, singing Lately on the rhythm and we thought “yeah man – let’s just do it!” Because it kind of goes like there’s a theme, and it goes right back to my days on sound systems. And when it comes to choosing a cover song it’s not like, “oh, how many copies did that record sell when it was first released?” or “was it a number one record?” or whatever. I think it’s just the mood that a song brings. That’s why I choose to sing a cover song. Now, Try A Little Tenderness, me, Sly & Robbie recorded back in nineteen ninety five. We recorded a tribute album of Otis Redding songs which was never released. It was [due to] record company politics. And I just thought, “I’ve got an album here sitting on the shelf. I’d like to use a couple of the songs” and we just decided we were going to lick two of the songs back again, which were Try A Little Tenderness and Come To Me. I’m not a politician so I don’t want to get caught up in record company politics. Because I don’t record records to sit in my cupboard, you know what I mean? So that’s all it was, I just felt they needed to be heard to be honest. There’s enough Bitty Mclean stuff that’s been locked in some cupboard somewhere. I’m an independent artist with my own label. I do my own thing, I do my own production now and I don’t have to answer to anyone. So I’m just going to go for it and put those two songs on the album. And it’s kind of a continuation of the relationship that we’ve built up since nineteen ninety five. Those songs just needed to be heard. It’s not a case of choosing a song because it’s famous or nothing like that. I think it goes back to the point, that, if you’re into reggae music today you might not relate to Stevie Wonder or Otis Redding (as crazy as that might sound!). I mean I can because I’m 37 years old and can relate to that period where Stevie was… well he still is famous… but I was listening to Stevie on the radio, or my Dad’s Otis Redding records. But to the average eighteen year to twenty five year old, those artists aren’t necessarily what they relate to. So for Bitty McLean to interpret a song from that era I don’t think that’s a bad thing at all man.

It works both ways of course. People who don’t know reggae but love the song get to know you and people who only like reggae get to know the song.

That’s it. It’s something I found when I did the previous album and did the song Walk Away From Love. David Ruffin from The Temptations had sung that song. But the rhythm track was an Alton Ellis rhythm and a lot of people thought “that’s Bitty McLean’s rhythm”. So it’s kind of an education where people go, “no that’s not an original rhythm, Alton Ellis was the original”. And then people start digging and go, “oh yes, Alton Ellis!” So I think it’s kind of cool man. I think the whole foundation of reggae music was based on cover versions and interpretations of different songs and rhythms. I mean people are still interpreting classical music, which is so many hundreds of years old. I ain’t got a problem singing cover versions and bringing the music to another generation.

You’ve been re-interpreting the classics for years. What makes a classic song?

(LAUGHS) That’s the lottery question again! You just do your best to be honest. Sometimes it’s the melody, sometimes it’s the lyrics, sometimes it’s the rhythm. We have a saying: “All kind of people come a dance”. That means it’s not just one type of person that goes to a club or a dance. You get some people who go because they might want to listen to the music, some people come because they might want to go out for a drink or smoke. So there’s no one format. I don’t know what it is to be honest! If I knew I’d make hit records every minute! (LAUGHS) Sometimes it’s the hook, sometimes it’s the rhythm track. All I know is I try my best when it comes to putting my voice on a record. If I don’t feel it I’m not going to put my voice on it or it won’t be released.

You’re known for singing sweet love songs but the album goes into deep roots in the middle.

Yeah and I don’t think that’s in any way contradictory. A few people have mentioned that. I did a couple of interviews last week and people were surprised to hear Johnny Osbourne and Bitty singing Jahovia. And this is it again: it’s not just one dimension. Bitty Mclean isn’t just singing love songs. That wasn’t the influence I grew up with. I was listening to Burning Spear, Culture, Gladiators. That’s that whole background to me coming out to be honest. I’ve got nothing to hide or feel ashamed to sing about Jahovia or anything conscious or write a song that’s kind of food for thought if you know what I mean. So that’s just me as an artist, I’m glad that I’m moving on and have had a chance to do that. Because with the previous album it was very much in the rocksteady era which was very romantic. It was the most romantic period of Jamaican music was rocksteady. It would have been impossible to sing a cultural song on those rhythm tracks so it was another branch to the tree to show the songwriting skills and the vibe which I grew up with. The music was very conscious back in the seventies and that’s what we were absorbing while listening to the music.

Consciousness is an interesting one. Some people like Alpheus who I interviewed last year see love songs as conscious songs.

Well there you go. We have a saying “God is love” so if you’re singing about love you’re still conscious in that sense and you’re still singing about consciousness. I got no problem with that. I do love writing love songs and that’s kind of my vein but that doesn’t mean I’m not watching the news or how people are living and that. People are being stabbed every week in London and there’s shooting and stuff like that man. It affects everyone man. So there’s got to be a time when you’ve got to sing something conscious and not run away from it.

What do you think of the current UK reggae scene? Is it in good health?

Awww… come on! You know it’s not, Angus!

That’s a much more direct answer than I’m used to hearing.

