Reggae Music singer Kabaka Pyramid says he hopes this year’s Grammy Award nominations for Best Reggae Album inspire younger Jamaican artists to put out music with less negativity.
Pyramid, whose album The Kalling is nominated in the category, got pretty candid during a sit-down with the Recording Academy earlier this week.
When quizzed about being nominated alongside Protoje (Third Time’s The Charm), Sean Paul (Scorcha), Shaggy (Come Fly Wid Mi), and Koffee (Gifted), the singer said that the albums represent standards that must be upheld.
“I would hope that this lineup of artists inspires the younger generation that you can do music without all of the negativity and it can reach the highest level. It’s not that the U.S. is greater than any other nation, but it’s our biggest market for the music. So to be recognized within the U.S. with this GRAMMY Award is tremendous, and everybody feels it and appreciates it,” Kabaka explained.
“There’s so much versatility represented: Shaggy, did a Frank Sinatra cover album. Sean Paul is modern dancehall pop. Koffee is kind of similar, but there’s so much fusion going on there and she’s so lyrical and so young and, just blowing up all over the place. Me and Protoje are kind of in a similar bracket. It’s an interesting group,” he added.
The Kalling was released via Ghetto Youths Int’l and Bebble Rock Music on September 30—the last day of the Recording Academy’s eligibility period for the 65th Annual Awards. The album—which interestingly featured Reggae legend Peter Tosh, among others—was ranked No. 1 on DancehallMag‘s list of the best Dancehall/Reggae albums of 2022.
Music journalist Nicholas Nam wrote: “With Damian ‘Jr. Gong’ Marley on board as an executive producer, Kabaka comes unbound across The Kalling, offloading torrents of wisdom on tracks as wide-ranging as the booming roots anthem Red Gold and Green to the sublime, Spanish guitar-bearing Life Is Beautiful. The future of Jamaican music converges with its past as Kabaka infuses spirituality with pragmatism throughout these sample-bearing, forward-facing tracks.”
Kabaka noted that unlike many of his compatriots, he prides himself in conscious lyrics and is cognizant of the fact that society was already plagued with enough “slackness.”
“I think my music is naturally more wholesome. It’s more readily accessible to older and the young. Maybe it can be a bit too deep for some people, but just generally speaking, I don’t put a bunch of slack lyrics or derogatory lyrics to women or violence, gun violence. And that’s kind of typical for Jamaican music. But I feel these younger artists are kind of pushing the limits of it. There’s a lot of talk about drug use now in songs, and scamming, and all of them kind of things,” he said.
Seemingly alluding to Dancehall artists like Skillibeng, Kabaka added: “I’ve seen artists that are on the verge of breaking into mainstream do collaborations with other mainstream acts, but then it’s just crazy curse words in the song and super derogatory lyrics. I could see somebody at a radio station like, ‘no, I can’t playlist this because it’s too difficult.’ Especially, being an international artist. So it’s trying not to shoot ourselves in the foot by having too extreme lyrics.”
Pyramid noted that there are a handful of singers from the next generation, with whom he’s impressed.
“There’s a bunch of artists, [Medisun], who actually did some songwriting on my album. Irie Soldier, Nattali Rize, Runkus, [Royal Blu], Blvk H3ro, Imeru Tefari, Five Star. There’s a bunch of artists out there that’s doing good music, and I’m always here to support them and want to do some more production with them as well. The future is bright, for sure,” he said.
The final-round voting for the upcoming 65th Annual Grammy Awards concluded on January 4. The Awards Ceremony will be held on Sunday, Feb. 5, 2023, at Crypto.com Arena in Los Angeles.
Virginia-based Reggae band SOJA (Soldiers of Jah Army) had won the 2022 Grammy Award for Best Reggae Album with their album Beauty in the Silence. It was the first time a mostly white Reggae band had won the award.
This had caused quite an uproar among Jamaican music lovers and some music professionals.
However, Kabaka asserted that the group earned it.
“It means a lot for everybody now because of who won last year. Big up to SOJA; I really think they put in a lot of work in this music industry, especially in the U.S. And they unified the whole U.S. reggae industry on their album; they featured all of the major acts in the U.S. and I really think it was effective,” he said in the Recording Academy interview.
“But people see it and say, “Oh, reggae is being taken away from Jamaica” and there was a lot of backlash for that. Based on that, it’s very refreshing to see an all-Jamaican lineup of artists; artists that have done so much for the industry who have been on the frontline internationally, who put out wholesome music too. It’s not like any real slackness is being represented,” he added.