Legendary Third World singer, Bunny Rugs dies after battle with leukemia

William 'Bunny Rugs' Clarke, the lead singer of highly-acclaimed Reggae group, Third World is dead at the age of 65.

William “Bunny Rugs” Clarke, the lead singer of highly-acclaimed Reggae group, Third World is dead at the age of 65.

by Jodee Brown

The Reggae world has lost another of its patriarchs after Third World lead singer, William ‘Bunny Rugs’ Clarke passed away Sunday night after a long battle with leukemia.

Clarke, who was set to turn 66 on Thursday, passed away at his home in Orlando, FL, according to friends and collegues of the singer. A week earlier, he was in hospital receiving treatment for the cancerous disease and had been in intensive care.

Regarded as one of the most profound and distinct voices in Reggae music history, Clarke started his career at just 15 years old and worked with popular Reggae band, Inner Circle as well as prominent producer, Lee ‘Scratch’ Perry. The Mandeville-born artist then became a member of Third World, one of the most popular Reggae bands in history, spending 31 years with the group.

While part of the group, they issued classics such as Now that We Found LoveAlways Around, Committed and Try Jah Lovethe latter co-written alongside legendary American singer, Stevie Wonder,who performed with the band at Reggae Sunsplash in 1981.

Those songs and others were chart-toppers in several countries, particularly gaining acclaim on American and British singles charts. The band, which also featured the likes of Michael ‘Ibo’ Cooper, Stephen ‘Cat’ Coore, Colin Leslie and many more, dropped several hit albums while signed to Island Recordsincluding 96 Degrees of Shade (1977), Journey To Addis (1978) and received six Best Reggae Album Grammy nominations for later projects such as Serious Business, Committed, Live It Up andAin’t Givin’ Up, though they never emerged with an Grammy award.

In a statement Monday morning, Jamaica’s minister of youth and culture, Lisa Hanna said of Clarke, “I am sad that Bunny Rugs has passed away and we will no longer be able to go to a venue to watch him perform with his beloved Third World. However, I am grateful and proud of his contribution to music. He was a true Reggae ambassador who, along with the rest of Third World, brought Jamaica’s music to the world.”

“Bunny Rugs’ voice was distinct. He had a charisma and stage presence that were spell-binding, with a smile that was vibrant. I personally will never forget him singing ‘Try Jah Love’ and ’96 Degrees in the Shade.’ Today, I offer condolences to Bunny Rugs’ family including his musical brothers in Third World.”

Third World is said to be hurting deeply as they mourn Clarke’s death, which leaves the group’s futuresomewhat in doubt. The band, who celebrated their 40th anniversary last year, was set to perform at theBlue Mountain Music Festival in St. Andrew later this month as well as several summer shows in the U.S.

Clarke’s death comes as Jamaica celebrates Reggae month, which celebrates the country’s most popular genre and the stars of that genre, including Bob Marley, who was born on the same day as the Third World star.

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Sean Paul to drop new studio album this month

Multi-platinum selling Jamaican entertainer, Sean Paul will release his sixth studio album on Feb. 18. The album had originally been slated to come out last November

Multi-platinum selling Jamaican entertainer, Sean Paul will release his sixth studio album on Feb. 18. The album had originally been slated to come out last November

by Jodee Brown

International megastar musician and former Grammy-winning artist, Sean Paul will be unveiling his sixth studio album, Full Frequency on February 18, according toreports Saturday.

The album, which will be released physically and on iTunes, features a number of cross-genre efforts alongside some of Reggae, hip hop and pop’s top stars. Notable collaborators on Full Frequency includeDamian ‘Jr. Gong’ Marley, Nicki Minaj, Iggy Azalea, Konshens, Nyla, 2 Chainz and Juicy J.

Sean Paul, who won the 2004 Best Reggae AlbumGrammy for his multi-platinum record, Dutty Rock has released several singles from Full FrequencyRiot, which features the aforementioned Marley and Want Dem All which features KonshensEntertainment (w/ Minaj, Juicy J and 2 Chainz) and, most recently, The Other Side Of Love.

His last album, Tomahawk Technique struggled to make any significant impact sales-wise in the United States, selling just over 1,000 copies in its first week. However, it was certified gold in France and Switzerland, with its lead single, Got 2 Luv U (feat. Alexis Jordan) in particular scoring number ones on charts in the Caribbean, Europe and Asia to name a few region.

