Queen Ifrica, born Ventrice Morgan on March 25, 1975 in Montego Bay, Jamaica, began her career in 1995 after attracting attention at a local talent contest in her hometown of Montego Bay. This eye-opening experience eventually led to major stage performances in her country including the famed Reggae Sumfest as well as a union with Tony Rebel’s Flames Crew in 1998.
With roots firmly grounded in the Rastafarian faith, she blossomed as one of the top cultural artists in reggae, appearing frequently on radio with hits like “Randy”, “Jus my Brethren”, “Below the Waist” and “Daddy” and performing at major festivals and shows around the world (Summer Jam in Germany, Sierra Nevada World Music Festival, Bob Marley Festival, Reggae on the River in California and Reggae Sundance Festival in Holland).
Despite her busyc schedule, Ifrica is involved in several youth outreach programs in Jamaica’s inner-city, counseling abuse victims and other disadvantaged individuals. She also performs at various charity events shows where proceeds are donated to the cause.
Damian Marley is the son of reggae icon Bob Marley and Jamaica’s 1977 Miss World, Cindy Breakspeare. He is the offspring of a union between two distinctive and disparate worlds.
Born in Kingston, Jamaica on July 21, 1978, Damian Robert Nesta Marley (a.k.a. ‘Junior Gong’), Bob’s youngest son, began performing as a child as the vocalist for a group called The Shepherds. Comprised of other well-known reggae artists’ children, including Shiah Coore (son of Third World guitarist Cat Coore) and Yashema Beth McGregor, the daughter of Freddie McGregor and Judy Mowatt, The Shepherds performed at several shows in Jamaica including the Reggae Sunsplash music festival in 1992.
After The Shepherds’ demise, Damian turned his vocal talents to deejaying (the Jamaican equivalent of rapping). In 1993 Damian’s debut single Deejay Degree was released on Tuff Gong Records (the label founded by Bob Marley) and the following year he released Sexy Girls On My Mind for the Main Street label.
Damian’s next release, 1995’s School Controversy, was featured on the Epic/Sony Wonder compilation, Positively Reggae with all sales proceeds going to Jamaica’s Leaf of Life Foundation, an organization which assists children who are HIV positive.
Although he was still a teenager, Damian was selected as the Positively Reggae spokesperson, a role that introduced him to the international press and record buying public. That same yea, Damian performed at select dates on the Shabba Ranks World Unity tour and with his brother Julian performed at Jamaica’s Reggae Sunfest and Sunsplash festivals.
Damian was a high school student when he began recording Mr. Marley at the Marley Music 48 track-recording studio. Produced by Stephen Marley (head of the Marley Boyz production team), Mr. Marley delivered a fusion of contemporary reggae grooves and infectious dancehall rhythms alongside tough edged hip-hop beats, an ideal complement for Damian’s versatile deejay-rap style.
The album included several updates of Bob Marley classics as well as the single ‘Me Name Junior Gong’ which went to the number one in Hawaii and held that position for several weeks. ‘When we went to Hawaii in 1997,’ Damian recalls, ‘we had three songs on the charts there: ‘Me Name Junior Gong,’ ‘One Cup of Coffee’ and ‘Now You Know,’ a tune from Julian’s debut album.’
Damian and Julian’s burgeoning popularity earned them featured appearances on the 1997 traveling alternative rock festival Lollapalooza which provided invaluable exposure among a new sector of music fans.
Five years after the release of Mr. Marley, Damian had matured as a performer, songwriter, recording artist and Rastafarian, his unwavering convictions reflected throughout his new album, Halfway Tree.
Stephen Marley produced Halfway Tree for Marley Boyz productions. Stephen’s innovative approach to Halfway Tree incorporates spoken word introductions and dramatic vignettes as song interludes, creating a conceptual cohesiveness lacking from most Jamaican albums. Stephen also adapts traditional reggae elements (forceful drum and bass lines, committed social commentary) to 21st century hip hop’s synthesized beats and sometimes defiant stances while utilizing the talents of Jamaican singers, deejays and musicians alongside American rappers, each underscoring Damian’s impassioned delivery.
Damian called the album Halfway Tree because ‘my father is from the country and the ghetto and my mother is from uptown so I come like a half way tree, like a bridge because I can relate to both sides.’
The anthology Strictly the Best Vol. 55 (VP Records) includes this year’s most popular dancehall reggae songs played at clubs and on Caribbean radio. Artists featured include Vershon, Alkaline, Vybz Kartel, Mr. Vegas, Spice, Chi Ching Ching, Masicka and Dexta Daps.
Vol. 55 contains a bonus disc with famous duets from significant deejays paired with reggae singers. Songs include “Twice Mt Age” by Shabba Ranks ft. Krystal, “Bonafide Love” by Wayne Wonder ft. Buju Banton and “Hot Gal Today” by Mr. Vegas & Sean Paul.
The reggae compilation Strictly the Best Vol. 54 (VP Records) features some of the best-known roots and lover’s rock singers. The set, scheduled for release in November, includes Ikaya, Tarrus Riley, Romain Virgo, MAGIC ft. Sean Paul. Alborosie feat. Protoje, Sizzla Ft. Jah Cure, Raging Fyah and Jah9.
Vol. 54 includes a bonus disc of classics from Jamaica’s celebrated vocal groups, including The Wailing Souls, The Heptones, The Mighty Diamonds, T.O.K, Morgan Heritage & others.
I will be writing a column on Length & Time in music, in each presenting an album and its strategies that pertain to addressing Length & Time.
