Barrington Levy blasts increased level of hardcore content in Dancehall

Internationally acclaimed Reggae singer, Barrington Levy points to a lack of guidance as the reason for increases 'shock value' methods employed by young Dancehall artists in their musical content.

Internationally acclaimed Reggae singer, Barrington Levy points to a lack of guidance as the reason for increases ‘shock value’ methods employed by young Dancehall artists in their musical content.

by Jodee Brown

Throughout 2014, music lovers have seen a sharp increase in hardcore sexual content and imagery within Dancehall, with the likes of Alkaline, Demarco, Ricky Carty and J Amsterdam pushing boundaries with eyebrow-raising material to gauge interest from fans. One legendary artist is sick of this growing trend.

Barrington Levy, singer of classics such as Broader Than Broadway, Under Mi Sensi and countless others says he is tired of the X-rated nature that the genre has taken on and thinks it has damaged its credibility.

In an interview published in the Jamaica Observer on Tuesday, Levy said, “I see where the music business is taking a turn for the worst. It’s going in a direction where we are losing it.”

These people have no morals anymore. Are we going to do anything for money? I never came into the music business just to sell records. I thought I would just sing for the love of it.”

In another interview with the Jamaica Gleaner, Levy was more solutions-oriented, pointing to a lack of positive influence as the reason why young artists choose to ratchet up the shock value in their musical content.

“They are surrounded by a lot of hotheads that cannot steer them in the right direction,” he said. “People are talking about them and their songs, but not in a good way. As entertainers, we need to always set a good example for the future of music.”

“Surround yourself with good people, people who will lead you in the right direction, people that will help you make good career choices that will ensure longevity and international success.”

Dancehall has long contained specks of raunchiness and hardcore sexual content throughout its near four decades of existence, with artists such as Lady Saw and Vybz Kartel bringing said content to the forefront and becoming all-time greats as a result.

In 2014, however, X-rated content has reached another level and sparked much conversation within the Jamaican music industry, with Alkaline and J Amsterdam boldly speaking on topics of anal stimulation and giving oral sex respectively, to Ricky Carty’s infamous music video for his song, Gyal Tek It in which he had sex with a woman on camera while performing the song.

Meanwhile, Levy is set to release a new acoustic album with variations of his biggest hits. He is currently promoting his new hit single, Rosie.

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Macka Diamond defends crucifixion picture from upcoming video

Deejay, Macka Diamond has taken heat for this picture leaked from her upcoming video for the single, 'WickeD Heart.'

Deejay, Macka Diamond has taken heat for this picture leaked from her upcoming video for the single

by Jodee Brown

Acclaimed Dancehall artist, Macka Diamond is out on the defensive after a picture leaked online from an upcoming video showing her hanging from a cross, mirroring the crucifixion of Jesus Christ.

The picture, taken from the shoot of her upcoming video for her single, Wicked Heart, triggered social media furor this past week, with some insisting she committed blasphemy by doing the act and crossed the line of artistic expression.

In a radio interview Friday, the Dye Dye singer denied this was the case, saying the picture and meaning behind it were taken out of context.

“To be frank, I was never looking at it that way. It’s since I’m seeing the comments (that) I really started to think about it,” she told IRIE FM“According to Jamaican terms, we she, ‘Chu, people a crucify mi..dem nah get mi down.’ I wasn’t even thinking aobut this Jesus ting or nail mi hand…like I dying for nobody sins. It is not as deep as everybody is thinking.”

Macka said the scene was only done as a way to represent the recent criticisms fired her way, particularly since her controversial lyrical clash with long-time rival,Lady Saw at STING last December. Wicked Hearthas been branded by many in the music industry as a diss track aimed at Saw.

This is not the first time an artist has done a crucifixion in his or her videos or songs. hip hop superstar,Nas pulled off a similar tactic in 1999, hanging from a cross in the visuals for his smash hit, Hate Me Now, which featured P Diddy.

Seven years later, pop legend, Madonna pulled off a mock crucifixion during a stage show performance in Germany, sparking outrage from church groups and music lovers alike.

The official video for Wicked Heart will be released in the coming weeks.

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.