Full Frequency is being distributed by his long-time label, Atlantic Records.

Ziggy Marley snags Reggae Grammy for live concert album

Ziggy Marley has collected his fifth Best Reggae Album Grammy win for his 2013 live concert album, Ziggy Marlet in Concert

Ziggy Marley has collected his fifth Best Reggae Album Grammy win for his 2013 live concert album, Ziggy Marlet in Concert

by Jodee Brown

International Reggae superstar, Ziggy Marley has won the 2014 Grammy for Best Reggae Album for his live album, Ziggy Marley in Concert.

Marley eclipsed Sizzla (The Messiah), Beres Hammond (One Love, One Life), Snoop Lion (Reincarnated) and Sly and Robbie and the Jam Masters (Reggae Connection) for the Reggae Grammy, his fifth since the award was first instituted in 1985Ziggy Marley in Concert is Marley’s second solo album to win a Grammy in addition to three he won as the front man of his band, Ziggy Marley and The Melody Makers.

Perhaps this should not as a surprise to music lovers, as since the Reggae Grammy was introduced, a Marley has taken home the honor 10 times, seven of those times happening since 2002. Stephen Marley has won the award three times (2008, 2009, 2012) while their brother,Damian ‘Jr. Gong’ Marley won twice (2002, 2004).

The royal family of Reggae music has often produced stiff competition for fellow nominated artists, with no artist winning the Grammy when a Marley was nominated since Shaggy’s Boombastic in 1996.

Nevertheless, the achievement proves the Marley’s stronghold and level of consistency within Reggae music long after the death of Reggae’s greatest act, Bob Marley.

Congratulations to Ziggy Marley on his award.

Sizzla taken off Dutch festival days after STING ban

Sizzla Kalonji has been axed from a festival in Netherlands set for March due to anti-gay lyrics from his recent set at STING 2013

Sizzla Kalonji has been axed from a festival in Netherlands set for March due to anti-gay lyrics from his recent set at STING 2013

by Jodee Brown

Reggae/Dancehall star, Sizzla Kalonji is once again facing heat for his stances against homosexuality following his recent performance at STING 2013 as organizers for an upcoming festival in the Netherlands have removed him from their lineup, according to reports Tuesday.

The revered singer will not perform his scheduled gig at the Melkweg festival on March 16 in Amsterdam after organizers were made aware of Sizzla’s set at STING 2013, where he spoke out against gay relationships throughout.

Organizers said they did not want to offer a stage to any artist who sings ‘very hurtful and hateful lyrics.’

Patrons who had purchased tickets to see Sizzla will be refunded, according to organizers. Sizzla has yet to respond to the organizers’ stance.

This development comes days after STING organizers banned the entertainer for ‘promoting hate music,’ saying they warned him not to sing such lyrics during his performance, which was broadcast on pay-per-view to viewers worldwide.

Sizzla is among five artists nominated for the Best Reggae Album award at this year’s Grammy Awards, set to take place on Jan. 26 in Los Angeles.

2013 Year in Review: The best songs, artists and stories in Jamaican music

by Jodee Brown

After a 2012 which saw Jamaica return to the roots of its music during its 50th anniversary year, the majority of 2013 proved to be a major letdown and appeared to be heading for irrelevancy within the pantheon on memorable Jamaican periods. That is, until a certain sparkly 28-year-old singer reminded everyone that our music still has a very long shelf-life, if attention is focused on the right channels.

Tessanne Chin added a much needed boost to what was a mostly ordinary year within Jamaican music and entertainment. From a downsizing of hit songs, to increasingly poor album sales in the United States, to undying scrutiny regarding lyrical content and party regulations, these were trying times for artists and music lovers alike in 2013.

Nevertheless, we try to look on the brighter side of things in our music. With that said, check out the slideshow in the middle of this article, showing slides looking at the songs, artists and news makers that made Jamaican music interesting in 2013.  Feel free to comment below if you agree or disagree with these picks.

