Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Well Hellooo Dubtonic Kru!

If you've wondered what Dubtonic Kru was doing after their last and highly successful album "Evolution", here's an update.

The Kru, which ranked World's Best Band in 2011, is back with a fresh single entitled, "99%". This song is inspired by a large margin of those suffering from the eternal greed of those in charge. It serves as a reminder that those who are fed up should unite as a body and take charge.

The song is produced by band members 'Jubba' White on the White Stone Productions label and Phillip "Winta" James and comes on the heels of other releases on the same riddim by Protoje and new comer Alfray. "They are the 1% we are the 99%, people power" Dubtonic Kru.


Toward a formal music industry

Jamaica land we love
As we seek to uproot credible advancement, and in-roads made by those striving to broaden the scope of the Jamaican music industry, as well as, point those who seek informative, innovative/ground-breaking, and positive music news in relations to this industry, New Image Promotions News (#NIPnews) see fit to highlight an article written by Gleaner Writer Melville Cooke Arpil 21, which looks at the issues,concerns and prospects that augurs well for the introduction of a formal music industry in Jamaica and presented as follows:-

While the topic is always thorny - this time around, it is prompted by a State of the Music Symposium at JAMPRO'S New Kingston offices, which I attended a few weeks ago. Immediately identifiable with Dr. Sonja Stanley Niaah of the University of the West Indies' (UWI) Institute of Culture Studies (ICS), part of its purpose is to inform policy which gives structure to a cultural product which we have stumbled on.

However, during the time period I attended on the final day of this year's annual conference, the issue of why formalise, at all, came up. Even as I understand the reasoning of those who believe that the way in which we have approached making money from musical intellectual property works, I believe in formalising an ad hoc industry which has been at critical points in its development, a glorious accident. Still, I can understand the perspective of those who come from a tradition of substantial income already being generated. Naturally, the argument is why adjust what has been working so far? How can the input of persons who were nowhere to be seen when a now-acclaimed performer was struggling be even justified, much less accepted and trusted?

Plus - and let us not pussyfoot around the issue - how can those already involved in making homegrown Jamaican music be sure that the process will not result in taxation? And it must, as the sector is notably and woefully not exactly rushing to the tax collector to file returns.

And let us not forget that there is no legitimate accounting for much of the capital which funds Jamaica popular music projects. This is not unique to the country; music is notoriously easy for money to be unaccounted for, both on the funding and profit sides. The private sector and government have not rushed to put money into Jamaican popular music, despite recent developments, and the initial cash for the recordings and events which we enjoy so much has to come from somewhere.

Still, I believe that much of the resistance by some persons invoked in making music in and from Jamaica, not so exalted, figure in a much larger pool. To put it another way, I believe many of those who resist a more formal structure for Jamaican popular music have a highly inflated sense of self and cannot comprehend a scenario where they are not the 'big man', and would rather preside over a market of a million dollars than have a 10 per cent share of 50 times that amount.

Further, there is this matter of 'paying dues', which I find to be very often a nice way of saying that someone must endure abuse and exploitation before they are allowed to 'buss' - make good money from their craft. Abuse is a contagious thing, many times recycled in full by those who suffered it. So many of those who have paid their dues of exploitation will be quite happy to pass it on to the next generation of music hopefuls.

It should not be so. How things have been in the beginning do not have to be how they are in the end.

All this aside, the major reason why we should have a formal structure to this business of music is because it is that - a business. And if we do not get our act together, it will increasingly become something that we used to be the best at. Instead of bemoaning how few of the top albums on the Billboard Reggae Charts are done by Jamaicans, we should be facing the hard facts.

We once had a monopoly on producing Jamaican popular music. Other people liked it and started to not only consume, but also produce it. They have done well, so now we groove to Rude, by Magic! While we have the stamp of authenticity (the Made in China branding won't work on this one), the product can be replicated, and it is being done.

Talent is not enough. Look at C-Sharp and Raging Fyah, among other bands, which have come out of the Edna Manley College for the Visual and Performing Arts, under the strong guidance of Ibo Cooper. They are part of reviving a band tradition in reggae from Jamaica which had faded terribly. Uprising Roots and Rootz Underground, not out of Edna Manley, have contributed significantly also.