Supercat, Saw, Sizzla and ‘Di Stinga’ highlight intriguing STING 30

by Jodee Brown

After a night filled with clashes, eye-raising moments and the return of a legend, STING 2013the 30th anniversary of the ‘Greatest Dancehall show on Earth’ on Dec. 26 certainly entertained and provoked thoughts throughout, leaving music lovers with lots of talking points to dissect for a long time coming.

The show, organized by Supreme Promotions and Downsound Records was, in this writer’s opinion, the most intriguing one since 2008 when the rivalry between Vybz Kartel and Mavado came to a head. Highlights were prevalent and lowlights were evident; here’s a look at some of those performances and moments in this STING 30 review.

Early Segments

Early Segments

Early Segments: STING, perhaps given the amount of entertainers on the bill, started shortly after 8 a.m. Amongst the emerging artists that performed within the first two hours of STING were Kalado and Toronto based deejay Touchless, who gave short, yet effective sets, going into songs like You Make Me Feel and Summer Body respectively. However, it was fast-rising Reggae sensation, Jah Bouks that was a hit with the smaller crowd inside the Portmore-based Jamworld, performing his big hit, Angola as well as newer material such as Going Home. His performance savvy, seen at a slew of show this year, makes him a must-watch act in 2014 and beyond.

Reggae shines on stage (Romain’s last STING?)

Reggae shines on stage (Romain’s last STING?)

Reggae shines on stage (Romain’s last STING?) File photo

Though STING draws a hardcore Dancehall following, pure Reggae acts always find strong favor with the crowd, and this year was no exception. As per usual, Etana andI-Wayne drew some of the best responses from the typically judgmental audience, with the former bringing out Alborosie for a strong rendition of their collaborative hit,Blessings while the latter connected with his female following with, Girl I Love You.

While the likes of Nature and Iba Mahr also presented high energy sets, the stand out performance came from one Romain Virgo, who repeatedly hinted that this year might be the last year he performs at the show. It was a surprising admission from the 23-year-old phenom, who went into hits such as Who Feels It Knows It, Rain Is Falling, Mi Prefer Wait and Serious Times while decked out in all-white. Whatever the reasoning was behind those utterances is unknown, but after giving one of the best sets throughout the night, no one will be hoping he actually lives up to his proclamation.

Wyclef props and 2 Chainz flops

Wyclef props and 2 Chainz flops

STING 30 went out of its element by inviting international artists to the show to provide a different flavor to its fans. Unlike the more mixed crowd for Reggae Sumfest, however, it was always going to take a lot more effort to appease this crowd and in the case of 2 Chainz, he learned that the hard way.

The American rap star’s set started off on the wrong foot with technical issues dominating the first five minutes. Once his mic was finally fixed, his set just failed to get off the ground. In a performance littered with unapologetic cursing, he did songs like Birthday Suit, No Lie and others to an unmoved, silent crowd who did not seem to know exactly how to react. No matter how much he tried to warm up to them, it just was not connecting; frankly looking like a mismatch between artist and fan base. He incessantly complained about his stage time late in his performance, but perhaps this flop of a set should have ended sooner given the circumstances.

On the other hand, Wyclef Jean went over with the Portmore-based crowd by doing something that will always get you in their good graces, shouting out incarcerated Dancehall superstar and Portmore native, Vybz Kartel. After renditions of classics such as Gone Till November and911, as well as a smattering of poetry, Wyclef went into the crowd before unleashing a pair of Kartel hits for the crowd to savor. Also shouting out Buju Banton and convicted drug baron,Christopher ‘Dudus’ Coke during his set, Wyclef endeared himself to the crowd the best way he could, by indulging in the culture.

Supercat still has the ‘Iron Claw’

Supercat still has the ‘Iron Claw’

Supercat still has the ‘Iron Claw’

Now at age 50 and 11 years removed from his last performance in Jamaica, the return of the ‘Don Dada,’ Supercat to the STING stage was filled with as much mystery as there was anticipation, considering how scarce he has been on the music stage in recent years.

However, the legendary Dancehall/Reggae star showed why he is still one of the most feared and respected performers in the game, recovering from a somewhat slow opening to launch into full gear with hits like Si Boops Deh, Unda Pressure and Dolly My Baby.

