Pon Di Wire
It seems that the Jamaica Observer agrees with Pon Di Wire’s assertion last week that this summer’s next big dancehall artist is most definitely the quick-tongued MC Munga Honorable. ”Earthquake,” “Wine Pon It,” and “Bad From Mi Born” are all receiving strong spins from soundsystem and radio DJs around the globe.
Incarcerated reggae artist Jah Cure will be celebrating his anticipated release from the pen in July with a major concert the following month. The Cure Fest is set to run August 24-26 at James Bond Beach in Jamaica. More news about the show will be posted at Cure’s MySpace and the FreeJahCure web portal.
UK-based label Pressure Sounds will issue a major retrospective of Sly Dunbar’s Revolutionaries band. Dropping June 25, Drum Sound: More Gems From The Channel One Dub Room 1974 to 1980 features two unreleased dubplate versions of the Kunta Kinte riddim that highlight Dunbar’s innovative drum patterns and meters that have influenced dance genres all over the map. The album was recorded at Ernest and JoJo Hookim’s Channel One Recording Studio on Maxfield Avenue in the heart of Kingston. The studio achieved worldwide prominence in the mid-’70s, drawing artists like Sting and The Clash for recording sessions.
Help deserving youth in Brazil by visiting Rio’s AfroReggaeDigital. Make a donation and you’ll help continue the project’s anti-poverty and technology-empowerment efforts that teach kids from the favela to run their own radio station.
Promoting In the Streets to Africa (VP), Richie Spice ventured to the motherland for two shows in Kenya before flying over to Europe for a well-received tour.
Nowadayz Dancehall offers an interesting transcription of a typically testy war of words between the “Ground God” Bounty Killer and “The Pastor” Ninja Man. The pair’s beef goes back to 1994 when the deejays famously clashed at Sting.
One-time member of UK electronic dub-dance group Rockers Hi-Fi, Glyn “Bigga” Bush roams solo as Lightning Head. Bush’s new Lion Head label will release its first 7” vinyl release ushering in the album 13 Faces of Lightning Head,” which features collaborations with Ari Up (The Slits), Earl Zinger, and Candice Cannabis.
Pon Di Wire
The next DJ to bus’ from London to Kingston looks to be thuggy-singjay Munga Honorable, whose track “Earthquake” is sizzling on BBC1xtra and other dancehall radio shows.Skinhead reggae is alive, well, and living in L.A. The Aggrolites sound a lot like vintage ’70s reggae acts The Pioneers, The Melodians, or Clancy Eccles–earning fanatical acclaim from English skins via Trojan Records’ 20 Reggae Hits collections. The Hellcat label act is currently touring in support of its third release, Reggae Hit L.A. Catch the crew in Colorado at the High Desert Ska Fest on June 9.
Morgan Heritage, Tanya Stephens, Anthony B, Fantan Mojah, and Collie Buddz will appear at Reggae Rising, August 3-5, at Dimmick Ranch, French’s Camp, Humboldt County, California–the former site of Reggae on the River.
Grammy-winning reggae act Inner Circle sent a press release this week alerting the media to an imposter group touring as Inner Circle. The statement read “…persons unknown are illegally advertising themselves as Inner Circle. They are using our trademark, name, and likeness to perform the following dates: May 18, Porto Alegre, May 19, Estrela, and May 25, Florianopolis. This is not in any way affiliated with Inner Circle.” The band has released several excellent singles, including “Smoke In My Eyes” and “Blood a Run Featuring Jr. Reid,” since finding success with 1993’s “Bad Boys,” (a.k.a. the COPS theme).
Looking for your favorite reggae act’s MySpace page or official website? Look no further than Top 5 Jamaica, an excellent search engine for all things Yard.
Richie Spice will be a no-show for three bookings. The “Brown Skin” singer hit a roadblock at the backlogged Jamaican visa/customs office and will not perform in the US until after June 10. Consequently, Fifth Element Records has postponed Spice’s shows at Martha's Vineyard (May 26), Club Tobago, NY (May 27), and Westchester Reggae Festival, NY (June 3).
