Anju Blaxxx reportedly out on bail while awaiting trial in scamming case

by Jodee Brown

Six months after his arrest and subsequent charges in an ongoing lottery scam case in the United States, acclaimed Jamaican producer, Anju Blaxxx has been released from a North Dakota jail on bail as he awaits a trial on the matter.

The musician and head honcho of UIM Records, whose real name is Andrew Myrie, was let go earlier this week, according to a report from IRIE FM. It is unknown whether the conditions of his bail allow him to leave the country.

Myrie was initially granted bail shortly following his arrest in February. However, that bail was revoked after he was considered a flight risk by a North Dakota judge.

The producer faces charges of  conspiracy, wire fraud, and money laundering in relation to an alleged lottery scam which defrauded elderly citizens in North Dakota and across the U.S. of millions of dollars in exchange for promised lottery winnings.

Former ZIP FM disc jock, ZJ Wah Wa plead guilty to telemarketing fraud in a similar case last fall and reportedly implicated Myrie during his plea agreement.

During his jail stint, Myrie released the Mildew Riddim, which features artists such as Popcaan, Bugle, Blak Diamon and others.

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Omi climbs to second on Billboard Hot 100 chart with ‘Cheerleader’ remix

by Jodee Brown

The house-inspired remix of Omi’s smash hit, Cheerleader continues to build steam on the Billboard Hot 100, on the verge of history as it has reached number two on the chart.

Cheerleader has been steadily climbing the chart since the spring when it first appeared at 95 in May before jumping all the way up to number 11 just a month later. Hailed recently as the ‘song of the summer dark horse’ by Billboard.com, the Felix-Jaehn produced remix of Omi’s track only trails Wiz Khalifa’s See You Again (feat. Charlie Rush) on the chart.

If Omi can overtake Wiz at the top spot, he’d be the first Jamaican act to achieve such a feat since Sean Paul in 2006 with Temperature.

Cheerleader’s fast rise on the U.S. charts follows its strong run in other countries, topping charts in Australia, Sweden, France and the United Kingdom.

The Felix-Jaehn remix of Cheerleader was released in 2014, nearly three years after the original version of the song was released.

Queen Ifrica pulled from New York show following gay rights protest

Reggae singer, Queen Ifrica has been pulled from the 'Invasion of the Queens' show she was scheduled to headline in New York on Saturday due to protests from gay rights groups.

by Jodee Brown

Revered Reggae singer, Queen Ifrica has been axed from a show she was scheduled to perform Saturday night at the Amazura Concert Hall in Queens, NY following protests by a gay rights group objecting her appearance at the show, Invasion of the Queens.

On Friday, a protest including over 100 people was held outside the club calling for organizers of Invasion of the Queens to cancel the show, citing Queen Ifrica’s past lyrics condemning homosexuality, including her 2009 hit, Keep It To Yourself and the lyrics’ contribution to violence against the LGBT community. The rally was led by openly gay NY councilor, Daniel Dromm, who out rightly denounced her presence at the show.

“We don’t need homophobic people like her coming to Queens to spread their message of hate,” Dromm told the New York Daily News.

A Jamaican-born human rights activist, Michael Forbes also spoke out against Ifrica during the protest, saying, “The majority of her music has been very, very homophobic and it rings in the ears of men, women and kids. She uses the stage to burn gays.”

Invasion of the Queens features an all-female lineup that also includes Reggae singer, Etana, Dancehall star, Spice as well as renowned veteran acts, Sister Carol and Sister Nancy.

Amazura’s manager, John Rios confirmed Saturday morning that the show will go on without Ifrica following the protest, insisting that his establishment does not discriminate against gays and are welcome to the club.

Queen Ifrica has had numerous instances of speaking out against homosexuals, including last year’s Grand Gala at theNational Stadium in Kingston on Independence Day (August 6), where she repeatedly denounced homosexual lifestyles during her performance until her microphone was abruptly cut off while she spoke.

Last August, she was pulled from a show in Canada following gay rights protests.

Toronto’s Reggae deejay Akustik gets Juno nod for Mandela Tribute

Akustik

Akustik

by Howard Campbell

IT was not difficult for singer Akustik to write a song saluting one of modern history’s greatest figures.

Mandela, his salute to the South African icon who died in December, has earned a JUNO Awards nomination for Reggae Recording of The Year.

The JUNOs, Canada’s Grammy Awards, takes place March 29 at the RBC Convention Centre in Winnipeg.

Born in St Elizabeth but raised in Toronto, Akustik has been part of the Canadian reggae scene since the early 1990s. He says his first JUNO nod is special because it was inspired by a personal hero.

“Mandela has played a big part of who I am today for several reasons, but one that stands out is the gift he had to forgive others who have been totally unfair and unjustified in their action towards him.”

Mandela was produced by veteran saxophonist Tony Greene who is also producing Akustik’s first album. Originally a deejay known as Andrew Ranxx, Akustik started his career in the 1990s when he said Toronto’s reggae circuit was dominated by dances that rocked “from midnight ’till ‘mawning’.”

The JUNO call, he noted, is reward for years of toil.

“This nomination shows that all the years of dedication to reggae music, mainly in Canada, have been recognised,” said Akustik.