It’s something I get asked about all the time and I say it’s not just one thing that means British reggae is at the low level it’s at right now. The one thing I always point to is that there’s no scene anymore where you can go out on a Saturday night and hear the local sounds string up and play the latest music and pre-releases or whatever. That kind of scene has gone whereas in Europe it’s still there. You can go out and listen to sounds weekly. So that’s one drawback to where the state of British music is at the moment. I’ve been kind of spoilt. My career was launched on an international level so I didn’t just make music for England or for Birmingham (where I’m from). I always had an insight from an international level where I could be selling records in South Africa, or Hawaii or in Europe. So I’ve always had that vision that if I make a record or an album there’s a worldwide audience. I’m saying the whole world’s going to love what I do but around the world there’s going to be territories, which are into reggae where the music can be marketed. And I think there’s a lot of artists, the majority of artists, who have focussed too much on the base of England and not looked overseas to launch themselves in different territories around the world. Again, self reliance is the key. You can’t always depend on other people to do that [for you]. That’s something I’ve always done. I’ve always done my own little bit of networking because I was only signed for two years as an artist. And that was only an independent label, it wasn’t a major or nothing like that. So I’ve kind of tapped into a little market for myself and done my own research. I don’t know. There’s a number of issues for British scene. I mean, how many distributers have we got distributing the music? How many labels have we got signing reggae acts? How many venues have we got where reggae acts can play live? You might have a one off big show at Brixton Academy or wherever but I’m taking on a weekly or monthly basis. Once a month where you can see an up close and personal live show with a British act. What we tend to do is always an event, whether it’s Valentines or Mothers Day or Christmas or New Years. Outside of that there’s rarely any shows any more unless it’s an event or some kind of diary date, which is ludicrous to me. Because, like I say, you can jump on the Eurostar, get into Europe, and you know for a fact, on a Friday or Saturday, there’s somewhere you can go and listen to reggae music. Germany works, Italy works, whereas in England you’re going to be searching. You might have a club night where the pirate deejays might be playing but I’m talking about live music, which in the whole scene is what keeps the foundation under the artist. I don’t know if that ever existed anyway to be honest. I don’t remember a scene where you could see live acts within reggae, within the UK. It was very much PA based which I don’t think helped build an artist’s career. Doing PAs, [compared to] when you’re standing on stage with a live band, well, that’s really the real thing. But the sound system culture is the big minus, that’s where the business, well, we lost our footing. When we couldn’t go out and listen to a sound system anymore. Sound systems have stopped stringing up on a regular basis.

Tell us about your plans. You have a tour planned for the summer?

Yeah. We’re supposed to be out at the festivals, Sly, Robbie, myself. Summerjam, Rototom, there’s a list… I’m still looking at the itinerary at the moment! But that’ll be wicked because, like, the album really should have been out last year but then the diaries wouldn’t have matched. Sly & Robbie were out doing their thing, I was out doing my thing, so this year’s perfect in that the album would be out and we’d be able to tour it as well. We’ve just come back from Japan where we did a five night stint at the Cotton Club, two shows a night, which was really cool. That’s like taking reggae onto this, like, prestigious level, more of a jazz orientated crowd but that was cool.

What’s your take on the scene out there?

Again, you’ve got Club Jamaica; you’ve got lists of clubs. Like I say there’s a scene. So three nights a week you know you can go somewhere in Tokyo and listen to reggae music. And we were only in Tokyo so I’m not talking about Nagoya or Yokohama or all these other places in Japan. This is just one part, and there’s at least six clubs with regular sound systems having their base or their resident night. It’s exciting and I feel, that’s how we should have it here in England, you know what I mean? Where you can just walk into a club and hear the music that you’re into. It’s a shame what’s happening here, but it’s always exciting when you go somewhere else. They say the grass is greener on the other side but it is! It really is at the moment. I don’t know what the solution is to bring it back to how we once had it. I don’t know if it will come back to be honest. But we live in hope man. We live in hope.

Why do you think your classic no gimmicks style of reggae remains in demand?

Because there’s been a drought of it! (LAUGHS) If it wasn’t for Beres [Hammond]. I have to say Beres because he’s been so consistent. But there’s been a drought and it goes back to what I was saying before. The imbalance of singers and deejays makes it look like reggae’s a one dimension thing. It’s just dancehall music. I mean, going back to releasing On Bond Street, it was totally against the grain. There was nothing out there that was old but new, new but old. I think that’s the key to why it worked. And I’ve never strayed from the authentic roots of reggae music, which is drum, bass, organ, piano and guitar. I stay close to that formula because it works! (LAUGHS) The blueprint of Tommy McCook and The Supersonics, The Sound Dimensions, The Revolutionaries, The Professionals, all these great groups stayed close to that blueprint. So I’m not going out there to redesign the engine! I’m just sticking and bringing my original touch to out. And the only original thing that I bring to it is my voice, my melodies and my songs. But nothing new. I’m trying to say I’m reinventing it all or doing anything that Alton wasn’t doing, or Ken Boothe. The greats. I’m kind of staying close to that blueprint. It’s new but old, old but new. “Jamaican Soul” someone called it the other day. It’s soul music but it’s Jamaican. Totally authentic Jamaican music. So that’s me: I just stay close to that. I don’t go over the boundaries too far. Sing the odd soul tune or two, the odd groove, but stay close the authentic old one drop.

