Percy Black: Code Name Covid-19

Music can be inspired by the best and the worst of human experience. It can uplift us or drag us down. In this release, UK-based Percy Black takes the coronavirus pandemic as his inspiration and produces a thoughtful song about the current problems we face. He says that he “writes and sings educative music, identifying societal problems and trying to provide a solution where possible. Grew up listening to struggle music from legendary artists like Bob Marley and Peter Tosh. Currently inspired by societal issues affecting the world at large. This makes my music therapeutic to listen to, especially as the world battles the different and difficult problems experienced every day.” This track is a slow, even languid, piece of music, and the most striking aspect is the contrast between the image conjured up of Caribbean beaches and the harsh reality of the song’s subject matter. Much more educative than a Prime Ministerial press conference

Dubquake Records: Signz Series Dub

From French label Dubquake Records comes a whole series of 7” and 12” releases, steeped in the original dub sound of 70s reggae, with an authentic feel that – were it not for the addition of synth sounds and contemporary production quality – could have been issued many years ago. Their “signz series” features artists including Aza Lineage, Pupajim, Shanti D, Sr Wilson, Junior Roy, Charlie P, and Eek-A-Mouse. There are some brand new tracks included here, namely “No War” with Junior Roy and “Mr Government”, plus the iconic 80s man Eek-A-Mouse featuring on two tracks recorded at the Dubquake studio. As you might expect, themes of resistance and rebellion are prominent here, especially on number 7 in the series which is ‘Mr Government’ featuring Eek-A-Mouse. ‘No Borderz Dub’ and ‘Dub the Government’. Music here for both the old reggae devotees and the younger brethren!  

Release November 2020; digital and vinyl; OBF- Dubquake Records

Nga Han and the Hi-Flyers/ Kingston Echo: Emergence

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

Manaky: Kyana Run Weh

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

Bonafide and Damian Marley: Start and Stop

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

Skip Marley: Make Me Feel

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.

OMG Collective: Bounce

Here’s a new and intriguing sound from the OMG collective. Its owner is Chris Fosh, a singer, rapper and songwriter. Founded in London in 2011, the collective is a rare opportunity for singers, songwriters, producers and musicians to come together in a cross-genre music-making endeavour. Based on the values of creativity, work discipline and collaboration, it has a loose and fluid membership, united by the goal of creating and disseminating new music. This new release – ‘Bounce’ – is an arresting deep-voiced electronic excursion drawing from rap and dancehall, its closing electronic sounds almost reminiscent of the days of dubstep. It’s worth hearing in its own right, as well as worth supporting a venture committed to new sounds and new artists. No time fe yu nonsense: listen here! OMG Collective: Bounce, release 2nd October 2020.

Prince Fatty/Shniece Mcmenamin: Funkin’ for Jamaica NY

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

Marley Family: One Love

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