Singjay Exco Levi, singers Ammoye for Baby It’s You, Dru for Effortless and Dubmatix Renegade complete the list of 2014 JUNO Reggae Recording of The Year nominees.

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.

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.

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.

D’Angel, Sizzla speak out against STING ban

Sizzla and D'Angel have both taken issue with their respective bans from STING following their performances at STING 2013 in December.

Sizzla and D’Angel have both taken issue with their respective bans from STING following their performances at STING 2013 in December.

by Jodee Brown

Two days following the announcement that Reggae/Dancehall artists, Sizzla and D’Angel were banned from future editions of STING following their controversial performances at the show’s 30th anniversary, both are crying foul following their punishments.

Isaiah Laing, the show’s lead organizer, announced Tuesday that Sizzla was banned from the show for promoting ‘hate music’ during his performance, in which he repeatedly hit out against homosexuality.D’Angel, meanwhile, was banned for at least five years as a patron following her impromptu clash with Ninja Man at the Dec. 26 show, which saw her spread her legs and gyrate while wearing a short dress during her set, before giving a bizarre post-performance interview later in the night.

D’Angel defended her actions in an interviewpublished Thursday in the Jamaica STAR, saying that she did nothing out of the ordinary given the hardcore nature STING has possessed over the years, while saying she has seen artists split, gyrate and sing lyrics that could be deemed explicit, without any punishment.

“As a grown woman and an artiste, I am entitled to entertain and perform,” she said “I have been watching Sting from I was a child and there is nothing that I did on stage at Sting that was far-fetched from all the things that have happened on that stage over the years.”

“I stayed true to the culture of Sting, which is energy-packed entertainment,” she continued. “I think outside the box. I was just having fun. It was just solid and mature entertainment. The patrons enjoyed it and the fans were happy. I represented dancehall on a wider scale. My music and career is not based on one night, my career goes on after this.”

Sizzla’s publicist, Olimatta Taal responded on behalf of the Grammy-nominated singer, saying organizers should not have attempted to censor him for speaking out against issues deemed illegal in the constitution.

“It is Laing’s show but he knows the artiste that Sizzla is and he knows what Sizzla represents,” she said.“If you book him for a show, don’t censor him. If you want to fight the issue, then fight the Government…Sizzla was just expressing the values he was brought up on. Don’t censor the artiste for that.”

Neither artist indicated whether they will challenge these bans.

Sizzla, D’Angel banned from STING, says Isaiah Laing

Reggae/Dancehall singers, Sizzla Kalonji and D'Angel have been banned from future editions of STING following alleged controversies during their performances at STING 2013

Reggae/Dancehall singers, Sizzla Kalonji and D’Angel have been banned from future editions of STING following alleged controversies during their performances at STING 2013

by Jodee Brown

Days after giving what some said was the best performance of STING 2013, Reggae singer, Sizzla Kalonji has been banned from future editions of the show by its lead promoter, Isaiah Laing, for alleged hate lyrics performed during his set, according to reports Tuesday evening.

The Grammy-nominated artist gave a rousing, hard-hitting set during the 30th anniversary show, in which he spoke out strongly against homosexuality, negative connotations attached to marijuana, among other societal issues. According to Laing, Sizzla’s ban comes as result of continuous rants against homosexuals throughout his performance, which went against a pre-show agreement with organizers not to sing anti-gay lyrics during his set.

“Sizzla was warned repeatedly before going onstage about not promoting hate music and he went up there and did it repeatedly,” the Supreme Promotions CEO told the Jamaica Gleaner. “We are going international and we warned every artiste before they went on to the stage.”

Meanwhile, D’Angel is also in hot water with Laing after giving a controversial set of her own at STING.The popular deejay was banned for at least five years as a patron following a clash with Ninja Man for what Laing called an ‘embarrassing’ stint. During the impromptu setD’Angel surprised the crowd when during her performance, she spread her legs multiple times while only wearing a short dress. She also made several references to needing to pay for her son’s school fee as she was not initially booked to do the show.

Both bans were reportedly confirmed on Saturday following a meeting.

“What kind of image is D’Angel portraying as a mother? he told The Gleaner“She’s saying she came to clash but that’s not how the clash went. It was not about Ninja Man, she embarrassed herself. At least a five-year ban for D’Angel.”

“We don’t need your money D’Angel. Stay home. Watch the event on pay-per-view next year,” Laing continued.

A press release, issued by STING 30 promoters on Tuesday illustrated the organizers’ frustration with some of the acts during their performances, saying they were, “inconsistent with their efforts to provide energetic and authentic Jamaican entertainment.”

“We believe that our artistes will take note of the observations which will assist us in effecting the kinds of control that we have been working assiduously to maintain and introduce,” the statement continued.“We wish to commend the majority of artistes who appeared on the show and performed in accordance with the standards which are reflective of our objectives.”

“Sharp lyrical exchanges and colorful performances are staples of our annual offering, however, in accordance with our efforts to internationalize the event, we strive to ensure that the performances conform to accepted standards of decency and decorum.”

STING 30 was broadcast to overseas viewers, via pay-per-view and a live stream worth just under $US40 each.