Thursday, August 13, 2015

Throw Back - soaring 90s Dancehall/Reggae artistes

Haven't seen any major breakthrough in the international market by a female Dancehall artiste in years. However, Jamaican female entertainers have enjoyed being 'on toppa a tings' internationally. Throwback to the 90s when two Jamaican female artistes made name for themselves internationally hitting up US Billboard Top 100 charts and kicking it among big names in the RnB, Hip-Hop and Pop communities.

Patra emerged on the Dancehall music scene in the late 1980s going by the stage name Lady Patra.  She released her first album entitled "Queen of the Pack" in 1993 which peaked at #21 on US Billboard Rap Singles Chart and #89 on the US Billboard RnB chart. Patra there after, released a follow up single entitled, "Worker Man" or (wuka man) which became her biggest hit, peaking at #53 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart, Top 20 on RnB chart and #1 on the US Dance Chart. Seemingly on a roll Patra landed another hit thereafter entitled "Romantic Call" which had a follow up remix featuring rapper Yo-Yo. In 1994 Patra hit the US Billboard Hot 100 charts once again on a collaboration with Shabba Ranks entitled, "Family Affair" which peaked at #84.

Diana King is a singer-songwriter who performs a mixture and fusion of reggae, reggae fusion and dancehall.
Diana King
In 1994 Diana King came to prominence after making an appearance on The Notorious B.I.G.'s song "Respect" from his album Ready to Die, she signed a recording contract with Sony Music.  Her first single, "Shy Guy" co-written and produced by Andy Marvel from her debut album, Tougher Than Love, became a hit peaking at No. 13 on the Billboard Hot 100 Chart and certified gold by the RIAA in the U.S.; the single also hit No. 2 on the UK Singles Chart, peaked at No. 1 on the Eurochart Hot 100 Singles chart and sold close to 5 million worldwide. 

"Shy Guy," the signature single of Diana King made the soundtrack to the 1995 film, Bad Boys with the lead role played by Will Smith and Martin Lawrence.  It also ranked by the Japanese radio station J-Wave as the number-one song of 1995.


Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Sizzla launches cultural and historical awareness campaign in August Town

Through his Sizzla Youth Foundation, one of reggae's most successful contemporary artistes Sizzla Kalonji, has launched a month long series of activities in celebration of the August Town Emancipation, commemorating 177 years. The celebrations are already underway and involves activities such as a Peace March and The Unveiling of a monument dedicated to renowned spiritual leader Alexander Bedward of the community which took place on August 5 and 6 respectively. Other activities will include, a Senior Citizens DayBedward Day at Bedward TempleThe Greater August Town Violence Prevention Day August 13World of Reggae Concert with Sizzla and friends at UWI Bowl August 16 and ends with a, Back-to-School Family Affair and Treat at UWI Bowl August 30.

In an article printed in the Jamaica Observer Sizzla said of his plans for the project "it is paramount that we remind the youths of the community where they are from and the rich history and tradition which they must uphold.  They must be aware of the strong links to the fight against slavery as the original settlers in these lands came from the Mona and Papine we just need to re-educate the community so they know where they are coming from so as to chart the course forward." 

August Town located in the hills of St. Andrew is thought to have been named from the fact that freedom came to the enslaved people of Jamaica on the 1st of August, 1838. From that date, this day was designated and celebrated as 'Emancipation Day' for many years. August Town became notable because at this place a prophet, whose name was Bedward, arose - the proponent of religion which became known as 'Bedwardism.' 

An advocate for black people, poor people and his rastafarian culture, Sizzla presses
forward his mission with these activities. In an interview with Rob Marriott titled, Reasoning with Sizzla posted on BoomShot TV website in 2013, he in his response to the question "Is Babylon stronger than it once was" had said, "At no time will I put evil over goodness...good conquers all. But, you can still feel the presence of the slavemaster's implementation upon the people, through the system, through the devices, through the media, through just about everything because it's Babylon.."

The Sizzla Youth Foundation was founded in 2010 as part of the Sizzla Kalonji's drive, to get very much involved in all the activities for upliftment; the netball, the football, music, education, evening classes. In his interview with the Observer he stress, "we want to eradicate violence from August Town. This can only be achieved by instilling values which stress Africa and education. We must rejuvenate the minds and with that we can achieve much."


