Magnum Kings and Queens back for seventh season, now holding auditions

The Magnum Kings and Queens of Dancehall has returned for its seventh season, bringing its usual hardcore vibe and energy to Jamaican television.

by Jodee Brown

The popular talent show is currently holding auditions, taking place in five locations across the length and breadth of Jamaica. Deejays and singjays who are trying to establish themselves in Dancehall and Reggae are encouraged to come out to the various auditions and impress resident judges: Cordel ‘Skatta’ BurrellProfessor Nuts and Miss Kitty.

The Magnum team passed through the western town of Savannah-La-Mar last Saturday for the first stop this season. Here are the remaining stops on the audition tour.

2nd Stop: Ocho Rios

Magnum Kings and Queens then heads to Ocho Rios onSaturday November 23 at Island Village.

3rd Stop: May Pen

Following Ocho Rios, Magnum Kings and Queens of Dancehall will head to May Pen on Saturday November 30 for its third audition at Tolans Total Gas Station.

4th Stop: Portmore

The second to last audition for this the 7th season of Magnum Kings and Queens of Dancehall will be onSunday December 8 at Portmore Town Centre. Over the last six seasons of the competition Portmore has shown big support for the competition.

Final Stop: Kingston

The fifth and final audition for Season 7 will be held onSunday December 15 in Kingston at the Ranny Williams Entertainment Centre.

All auditions begin at 9 a.m. sharp and end at 3 p.m Participants who are unsuccessful at one location will have a chance to try again at any other location. This year, all auditions are open to spectators who want to get a sneak peek at the talent.

At the end of the five auditions, the judges will then deliberate and select the best 28 contestants (14 Princes and 14 Princesses) to perform at the live shows. The full list of finalists will be announced on two live shows to be aired on TVJ starting Saturday January 11, 2014.

Magnum Kings and Queens: Season 7 will see the return of Yanique Barrett as host for the third straight season as well as a new host, Dayne ‘Chike’ Morrison for its D’Endz backstage segment.

Sizzla denied return to the U.S. after being denied visa

sizzlaby Jodee Brown

Having being barred from performing in the United States for five years, it appeared that Reggae superstar, Sizzla Kalonji was nearing a return to the country with an impending tour there set to start. That return has now hit a sudden snag.

According to reports Tuesday, Sizzla has been denied entry into the U.S. after his visa application was revoked. This just two days before the highly respected singer was due to begin a month-long tour across the U.S., which was due to go on until Dec. 22.

The tour would have seen Sizzla, whose real name isMiguel Collins, travelling cross-country, with performances set for venues in New York, Washington D.C. and Colorado, amongst other states.

Stephen Brush, the booking agent for said tour told theJamaica Observer that they have decided to push back the tour as they hope to reschedule to tour for late winter.

“I am deeply saddened by the news, and I can say this is one of the worst weeks in my career,” Brush said. “It is not a dead issue, but I am no longer comfortable waiting and seeing. What I would like to do is postpone the tour and look at re-booking it for February and March.”

Sizzla has not held a U.S. visa since 2008. Perceived ‘gay-bashing’ in his music over the years has triggered protests of his shows from gay rights groups in the United States, Canada and Europe in the past, including cancellations to shows in Toronto and Montreal thanks to protests by members of the Stop Murder Music coalition.

Bolt, Fraser-Pryce snag IAAF Athlete of the Year honors

Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce (left) and Usain Bolt (right) accept their 2013 IAAF World Athlete of the Year awards at a gala in Monaco on Saturday.. Associated Press (AP)

Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce (left) and Usain Bolt (right) accept their 2013 IAAF World Athlete of the Year awards at a gala in Monaco on Saturday.. Associated Press (AP)

by Jodee Brown

Jamaica can now lay claim to being only the third country ever to sweep IAAF Athlete of the Year honors after Olympic legends, Usain Bolt and Shelly-Ann Fraser-Prycetook home the male and female titles respectively at a gala on Saturday in Monaco.

