Thursday, August 6, 2015

Jamaica's Music Independence

Happy Independence Day Jamaica
When Jamaicans got a taste of ska music on the verge of their independence in 1962, they just couldn't get enough of it. It was a different sound from anything heard before, the first uniquely Jamaican music to be widely recorded.

Radios and record players became popular in Jamaica in the 1950s. Jamaicans became more exposed to American music, and developed a liking for American rhythm and blues. Large sound systems developed to fill the country's appetite for the latest American music. Record playing equipment, records and crew went in trucks to dance halls over Jamaica. Clement (Sir Coxsone) Dodd and Duke Reid (the Trojan) were the two giant sound system operators of that time. The extreme rivalry between them began in the dancehall, and continued into the studio as they both got involved in the recording business. Joining their ranks as record producers by about 1960, were Leslie Kong and Prince Buster, a singer whose vision for a truly Jamaican music helped push his studio musicians into developing the new sound. 

In the early days of the Jamaica music industry, the main output was American style RnB and boogie. When the style in America began to shift to rock and roll, Jamaica went its own way and produced Ska music.  It used elements drawn from Jamaican mento, revival and rastafarian drumming, in addition to rhythm and blues, boogie and swing. The afterbeat was stressed instead of the downbeat, and this has been a defining feature of popular Jamaican music since that time. 
Many of the early studio musicians were trained instrumentalists, and much of the music was purely instrumental. These musicians were the innovators behind the new music. Bands such as the Skatalites which comprised some of the finest Jamaican studio musicians of that time, including the brilliant trombonist Don Drummond.

Ska developed in downtown Kingston. It took a while for it to be accepted by the middle and upper classes, but Byron Lee and his band played a great role in promoting this music to the wider society. Eventually the whole country was in a ska frenzy. With the release of Millie Small's "My Boy Lollipop" in England by producer Chris Blackwell in 1964, ska had an international hit.

Some of the hits in that time are "Wash Wash" by Prince Buster, "Ring of Fire" by the Skatalites, Oh Carolina by Folkes Brothers, Carry Go Bring Come by Justin Hines and the Dominoes, Confucius by Don Drummond, Six and Seven Book of Moses by the Maytals and Hard Man Fi Dead another Prince Buster runaway hit.

In 1963, Coxsone Records produced a song called "Simmer Down" which would become the Wailers first hit in 1964 and featured the voice of a very young Bob Marley. Some people associated ska music with the optimism of independence. Others think that through the horns, the music expressed the cares of the working class. That the frenzied pace of the music provided a way for them to release the pressures of daily living. By the mid 1960's Jamaica was ready for a slower, more brooding music called rock steady.

Source: Real Jamaica Vacations

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

When controversy is the song...

So I got this song to listen called "Teachers Love" off the riddim of that same name and produced by Electric Sticky Label, base in Michigan, USA.  The singer/songwriter is a Jamerican Dancehall/Hip-Hop and Electronic recording artiste known as King Jazzy (click to learn more about him). I was asked to give my honest opinion about it among other things. I Thought I'd share with you, the process, like how I arrived at my decision on rating a song,  'When controversy is the song." 

I'm always called upon to critique music and must tell you, I never hold back how I feel. The song has to move me from the get go, it has to do something to me almost immediately upon hearing it. Failure to do so would have left me feeling bored already but in most cases I will continue listening through to the end. Well for "Teachers Love" I actually liked what I heard but must admit the storyline is controversial yet funny. I wanted to say yes but something inside was saying no!

"Teachers Love," remixed by one of Dancehalls' long serving group member, Andre 'Suku' Grey of Ward 21, is the first track off a triple-medley project featuring King Jazzy. This medley features a collaboration with popular Dancer/SingJay Ding Dong, called 'Ride In' and a conscious reggae vibe track called "Hi Stakes." "Teachers Love," is story about a student's dream/crush for his teacher. It's summertime and he's about to explore the possibilities of living his dream. Sex and drugs they say, makes the world go round and music remains a source of controversial content within modern society. 

Music teaches us a lot about the artistes/character. Some sing about their lives while
King Jazzy
others sing about things happening around them. Whatever the case, we're often lead to believe or told to, "relax don't take everything seriously." But seriously, whether we should or should not take someone's words/expression as a true representation of their thoughts or feelings in music, is a whole other discussion. As it relates to "Teachers Love," I felt like the song captured a real life situation, one many can relate to, does not often speak about, and which never really go away. So o
n reflection I question myself in a real life scenario, what if a student felt that way and especially if encouraged by their teacher, should he/she not express his/her feelings? I also reminded myself that music is art-form.

In the case of public perception, I considered the scenarios, the worst case for me is promoting a song that encourages an unethical behavior. I really wanted to know what my colleagues thought about this song so I sent an mp3 copy to them to find out. Almost everyone who listened it felt it would not get aired on the radio. Truth is, it got them talking which is good for the song and how it will impact the general public.

