Tuesday, January 28, 2020

A March Release Date for Jah9''s 3rd Upcoming Studio Album

Fans of the eclectic Jamaican roots-reggae and jazzy singer Jah9, awaits with high expectation, the release of "Note To Self" the 3rd studio album promised by this very special artist whose music catalog is nothing short of an audiobook of doctrine, poems, love stories, and phrases to be treasured.

Jah9's self-consciousness is an admirable quality and she selflessly shares her vision and knowledge through music speaking to the minds and hearts of those who care to listen. When the first single "MAAT" from the album was released it sets the tone for what should be another interesting, motivating and inspiring musical journey with this princess. Regarding the track a publication on her website states, "Jah9 discusses some of the principles of balance, order, and justice that transfer over from her yoga practice with similar teachings.'  Yes indeed, a balance that is necessary to re-energize one's own spirit.

'Note To Self' would have appropriately fit the name of Jah9's last two albums combined but obviously, she has much more to share and we are so grateful. Keep them coming princess, the world awaits. 

Sophia McKay

Sunday, January 26, 2020

Koffee Historic 2020 Grammy Award Winner

Koffee acceptance speech at Grammys 2020
Koffee is the proud recipient of the 2020 Grammy Award Best Reggae Album, Rapture. January 26, 2020, became a historic day for young Jamaican recording artist Koffee and the Jamaican Music Industry as she became the fourth solo female and youngest solo artist to have won a Grammy Award. In her acceptance speech, Koffee said:-

"I'd like to thank, producers and everyone who made Rapture what it is today. I'd like to pay my respect to Julian Marley, Steele Pulse, Sly and Robbie, Morgan Heritage for all the input they've made in reggae industry and in music I've learned a lot from them and other older people in the industry and that's why I'm here that's what brought us all here. This one is for all of us this one is for Reggae, this one is for Jamaica.."

Koffee illustrious career path began when she uploaded a video to Instagram of her singing in 2017, a tribute to Track and Field Legend Usain Bolt that went viral. Thereafter veteran reggae artist Cocoa Tea introduced her at Rebel Salute in Jamaican then, Rototom Sunsplash in Spain. She went on to perform with Protoje then Chronixx who invited her to join him on BBC 1Xtra live show where she performed "Raggamuffin" from Tuff Gong Studios and thereafter, she went on to tour with him in the UK.  Watch Koffee receive her Grammy below.

Koffee released her debut single "Toast" in 2018 and subsequently got signed to Columbia Records in 2019 then later released the EP, Rapture which landed her a nomination for the Grammy Award Best Reggae Album, along with Junior Gong Marley, Third World, Morgan Heritage, Roots Radics, and Steele Pulse.

Sophia McKay

Wednesday, January 22, 2020

Crying in the Dark - Music Entertainers and Mental Health

It's a crisis! Like seriously and a topic many might overlook but the issue of mental depression and mental health is real among artists and needs to be addressed. In Jamaica or among Jamaicans mental health issues are only taken seriously when the illness is extreme and, stigmatized whenever persons display signs of it. Like any other profession with a high rate of success, working within the music industry can be stressful and very likely create mental health issues. Yes! While fans listen to music to relieve stress, the artists whose job is to create music that appeases their fans suffer from stress or stress-related issues.

As I stumbled across another social media post, by a popular Jamaican artist admitting to having to cope with mental health issues, this writer feels obliged to write about the subject in order to encourage other artists to speak up and get help. Mental health issues are nothing to be ashamed of, first accept there is a problem then move toward getting it fixed. Acceptance is the first major step towards healing and support, as was given to both artists in response, opens a portal for other persons going through this ordeal to make a breakthrough in a society that has been judgemental more often than not Dr. Garth McDonald also known as dancehall/reggae artist Shaka Pow said, "Mental Health issues affect all sectors of society. The music industry no different, stress forms a major component of the profession for those who are successful and who trying to buss. There is also hereditary/family associated with mental illnesses."

In May 2019, Billboard ran an article about a study that found 73% of independent artists struggle with mental health issues. However, the music industry is yet to address as the clock ticks.

