Damian Marley and Skrillex strike gold with ‘Make It Bun Dem’

Damian Marley can celebrate even more success of 'Make It Bun Dem,' his 2012 collaboration with American producer, Skrillex. The song has now been certified gold.

Damian Marley can celebrate even more success of ‘Make It Bun Dem,’ his 2012 collaboration with American producer, Skrillex. The song has now been certified gold.

by Jodee Brown

Damian ‘Jr. Gong’ Marley can celebrate some history on the day his late father, Bob, would have celebrated his 69th birthday was born as Make It Bun Dem, the chart-topping collaborative effort with American producer, Skrillex has been certified gold by theRecording Industry Association of America (RIAA).

It was announced Thursday morning that the song, initially released in May 2012, achieved the prestigious status after over 501,000 copies of the song were sold in the United States, according to Soundscan. This makes Marley the first Jamaican artist to go gold sinceGyptian, whose award-winning single, Hold Yuh(2010) achieved similar status last June.

Make It Bun Dem continues to do well chart-wise, currently holding third spot on Billboard Magazine’s Digital Reggae Singles Chart, previously holding top spot on that chart for several weeks. The single also reached charts in the U.K., Australia, France, Sweden, Belgium and Austria, among other countries and, combined with the official video, has over 115 million YouTube hits.

Marley has struck gold before, as the international Reggae superstar earned similar status for his Grammy-winning album, Welcome To Jamrock as well as his single of the same name, which has sold close to 580,000 copies.

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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.

2014 edition of Shaggy and Friends show shatters donations record

Shaggy (left) and his Make a Difference Foundation hand over a cheque worth JA$70 million to members of the Bustamante Hospital for Children at a presser in Kingston. Representatives from Digicel, one of the show’s main sponsors, also attended the event.

by Jodee Brown

The Bustamante Hospital For Children have received a gigantic boost in their efforts to upgrade their facility after receiving JA$70 million in donations and proceeds from this year’s Shaggy and Friends charity concert, more than doubling the previous records.

A check for the hefty dollar amounted was presented byShaggy’s Make a Difference Foundation during a press conference at the Kingston-based hospital Thursday night. Shaggy spoke excitingly about the announcement.

“This last concert, being our fourth installment of Shaggy and Friends, has been our biggest one yet and we couldn’t have done it without the help of our sponsors,” the Grammy-winning singer said during the conference. “There was a lot going on this year especially with The Voice and I wouldn’t have gone through with this if I didn’t know that I was working with some very confident people.”

The inclusion of highly-regarded Jamaican singer and The Voice winner, Tessanne Chin on the bill surely had something to do with the record turnout at the lawns of Jamaica House, with close to 10,000 people attending the show, according to Shaggy. Other main acts at the event included fellow competitor on The Voice, Matthew Schuler as well as Damian ‘Jr. Gong’ Marley, Chronixx, Jah Cure, Admiral Bailey, Carlene Davis and many more.

Money raised from the show will go towards finishing the building a full cardiac wing at the hospital, which was reportedly near completion in December.

The JA$70 million amount more than doubles the JA$32 million raised by the last Shaggy and Friendsshow in January 2012. Previous editions of the show raised JA$27 million and JA$30 million in 2009 and 2010 respectively.

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.

Sean Paul set to release new album in November, unveils tracklist

sean paul2by Jodee Brown

Grammy-winning Jamaican entertainer, Sean Paul has unveiled the official tracklist for his upcoming studio album, Full Frequency, which is set for a Nov. 4 release.

Marking his seventh album to date, Full Frequency is entrenched with a number of collaborations with local and international acts on a compilation featuring elements of Dancehall, Reggae and pop music. The most eye-catching amongst the international collaborations is the single, Entertainment 2.0, featuring popular American rap stars, Nicki Minaj, 2 Chainz and Juicy J.

The standout collaboration amongst his Jamaican compatriots is the hit single, Riot, featuring fellow Grammy-winning Reggae superstarDamian ‘Jr. Gong’ Marley. The single has particularly garnered plaudits in Europe, hitting the top ten of singles charts in Germany, Switzerland and the United Kingdom.

Konshens also features on Full Frequency through the joint effort, Want Dem All while Australian rapper, Iggy Azalea also makes an appearance on the single,Wickedest Style.

Full Frequency is Sean Paul’s second album in as many years, having released Tomahawk Technique in January of last year. The album reached the top ten on digital charts in Japan, Germany and Austria, despite recording sub-par sales figures in the United States.

His highest selling album remains his sophomore effort, Dutty Rock, which went multi-platinum in the United States and earned him the Grammy award for Best Reggae Album in 2004.

Full Frequency will be released in stores as well as via iTunes and other digital music outlets and will be distributed via Atlantic Records.

Below is the full tracklist:

1. Riot (feat. Damian Jr. Gong Marley)

2. Entertainment 2.0 (feat. Juicy J, 2 Chainz and Nicki Minaj)

3. Pornstar (feat. Nyla)

4. Want Dem All (feat. Konshens)

5. Hey Baby

6. Wickedest Style (feat. Iggy Azalea)

7. Dangerous Ground (feat. Prince Royce)

8. It’s Your Life

9. Take It Low

10. Anyday

11. Lights On

12. Legacy

13. Other Side of Love

14. Turn It Up