There is no proof that music can influence the actors of a political economy. There are a certain amount of musicalnoblesse that asks of us to respect musicians who attempt to guide minds towards social peace and progress, often while advocating for social unrest, but though dissenters sing along to political songs in droves, it’s important to ask one’s self if dissenters pay attention to the actual ‘message.’
Max Romeo and many of his fellow Reggae artists seem to not care about proof if their music can influence and go for it. In order to achieve the effect that religious songs often have on the faithful, but also to spread revolutionary gospel through mass media, Rastafari Romeo released the album War Ina Babylon in 1976.
Max Romeo is producing radio friendly songs here, though on the longer side of radio friendly so at five minutes; he must balance religious, revolution, and radio. He is producing his songs with The Upsetters, and he chooses to feature them richly, though not at a point where band members will improvise. The band focuses on aesthetics – on rhythm, on harmony, and melody, as he focuses on lyrical chant and some narrative like singing. We hear the coming together of expertise, not of ideology; sometimes melodies don’t convey chant. His chanting and exploring, along with a choir, political slogan on all 9 songs, and some scatting like ‘na na na na’ on “One Step Forward”, shapes these songs. We listeners listen to these slogans, over and again, as if the main attraction of these songs, dragged through the song contemplating a slogan like ‘war ina babylon’ on “War Ina Babylon.”
The songs are tight and don’t allow for much interpretation of the melodies, harmonies, or rhythms. Instead, the repetition of these slogans as chants drags along the songs’ melodies brilliantly, and do the same to the rhythms. Re-listening to these songs, one will realize that there are layers of beauty that one pushes aside as what accompanies the song’s lyrics. The instrumental beauty we hear almost signifies beautiful fight and it’s the case because of his repetition of the chants.
This album’s are essentially great at crafting and conveying slogans to the pathos of their time. They take the side and sing to labor and not to capital, articulating misery to those living complexity miserably. We are attending a beautiful rally here, a both perfect and religious rally as no political rallies really are.
Though there is no proof about music can led to concrete social change, it’s almost impossible to negate music’s importance. Even the theorist Friedrich Engels, during the later part of his life, in his late letters on historical materialism, did write about a a “reciprocal interaction” between the infrastructure of a society, its economy, and the superstructure, which includes music. Romeo belongs to a those who believe that ‘spring’ in a beloved society can come about with a new consciousness. He attempts to educate with slogan, through the reasonable length allowed by his time, to his time of human beings living in a very complex society.
Multifaceted Jamaican vocalist, songwriter and producer Randy Valentine is set to perform on June 19 at Africa Oyé 2016 music festival. Africa Oyé will take place on June 18-19 in Liverpool’s Sefton Park, from 12:30 p.m. until 9:30 p.m. both days. Admission is free.
Randy Valentine is a rising reggae talent. His R-V-Lution Summer Tour 2013 was one of the biggest ever tours for a debut reggae artist, seeing him perform over 20 shows in more than 10 different European countries. His second EP Still Pushing was released in 2015, and went straight to the top of the iTunes reggae charts.
Roots reggae band Raging Fyah will be touring the United States in July 2016. The group will be promoting its new album Everlasting.
Raging Fyah’s live shows capture their recordings, but also bring a new energy to each performance. “Our sets on this tour will feature songs from Everlasting mixed with some of our classics,” says lead vocalist Kumar Bent. “Every night feels special because we feed off the energy from the crowd to create unique elements for each show.”
U.S. Tour Dates:
Jul 11 in Washington, DC at Jammin Java
Jul 12 in Boston, MA at Brighton Music Hall
Jul 13 in Brooklyn, NY at Brooklyn Bowl
Jul 14 in Wakefield, RI at Ocean Mist
Jul 15 in Philadelphia, PA at Coda
Jul 17 in Cleveland, OH at Beachland Tavern
Jul 18 in Chicago, IL at Reggie’s Rock Club
Jul 19 in Omaha, NE at Waiting Room
Jul 20 in Minneapolis, MN at 7th St. Entry
Jul 22 in Bellevue, CO at Mishiwaka Amphitheatre, with Protoje
Jul 23 in Boulder, CO at Fox Theatre, with Protoje
Jul 24 in Taos, NM at Taos Brewery, with Protoje
Jul 26 in Phoenix, AZ at Crescent, with Protoje
Jul 28 in Santa Monica, CA at The Pier, with Protoje
Jul 29 in Los Angeles, CA at The Regent, with Protoje
Jul 30 in Las Vegas, NV at Brooklyn Bowl, with Protoje
Jul 31 in Santa Barbara, CA at Velvet Jones, with Protoje
Aug 2 in Santa Cruz, CA at The Catalyst, with Protoje
Aug 3 in Petaluma, CA at Mystic Theatre, with Protoje
Jamaican roots reggae band Raging Fyah has a new studio album titled Everlasting (Dub Rockers). The five-piece Kingston collective recently toured the United States with Stick Figure.
Raging Fyah is performing at the 7th annual California Roots Music & Arts Festival on Sunday, May 29 before heading out for their European tour. Later, Raging Fyah will return to the United States in July with twenty dates throughout the East Coast, Midwest, and West Coast with key headlining shows and a supporting slot with Jamaican roots revivalist Protoje on select dates.
Most of Raging Fyah’s musicians met at Edna Manley College of Visual & Performing Arts in Kingston before officially forming in 2006. The band includes Kumar Bent on lead vocals, Courtland White on guitar, Anthony Watson on drums, Demar Gayle on keyboards, and Delroy “Pele” Hamilton on bass.