Pon Di Wire: Buju Banton, Heartbeat Records, Mr. Easy
Another Reggae Sumfest has come and gone. Jamaica’s biggest international music festival to emerge since Sunsplash reportedly featured stellar performances by Buju Banton, Morgan Heritage, Shaggy, and Da’Ville.
Chuck Fenda, Anthony B, Cham, Beenie Man, and Bounty Killer all used their Sumfest slots to plead for a peaceful national election in Jamaica, set for August 27. Not to be outdone, Ninja Man expressed his disdain for the political process, remarking, “Dem have whole holiday fi run dem dutty election and a wait til di pickni dem fi go back a school."
Meanwhile, One876 News reports that dancehall hottie D’Angel actually boycotted Sumfest, stating, “I feel that my career has reached a certain level where I should be treated seriously as a solo act, and people have to realize that I don’t perform with Beenie Man all the time.”
Italian singjay Alborosie’s latest single, “Kingston Town,” is number-five on BBC 1Xtra’s reggae chart this week, and gaining ground in other territories. The auburn-dreadlocked star (real name Alberto D’Ascola) has since unleashed a flurry of singles on the Forward Label, including “Call Up Jah,” “Guess Who’s Coming To Dinner” (featuring the Black Uhuru song sampled), and “Rastafari Anthem,” plus tracks on the Oneness and Overstand riddims.
One of the better “buzz chart” portals is Reggaesource, and my favorite chart is always the “future hits” list, the R-E TV Top 20 Reggae Chart. It’s all about knowing about the new Ginjah track or discovering an artist like Nesbeth. It’s about getting up on your Cherine Anderson drops and getting with new toaster I-Octane’s “Stab Vampire.” Stale tracks need not apply.
From Sheila Hylton's forthcoming Steppin
One of the best come-backs in reggae history is about to come to fruition on singer Sheila Hylton’s fantastic new album Steppin, on Platinum Overflow Lab. Hylton’s “Breakfast In Bed” and cover of The Police’s “The Bed’s Too Big Without You” are certified reggae classics, while her cover of soul-disco number “Give Me Your Love” resurfaced on a Soul Jazz comp not too long ago. Hylton’s sexy “grown woman” voice punctuates the album’s title track and “We Are In Love,” a duet with the late Dennis Brown.
Mr. Easy’s song “Big Man Tings,” with Assassin, has been getting spins from lots of tastemaker DJs. With several new tracks recorded, the singer remarked, “It’s just all about working, I keep staying on the grind, that's what you have to do.”
On July 17, Heartbeat Records released remastered versions of Dennis Alcapone and Lone Ranger’s classic Studio One deejay albums. Produced by Studio One label founder, Clement “Sir Coxsone” Dodd, Alcapone’s Forever Version was originally released in 1971, and Lone Ranger’s On the Other Side of Dub was originally released in 1977. Both feature these pioneering toasters flexing on classic Studio One original riddims. The series will continue this summer and fall with a compilation (When Rhythm Was King, out September 11) and releases by the Gladiators and ska trombonist Don Drummond. Alcapone’s Version includes six bonus tracks; Ranger’s On the Other Side includes five bonus tracks.