Best New Artist – Jah Bouks

Best New Artist – Jah Bouks

Honorable Mentions – Keznamdi, Kelissa, Alkaline, Samantha J

This year was a strong year for debutantes on the local scene. Keznamdi has music lovers re-thinking how they would spend each Weekend, Alkaline inked his eye and his name on the Dancehall scene, Kelissa continued a recent run of impressive, upcoming female singers coming out, while teenage sensation, Samantha J bragged about being the girl in the Tight Up SkirtBut, in this writer’s opinion, there is only one winner.

As an ardent listener of Portmore’s Sun City 104.9FM, there is a strong amount of good, featured music by artists with potential, but little to no mainstream assurance. One such artist was a St. Thomas native by the name of Jah Bouks whose vocals and concepts were unique and smooth.

After hearing songs like Angola and Don’t Cry play so many times on radio, there was no doubt in this writer’s mind 2013 would be Jah Bouks would be a breakout act, if he got the right push. Sai push came in the form of competing on season six of Magnum Kings and Queens of Dancehall, where his singing ability and stage presence instantly made him a hit with music lovers. He failed to emerge with the million-dollar grand prize, but his star had shone too brightly for him to fade in the limelight soon thereafter.

Angola has been a big hit in mainstream media and on Jamaican streets, landing him several shows locally and overseas in the last six months. Going Home, Vital and others proved that this was not just any ordinary, fly-by-night tinker in his music, but someone whose vision is more wide-ranging than some veteran acts in today’s business, if you listen to his content. 2014 will be a year in which music lovers will look on him Highly! As he would say.

Male Deejay of the Year – I-Octane

Male Deejay of the Year – I-Octane

Honorable Mentions – Aidonia, Vybz Kartel

There was a huge struggle with this pick, nearly a temptation to leave this award vacant in all honesty, as no Dancehall artist really made his mark on the scene all year-round, struggling for a string of hits.

Konshens, who asserted his authority in Dancehall throughout 2012 with a slew of number ones, was mostly an afterthought this year, with Pull Up To Mi Bumper (feat. J Capri) really being his only standout song, with well over six million YouTube views.

Vybz Kartel, still awaiting word on his freedom from a long-standing murder charge, produced his share of noteworthy songs such as School, Business and Georgina. But, as often the case with the ‘Worl’ Boss’ in recent years, he follows up one big song with five low quality ones.

Aidonia certainly looked like the frontrunner in the first half of the year, driving female audiences mad with songs like Fi Di Jockey, Bruki and Tip Pon Yuh Toe, but his work released since the summer drastically failed to replicate that early success.

So, in the end, this honour goes to I-Octane. His hit at the start of the year, Gyal A Gimme Bunwas a hit with music lovers, adding a mix of old-school vibes with new school humor, as evidenced by the accompanying video. Happy Time and Wine and Jiggle have also been strong on local charts and, despite some skepticism going in, Octane validated the faith shown in him by Reggae Sumfest organizers to close their Dancehall Night with one of his better performances.

Mind you, this was not as solid a year for him as 2010 was, but in a year where many Dancehall acts flattered to deceive, he managed to topple them all.

Female Deejay of the Year – Lady Saw

 Female Deejay of the Year – Lady Saw

Female Deejay of the Year – Lady Sawjamaica-gleaner.com

Honorable Mentions – Macka Diamond, Spice

Unlike the male version of this category, the female one took much less thought, because frankly, content from female deejays was very limited.

Macka Diamond certainly had the biggest song amongst her compatriots with the chart-topping single, Dye Dyebut could not duplicate that form with her follow-up efforts, no matter how raunchy or edgy her promotional or lyrical content gotSpice also had a pair of modest hits, Twerk and Dun Wife which were catchy and thought-provoking, but she was mostly anonymous otherwise, with her beefs with Macka Diamond and the winner of this category mainly keeping her talked about in the press.

For all intent and purposes, Lady Saw was supposed to be done with Dancehall – moving on to a calmer, more spiritual lifestyle after growing tired of the stress and obstacles within a genre she dominated for decades. But the inner ‘bad gyal’ in her just could not resist staying away for good. Her video for Heels On, and the remix (featuring Flo-Rida) put her back on the international map again.

Her solo set at STING 2013, and, moments later, lyrical decapitation of the aforementionedMacka Diamond during their heated clash at the show really summed up how much Dancehall still needs its queen. She still has the edge and lyrical quality left to be a force in the business, as Heels On proved. Time will tell if she follows up on her decision on walk away for good, but her fans will certainly try their best to keep her around.