Neither athlete winning was a shock in truth as both left their marks on the 2013 IAAF World Championships in Moscow, with both winning the 100m and 200m titles as well as anchoring Jamaica to gold in the 4 by 100 relays. Bolt beat out British long distance Olympic champion,Mohamed Farah and Ukranian high jumper, Bohdan Bondarenko on the men’s side while Fraser-Pryce beat New Zealand’s world champion shot-putter, Valerie Adams and the Czech Republic’s 400m queen, Zuzana Hejnova.

While Bolt’s victory continued his stellar run of consecutive athlete of the year triumphs (five in the last six year – exception being 2010), the win for Fraser-Prycebroke a 23 year drought for Jamaican women in relation to the award, being the first since legendary sprinter, Merlene Ottey to do so. The win comes after Fraser-Pryce was surprisingly left off the shortlist last year despite retaining her 100m title at last year’s Olympics in London.

Prior to Jamaica’s sweep this year, only the United States in 1988 (Carl Lewis and Florence Griffith-Joyner) and the United Kingdom in 1993 (Colin Jackson and Sam Gunnell).

Imperial Alley Cat set to kick off U.S. tour

Imperial Alley Cat, mastermind behind the 'Dancehall Knowledge' compilation series will begin a tour across the United States this weekend in Orlando.

Imperial Alley Cat, mastermind behind the ‘Dancehall Knowledge’ compilation series will begin a tour across the United States this weekend in Orlando.

by Jodee Brown

Multitalented Jamaican musician, Imperial Alley Cat is set to showcase his talents across the United States in the coming weeks, which will kick off on Sunday in Orlando, FL.

The Dancehall/Reggae singer and producer will join a diverse collection of talents on this upcoming tour, presented by the LA-based United Artiste Alliance Music Group (UAA Music) label, which will begin at theOrange County Convention Center. The tour will feature acts from genres such as rock and roll, hip-hop, R&B and pop, including Elliot Noir, SLK, Roger Rackz, If Humans Could Fly and many more.

This tour will enable Imperial to get up close and personal with his American fan base as he hopes to break new ground within the industry, hailing as the lone Dancehall/Reggae act on the bill. The singjay looks forward to engaging with young music lovers who will fill the venue as he looks to represent Jamaica to the fullest on the American music scene.

Imperial says he is ‘very excited and in high spirits’ as he promises to deliver steady, thought-prompting performances that reflect the music and positive energy he brings within the industry.

The U.S. tour comes on the heels of Imperial’s hit single,Idling which has garnered strong buzz in his homeland as well as in the U.S., Canada and Europe while the accompanying video features cameos from Mavado and Karian Sang. Furthermore, Imperial Alley Catwill be dropping more new music before the end of this year, going into 2014 and is currently promoting the official video for his new single, Real Ghetto Story.

Check out the Real Ghetto Story video on YouTube as well as Idling on Soundcloud. To bookImperial, email him at immperialproductions@gmail.com or imperialbookings1@gmail.com

Mr. Vegas challenges Bounty Killer to clash at STING

Vegas-Bounty clash at STING? The two superstar deejays could be heading for a lyrical confrontation at Dancehall's largest showpiece.

Vegas-Bounty clash at STING? The two superstar deejays could be heading for a lyrical confrontation at Dancehall’s largest showpiece.

by Jodee Brown

Not known for entertaining lyrical confrontations throughout his illustrious career, Dancehall/Reggae superstar, Mr. Vegas now seeks to break this mold by challenging one of the genre’s clash kings and long-time rival, Bounty Killer at STING 2013.

On Thursday, Vegas made his intention to clash the ‘War Lord’ public and insists he will not back down from Bounty at Dancehall’s most hyped showcase.

“I just put it out there to let it be known that mi a big man now and mi nah mek nuhbody feel like dem can cow mi down,” Vegas told the Jamaica STAR.

Vegas and Bounty’s years of verbal exchanges came to a head in September after a recent performance in which Vegas donned 70s plaid clothes and a fake afro, with the ‘Grung Gaad’ and his fans ridiculing the outfit. The seemingly petty argument turned into a flat out war of words with everything being questioned, from Vegas’ sexuality to Bounty’s status within the music.

Vegas later claimed that his relationship with an ex-girlfriend of Bounty’s was the reason behind this deep-seeded dislike his fellow deejay showed towards him.

