IT’S A Saturday night as I sit on my balcony on the seventh floor of the Pegasus Hotel in New Kingston. I have the floodlit skyline of the city I am so fond of as my backdrop – the capital of Jamaica, Kingston.
The muffler of a motorbike roars as it races past Emancipation Park, mixed with the sound
of passing cars and several outside car park parties fighting for the number one party spot in one of the most colourful and energetic capitals in the world.
You might have guessed, but it’s that time of year again when I head to Jamrock to record a vault load of sessions, freestyles, reasonings and whatever else I may think would entertain you.
It may be the weekend, but I’ve chosen to stay in and call it an evening after a mammoth day that started with a 10am start with Montego Bay as my destination. The reason for this trip was to meet and record a session with none other than Jah Cure and the new wave of young Montegonian dancehall artists emerging from the second city on the western region.
While on the island I submerge myself completely into the Jamaican way of life as if I’ve always lived here. With my trusted sidekick Wingie I hit the ground running as I touchdown.
Talking of touchdown, it seems I wasn’t the only one on some of mission in Jamaica during its annual Reggae month. On my flight was the Touch Down boss Stylo G. Also occupying seats was Sneakbo and Nadia Rose. Is wha gwan that mi nuh know bout? Seems that Jamaica is the destination this week!
Stylo G still has a huge section of the dancehall with his latest hit. I met up with him and his Spanish Town comrades at Stone Love’s weekly Weddy Weddy Wednesday. Stone Love selectors Gugu Mental and Randy Rich premiered his new single Whoop Whoop that was well received and had Chi Ching’s Get There dancers owning the floor space.
Seani B all smiles with Jah Cure
But when the hit single got played and reached to the Kartel verse it showed the level of respect the “World Boss” still holds in the Kingston streets. Other songs that seemed to have caught the attention of Jamaica’s dancehall fans are Tommy Lee’s Blessed and TeeJay’s Owna Lane.
Not surprisingly both of Mobay, which seems to be the trend as the second city, continues to churn out the artists and hit songs. I spoke to Lee and he told me: “Since the completion of my recent legal issues, this is all I could have felt, blessed.”
I jokingly replied: “This from the man the calls himself, Uncle Demon!” Thankfully he saw the funny side in my comment and laughed.
There is currently a wealth of new and upcoming talent from the underground. Chronic Law, Squash, Shane E, Quada, Deep Jahi, Bluugo to name just a few are the ones that are the next generation that you will see so much more from as the year.
One newcomer is really standing heads and shoulders above the rest, though. I witnessed a packed out Bob Marley Museum welcome Koffee onto the stage as the next one we are handing the golden baton to.
With a star studded line up of Agent Sasco, Junior Reid, Nadine Sutherland and plenty more watching, she effortlessly rolled through her set which also consisted of Bob Marley classic Who The Cap Fit. I think we are all watching a future star of reggae continue to grow in the right direction. Special shout out the Nadine Sutherland who on the night said this year marked 40 years of her in the business.
She shared with the audience at Hope Road that Bob Marley signed her to Tuff Gong and also produced her first ever song as a school child. The 50-year-old hardly looks a day over 40 and has the energy of a 30-year-old, so somehow I don’t know if her maths are correct.
Seani B in conversation with Tommy Lee
She showed us on the night that it’s all about the voice, as she rocked the crowd with her hits Babyface and Action to which she also did the Terror Fabulous parts with the delivery of any dancehall DJ. There seems to be a level of consciousness running through Jamaica right now and you can hear it through the music, even though there is the harder side that is still popular.
It’s possible that this could be the fact that it’s reggae month so there is an extra special effort made to securing the music at this time, as I’m hearing so much more authentic reggae getting played.
One of the other contributing factors could also be Buju Banton. Anywhere I have been on my few days I have been here the conversation of Buju reigns. Buju being home seems to have injected a new energy into the industry – or so it seems.
The main question I have been asked on any street, studio or restaurant is whether I am coming back for the Buju show – but at this rate I might not leave.