Reggae Artist of the Year – Chronixx

Reggae Artist of the Year – Chronixx

Reggae Artist of the Year – Chronixx reggaesumfest.com

Honorable Mentions – Sizzla, Beres Hammond, Etana

After a year which saw him rise to instant super stardom with one international hit after the next, one could forgive Chronixx if he relented and moseyed along 2013 while trying to find firm footing within this new-found status. Nope, he is a Warrior, and he continues to fight his way to the top with alarming ease.

Conceptually, he is well beyond his years, showcased through his chart-topping hit,Smile Jamaica, a song reminiscent of Bob Marley’s classic, with a spin on it comparing Jamaica to a beautiful woman. After dropping one of the best songs of 2013, he could again be forgiven for taking his foot off the gas pedal. Of course, again, he refused.

Access Granted, Rain Music, Most I and Here Comes Trouble went over with Jamaicans far and wide, earning rotation in markets such as the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom. Billboard has already identified him as potentially Reggae music’s next big superstar, and who would blame them for jumping to that conclusion this early, given his catalogue.

In fairness, Sizzla, Beres Hammond and Etana put out solid hits which did not received nearly the same airplay or approval, but were solid throughout the year, both in studio and on stage. The former two received nods for the 2014 Best Reggae Album Grammy, whileEtana, in this writer’s opinion, should have earned a similar nod.

Given the trajectory Chronixx is on, such recognition will be coming his way much sooner than later, and deservedly so.

Song of the Year – Bumaye (Major Lazer feat. Busy Signal)

 Song of the Year – Bumaye (Major Lazer feat. Busy Signal)

Song of the Year – Bumaye (Major Lazer feat. Busy Signal)twelvefresh.com

Honorable Mentions – Smile Jamaica (Chronixx), Gyal a Gimme Bun (I-Octane), Nuh Compatible (Bugle)

There were a few gems that sparkled song-wise within the seemingly rusting jewel that was Jamaican music in 2013; all of them dominating for a long stretch of time.

Gyal a Gimme Bun was Dancehall’s biggest, most noteworthy hit between January and March, racking up number ones and giving pop culture a new term to exhaust with ‘Mi chest plate a bun mi.’

Nuh Compatible was one of the spring’s most talked about songs, composed by journeyman artist, Bugle, who finally earned his first real mainstream hit since his debut single, What We Gonna Do five years earlier. The acclaim it received was deserved and gave those going through untenable relationships a song to hang their hat on.

As mentioned in the previous slide, Smile Jamaica was a stroke of genius by Chronixx, and was easily the best Reggae song for 2013. But, the winner of this category had his song play in the background of a Pepsi commercial featuring world footballing great, Lionel Messi.Enough said.

Busy Signal, seeking that next, big mainstream hit since being released from prison in November of last year, teamed with Major Lazer for the single, Bumaye, which in English, means kill them (a phrase shouted during Muhammad Ali’s legendary fight with George Foreman).

This top-of-the-line, collaboration was, to use another boxing reference, an instant knockout, earning over 40 million YouTube hits, platinum status in Denmark and that aforementioned commercial with Messi. It was a throwback-themed song – using old-time Dancehall sounds and terms – that morphed into a commercial success and made Busy a major international player once again.

Story of the Year – Tessanne is ‘The Voice’

Story of the Year – Tessanne is ‘The Voice’

Story of the Year – Tessanne is ‘The Voice’ File photo

There could only be one winner or nominee for this honor; a no-brainer really.

Some four or five months ago, Tessanne Chin was a relative afterthought struggling to find a major breakthrough that would launch a once promising career that mostly stalled since making her mainstream debut as a teenager in 2004. Thanks to smart advice from Shaggy and one-chair-turning audition in Los Angeles, she went from Hideaway to being one of the most sought after musicians in the world right now.

Chin long possessed the vocal range, clarity and stage presence necessary to become a superstar, and after successfully auditioning for season five of NBC’s The Voice, those qualities were finally there for a much bigger audience than ours to witness. Song by song, she hit every high note with ease, and round-by-round, more American viewers were warming up to a woman whose personality and talent were too irresistible a combination to overlook.