Chart Wise - MAJOR LAZER makes way for independent labels on Top 40

MAJOR LAZER, the electronic music group created by record producer Diplo, with current members Jillionaire and Walshy Fire becomes the first artist/group on an independent label to go top 5 at both Pop and Rhythmic in more than a decade (and maybe ever) with "Lean On."  The groups' music spans numerous genres, usually fusing reggae and dancehall with other dance genres. Diplo in an interview had said that Barbadian Pop singer Rihanna rejected the chance to record "Lean On" (more) a track he said, is a bigger worldwide hit than any of her recent songs.  See Top 40 and Rhythmic listing below:-

TOP 40: Weeknd Lands Back To Back #1's; Major Lazer Top 5; Demi top 10; Zedd Top 15; R. City/Levine, Derulo Top 20; Nathan Sykes Debuts

*THE WEEKND has now had back to back #1 songs as "can't Fell My Face" takes the top spot this week folloing "Earned It"
*MAJOR LAZER becomes the first artist on an independent label to go top 5 at both Pop and Rhythmic in more than in a decade (and maybe ever) with "Lean On"
*SELENA GOMEZ is nearing the top 5 as "good For You," featuring A$AP ROCKY, rises 8*-6* and is up and 1326 spins
*DEMI LAVATO goes top 10 with "Cool For The Summer"
ZEDD motors on into the top 15 with "Beautiful Now," featuring Jon Bellion, up 17*-15*
*In just their fourth week on the chart, R. CITY is top 20, rising 24*-17* with "Locked Away," featuring ADAM LEVINE, - up 1714 spins
*JASON DERULO is back in the top 20, up 23*-20* and climbing 828 spins
*ONE DIRECTION scores a huge 38*-26* move with "Drag Me Down" - up 1355 spins
*Former WANTED lead singer NATHAN SYKES lands the lone debut at 40* this week with "Kiss Me Quick"

Rhythmic: Weeknd #1 Rhythmic Again; Major Lazer, Fetty Wap Top 5; rich Homie Quan top 10; Weeknd "Hills" Climbs into Top 15

*THE WEEKND hold the top spot at Rhythmic, in addition to his #1 spot at Top 40 with "can't Feel My Face"
*MAJOR LAZER moves all the way from 7*-4* at Rhythmic with "Lean On" -up 647 spins
*Another song on an independent label, "My Way," by FETTY WAP featuring MONTY, climbs 8*-5* and is up 475 spins......

Billboard Reggae Albums Top 10 update

On the Billboard Reggae Chart new entry Joss Stone's "Water For Soul" is Number 1
"The Cure" by Jah Cure moves down after a three week hold at the top to #4.
"Count Me In" by Rebulution is #6 down from two last week and "Maestro" by Kymani Marley #9 from five last week.


Monday, August 10, 2015

Chronixx/Protoje tops IRAWMA Nominations

Chronixx leads the list of nominations for the upcoming International Reggae and World Music Awards (IRAWMA). Nominated for Best Entertainer of the Year, Best Male Vocalist, Best Song, Best CD/Album, Best Music Video and Most Cultural/Educational Entertainer of the Year. Also at top of the list with 5 nominations is Protoje for Best SongBest Music Video of the Year which he shares with Chronixx for their monster collaboration 'Who Knows,' Best Male Vocalist along Romain Virgo, Tarrus Riley, Christopher Martin, Chronixx and Most Promising Entertainer along with OMI, Dexta Daps, Romain Virgo and New Kingston band 

It's a tight race for nominees in the category of Best Female Vocalist, Etana, Alaine, Ikaya and Tessanne Chin and Best Song, Steven Marley ft. Capleton and Sizzla for Rock Stone, Who Knows by Protoje ft. Chronixx, I Rise by Etana, Diamond Sox by Iba Mahr and 7/11 by Dexta Daps.

Ishawna, Lady Saw, Spice and Tifa are the nominees for Best Female Dancehall Artistes while Demarco, Stylo G, Vybz Kartel, Popcaan, Mavado are up for Best Male Dancehall Artiste of the Year.