There was a time when the West Indies cricket team was king of the hill through sheer talent and individual pride. Australia started a cricket academy and have won a handful of limited-overs world championships.

Those who believe that 'studiration beat education' and that their dominance over a tiny pie is an achievement should be wary that they not become a footnote in music history
written by persons outside the country who take seriously what we take for granted as our birthright.

Source: Gleaner-ja

Monday, April 20, 2015

First International Peter Tosh Day

"To every inspiration there's an influence" ~ Peter Tosh ~

April 20 (4/20) is officially, 'International Peter Tosh Day' as announced by The Peter Tosh Estate. This year 4/20 marks the first annual 'International Peter Tosh Day' , a celebration honouring the legendary reggae artiste, musician and human-rights activist.

Peter Tosh exploded on the world stage as an activist and solo artiste with his 1976 release, Legalise It. He worked to promote the legalisation of marijuana, equal rights, and to expand Jamaica's cultural and musical influence. Tosh was no stranger to oppression in his homeland, his music served as a catalyst for a generation to fight for what they believe in.

"People who go to his concerts, or line up to buy his latest record, not knowing quite what to expect. But his music showed you could be cool and tough, without being violent or a hoodlum," says Niambe McIntosh, Tosh's daughter and Peter Tosh estate administrator.

Now, almost 40 years later, Tosh's message rings louder than ever. With states and countries across the globe moving to legalise cannabis usage, it is more important than ever to share Tosh's philosophy of responsible cannabis consumption for medicinal and spiritual health benefits.

The Peter Tosh estate welcomes everyone to join the celebration, download a campaign photo and share across social media. International Peter Tosh Day (4/20) from here on, will be celebrated with special music releases, events and more. 


Major distribution deal for "Cheerleader" singer Omi

Jamaican recording artist Omi has landed a major distribution deal with Simon Cowell's SYCO Music label.  Cowell is known worldwide as the surly co-host of two of music's best platforms to launch new talentsAmerican Idol and X-Factor. Simon Cowell launched his SYCO label as an affiliate of Sony Music.

The remix of Omi's 'Cheerleader' by German producer Felix Jaehn, is a big hit in Australia and throughout Europe.  Omi's management according to a report, hope his new deal with Sony will break "Cheerleader" in the lucrative US market. The single became an instant hit back in 2012 when it was first released in Jamaica and again in 2014, when it was remixed by Felix Jaehn and released across Europe, making great impact in countries such as Germany, Australia and, The Netherlands. Felix Jaehn has not only been successful at remixing the song but has struck big with his video edit of it as well, which currently surpass 46 million Youtube views since it's 2014 release.


Sunday, April 19, 2015

How Reggae Grammys and the Recording Academy process works Pt.1

"..you don't always see artists being nominated that reflect what's happened in our industry that year..." Cristy Barber

The following is 2 part interview conducted by Angus Taylor with Cristi Barber, President of Ghetto Youths International extracted from a publication on reggaeville earlier this month and addresses the Reggae Grammys issues and concerns. Informative news can never grow old which is why we choose to share this interview here with you.

Every February the Grammy Awards come around: and the complaints about the reggae Grammy nominations and winners have become as predictable as the results themselves. But Cristy Barber - president of Ghetto Youths International, Grammy winning producer and unabashed Grammy evangelist - says it's time to stop whining, shape up and get involved. Angus Taylor, who has no interest in the Reggae Grammy or big industry awards in general, spoke to Cristy to see if her enthusiasm would rub off...

What's the problem with the reggae Grammy?
People are just really uneducated on how the Recording Academy process works. It's not just reggae. I sit in Nashville and work with famous country artists, all genres of artists and a lot of them don't get it. You would be shocked. So it's not like "Oh everybody's so savvy but us Jamaican or reggae people who just don't got it together" - it's everybody across the board.

The problem is that the people who represent reggae music 24/7 do not vote. The solution is that the people who represent reggae music 24/7, that have the creative credentials to do so, should register to vote. It's as easy as that. The problem is the people that tend to vote in our category are not always necessarily 100% in the know of what is going on in our industry, and that's why they tend to vote for the people they don know or their all-time favourites. That's where the name-recognition situation happens.