The crowd loved it and there was a flow to his set, the longest of the night. Supercat also showcased some new material, including talking about his ‘doggie leg,’ but his mere presence in a white suit, sporting a beard and curls was a pleasure to witness. Hopefully, there will be more sightings of this Jamaican music great in the years to come.

Lady Saw trounces Macka Diamond in clash

Lady Saw trounces Macka Diamond in clash

Lady Saw trounces Macka Diamond in clash urbanislandz.com

Truth be told, to call this highly anticipated showdown between the ‘Queen of Dancehall’ Lady Saw and Macka Diamonda clash may be overstating it a bit. This was more of a shouting match than anything else; providing more moments of entertainment than quality lyrical content.

Saw was in no joking mood throughout the night, giving a X-rated performance that kept eyes fixated throughout, particularly during her performance of Heels On, when she called out model, Tyson Beckford and simulated a sexual position on stage while singing. Following her standout performance, she called out Macka to the stageMacka, donning all-black and face paint, did a clash-friendly rendition of her hit, Dye Dye before all hell broke loose. The two nearly butted heads before Lady Saw went out in full attack mode, alleging several sexual relationships Macka had in the music business before letting her lyrics do the talking.

Though said lyrics were not up to the standard we’re usually accustomed to from the legendary deejay, she was never pushed to go into second gear with a seemingly intimidated Macka pushed to the brink of admitting defeat near the end, saying ‘Mi will die trying.’ That line alone proved how one-way this ‘clash’ was. Saw was ruthless as she saw her prey and wouldn’t let up once she had it in her clutches, making Macka ‘die die’ lyrically as she unleashed her vocal bullets.

D’Angel gets raunchy during clash with Ninja Man

D’Angel gets raunchy during clash with Ninja Man

D’Angel gets raunchy during clash with Ninja Manyardhype.com/kingstonstyle.com

Ninja Man has faced his share of tough opponents in the clash arena – Supercat, Mad Cobra, Merciless and Kiprich – but this year’s clash rival was relatively new in that area of music. After winning a celebrity clash against Ishawna in November,D’Angel decided to respond to a lyric the ‘Don Gorgon’ sang about her during his set. She used her retort to address a fresh controversy about a picture exposing her privates that circulated on the internet shortly before Christmas. Not only did she use it as material in her answer to Ninja Man, she even ‘skinned out,’ in front of the audience while wearing a short blouse, adding a raunchiness to her set that she is not typically known for. She was unafraid of the repercussions and certainly prompted bulged eyes to be made throughout this short-lived clash.

Performance of the night – Sizzla

Performance of the night – Sizzla

Performance of the night – Sizzlayardhype.com

Otherwise, Aidonia and Beenie Man were relatively solid throughout their sets, Tommy Lee seemed reflective as he talked about his car accident and expressed his desire for a United States visa during his performance and Mavado put to rest any recent speculation about his relationship with mentor, Bounty Killer by shouting him out during his performance – a combination of old school gangsta hits mixed with a few newer songs.

But the single best performance of the night had to be Sizzla Kalonji, who was in a militant mood, performing classics like Thank You Mama, Trod Mount Zion, Be Strong and many more. Often free styling and even throwing a couple of barbs in the direction of STING’s lead promoter, Isaiah LaingSizzla made several points addressing homosexuality, Africa and many more topics to overwhelming approval from the crowd. He did not miss a beat, and should be given serious consideration to close the show in the near future.

Ryno beats Kiprich in title clash

Ryno beats Kiprich in title clash

Ryno beats Kiprich in title clash

After disposing of General B, Mercilessand even the clash king himself, Ninja Man, Kiprich was hoping for some competition for the clash title and a US$30,000 on the line to close the show. On stage stepped a surprise opponent in Black Ryno, who at the same show last year was pushed off stage by Popcaan during a heated exchange between ex Portmore Empireteammates.