Signs and Behavioural Patterns
The very mention of mental depression to some people is fearful. Many families are
afraid to speak about the illness if a member is affected. Some even disassociate themselves from loved ones. The fear of being judged, disgraced or condemned arise from cultural practices that involve harnessing traumatic experiences. The display of erratic behavior, mood swing, confusion, anxiety/panic attack, memory loss are symptoms of mental depression often overlooked or considered ignorant, bad-mind, envious, ill-mannered and the like but in most cases, people are oblivious to the signs when it's a close friend or family suffering. 

In a 2017 article titled Artists Are Human And Mental Health Care is a Human Right by Katie Alice Greer for Cash Music, Greer recount her own struggles with mental illness and the need for artists to have an accessible, well developed mental healthcare system:-

"Though I have lots of artist friends with whom I've shared vital mental health-related conversations, I don't mean to suggest this talk happens in public or is free of discomfort. Most of us are not socialized to be immediately aware of these problems or have the communicative tools to readily articulate what's happening in our heads. It involves a lot of patience (with ourselves and with others), and it involves a lot of digging...read more"

There is hope for persons suffering from mental depression if caught early. Herbal Nutritionist popularly known as Congo who promotes healthy eating habits via natural foods and an electric diet said, "lack of nutrition, lack of important minerals that cause cells in the body to regenerate will cause a malfunction in the brain that subsequently leads to these problems." 

Coping with Anxiety/Panic Attacks
While Congo remains adamant about a drastic change of diet that can significantly reduce symptoms of mental depression a Nonprofit Mental Health awareness website rudr1ven.com suggests tools and resources such as, "Grounding techniques", as a way of dealing with symptoms of anxiety panic attack. 

The mental health issue is real among artists many of who seem unaware or in denial of their state of mind. Dr. Garth "Shaka Pow" McDonald suggests in this regard, "when recognized personally or by persons in one's circle the aim should be to see a psychiatrist for proper diagnosis and treatment without fear of privacy breaches."

Written by Sophia McKay

Sunday, January 19, 2020

Jesse Royal Ignites The Rebel Salute 2020 Show

Jesse Royal - Rebel Salute 2020
In one of his most receptive live performances in Jamaica since the beginning of his illustrious career, the Lion Order, roots-reggae singer Jesse Royal gave an outstanding performance at the 2020 Rebel Salute festival in St. Anns, Jamaica. With a carefully curated set Jesse clad in blue distressed  jeans and a red blazer captivated his audience with prowess. A true performer, poised for greatness and,  known for his unique style and eloquent expressions easily got into his zone as lyrics and melodies emanate from within to create an aura that lifted the massive Rebel Salute audience. 

An advocate for youth, Jesse in a show of support for young dancehall artist Quada incorporated snippets of the unruly camp artist single, 'Tint' during the set. His flow and signature move excited the crowd who cheered him on as he delivered a slew of hits to include "400 Years", "Generation", "Black Woman", "Modern Day Judas" and, "Lion Order."

Unfortunately, time constraints prevented Jesse from performing a full set and despite
Jesse Royal Rebel Salute 2020
the rains that came at the latter end of his performance, patrons already prepared to weather the storm, rocked and grooved to the cool and deadly sounds of Jesse Royal and his band. This performance did not only complimented the night's event but was definitely a highlight of the event.

Rebel Salute 2020 facilitated another blessed moment on stage for Jesse Royal who is currently enjoying a new wave of acceptance among hardcore dancehall fans after striking the hit collaboration with Vybz Kartel, "More Than You Receive" off the much talked about To Tanesha RnB/Hip Hop album.  To the Rebel Salute production team, people of St. Anns and other patrons in attendance at this great reggae product of an event, Rebel Salute, "We and di lion dem good. Thank you for having us." #LionOrder

Contributed: Zhane M. Miller
Written by: Sophia McKay for NIPnews 

Friday, January 17, 2020

Off With a Bang - 2020 Reggae and Dancehall First Month Motivation

Young Jamaican Recording Artists For Super Bowl 
As Koffee rides high kicking it with the stars she is slated to perform on two major American concert stages Coachella and the Super Bowl Weekend preludes. Joining her are the rising Jamaican stars Shensea and Squash 6ix Boss on the list of performers for the Viewtopia Music Festival. These events create major opportunities for artists trying to increase their fanbase and garner international exposure. Viewtopia is one of the biggest preludes of the NFL Super Bowl.