Photos credit : (c) (p) 2007-2008 Youri Lenquette, except for the photo wih Sly & Bitty McLean : (c) (p) 2006 Wonder Knack.

SOURCE: United Reggae

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Assassin Responds To Abrupt Removal From Stage During Red Strip Live Performance

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FROM ASSASSIN, IN HIS OWN WORDS:

On Saturday March 28, 2009, my performance at the Red Stripe Live concert was ended prematurely and abruptly, as I was stripped of my microphone and escorted off stage. I have spent many years of hard work and sacrifice building my reputation and brand as an artist, with a great level of integrity and professionalism. Indeed, the decision to include me in the line-up of this particular event is testament to that. I therefore have a responsibility to my fans and the general public to explain exactly what took place.

Upon being booked for the event, the songs I would be performing in my set were submitted in their entirety (without edits) weeks in advance, as requested by the organizers of the event. I rehearsed the songs in their entirety, on two separate occasions, in the presence of representatives from Red Stripe. There was no written or verbal communication from Red Stripe indicating any disapproval of the planned set, nor any discomfort with any specific lyrics or song. During my final rehearsal, I was merely asked to bear in mind the nature of the show, and upon arrival at the venue I was given a generic briefing by the promoters. At this point, there was still no indication from the promoters of any issue or objection to the planned performance.

During my performance, I did not deviate in any way from the rehearsed set. I was therefore shocked when approximately eight minutes into the ten minutes I was allotted, I was forced to discontinue. I was subsequently accused of breaching company policy by using what the promoter labeled offensive and discriminatory lyrical content, specifically, the use of the word “fish” in the song titled “Pree This.”

The promoter then demanded that I apologize to the audience, a demand to which I did not comply. I am very disappointed by the unprofessional manner in which the matter was handled. I am even more concerned about the potential damage that may be done to my reputation that I have worked so hard to achieve and maintain.

My management has since been contacted by Red Stripe’s Maxine Whittingham-Osbourne, who admitted it was miscommunication among Red Stripe representatives rather than any wrong doing on my part that resulted in this whole incident. She also stated that after reviewing the lyrics of the song, agreed I did not break any of Red Stripe’s company codes. She apologized for failing to communicate with me prior to my performance that any lyrics were deemed questionable.

I still feel the need to take this opportunity to assure those who support my music that I am in no way at fault for Saturday night’s unfortunate incident. I will continue to exercise discretion in my work, and I remain committed to the high level of integrity that has come to be expected of me.

______________________

The lyrics of the song at the center of the incident are as follows:

“Pree This”

Intro
Jamaica a wi island
Jamrock, what kind a rock?… Trust mi is a diamond
Mi nah run lef an go no where
Mi nah try off a Philippines, mi nah try off a Thailand
No, because Jamaica a mi island
Fi lef ya come in like mi tek sea ova dry land…

Verse One
Well Pree this
How so much fish deh yah like seh a sea this?
And pree this, dem gooda hear that an want say me dis
Well pree this, see a Bible yah, gwaan go read this
And tell mi whey yuh see say yuh fi a man yuh P?
Eh eh, no sah, Jamaica mi can’t believe this
A find headless pickney, a couldn’t we this
No murder nah commit a St. Kitts and Nevis
But we a gwaan like seh we a Islamic extremist
Low mi nuh officer after a nuh speed this
How yuh a gwaan so and is a draw a weed this
Alright then nuh say nutten, hold this is a G this
Yuh face still mek up?… alright a three this
Di country a mash up, how wi ago treat this?
If we unite mi know we can defeat this
Because a full time we bring back the sweetness
Until Jamaica give wi diabetes

Chorus
Because the economy poor and the crime rate high
but a Jamaica still a we yard
Mi nuh know bout you but mi sure bout me,
dem ting deh nuffi gwaan ina mi yard
What mi say? Things not great but wi must hold the faith
Although times so hard, mi say
Wi affi try set it, we nah run lef it
Jamaica still a wi yard

Verse Two
Well hear this
Come mek wi pretend seh is a election year this
And everybody try find a better way fi steer this
Cause if we continue so, tourists goin fear this and
nobody nah go want come near this
Well hear this…
Jamaica we can’t move so we a live too careless
Nuff prayer a send up mek di Almighty spear this
Well Ja-Mek-Ya him a test wi, wi can’t fail this
Him goodly take it back, so do nuh mek him send a bailiff
Mi kick back pon di beach and mi a sip a Baileys
And mi a remember how much hurricane and how much near miss
But wi crime rate mek wi feel like wi deh pon death row
Is like is an electric chair this

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