Long serving reggae bands Third World and Inner Circle along with Etana, Chronixx and Spice are nominated for Entertainer of the Year while Marcia Griffiths, Freddie Mcgregor, Richie Stephens, Sanchez and Yellowman are nominated for Most Consistent Entertainers. Nominees for this year's Marcus Garvey Humanitarian Award are Capleton, Etana, Malachi Smith, Marlene Bastien and Vonnie McGowan-Arscot.

Selector/DJs Boom Boom, Foota Hype, Billy Slaughter for Stone Love, DJ Damon for Bass Odyssey and DJ Charley for Heavy Hammer have also made this year's nominations in the category of Most Popular Sound Selector/DJ

The International Reggae and World Music Award (IRAWMA), established in 1982 acknowledges and honours the accomplishments and contributions of reggae and world music artists, including: songwriters, performers, promoters and musicians.


Sunday, August 9, 2015

Thank You - 'Grand Gala' dancehall throwback selections

Jamaicans celebrated 53 years of independence August 6th in a grand showcase at the annual Grand Gala held at the National Stadium in Kingston.  A spectacular affair to say the least, the authorities pulled all the stops despite tight budget constrains to the theme, "Proud and Free! Jamaica 53."

For me, there has never been a dull moment at Grand Gala over the years. It's always a pleasure witnessing thousands of Jamaicans gathered together to celebrate Independence. The highlight of the night in my opinion was a performance by some children singing a medley of songs that ended with a classic rendition of Mr. Vegas's "Sweet Jamaica" single, lead by 12 year old Reggae/Dancehall artiste Wayne J who is best known for his "Chikungunya Song." The children sang their hearts out during a very well choreographed set and the event ended with performances by Etana, Agent Sasco, Judy Mowatt, Gospel singer Kevin Downswell, Cecile, Beenie Man, I-Octane and Fab Five band who brought the curtains down.  
Musical icons, Marcia Griffiths, Freddie McGregor and the Skatalites were honoured during the final segment of the show for 50 years of contribution to Jamaican music. But what caught my attention was the inclusion of a Dancehall throwback segment during an interval of the evenings presentation and just before the entertainment presentations.

Although organisers of Grand Gala over the years have always incorporated elements of the music in the presentations, the subtle gesture of a somewhat 'from then to now' Dancehall selection was significant and the effort commendable when one consider the grave disconnect between early reggae/dancehall music and young Jamaicans. Recently, I took the initiative to use this space (read that Dancehall 'Appeal' is real) to add my voice to the call for prominence of Reggae/Dancehall music in Jamaica just for this purpose, joining the many other voices who have made similar calls over the years. It might have been someone's idea to include the segment or, that the calls have been heard, but whatever it was I want to say to the organisers of Grand Gala 2015, thank you.  

Now observing the audience during the throw back/old school selection solidifies the call for more focus to be placed on creating a major platform to celebrate the music (past and present) as well as generate awareness among young Jamaicans. Selections that would normally ignite excitement in a play-off where only popular punchlines or choruses were delivered did not generate the type of reaction one expects at such an event. As a matter of fact, the audience was clearly, receptive to current music obviously because it is what they know.  The reaction was sparse to Red Dragon's 1990s hit song "Fresh" even after his late passing which also seems to fly under the radar.  R.I.P. Red Dragon 

This is a situation, but it can be corrected. Maybe this Grand Gala presentation was a step in that direction. Who knows? Maybe next year the authorities might include a road-march across Kingston during the Independence season leading up to Grand Gala. Imagine this creating a momentum going into the big day and even contribute significantly to the overall funding of the national showcase! Imagine a road march that capture various elements of the music from then until now! Dance songs celebrating dance moves from the days of ska until now or, the rastafarian culture and its influence on the music. Imagine a dancehall/reggae fashion showcase where people are dressed in diamond socks and wally b shoes or revellers in costumes paying homage to the greats and so much more! Sound crazy? Well I'm a dreamer and what goes around comes right back around. There's always room for improvement, let's see what will happen next year.

By: Sophia McKay
Click to read more: Grand Gala 2015