Donning a very unusual costume, Kiprich looked to have underrated Ryno’s ability from the jump, but was quickly put in line by ‘Ryno Di Stinger’ with a quick, devastating flurry of lyrics which included mostly freestyles. After ‘Kippo’ made a reference to last year’s incident involving Ryno, however, the Facebook singer did not garner many likes as the clash went on as impatient, bipartisan crowd booed him as they rooted for their hometown artist. This was a unanimous decision in the end, leaving Kiprich with too much to overcome and Black Ryno with US$30,000 more in his pocket. Hopefully, this will be the start of a renaissance in the career of an artist still looking for his first big hit since severing ties with Vybz Kartel.

Wyclef reportedly set for STING appearance

Wyclef Jean is reportedly the newest addition to this year's STING lineup.

Wyclef Jean is reportedly the newest addition to this year’s STING lineup

by Jodee Brown Organizers for the 30th edition of the popular STING concert series have now added Grammy-winning singer and producer, Wyclef Jean to the lineup, according to reports Wednesday. The Haitian-American musician, most renowned for his run with Lauryn Hill and Pras as part of The Fugees,was confirmed as a part of this year’s show, called Bring the Sting. The artist joins 2 Chainz as the show’s headline overseas acts for the show, while STING alsomarks the return of Dancehall legend, Supercat to the Jamaican scene for the first time since 2001. Wyclef is quite familiar with the Jamaican music makeup, having done a collaboration, while with The Fugees, alongside Bounty Killer for their song, Hip Hopera in the late 90s. He also has collaborated with Mavado on multiple occasions, including their hit, Holding On and, more recently, joining forces with the ‘Gully Gad; and Cris Cab for the single, Rihanna’s Gun. STING 30 is also expected to feature a number of top Dancehall and Reggae acts, including the aforementioned Mavado, Beenie Man, Lady Saw, Romain Virgo, Kiprich, Jah Bouks, Ninja Man and several more. The show will be broadcast live on pay-per-view and streamed live on the internet. It is scheduled to take place Dec. 26 at Jamworld in Portmore, St. Catherine.

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.

Vybz Kartel’s former road manager and producer, Patrick ‘Roach’ Samuels killed

roach1by Jodee Brown

Famed Jamaican music producer and the former road manager for popular deejay, Vybz Kartel, Patrick ‘Roach’ Samuels is dead, according to multiple reports Sunday morning.

Samuels was fatally shot by gunmen multiple times shortly after 4 a.m. on Sunday by gunmen while inside his vehicle near a gas station in Mary Brown’s Corner, St. Andrew, according to police. He reportedly tried to escape in his Chevrolet Avalanche but crashed while driving along Mannings Hill Rd. after more shots were fired at him.

The matter is now being investigated.

Samuels was known for several years as the right hand man of currently incarcerated deejay, Vybz Kartel serving as his road manager until the pair reportedly fell out in 2010. He is renowned for producing the Siren Riddim, which featured Sean Paul’s international smash, Break Out as well as, Emergency by Vybz Kartel.

His most successful production was the Overproof Riddim in 2011, a rhythm he worked on alongside JA Productions. The compilation featured artists such asBeenie Man, Mavado, Bounty Killer, Lady Saw, Daniel Bedingfield and garnered much international success with several songs from it topping charts worldwide.

Christopher Martin inks deal with VP Records

by Jodee Brownchristophermartin1

Popular Reggae singer, Christopher Martin has reached a multiple album deal with New York based record label, VP Records.

Reports on Tuesday confirmed that the Cheater’s Prayersinger is expected to release his debut album via his new label in 2014. Additionally, Martin will partner with VP for publishing and touring engagements during his contract with the internationally regarded Dancehall/Reggae label.

VP Records CEO, Chris Chin released a statement expressing optimism about his new business partnership with Martin.

“We warmly welcome Christopher Martin to our family,”he said. “His combination of vocal strength, outstanding stage presence and natural charisma are a winning formula for success, and we look forward to working with Christopher Martin and his team in the years ahead.”

Martin revealed similar sentiments when talking about the move.

“I am very happy to be working with VP. I’ve made major strides in my career as an independent artiste, and with the backing of VP plus all the hard work I will continue to put in, I strongly feel that the sky is the limit for me.”