I'm not saying every time somebody wins that has a recognisable name it isn't just due, that's not true, but I would be an idiot to say that there isn't a problem because I'm the one who raised the red flag and started this campaign. Everybody's been aware of my campaign for ten years. And I will consistently talk to people like yourself who care to want to learn and hear because I share these articles with the Academy and they share them with other genres. You'd be shocked at how many people in like hip hop you're going to educate with this piece.

I'm a white girl from Michigan but I might as well be Jamaican. I defend this music to the nail. I've worked at nine major labels, I take all my major label budgets to Jamaica, shoot my videos in Jamaica, record my records in Jamaica, I bring all the money back to that country. I have committed my adult life to this work. I'm not trying to beat up in my backyard, I just know how much we could do better.  I have consistently keep educating and fight the good fight - so that Beres Hammond can get that Grammy one day, so that Morgan Heritage can, so Tarrus Riley can, so [Academy voters] can start to discover them.

How does the reggae Grammy work?
How the Acadey is set up is every genre has it own screening committee. They have a screening committee for pop, for world music, for hip hop, for gospel, for reggae.

What the screening committees do is make sure each album is released within that calendar year in the United States of America. It has to be considered a new recording, nothing can be over five years old. And it has to be considered over 75% of that music genre.

Then the first round of votings happens. The ballot is sent out to all members that are paying their membership, the Grammy voters. All the people who made it through the screening committee, which is about 60 people, are on the firt ballot and you just have to pick five of those that you like. Whatever five got the most votes from the first round end up on the final ballot, that's how you get your top five. That's how every genre works.

The Recording Academy is made up of industry voters and not everybody can be an industry voter. You have to have six creative credentials that the Recording Academy feels makes you an expert in the music industry in order to vote. Record label presidents, marketing people, A and R people, journalists, they're not considered creative. What they consider creative is: producers, musicians, songwriers, sound engineers, video directors, video producers, the people who write the liner notes, the people who design the album packaging - they're considered creative. In reggae we've got probably one billion of those type of people - we've got creativity coming out of our ears.

And you just have to work on six projects, so let's say you wrote the liner notes for six albums, there's your creative credential. You fill out the application and turn in the proof of it. Once you do that six, you're done - you don't have to do six every year, all you have to do is just pay your membership dues every year. A one year membership is a hundred bucks (US$100). Now we all know that the money that we make in this music industry because Jamaicans are always "Oh my God, it's all so much money for membership!" Really? Not that this person said it, but Busy Signal, all the money you make, you can't afford $100? Morgan Heritage? it's funny, you know?

So if reggae people aren't voting - who is?
What tends to happen is most of these people tend to be the voters that take the Recording Academy voting seriously. If you watch the programme on TV it's like the Carole Kings, the David Fosters, the Herbie Hancocks, that's why you'll always see those type of people performing, you'll always see their albums nominated, because they're very involved in the Academy and they taking voting seriously.

What happens in reggae is that if the people that are in the industry are not registered to vote, the people who tend to come over to our category to vote are people who are not necessarily so reggae-savvy and tend to vote for their all-time favourites or names that they recognise. So that's why everybody complains every year. Lee Scratch Perry is an icon, Ziggy Marley is great - no one's going to debate that, or Sly and Robbie - oh my God, two of the greatest musicians we ever had. But you don't always see artists being nominated that reflect what's happened in our industry that year and you might see a record from those individuals that you might not even have heard of.

People will submit these records and are getting very smart because they know in our category there's name-recognition thing. Especially with Sly and Robbie - they will put Sly and Robbie's name on there because it almost guarantees you a nomination because of the respect that they have with the Academy voters, who tend to be a white guy from Minnesota, who happens to know who they are. It's not necessarily the person that's sitting in Jamaica that's been working at Big Yard all year and knows all the artists and the stuff that really happened in the reggae industry.

When people are on Facebook and Twitter talking about the Grammy committee they think it's like some secret society or it's like some people who don't know the difference - actually, these people are a help. Making sure that the right releases are in there and the people that we know have been doing very well in our genre are actually voting. That's the problem we have - nobody in our genre cares enough to vote.


Next Sunday see Part 2. Reggae Grammys - The misconceptions addressed