Morgan Heritage’s new album, Mission In Progress, landed at the number one position on the Billboard Reggae Album Chart last week. The album is buoyed by strong tracks, including the group's homage to Steel Pulse's “Raid Rootz Dance,” the biting political tune “Nothing To Smile About” (on Kemar McGregor’s Rub-A-Dub riddim), and romantic fare like “Love You Right.”
Reggae is making the gallery circuit. Bob Marley archivist Roger Stephens and photographer Peter Simon spoke and introduced their new book, Peter Simon and Roger Stephens’ Reggae Scrapbook, at Babylon Falling bookstore/gallery in San Francisco this past Saturday, May 10. Simon is a photographer who has documented reggae music for near 30 years. Stephens, a.k.a. Ras Rojah, is a founder and contributor to The Beat magazine and an accomplished author. Simon and Stephen’s Northern California book tour continues throughout the week.
Meanwhile, at Washington DC’s National Museum of Natural History, Discovering Rastafari! explores Haile Selassie’s legacy and his devotees’ faith. The exhibit, a collection of photos, clothing, and Selassie iconography, occupies a small space near the permanent African cultural exhibit. The NY Times’ Edward Rothstein partially panned the exhibit’s avoidance of discussing Rastafari contradictions, saying “This is pandering and promotion, not scholarship, and it mars what could have been an even more fascinating show.” Discovering Rastafari! runs through November 8 at the Smithsonian.
Dancehall clothing designer Lexx Perry, who outfitted dance posse The Ouch Crew, is now bringing his style sensibilities to U.S. artists Ciara and Eve, as well as reportedly touring the U.S. with the Americas Next Top Model television series.
Jamaican music record collectors finally get their due in a recent Gleanerarticle. The article talks to Merritone soundsystem’s Winston Blake, collector and supermarket chain owner Wayne Chen, and even former Labor Party Prime Minister Edward Seaga (former head of Jamaica’s first indigenous record label, WIRL).
At the 2008 Excellence In Music awards show, gravelly crooner Beres Hammond was given the Reggae Role Model award. Jamaicans.com interviewed Hammond. Although known for his many albums, Hammond admits in the piece that the recording studio is his love: “I think it is my true calling. I have a passion for the studio, more so than any other aspect of the business. I love writing songs, whether for Beres or others.”
Speaking of awards shows, the 27th annual International Reggae & World Music Awards (IRAWMA) handed out the following:
Recording Artist of the Year: Beenie Man
Best Male Vocalist: Tarrus Riley
Best Female Vocalist: Etana
Most Outstanding Show Band: Morgan Heritage
Most Consistent Entertainer: Freddie McGregor
Most Improved Entertainer: Junior Reid
Check out the new Oneness Records riddim General Key at United Reggae. The German-produced riddim features Prince Malachi, Ginjah, Tippa Irie, Queen Ifrica, and Junior Kelly. Reggae Rhythm Update features old and new versions of Taxi Gang’s popular Baltimore riddim.
The always interesting grassroots Badgals' latest episode takes on the role of guns in dancehall music and culture. Titled “Permit Fi Gun,” the audio cast explores the topic through new and vintage reggae selections.
The Dub Club (1154 Glendale Blvd., Los Angeles) features an impressive show calendar for the next several weeks–definitely worth a trip to L.A. Featured acts at the weekly roots and dub night include:
Wednesday May 21: “Orthodox Showcase” with Richie Spice, Sangie Davis, and Studio One legend Judah Eskender Tafari
Wednesday June 11: Wailing Souls
Wednesday June 18: U.K. selector David Rodigan
Friday June 27: A special Friday edition with The Godfather DJ U-Roy, Pat Kelly, Cornell Campbell, and Stranger Cole
Weekly: The Echodelic Sound DJs Tom Chasteen, Roy Corduroy, Dungeonmaster, and Boss Harmony
Jamaica Top Ten Dancehall Singles
1. Vybz Kartel “Money Fi Spend” (Big Ship)
2. Beenie Man “Wine Gal” (TJ Records)
3. Harry Toddler “Don't Run In” (Truck Back)
4. Stephen & Damian Marley “The Mission” (Baby G)
5. Mavado “Brown Bottle” (Big Ship)
6. Mykal Rose “Shoot Out” (John John)
7. Demarco “Duppy Know Who Fi Frighten” (John John)
8. Busy Signal “Pon Di Edge” (Star Kutt)
9. Mavado “On The Rock” (Baby G)
10. Erup “Click Mi Finger” (Truck Back)