Despite having no clashing experience, Mr. Vegas says he has studied enough about the history of Dancehall and the art of lyrical warfare that gives him the confidence to clash Bounty Killer and said he would even turn down his show in Dubai, scheduled for the same day as STING, just to confront the Allianceleader.

“Clash is to entertain people with lyrics, not bag a noise and nasty mouth,” he said “So, if a man come wid some fresh new lyrics, then mi wi cancel my show a Dubai and mek Laing run back the promoter food, just to show people sey mi can tek on Goliath.”

Mr. Vegas has even gone as far as to record a diss song against Bounty dubbed Bury Him Fuss, suggesting he is ready for a clash at STING.

Bounty Killer has yet to respond to Vegas’ challenge.

Last year, Bounty Killer was at the centre of another major feud, that time with former Vybz Kartel protégé,Tommy Lee Sparta, with many rumors swirling of a clash between those two at STING. However, Bounty ended that speculation by insisting he would not be at STING and that Tommy Lee Sparta was no established enough for him to take seriously in that setting.

STING 2013, the 30th anniversary of the show, will take place at Jamworld in St. Catherine on Dec., 26.

Rebel Vibez host Carrie Mullings as MC at Calgary’s ReggaeFest 2013

Carrie Mullings, much more than a popular Canadian radio personality for Rebel Vibez Radio

Carrie Mullings, much more than a popular Canadian radio personality for Rebel Vibez Radio

by 

Good day, reggae massives! I’m honoured to be working in cooperation with Toronto’s Carrie Mullings, the popular and professional host of the Rebel Vibez radio show that airs every Monday from 10AM – noon EST (7AM – 9AM in Vancouver) on Toronto’s CHRY,http://www.chry.fm/index.html. Last week her co-host was Richie Spice; stay tuned, as you never know which celebrity will be joining her on the airwaves next.

Rebel Vibez host Carrie Mullings as MC at Calgary’s ReggaeFest 2013.

To say Carrie is a radio host is just the tip of the Rebel Vibez iceberg. She is an artist manager, promoter, travels across Canada as an events MC, and is deeply rooted in music business activities, the likes of which the average listener doesn’t even realize are necessary to develop an artist and produce all types of material, publicity, networking, bookings, recording collaborations, studio time, sponsorship.

Somewhere in there she, and I, and so many lovely, talented and strong women I work with in the music industry find personal down time and energy to deal with our children and the rest of our family, go shopping, cook dinner, and WHAT? Actually sit and relax, read a book, do a Sudoku puzzle, or get going on those crochet ideas?

Those are some of the things I made time for this weekend, but my mind was still running on the blog, knowing I’d planned to keep it updated more often. It’s my innate nature to promote events I figure are musically worthwhile and like to encourage people to attend. Carrie’s weekend was a little different- road trip managing Rebel Vibez Records artist & Vancouver homegirl Elaine Lil’Bit Shepherd as she shared the stage with Luciano for three of his Canadian dates in Brantford, Toronto, and Montreal.

I will be doing this week’s Rebel Vibez West Coast Events calendar tonight, but for now Vancouver has two major reggae shows this week- Mad Professor with Ras Nikhilesh, DJ Capn rEdEyEzz & DJ Lt. Irie at Fortune on Thursdayhttps://www.facebook.com/events/517327855010705/?ref_dashboard_filter=calendar; and Spragga Benz on Sunday with Fredlocks Asher & The UltraFlex Crew, E-Spliff, Wassawa, Gisto, OSC, and DJs Tank Gyal, LT. Irie, & Aremshttps://www.facebook.com/events/518447624899527/?ref_dashboard_filter=calendar.

Five pure Jamaican singers who deserve more recognition

Tessanne Chin5by Jodee Brown

Tessanne Chin’s landmark appearance on NBC’s The Voice has not only allowed her to take her career to its highest level yet, but has given her a chance to represent Jamaica musically in ways that have not been seen in quite a while, as most recently evidenced Monday night.

After years of being producing modest hits on the Jamaican music scene, Tessanne decided she was not going to settle for being an afterthought on the local music scene, showed and showed great humility in deciding to enter the American talent show despite being a known, regarded musician in her homeland for nearly 10 years. The Hideaway singer was able to push herself to new heights being on this show and, regardless of how her journey on The Voice ends, will have set a high bar for her fellow Jamaicans to aspire to and allow for many local singers to try that much harder to unlock their potentials to the world.

