If you are a casual fan of ska and/or reggae music, people of Chinese descent may not be the first image that comes to mind. However, if you become a fan and start to investigate deeper, you’ll discover that Chinese-Jamaicans played a major role in the production and creation of some of the most influential music not only in Jamaica, but eventually around the world. Always Together: Chinese-Jamaicans In Reggae takes a wide look at some of the names you may have only seen in passing in album liner notes or in magazines and blogs, and gets in-depth about the role people like Leslie Kong, Tom Wong, and Byron Lee had on the creation of what may be some of your favorite songs and albums.
From now until Thursday, December 31st, dancehall reggae artist Elephant Man is holding promotional dub plate sessions. For you sound systems who may want Elephant Man audio for a clash, or maybe you want him to drop something on a forthcoming mix, you can make it happen. Serious inquiries only (a/k/a $$$). You can call (252) 626 3722 or email firstname.lastname@example.org and inquire.
The song is called “Pon De Floor”, a song that moved people to not only dance, but try to copy the moves in the music video. The song was performed by Major Lazer, and the song was called by iTunes the best electronic single of 2009.
The duo of Diplo Dukes and Switch Jukes will be doing a number of festivals in the New Year, and as for 2010, who knows? Congratulations to Dip and Switch.
In time Wes, Noodle Shop.
VP Records has released two brand new compilation CD’s highlighting the latest in reggae and soca, each one featuring a DVD as well so if you’re into the music of the Caribbean, you have a choice to pick up either or, or both.
Reggae Gold 2009 is surprisingly the weaker of the two as most of it is very pop-flavored R&B, not exactly reggae or dancehall in a traditional sense. But what you do have on here are some decent tracks by Jazmine Sullivan, Elephant Man, Mavado, Queen Ifrica, and I Wayne, and T.O.K.‘s “Couple Up” isn’t a bad song either.
For a good pumping time, I was surprised that I liked Soca Gold 2009 more than the reggae comp because I’ve always been into reggae and dancehall, and this album sounded a bit more lively and fresh. Most of the album is in the tempo of some of the hits that have become American sensations, but the first four tracks are that fast soca that people go nuts over, including Skinny Fabulous‘ “Head Bad (On The Spot)”, Edwin Yeargood‘s “Handle Ya Bizniz”, Roy Cape‘s “Tusty”, and a song I wish would get more American exposure, the super fun “Bacchanal” by Destra Garcia. The beats are furious, the energy is spot-on, and it’s all about moving to the beat if you can keep up with the rhythms, bass-heavy when necessary and full of Latin influences that are also directed to the heart of Africa through the wonders of the Caribbean.
Both albums make good summer music, especially Soca Gold 2009. i think Reggae Gold 2009 would be better if it was called Jamaican Pop/R&B 2009 since that it consists of and while Jamaican pop and R&B isn’t a bad thing, some of the songs aren’t as strong as they could be. I’ll wait for 2010, but if I wait I’ll miss the heap of Jamaican songs that will become classics when next year rolls around.
The almighty Sizzla Kalonji has released a brand new single in honor of U.S. president Barack Obama with a song called “Black Man In The White House”. You can order it right now digitally via iTunes by clicking the cover above. No word on if this will be available on vinyl, as I’d like to have this on 45.
Reggae music has been the one thing that has opened Jamaica to the world. Reggae came from ska and rock steady, and in turn would spawn a wide range of different styles, including dancehall. Dancehall has been around for years, either speaking about the struggle of living poor in Jamaica, feeling good about life, or getting “slack” by talking about everything from robbing people to having sex with the most beautiful women on a nightly basis, it has always been raw. Some artists, such as Buju Banton, have moved from doing slack material to being a conscious artist.
A few may argue that today’s dancehall is as rough and rugged as today’s hip-hop, although most hip-hop would never touch on some of the subjects dancehall artists reguarly speak on. Nonetheless, it seems the jamaica Broadcasting Commission has had enough, or at least they may have finally awaken, depending on your point of view. According to an article at Global Voices, a new song by Vybz Cartel featuring Spice called “Ramping Shop” (video shown above) has been permanently banned because of its explicit lyrics. The article by Bianca Welds goes on to say that any song with references to “daggering”, and songs that attempts to censor those lyrics, will not get any airplay.. Daggering is the act of having simulated sex on the dancefloor, a “dry hump” if you will, and the music can sometimes motivate people to get a little crazy without going overboard. There is some sense of control on the dancefloor of course, but the fear is that the tone of the music/lyrics and the visuals in the video are not appropriate for children. Arguably that’s true, and perhaps it’s to suggest that Jamaica’s regulations on the music when applied to the airwaves has been lax.
Anyone who knows dancehall music knows that its suggestive imagery and lyrics has been a part of the music for years. Watch the video for Chaka Demus & Pliers‘ “Murder She Wrote”:
Or watch Shabba Ranks’ “Ting-A-Ling” video where he’s talking about “turning the key” in an open-air classroom, waiting for the teacher to be over with work as her students look at a man dancing and waiting for teacher to show off the “donkey”.
Obviously, some of these songs aren’t for kids but to outright ban them? To me, it seems it’s the role of the parent or guardian to shield the songs from their kids, not any government appointed commission but perhaps it’s a movement to change what dancehall represents, even though dancehall has never limited itself to one style of lyrics.
The Vybz Cartel & Spice track is really good, what I wish governments and record labels would do is ban Auto-Tune, as i think that song would be a hundred times better without it. Perhaps another topic, another time.
They call themselves Groundation, and they are a reggae band from California who offer “roots music for the 21st century”. They’ve released a number of albums over the years and have played around the world. The group are currently on tour doing a tribute to Bob Marley and are about to perform in Hawai’i for the first time.
They are heading to Lahaina on Maui for a show at the Hard Rock Cafe on February 18th (21 and over), and then fly to O’ahu for a show at the Pipeline Cafe in Honolulu on the 19th (18 and over). The Honolulu show will have Dubkonscious, featuring Paula Fuga, opening up for them. Tickets for the Honolulu show can be pre-ordered through Dynamic Clothing.
For other dates on the Bob Marley tribute tour, head over to the Groundation home page.