From Jamaican-born singer Nga Han, supported by Belgian producer Kingston Echo, come this new album release ‘Emergence’. Recorded and produced in Antwerp, the album is released alongside its dub counterpart ‘Submergence’. The vocal album is a strong mix of reggae sounds, consisting of eight tracks, ranging from the title track which has an 80s feel with its guitar rhythm and brass backing through ‘Versatile’ with a semi-spoken vocal reminiscent of Linton Kwesi Johnson – not a bad comparison! The album closes with Way Out, a powerful roots song, previously released as a single. The album is accompanied by a dub version of the tracks, and these are excellent arrangements made in an obvious knowledge of the 70s dub masters but by no means dominated by the all-heavy bass of that period. An impressive release, authentic and powerful reggae music
Here’s Hungarian reggae band Manaky with a fine roots single, strong on melody and passion. The band released their first eponymous album back in 2016, and this new single ‘Kyana Run Weh’ is taken from their forthcoming new album entitled ‘Reborn’. The band produce an authentic reggae sound, relatively unencumbered by studio effects and electronics, and have already built up a live reputation in Hungary. This new release should enhance their impact further and the striking video released to accompany the single will also help achieve that. Good luck!
Manaky: Kyana Run Weh, release October 2020
You may not be aware that Las Vegas is the base for impressive reggae outfit Bonafide, but here they are with a remastered mix of their track ‘Start and Stop’. With the involvement of Damian ‘Jr. Gong’ Marley it’s a hard-hitting and in many ways troubling musical account of the current violence toward, and mistreatment of, black communities in the United States and elsewhere – including the toppling of the statue of slave trader Colston in Bristol in June of this year. Musically it’s a strong reggae track and the video images show that, at heart, the band’s perspective is an optimistic one.
Bonafide and Damian Marley: Start and Stop, Broadyard Records, Release September 2020
Here’s Bob Marley’s grandson with a live version of ‘Make Me Feel’ to lighten the days of lockdown. Released as part of the ‘at home’ series from Vevo, this laidback track is true to the spirit of reggae and roots, soothing and musical. The maternal grandson of Bob Marley, Skip Marley is a member of this legendary reggae family that also includes his mother Cedella and uncles Ziggy, Stephen, and Damian Marley. His own sound draws more widely from contemporary pop, rap, and rock, and he featured, perhaps surprisingly, on Katy Perry’s 2017 hit, ‘Chained to the Rhythm,’ followed by several solo singles.
Born in Kingston, Jamaica and raised in Miami, Florida, Skip Markey is a self-taught musician and first performed at the age of 15, when his uncle Stephen prompted him to sing the chorus of ‘One Love’ on-stage. In 2016, Skip debuted on the family’s Island-distributed Tuff Gong label with the ballad ‘Cry to Me.’ After signing with Island Records itself, he debuted on the label in February 2017 with the pop-oriented ‘Lions’. A week later, Katy Perry released ‘Chained to the Rhythm,’ a collaboration with Skip, and the two performed it at the 59th Annual Grammy Awards. Skip then released a series of well-received singles including ‘Calm Down’ and ‘Refugee’ as well as 2019 collaborations with his uncle Damien (‘That’s Not True’) and H.E.R. (‘Slow Down’). After a 2020 single, ‘No Love,’ he enlisted Rick Ross and Ari Lennox for ‘Make Me Feel’ which is now streaming on all platforms.
A brilliant release from reggae singer/songwriter Shniece Mcmenamin with her interpretation of jazz trumpeter Tom Browne’s classic 1980 song ‘Funkin for Jamaica’. The vocal style is strong but at the same time languid, the delivery assured and powerful. The production, courtesy of Prince Fatty (Mike Pelanconi) is just as you might expect from him: dub-oriented reggae displaying a knowledge of the vintage reggae sound – including some electronic beeps that would make Rose Royce more than happy. If you know his work with Hollie Cook you’ll know what to expect here.
Prince Fatty/Shniece Mcmenamin: Funkin’ for Jamaica NY, release 7th August 2020
Bob Marley’s exquisite reggae classic ‘One Love’ from 1977 will need little introduction to those who visit this site. It’s a song by Bob Marley, coupled with elements of ‘People Get Ready’ by Curtis Mayfield, that stands as a true classic of reggae music. It has been revisited a number of times including the excellent extended remix by Julian Mendelsohn from 1984 featured on the ‘deluxe’ edition of the ‘Legend’ greatest hits album, and the sweet Cordovan remix from 2008 included on the ‘Roots, Rock, Remixed’ album. So, is there any mileage in another visit to this song?
This version was assembled by the Marley Family in association with Tuff Gong International and Amplified Music. Cedella Marley, Bob’s daughter, and musician Skip Marley, Bob’s grandson, are heavily involved with the track. This new version is designed to support UNICEF’s Reimagine campaign, a global fundraising appeal to respond, recover and reimagine a post-COVID-19 world fit for children. There’s no cynicism or aggression here, only heartfelt compassion.