Her last two solo performances – of Simon and Garfunkel’s Bridge Over Troubled Waterand Whitney Houston’s I Have Nothing – were two of the most memorable performances ever displayed by a Jamaican artist, or on any talent show worldwide for that matter. With every well-sung word, she had her own coach, Adam Levine, and really everyone else speechless, leaving one to wonder how high her ceiling really is.

Winning The Voice and an American recording contract were mere formalities really. It was the way the she galvanized her entire country to the point bars and Half-Way-Tree square were filled to Bolt-like proportions that was the real story. Jamaican music, and Jamaica in general, now had something to smile broadly about in a year filled with economic and social mishaps and drug controversy surrounding the island’s main source of unbridled joy in recent years, its track and field team.

Chin brought a badly-needed light on the island in dark times and has given every local musician to believe that a break is coming, with just a little persistence and attention to detail required. She now has the opportunity to become the island’s next musical icon and open doors for Jamaican in an American market which has not been kind to them since the days ofDamian ‘Jr. Gong’ Marley, Shaggy and Sean Paul.

Here is to hoping in 2014, she lays the foundation for Jamaica building a much stronger home musically.

10 hit Reggae albums that deserved Grammy nominations

by Jodee Brown

On Friday night, The Recording Academy announced its nominees for the 56th Grammy Awards, slated for January 26 in Los Angeles. A fair amount of intrigue surrounds this year’s Reggae Grammy nominees, with Snoop Dogg (under the Snoop Lion moniker) and Sizzla standing out amongst the contenders.

However, while the selection committee has managed to correctly reward some of Reggae’s most influential projects in the past, there were some top-of-the-line albums by Jamaican artists that were inexplicably snubbed, for whatever reason, with regards the Best Reggae album honor. Here are 10 such projects that deserved a shot at music’s most prestigious prize:

Honorable Mention: Reggae Music Again (2012)

Honorable Mention: Reggae Music Again (2012)

Honorable Mention: Reggae Music Again (2012)File photo

A certain honorable mention for this list is Busy Signal’s Reggae Music Again. The all-Reggae effort, released months before serving a six-month stint in a U.S. prison last May was relatively solid as he and Shane Brown combined to produce hits like Come Over (Missing You) and Reggae Music Again, showing Busy’s undoubted versatility. This project was a classic case of quality of music out-trumping quantity of record sales. Yet, The Recording Academy chose not to take too much notice.

10. Etana – Better Tomorrow (2013)

10. Etana – Better Tomorrow (2013)

10. Etana – Better Tomorrow (2013) File photo

Regarding this year’s award selections, there was not much of an issue from my perspective regarding the nominees, which also included Beres HammondZiggy Marley and Sly and Robbie and the Jam Masters. However, this year seemed like the ideal opportunity to buck a longstanding trend of female acts not earning a Grammy nod, with Etana’s most recent album, Better Tomorrow warranting such an honor.

The album featured some of her best work including songs such as QueenBeautiful Day and the addictive track, Reggae and, had it been nominated, would have marked the first album by a female act since Sister Carol’sLyrically Potent in 1997 to earn such a nod. Alas, it was not meant to be for the ‘Strong One.’

9. Romain Virgo – The System (2012)

9. Romain Virgo - The System (2012)

9. Romain Virgo – The System (2012)vpreggae.com

Last year, the Recording Academy failed to buck yet another recent trend – mainly elder acts and familiar names getting nods – and overlooked a strong breakthrough effort by emerging Reggae superstar, Romain Virgo with his debut album, The System.

This album made Virgo a standout name in Reggae music, with hits such as Rich In LoveI Know Better and The System and showcased his vocal range and versatility to the world. Though the album was not a smashing commercial success, it featured quality music from top to bottom and would have fit onto a final nominations list with work less heralded and similarly struggling in the sales department.

8. Sizzla – Praise Ye Jah (1997)

8. Sizzla - Praise Ye Jah (1997)

8. Sizzla – Praise Ye Jah (1997)reggaeville.com

In 1997, a young, fiery singer by the name ofSizzla Kalonji announced himself to the Reggae scene with this thought-provoking album, Praise Ye Jah. This album was a slight turn from the albums of the early-mid 90s which were predicated on soft tones and soothing melodies. Not to say this album didn’t have sprinkles of either, but on this record, you could feel Sizzla’s passion as he helped usher in the more edgy, aggressive type of Reggae music that would force others to pay attention.