With that in mind, I’ve compiled a list of five accomplished, pure Jamaican singers who, with varying levels of success to date, could more promotional muscle, hits and deserved recognition for their various talents internationally. Check them out:

#1  Ikaya

Ikaya

Why Ikaya hasn’t gotten a bigger boost than she has since bursting onto the scene in 2009, is a mystery, but she’s still relatively young to garner the press and success her talents deserve.

Divulging from a more raw, Dancehall sound at the turn of this decade paid dividends as she belted out hits like Fly Away, High and Hard Way. Yet, her progress to mainstream stardom has seemingly stagnated since, aside from the odd, awe-inspiring performances on TVJ’s Layers of Soul.

She’s a spirited, underrated performer with solid vocals, sex appeal and diversity in her music, like her song with Busy Signal showed in June. With more songs, shows and press, Ikaya can fulfill her undoubted potential.

 

#2 D Major and Shuga

d major and shuga

Two Penthouse Records acts with strong amounts of talent, D Major (left)and Shuga (right) both have strong, powerful voices that have largely (and sadly) gone mostly unnoticed. That can change with major pushes for both acts.

D Major is a soft-singing, strong and soulful singer with some modest hits to his name, including his recent hit, Real Know RealHe’s an act ideally suited for the ladies with a look and voice that will melt them with ease. If he can find a transcendent hit, continue improving his vocal quality and gain more traction for his songs overseasD Major could become a major player down the line.

Shuga, formerly Brown Sugar gained nationwide attention after winning Digicel Rising Stars in 2009, but has found mainstream attention hard to come by since. Back-up singing duties to the likes of Da’Ville and Tanya Stephens followed, but after switching her image to a more edgy, risk-taking singer in 2012, she has enjoyed a bit of a renaissance. Hits like 9.58 and My Soul To Jah proved she can have a successful career post-Risng Stars and with more promotion as well as a deeper catalogue will be a force to reckon with down the line.

#3 Denyque

denyque2

Randy Richards Photography/natalie-monique.com

She’s an exceptional vocalist, conceptually and intellectually gifted and is drop-dead gorgeous (as this photo obviously proves): The ideal package for a superstar singer in the making.

While she has a very decent catalogue of songs to boast, including Breathe, Supergirl and Make Me Believe You, she’s unfortunately known by most thanks to a nude photo scandal in 2012, triggered by a controversial Jamaican blog. Given her worldly potential and quality as an artist, this should not be the case.

She has the songs, but not the shows, the big ones at least. Aside from a performance atReggae Sumfest 2011, she has hardly featured on any major shows. With more hit songs, appearances on shows like Sumfest and Shaggy and Friends and maybe a couple of collabs with overseas acts, Denyque can be the superstar her talents and personality warrant. Additionally, with Jade Lee, Sean Paul’s former booking agent during his Grammy-winning days backing her, the promotional muscle should only get stronger from here.

 

 

 

#4 Christopher Martin

christophermartin2

Make no mistake, Christopher Martinis one of Jamaica’s most established singers of the last decade, churning out a bevy of hits and earning his share of accolades. However, I’ve often been left with the feeling the former Digicel Rising Stars winner should be much more accomplished and rated than he is.

Since that triumph on the popular talent show in 2005, hits such as Take My Wings, Driver, Cheater’s Prayer, Paper Loving and Chill Spot have made him an international success, particularly in the Caribbean, Europe and Africa. Even with that, Martin still does not get enough recognition for his multiple talents, particularly in the American market, where fellow Rising Stars winner Romain Virgo has made some impact.

An LP, more promotion overseas and continued consistency from this extremely strong vocalist would make him more of a global threat. Could you imagine if he got a shot on ‘The Voice’ himself if he were eligible? He may be in line to win that talent show too given his prowess.

 

#5 Alaine

Alaine1

Since the start of Tessanne’s stellar run on The Voice, I’ve been thinking of which pure singer, more than anyone, deserves more international recognition for his or her talents despite their varying levels of success in Jamaica. To me, Alaine fits that bill best.