“Over forty years ago, my father wrote ‘One Love’ about unity, peace and universal love during a time when there was much trouble in the world. Even in a time when we aren’t able to get together, his message remains true today, we can get through this global crisis if we come together through one love and one heart” says Cedella Marley. “(The) song is very special because of (its) message. It’s a song of equality. One love meaning love for everyone, for all humanity. It doesn’t matter the colour, creed or social status or anything like that. It’s appreciating the human family. ‘One heart, let’s get together and feel all right,’” adds Stephen Marley
The money raised from ‘One Love’ for Reimagine will help UNICEF respond to the immediate needs of children and families affected by Covid-19.The project has been put together by new UK record label Amplified Music, run by Serene Sass. They work to give access to the music industry to artists who wouldn’t otherwise get a chance – refugees, those from conflict zones and countries in crisis.
Marley Family: One Love; released 17th July 2020, Amplified Music
This is the new single from Antigua/Barbuda Reggae dancehall singer/selector Zulu Bob. It anticipates his new album ‘Road To ReggaeVille’ from Chinese reggae label DB Bros Records. ‘Ms. Joy’ follows a theme familiar in reggae music, a depiction of a hard life culminating eventually in a brief happiness. Musically it’s a repetitive dancehall digital sound which will appeal to Western ears accustomed to 1980s dancehall. It’s well produced and if you like that period of vintage reggae you’ll like this.
Zulu Bob (Norris Angelo Hodge) has already worked with some big names in the reggae world including Lutan Fyah and Tippa Irie and this release will build on his reputation established by his 2017 EP ‘Feel It’ and his debut solo album ‘Way Up’ in 2019.
The press release sums it up thus: ‘Zulu Bob hails from the twin Island of Antigua and Barbuda. Moving to China for studies he jumped in the entertainment scenes. Zulu Bob spends his times working as both a DJ and Mc in Beijing under the alias of Norrisman but his true joy comes from him being able to share his views and feelings through his music. Working closely with DB Bros Records (China), WhyBeatz and Island Trap Records (Caribbean) he touches different styles, different genres and is truly dedicated and ecstatic about releasing to the world music from an artist with no barriers’
From St Lucia, here comes singer, songwriter and producer Kingdom Soldier (Lenny Deneb) with his third album entitled The Watchman. Due for release at the beginning of September this will be his third studio album and it reveals his thoughtful and religious inspiration throughout. Lenny says: “the Watchman album was inspired in me to write songs that hopefully encourage those who are searching for ‘peace’. In my youth singers such as Bob Marley, Peter Tosh, Culture and Gregory Isaacs inspired me and helped me to cope with life’s journey. Therefore the Watchman album is for people like me when I was struggling with life issues such as loss, drugs, unemployment, religion, lack of family support, police harassment and such likes”.
‘The Watchman’ reflects aspects of the singer’s life and experiences, some individual and personal, others based on observations drawn from his work with young people and families going through their own difficulties. In addition to his music, Lenny has served as a member of the Board of Directors of the Eastern Caribbean Collective Organization (ECCO) in St. Lucia and has helped to develop young St. Lucian artists such as Coldsweat, Sherwin ‘Dupes’ Brice and Lateefah.
At the age of ten years Lenny left England for St. Lucia. He later co-founded the reggae band Cygnus who recorded for Greensleeves Records and attracted considerable positive attention. As a solo singer, Lenny released three songs in 1985 for his own LED Records namely ‘Mustique Girl’ (later appearing on the album ‘From the Sanctuary’ as Lucian Girl), Soldiers and the third single ‘Who or what turns you on’ which made record of the week in the Echoes music paper. During the 1990s he worked, under the alias of Zouk Doctor, as a freelance music reviewer and was also the first zouk disc jockey on a London community radio station (Reflections Radio 96.9FM). The peak of the band’s career came in early 1980 when Cygnus appeared on live French TV with no less than Jimmy Cliff.
This fine pedigree is certainly reflected in a track like ‘Under Your Wings’ from the new Watchman album, with its melancholy sentiment, insistent rhythm and excellent production. The album begins with ‘Train to Zion’, with its spiritual message and firm reggae beat. ‘Murderers Gangsters and Thieves’ updates the powerful message of ‘Police and Thieves’ from so many years ago. ‘Love of the Most High’ has a strong repetitive rhythm and melody, building to a powerful conclusion. The album closes with ‘Where Will You Go From Here’, posing questions for us all and including some fine contemporary guitar sounds. The album consists of twelve carefully-crafted and spiritually-inspired tracks that all lovers of reggae music should hear.
Kingdom Soldier: the Watchman: release September 2020