Inner Circle "Bad Boys" Honoured 
Iconic Reggae band Inner Circle was honored at the world premiere of the highly anticipated movie series, Bad Boys 4 For Life 4 recently in Miami. Their Bad Boys soundtrack created high energy for the movie since its 1995 debut and is claimed to be the most popular Reggae song of all time. Bad Boys For Life 4 is the final in a series that reunites American Actors Will Smith and Martin Lawrence on screen for the first time in 17 years in the "Bad Boys" action franchise. The film is directed by Michael Bay and produced by Don Simpson and Jerry Bruckheimer. Inner Circle celebrates 50 years in music in 2019.

Buju Banton Dancehall Influence on Bad Boys For Life 4 Soundtrack
Joining Inner Circle on the soundtrack playlist is none other than the now, Roc Nation recording artist Buju Banton who added his dancehall input to a soundtrack entitled,  "Murda She Wrote," for the Bad Boys For Life 4 movie, that rides to $6.36 million USD at the box office in pre-shows.

Numbers Don't Lie - Popcaan "Vanquish" Mixtape 
When Popcaan released 'Vanquish' mixtape on Drake's OVO Sound label back in December 2019 it debut at Number 2 on Billboard Reggae charts. The mixtape, which Pappy gifted to his fans for Christmas was released ahead of his 2020 album as a way of offloading some of the numerous tracks Popcaan said he has recorded and not released.  'Vanquish' since its' release has already garnered over 3 million views collectively on youtube alone with the track Numbers Don't Lie receiving over 930,000 views. 

In an interview with Hot 97s radio personality Ebro Darden aka Old Man Ebro, Popcaan hails rapper Drake for supporting and shedding light on Dancehall by shedding light on him (Popcaan). He also revealed that a Drake/Popcaan collaboration will be included on his 2020 album.

"To Tanesha" The Album by Vybz Kartel Interesting Perspectives
Released January 10th, 2020 To Tanesha by Vybz Kartel is essentially a love letter from a
"dancehall artist expressing certain emotions to his baby momma.." and, "a centrally RnB and Hip Hop album created to show the artiste diversity, as stated in a release.  However, Vbyz Kartel is quick to point out, "...I say I am in no way trying to be a hip hop artiste or switching genre camps."  Interestingly too is the fact that "no profanity" was used throughout the entire album plus, a number of the tracks slaps! Favorites include, "More Than You Receive," "Case Iron Heart," "Rocket To Da Moon" among at least 5 tracks that are steadily streaming. According to a release posted on producers, Vybz Kartel And Shortboss Musik labels, "The album features some of dancehall and reggae's most prolific artists such as Jesse Royal and Jada Kingdom" whom the incarcerated DJ personally acknowledge as, " ..two people I admire and while listening to each track just felt that their unique styles were the right match for the project."

Explaining the process of creating tracks for the project Kartel said, "shaping the sound for this new album was a "play by ear process as I've never  done a Hip Hop and RnB influenced album before but being a fan of my American cousins genre, I pretty much knew how to shape my original melodies." 

Morgan Heritage Launch iJAM Music Fest
Multi-Grammy Award-Winning Morgan Heritage launches the iJAM Music Festival in Miami. The one-day festival features international music superstars performing a spectrum of genres including Reggae, Rock, RnB, Soca, Latin, and much more all while bringing awareness through music and maintaining a sound mind, body, and soul.

St Lucian Reggae Artist Ambassadorship Recognition
St Lucian Reggae artist Taj Weekes was named Goodwill and Brand Ambassador of Saint Lucia, the Government announced. "The Saint Lucia Goodwill Ambassadors program is proposed as a tool to actualize the national cultural policy in a number of key areas," said Minister Fortuna Belrose. "They are citizens of Saint Lucia who have received international acclaim and the overall objective of the program is to serve as a catalyst for socio-economic transformation and the development of human capital in all sectors related to the creative arts and the industries, sports, visual arts, gastronomy, and music." 

Sophia McKay