The album did not quite make Sizzla a mainstream hit, but with songs like Praise Ye Jah, Homeless and Dem a Wonder, it warranted a Grammy nod just based on the fact it offered something different from the usual Reggae project and found some measure of credence with music lovers, allowing his star to shine early on in his career.

7. Beres Hammond – Moment in Time (2008)

7. Beres Hammond - Moment in Time (2008)

7. Beres Hammond – Moment in Time (2008)amazon.com

Beres Hammond’s 11-year wait for a Grammy nomination could have been cut in half if his 2008 album, Moment In Time had been one of the five finalist for the 2009 Reggae Grammy. This was a breathtaking album from the Reggae legend, featuring hits like No GoodbyeI Feel Good andGive It All You’ve Got and possessed enough quality to warrant a call in a rare year when six nominees were selected.

6. Diana King – Tougher Than Love (1995)

6. Diana King - Tougher Than Love (1995)

6. Diana King – Tougher Than Love (1995)7Digital.com

In the mid-90s, Diana King was one of the hottest properties in Jamaican music, particularly for her hit single, Shy Guywhich was featured on the soundtrack to the first installment of the Bad Boys movie series. Other tracks like Treat Her Like a Lady, later covered by Celine Dion, made her a breakout star internationally.

Despite that and the fact Tougher Than Love was certified gold in the United States, she was snubbed for the award, again proving how much harder it was for a Jamaican female act to garner the same attention for such a major award than her male counterparts.

5. Bounty Killer – My Xperience (1996)

5. Bounty Killer - My Xperience (1996)

5. Bounty Killer – My Xperience (1996)amazon.com

Having arrived on the scene with a rough-edge, no nonsense style in the early 90s,Bounty Killer became one of Dancehall’s most prolific stars and was soon gaining international recognition, collaborating with the likes of The Fugees and Busta Rhymesfor his 1996 project, My Xperience.

This was easily the best project ever compiled by the ‘War Lord,’ featuring hits like Living Dangerously (w/ Barrington Levy), Maniac (w/ Richie Stephens),Seek God and Revolution (Part 3) – w/ Beenie Man and the late Dennis Brown.Certainly, one of the greatest Dancehall albums ever put together should have received a nod, but did not make the final list, for the 1997 Reggae Grammy, which was won by Bunny Wailerfor his 50th anniversary album dedicated to the late, great Bob Marley.

4. Luciano – Where There Is Life (1995)

4. Luciano - Where There Is Life (1995)

4. Luciano – Where There Is Life (1995)last.fm

Though he scored a Grammy nod for his 2002 album, A New Day, his best album,Where There Is Life was surprisingly not deemed worthy of similar acclaim for the 1996 awards. The Philip ‘Fattis’ Burrell produced album featured some of Reggae’s biggest hits, including It’s Me Again Jah,Who Could It Be and Lord Give Me Strength. It was a shame considering how popular many of the songs were in the mainstream and the album would have presented a strong challenge to the eventual winner, Boombastic by Shaggy.

3. Sizzla – Da Real Thing (2002)

3. Sizzla - Da Real Thing (2002)

3. Sizzla – Da Real Thing (2002)reggaeville.com

Though he already had hit albums like the aformentioned Praise Ye Jah, Sizzla Kalonji never truly broke out as an international mainstream star until his 2002 album, Da Real Thing came out, which produced the mother-loving anthem, Thank You Mama, Just One of Those Days, Solid As a Rock and a bevy of others.

He put himself out there as Reggae’s next big star, but his star apparently did not shine enough to earn a look from the Grammy selection committee the following year, whenLee ‘Scratch’ Perry took home the honor. A surprising omission to say the least.

2. Buju Banton – Til Shiloh (1995)

2. Buju Banton - Til Shiloh (1995)

2. Buju Banton – Til Shiloh (1995)File photo

How Buju Banton’s greatest album to date did not earn a Grammy nomination is, in my opinion, one of the greatest travesties in Reggae music.

This undoubted classic featured worldwide hits such as Untold Stories, Not an Easy Road, Wanna Be Loved, Murderer andChampion. Though he would later score five more nominations, including winning the 2011 Best Reggae Album honor for Rasta Got Soul, Til Shiloh without question should have been nominated and would have made contention for the 1996 Reggae Grammy a lot more interesting.