Martin has released noteworthy singles such as Change Me Plan and Fi Mi Friend Dem while featuring on collaborations such as Celebration, alongside Ding Dong, Konshens and I-Octane as well as Till You Do Me Right with Chevaughn, D Major and Donald ‘Iceman’ Anderson.

 

Lady Saw calls out Snoop Lion

Lady Saw calls out Snoop Lion on TorontoDeejays.comby Jodee Brown

One of Dancehall’s greats has become wary of the musical path taken by Snoop Lion (formerly Snoop Dogg) as Lady Saw recently took the popular American musician to task for his venturing into Reggae music.

In an interview published Tuesday in the Jamaica Gleaner, the ‘Queen of Dancehall’ voiced her disapproval of Snoop’s dabbling into the Reggae market. When speaking following her performance at Usain Bolt’s Tracks and Records in late July, Lady Saw spoke about the implications for Jamaican Reggae artists who strive to achieve chart and commercial success internationally with overseas acts such as Snoop Lion infiltrating the market.

“Snoop, mi like yuh as a rapper, but low dancehall ting, low Reggae ting,” she told the Gleaner. “Mi no like yuh as no Snoop Lion. Weh yuh get lion from? Not your business, leave it alone.”

Snoop Lion’s foray into the Reggae industry has garnered positive results since the release of his debut Reggae album, Reincarnated in April. The album sold over 21,000 copies in its opening week, topping the Billboard Reggae charts in the process.

However, Snoop has received a litany of criticism from Rastafarians, most notably, Bunny Wailer for his alleged gimmick, suggesting that he has mocked their way of life.

Lady Saw says overseas acts have been able to capitalize on Jamaican music and its benefits because of the infighting going on within the local industry.

“We acting like children, puss and dog, crab inna barrel ting. Yuh ain’t going nowhere with all them behavior, wah kinda music yuh going put out?” she said. “It’s best we argue with Snoop than people arguing with me.”

Since the turn of the year, several overseas acts such as French Montana, Nicki Minaj, Rihanna and other have been sampling Jamaican music in their song while the aforementioned Minaj collaborated with Busta Rhymes did their recently released version of the Twerk It remix entirely in patois.

Additionally, the Billboard Reggae chart has been dominated by American Reggae bands such as SOJA, Rebelution and many others in recent times, with little presence from Jamaican Reggae albums in the top 10.

“I see foreigners taking over the music. It’s not our music anymore,” Lady Saw concluded.

Vybz Kartel found not guilty in murder trial after prosecution drops case

Vybz Kartel, who has been incarcerated since September 2011, has been cleared of murder charges in the Barrington 'Bossie' Burton murder trial.

Vybz Kartel, who has been incarcerated since September 2011, has been cleared of murder charges in the Barrington ‘Bossie’ Burton murder trial.

by 

Embattled Dancehall superstar, Adidja Palmer, more popularly known as Vybz Kartel is now one step closer to full freedom after he was officially freed of a murder charge in the Barrington ‘Bossie’ Burton trial Wednesday morning.

A 12-member jury inside the Home Circuit Court was instructed by Supreme Court judge, Bryan Sykes to return a not guilty verdict in favor of the popular entertainer after the Crown offered no further evidence to continue its case. This news comes a day after Judge Sykes denied the entry of two witness statements into evidence by the prosecution after determining that the Crown did not take enough steps to locate missing witnesses who were due to testify in the trial.

The self-professed ‘Worl’ Boss’ stood accused of murder, conspiracy to murder and illegal possession of a firearm in the July 2011 shooting of Burton, a St. Catherine-based businessman and promoter. Kartel’s co-accused, Lenburgh McDonald and Nigel Thompson were also freed of murder charges and are free to go.

However, Kartel will remain in police custody as he awaits a November trial date in the Clive ‘Lizard’ Williams case as he has yet to receive bail in the matter. Kartel and five other men are accused of participating in the death of Williams in August 2011 at a Havendale property in St. Andrew.

Kartel, his long-time protégé, Vanessa ‘Gaza Slim’ Saddler and studio engineer, Andre ‘Pim Pim’ Henry are accused of conspiracy in relation to the Williams matter.