It's now days later and my mind is settled, here's how I feel. "Teachers Love" is not sending a message, it's making a statement. While there are many other controversial songs out there, I believe strategic marketing can discourage any unethical behaviour it portrays (let me be quick however to add, that this might not be the case for all songs considered controversial), but in addition, 9/10 such relationships never really work. Creativity can reverse the thought of a student/teacher love affair.

Imagine this happening in the music industry everyday. Artistes, producers, managers, labels, music promoters, publicists etc. spends time considering what goes public, what is a good song, what people like and some just don't think at all.

Whatever the process, we get to see and hear musical expressions from different people of different background that impact our lives one way or the other, and that is really what the artistes works for. We do have a responsibility to ensure that what is fed to the public promotes good conduct and we're out here trying, we not perfect, but we love this thing call music. 

More often than never, controversy has been the song, that song you love. Our job is to give you what you want. Now you might want to listen this track or the entire 'Teachers Love' project. Go ahead, check it out, click the title highlighted here:- 'Teacher's Love'  and/or visit to listen/download the full project. Be sure to leave a comment if you wish to.

By: Sophia McKay

Sunday, August 2, 2015

Protoje - how he came up with album title Ancient Future, David Rodigan's influence and more

In an interesting interview recently Protoje speaks with Shan McGinley of IamMusic TV in the UK about how he came up with the title for his recent album, David Rodigan's influence on Jamaica's music in the UK, the resurgence of new talents in Jamaica and among other things, his believe as to whether people created their own realities.  We found the interview interested and have highlighted some interesting questions and answers to share with you.

SM: How instrumental has David Rodigan been in the rise of Jamaican music cross here in UK/Europe

P: He's been extremely instrumental, very huge and from a personal standpoint he's been person who has champion my music here in London and really made a huge impact for me so you know his respect is very very large and for me and for lots of other artiste out of Jamaica.

SM: Just dropped your Ancient Future album you got comics on it you've got a lot of features as well and I love the name, the title cause it kinda sheds light on how the world goes through cycles what made you the concept?

P: I mean I was thinking about how I love music from a certain time and how I want to do music like that but I did'nt want it sound like it was 1980s I wanted to update it and use my influence of hip hop and rock and all of that and put it into the music so its almost like a learning from your past but expanding it and bringing it deeper and pushing it forward so that was the concept behind it.

SM: Right now in Jamaica there's like a resurgence of this new talent it's going on a global scale between you, Popcaan, Chronixx everyone and what was it like when that new generation was starting in Jamaica when you guys were doing shows in Kingston and all over Jamaica, what was it like the energy coming out of that new generation?

P: It was great I mean for me it was jus, I felt like I was alone at first then I started to perform I started to do shows and then met up with lik?e Kabaka, met up with Chronixx, met up with Jah 9, Jesse, like lots of people and you really saw that okay a movement was happening and like even Popcaan that does Dancehall which is different from the type of music I do but still Jamaican music and he's doing very good too and I just saw him in the airport when I was coming here even though lots a time they try to make dancehall vs reggae for us its just all one thing everybody trying to do their best to put out good music and to put Jamaica back on the map again musically.

Do you believe people create their own realities, whether it's positive or negative

P: Yeah, 100% its funny you ask me that I was thinking about this yesterday that there's so many things I've actually sat and thought about and I've seen them played out exactly like I said I wanted David to bring me for my first show here, I've said I wanted to open for a French Band....I've done that it's funny to be sometimes so I have to be careful that I don't create negative stuff...

You can check out the full interview here


Shaggy's new 'career highlight' performing for biggest crowd ever

section of the crowd at Woodstock 2015
Imagine being in the presence of over 700,000 people. That thought is scary to me but I'm not diamond selling artiste Shaggy, who after 25 years in the music business still rock huge crowds. His biggest to date is over 700,000 in attendance at Woodstock Festival in Poland. Calling it a "career highlight," Shaggy had his audience singing in unison, word for word, the lyrics to his popular 'I Need Your Love' single and admitted via an instagram post that the crowd was, probably the most people I've ever played in front of. 

Woodstock Festival Poland is a huge free summer music festival held the beginning of August in Kostrzyn nad Odra, Poland.  The Festival is organized by the Great Orchestra of Christmas Charity Foundation to acknowledge all volunteers and supporters who take part in the annual Grand Finale fundraiser in January. The Festival in Poland has received International Music Industry Award at the MUSEXPO 2015 in Los Angeles for the Best Festival Promoter.

An aerial view of the crowd at Woodstock Poland 
Shaggy's appearance at Woodstock Poland forms part of his tour across Europe where he has already made stops in the France, Venice, Rome, Milan, Belgium, Brussels and Poland. The multi-hit making, 'Mr. Boombastic' singjay will be dropping a new single entitled, "Only Love" featuring Pitbull and Gene Noble soon.