1. Shaggy – Hot Shot (2000)

1. Shaggy - Hot Shot (2000)

1. Shaggy – Hot Shot (2000)File photo

As eye-popping as Buju’s omission was, however, there was no greater shock than when one of Jamaican music’s best-selling albums of all-time was snubbed for the 2001 Reggae Grammy.

Shaggy’s Hot Shot not only produced international hits like Angel (w/ Rayvon) andIt Wasn’t Me (w/ Rik Rok), the album was certified diamond in the U.S., with close to 10 million records sold there and over 20 million worldwide.

Despite the fact It Wasn’t Me was nominated for the Best Pop Collaboration w/ Vocal, what seemed like a shoe-in for a nomination and a possible victory in 2001 (Beenie Man’s Art and Life won that year) for Hot Shot was snubbed by the academy. It remains a mystery how one of Jamaican music’s best commercial successes – topping the Billboard 200 chart and U.K. Albums Chart – never received the call up it deserved for music’s greatest prize.

Snoop Lion, Sizzla amongst finalists for Reggae Grammy

Snoop Lion (left) and Sizzla (right) are both first time nominees for a Best Reggae Album Grammy award.

Snoop Lion (left) and Sizzla (right) are both first time nominees for a Best Reggae Album Grammy award.

by Jodee Brown

After temporarily ditching hardcore lyrics for songs about unity and anti-violence, Snoop Dogg has seen his Reggae efforts rewarded by The Recording Academy as he was named one of five finalists on Friday for the Best Reggae Album award at next year’sGrammy Awards.

The artist, whose real name is Calvin Broadus, is being nominated for his album, Reincarnated, released in April while using the Snoop Lion moniker. The album, which features collaborations with Mavado, Popcaan, Mr. Vegas, Drake and Miley Cyrus amongst others, was the best-selling Reggae album in the United States this year, with over 21,000 copies sold in its debut week and, to date, has sold well over 50,000 copies there.

Despite criticism from legendary Jamaican artists such as Bunny Wailer and Lady Saw, the album received a number of positive reviews. However, the Snoop Lionact appears to have been cut, at least for the time being, as he recently changed his name again, to Snoopzilla.

Another artist receiving his first Reggae Grammy nod is Sizzla Kalonji for his album, The Messiah. Having recorded over 70 albums in his career, it is the first chance he will have a music’s most prestigious award. The Messiah features 15 tracks, including Chant Dem Down and Psalm 121.

Beres Hammond is also amongst the finalists, securing his first nomination since 2002 with his One Love, One Life double album, featuring the hit single, In My Arms.

The other two contenders for the Best Reggae Album award are four-time winner, Ziggy Marley for Ziggy Marley in Concert and Sly and Robbie and the Jam Masters with Reggae Connection.

The 56th Grammy Awards will take place on January 26 at the Nokia Theatre in Los Angeles.

Buju Banton set to release new album in 2014

buju banton12by Jodee Brown

Despite being incarcerated on federal drug charges until 2019, embattled Dancehall/Reggae singer, Buju Bantonis planning to drop a new studio album in the summer of 2014, according to reports Friday.

Tracii McGregor, a member of Buju’s management team revealed that most of the songs on the singjay’s album were recorded when he was out on bail in 2011, awaiting his trial on drug and gun charges. McGregor told theJamaica Observer, “Buju is very involved in the process, of course. He is just as focused and detail oriented as he ever was.”

Producers expected to feature on the album includeStephen Marley and Blacker Dread, with production from Buju himself also featuring on the compilation.

This new studio album would mark Buju’s 13th in his over two decades as a mainstream artist. His last album wasBefore The Dawn, released in 2010, which featured singles such as Innocent, Battered and Bruised as well as Do Good. The album won the self-professed ‘Gargamel’ his first Grammy Award for Best Reggae Album in February 2011, just days prior to his conviction on three drug related charges in relation to a 2009 incident in Florida.

Several singles have been released since Buju’s incarceration, including Set Up The Mic, Lose Your Loveand Inna Half, the latter two singles produced by his song, Markus Myrie.

Buju is reportedly in transit at the Oklahoma City Federal Transfer Centrehaving been transferred from a federal prison in Florida, where he as served the majority of his sentence to date.