Riddim check: A number of new singles will be hitting shops this week. Up-and-coming imprint Danger Zone debuts the Jamdown riddim, a seriously rootsy one-drop affair. Find tracks like Buju Banton’s “Love Needs,” Jr. Kelly’s “Always,” and Lutan Fyah’s “Mightier Than Them” on this version. The label with the yellow graffiti logo, Kickin, presents its new Rewind (a.k.a. D. Brown’s “No More Will I Roam”) riddim–an apt name for its revival of the Jah Cure hit, “Situation Get Out of Control.” That track reappears with Jah Mason joining Cure on vocals, and joins other singles on the riddim by Capleton, Sizzla, and Norrisman. Nocturnal Music offers up a Fireball; its newest beat features 7 inches by “The Messenger” Luciano (“Better Day”), Ras David (“Herbal Healing”), Determine (“Hear My Cry”), and Yami Bolo (“Everyday Story”), among others. Dancehall fans should listen for the Doublekick. The new riddim from Black Warriahz showcases singles by Elephant Man, Ghost & Roundhead, Lady G, and Macka Diamond.
Barbara Makeda Blake Hannah’s book Joseph: A Rasta Reggae Fable (Macmillan Press) is to be made into a feature film. Ras Kassa, one of the siblings of The Harder They Come director Perry Henzell, will set the tome to celluloid. Sizzla will make a cameo appearance, while reggae historian Roger Steffens will play the role of Sam.
Pon Di Wire
YardFlex reports that Macka Diamond has written Jamaica’s first dancehall novel. Bun Him! is based on a song of the same name by Diamond and fellow DJ, Black-er The tome is written in dancehall vernacular, with settings and topics familiar to the hardcore ragga fanbase. Of the twisted love tale, Flex gushes, “Finally you will get the full hundred on who's bunning who, and why, and even sweeter than that, you'll discover the third party's identity.”
Want more reggae lit? Definitely check British author Victor Headley’s excellent collection of reggae pulp fiction, including titles like Yush, Excess, and Yardie.
Skatalites trombonist Don Drummond’s (pictured above) life is reexamined in the Jamaica Observer’s two-part online news series. These articles investigate the myths and mysteries (was his death in a mental hospital murder or suicide?) surrounding the short life of the ska master.
DJ Richie B of "Hot Mix," on Jamaica’s Hot 102 FM, charts Vybz Kartel’s “Wine Pon Yuh” at number one this week in his popular Jamaica Top 30 report. Lutan Fyah holds at number two, while rootsman Ginjah’s “Music Alone” rises to three. The top 10 is rounded out with hits from Bescenta & Warrior King, Vegas, and Munga.
Gossip and passa passa alert: Reliable sources close to Pon Di Wire say the USA Sunsplash concert tour line-up has been announced; the event will not take place in Jamaica this year, due to poor results after its 10-year return in ’06. Mr. “Singso,” Wayne Wonder (pictured above), performs in L.A. Father’s Day, June 17, at Jamaica Gold. His new album, Foreva, comes out in July. Mavado, Vegas, and Stephen Marley tracks are currently bubbling on NYC commercial radio.
Looking for a Reggae eBay? The Reggae Auction is your place to buy rare and out-of-print singles, LPs, CDs, soundclash tapes, dubplates, and videos.
New riddims: Arrows Records presents Tears–a rootsy, rub-a-dub version featuring singles by Anthony B, Lutan Fyah (pictured above), and I-Octane. Juke Boxx, whose Statement riddim spent most of the winter at the top of international DJ charts, returns with Chaos, featuring cuts from Capleton, Morgan Heritage, Chuck Fender, and Ninjaman. Bobby Konders’ Massive B label is back with the No Borders riddim, featuring cuts from Collie Buddz, Chezidek, and Jr. Reid. The Joe Frasier label has a new lick of Beres Hammond’s “Full Attention,” with 45s by Maxi Priest and Roger Robin.
Tune in to the sounds of the Trojan Records 40th anniversary on BBC6 Music’s Trojan Weekender, coming up May 18-20. The weekend of programming will include loads of exclusive broadcasts from legends like Don Letts (Friday), Trojan Sound System live session, and guests Justin Robertson and Andrew Weatherall (Saturday), and Lee 'Scratch' Perry (Sunday). Brit band Super Furry Animals will also unleash its favorite Trojan tracks June 6 on the comp Furry Selection, featuring Horace Andy, Cornel Campbell, and U-Roy.