Like Tessanne, she has number one hits to boast and a high note that will make your eyes bulge. She’s always had the depth, vocal range and songs, likeSacrifice and Rise In Love to make her a major success internationally. But she hasn’t quite reached that plateau yet.

The most attention she has garnered internationally is a feature alongside Shaggy for his 2010 hit, For Your Eyes Only, which topped charts worldwide thanks in part for her sensual chorus. If she could gain such measure with one of her own efforts, with just a little more attention and promotion, she can undoubtedly take this star Jamaican singer’s career to its higher level yet.

Major Lazer set for Kingston show in December

major lazer1by Jodee Brown

Internationally-renowned super group, Major Lazer is set to return to Jamaica in time for the holidays as they will headline a concert in Kingston the week before Christmas, according to reports Monday.

The group, consisting of Diplo, Jillionaire and Black Chiney’s Major Lazer will perform at the New Mas Camp on December 20. Early bird tickets for the show will go on sale this Friday at the Acropolis Gaming Centre in Barbican for JA$2,000. The event is drinks-inclusive and is slated to kick off at 8 p.m.

This will Major Lazer’s second performance in Jamaica this year. The group performed a special, sold-out show at the Mona Campus of the University of the West Indies (UWI) in January, dazzling crowds with props and crowd surfing. Additionally, the show featured performances from Reggae sensation, Chronixx and Dancehall star, Popcaan.

Major Lazer has long been known for its affinity for Reggae/Dancehall music and produced two smashing hits in 2013 featuring two of the genre’s popular figures.

This past Spring, they teamed up with Busy Signal for the retro-themed single, Bumaye, which has garnered close to 50 million YouTube views for the song and accompanying video. In May, award-winning dancer, Mystic Davis, who featured in the Bumaye video, featured on Major Lazer’s single, Bubble Butt alongside Bruno Mars, Tyga and 2 Chainz. That single has pushed the 20 million views mark on YouTube and peaked at number 56 on the Billboard Hot 100 Singleschart this past summer.

First Annual All Canadian Stage Show ‘BUSS’ triumphs in Toronto

BUSS1108-FyahLion1b2

Stay tuned for photos from the BUSS: All Canadian Stage Show this past weekend

Morgan Heritage denies preference in JLP election after controversial dubplate

Morgan Heritage says a recent dubplate done for JLP leadership contender, Dr. Audley Shaw was not done as an endorsement of the politician..

Morgan Heritage says a recent dubplate done for JLP leadership contender, Dr. Audley Shaw was not done as an endorsement of the politician..

by Jodee Brown

Prominent Reggae group, Morgan Heritage has taken their fair share of heat in the last two days since a dubplate seemingly endorsing Jamaica’s former minister of finance and leadership candidate for the Jamaica Labour Party (JLP), Audley Shaw earlier this week.

On Friday, the acclaimed group responded to such assertions in an article published on Tuesday by the Jamaica Gleaner by insisting the dubplate version of their hit song, Reggae Bring Back Love was not done to endorse Shaw in particular, but Jamaica as a whole. In a statement released to the media Thursday, Morgan Heritage insisted they have no political affiliations and would have done the song for any politician.

The statement reads, Morgan Heritage would like to clarify that the dubplate of our hugely popular hit,Reggae Bring Back Love was done “fi Jamaica” asPeetah (Morgan) clearly states in the intro.”

“Morgan Heritage has an abiding love for Jamaica and would have done a similar dubplate for anyone. The fact that we sing about our ideals of bringing back love and making Jamaica a better place in the song Reggae Bring Back Love, which was recorded 13 years ago, and happens to be the same message of anyone today, only speaks to our belief of a better Jamaica and not any political views.”

They continued, “As Rastafarians, Morgan Heritage does not sit on any side of the political divide. We do not dabble in politics, but like all Jamaicans, we are concerned about some of the things taking place in our beloved country. Our message of unity, love, respect for self and respect for authority remains unchanged and we will continue to work to effect a change for the better as a part of our musical mission.”

The JLP leadership election, which pits Shaw against current leader, Andrew Holness will take place on Sunday at the National Stadium in Kingston.