The California reggae scene has been thriving for some time now and vocalist/producer, E.N. Young, formerly of Tribal Seeds, has played a significant role in this success. This classically trained pianist who now plays several instruments including the Melodica fell in love with Jamaican music as a youth in San Diego. He talks candidly about his journey as I sought to learn more about the movement he is pushing in the name of reggae. By the end of our conversation, I definitely saw E.N as an authentic reggae ambassador.
Topics covered In this episode:
1:35 – 2019 Summer Daze Endless Nights Tour
2:21 – 4th studio album, Forest Wilderness released in 2018
3:57 – Working with Kelissa from Jamaica
5:45 – Collabs on the latest album (Half Pint, Peetah Morgan, Inna Vision, Meta and the Cornerstones)
6:56 – Love for playing the Melodica and linking with Addis Pablo
9:33 – Production and instrumentation from Imperial Sound Studios in San Diego
15:25 – Gaining inspiration as a teen (especially spiritual influence) from 70’s reggae
20:10 – Resistance from family members and society in general for embracing reggae culture
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.
The Royal Family of Reggae, Morgan Heritage, have released their newest album, Strictly Roots. The album, which has been available for pre-order since March 10th, 2015, has reached #1 on the iTunes Reggae Chart, and the first single, “Perform And Done” has received substantial rotation on commercial radio. The album is available in retail stores nationwide including Best Buy, Target, Walmart, and Barnes and Noble. Purchase Strictly Roots on iTunes, here: http://apple.co/1zzk8II or on Amazon, here: http://amzn.to/1OyYCe8.
The sensational roots reggae quintet, which comprises siblings Peetah Morgan (vocals), Una Morgan (keyboard/vocals), Gramps Morgan (keyboard/vocals), Lukes Morgan (rhythm guitar) and Mr. Mojo Morgan (percussion/vocals), is undoubtedly one of contemporary reggae’s most powerful forces on the global stage. Guided by sheer acumen and a passionate desire to make their already rich musical legacy even more impactful, Morgan Heritage, after much deliberation and contemplation, triumphantly delivers their latest album exclusively on their very own label CTBC (Cool To Be Conscious) Music Group.
Strictly Roots features a wide variety of guest performers including platinum selling pop/dancehall phenomenon, Shaggy; American reggae and R&B vocalist, J Boog; third generation ambassadors from the Morgan and Marley families, Jemere Morgan and Jo Mersa Marley; reggae sensation, Chronixx; lead singer Eric Rachmany from rock, world and reggae band, Rebelution; and Bobby Lee from the American Grammy-nominated pop reggae band, SOJA.
Morgan Heritage recently premiered “Wanna Be Loved” (ft. Eric Rachmany of Rebelution) with ThePier.org. On working with Morgan Heritage, Eric Rachmany of Rebelution told ThePier.org, “It’s an honor to collaborate with Morgan Heritage. In my eyes they are one of the best Reggae bands of all time. Their style is like no other out there and their story is remarkable. They sent me ‘Wanna Be Loved’ and I immediately connected with the concept that each and every one simply wants to be loved for who they are.” In addition, Morgan Heritage previously partnered with Billboard.com to premiere the video for their first single, “Perform And Done,” as well as working with Yahoo! Music to premiere “So Amazing,” the second single off the album.
Regarding the album, Una Morgan states, “We are thankful that the first album we’ve released as an independent label has been received so well. We hope our independent efforts will be an additional example for others to continue follow.”
Morgan Heritage, which has established themselves as the premiere live group on the reggae circuit, is currently on tour in support of Strictly Roots. The tour also features third generation ambassador from the Morgan family, Jemere Morgan, as a special guest. In addition, Oxfam, an international confederation of 17 organizations working together with partners and local communities in more than 90 countries, will be on site for select shows on the Strictly Roots tour. Regarding the partnership, Oxfam’s Outreach Project Manager, Bob Ferguson, added, “Oxfam America is pleased to be joining forces with Morgan Heritage and their fans to help right the wrongs of poverty and injustice. Oxfam believes that music can change the world, and we are looking forward to working with The Royal Family of Reggae to help make some positive and real social change.” For more information, please visit www.Oxfam.org.
“Dub Rockers,” is a new compilation that pairs American based reggae bands with Jamaican reggae vocalists. Bridging the gap and highlighting the similarities between the two scenes. The bond is the music and sharing the universal message of One Love.
Check out the video for “Only Man In The World” by Anuhea and Tarrus Riley