Prelude 2020:Jimmy Cliff plays an important part in my evolutionary journey inside Reggae and Reggae Report. He was the first Reggae artist I ever heard in 1976 and became my first Reggae friend while working with Don Taylor in 1981. When the magazine took off in ’83, Jimmy most kindly invited me to stay at his home whenever I went to Kingston to conduct business. He wasn’t there most of those times but my hospitable friend Shiela and their young sons, Sayeed and Hassan, were. ♥ This interview – and accompanying cover shot for V4#2 – were done with Jimmy at his New Kingston home in 1986. ↓
Jimmy Cliff is, without a doubt, the most internationally known Reggae artist alive. In more than 20 years in the music arena, this active, talented youth from Somerton, St. James, Jamaica, has developed exemplary discipline and staying power.
The Early Days
At age 14, James Chambers left for Kingston. But following his first recording, “Daisy Got Me Crazy,” in 1962, James Chambers became Jimmy Cliff – teenage Ska star! Under the wing of famed producer Leslie Kong, Jimmy Cliff skyrocketed to early success with “Hurricane Hattie.” He toured the Caribbean and performed at New York’s 1964 World’s Fair before moving to England to seek his fame and fortune.
Even before his involvement in the sensational cult film TheHarder They Come, Jimmy racked up several international hits in his early years, including “Wonderful World” and “Vietnam.” He toured and thrilled audiences in South America, England, and Europe. Continue reading →
By M. Peggy Quattro Reggae Report Magazine, Founder/Publisher
There’s no doubt today’s world is a tumultuous place. We are faced with far too many “isms and schisms”: racism, capitalism, socialism, fascism, communism, authoritarianism, totalitarianism. For the past 50+ years, there’s been one constant that has helped humankind deal with the noise and commotion — the peaceful inner protest encapsulated in Reggae’s one-drop rhythm. Being well established in the Reggae movement for more than 35 years, I am sharing with you three ways I believe Reggae music delivers its message to a world of like-minded souls.
1) Reggae is often associated with ganja (aka marijuana/grass/weed/herb) and the ensuing euphoria this combination creates. However, by using the music’s heartbeat “riddim” wisely, Reggae captures our inner core. We instinctively dance and sing, even when we don’t understand all the Jamaican words, but ultimately it’s the music’s message that brings humanity together in harmony. We must thank the much-maligned and persistent Rastafari for educating the outside world on ganja’s health and spiritual benefits. Their peaceful and simple way of life is also rooted in political and socio-economic issues; their influence on Reggae’s growth, evolution, and contribution to Reggae history is undeniable. Continue reading →
Damian “Junior Gong” Marley Interview – Perth, Australia 2011
By Mumma Trees
Ed. Note: In Australia for the 2011 4-day Good Vibrations Fest, Damian Marley, along with his latest collab partner Nas, were featured artists on a stellar festival lineup that included Faithless, Ludacris, Janelle Monae, and Erykah Badu. Prior to the show, Perth radio personality and journalist Mumma Trees caught up with the young Marley in Miami via phone. Featured photo by Jan Salzman. Watch the Damian & Nas video “Nah Mean” below or on our YouTube channel.
Early Days & Inspirations
How did you start, Damian, what made you get up there and do what you do?
Well, I mean I think it goes without saying that I have an obvious influence from my family, you know my father, and of course, my older brothers and sisters are all involved in music. But growing up as a child, I used to go to a lot of concerts in Jamaica and watch some of my personal musical heroes, which would be people like Shabba Ranks and Supercat, who are some of the earlier Dancehall artists. I used to watch them perform and that’s really what got me into wanting to perform myself.
That’s interesting because your brothers are singers, but you have chosen the deejay style.
Yeah. And that’s definitely because of that same influence… like the first music I bought for myself was Dancehall music.
Are there any current Dancehall artists who are doing things that you admire?
Yeah, I mean, lots of them, I am a big fan of music in general, you know wha I mean, so I try my best to keep up-to-date with what’s going on, especially in Jamaica. I mean lots of them, you have Mavado, Gyptian, Tarrus Riley, Wayne Marshall, Vybz Kartel, you have loads of them, and I am a fan of their music.
You mention Vybz Kartel, what’s your opinion of the slackness in Dancehall music coming out in the last few years from artists like him?
I mean, the music I bought as a child was slack also. And I am a big advocate of freedom of speech. You have to be free to say something negative, to be free to say something positive. So I am a big advocate of that. And realistically, you know music is an honest way of making a living. You know, somebody could be out there doing something that isn’t…. Music don’t really hurt nobody. So if Vybz Kartel is making an honest living for himself, you have to respect that.
Were you close with your brothers and sisters growing up?
We were very close growing up. Every vacation, summer holidays, I would always go and spend a few weeks with them, and you know, we were very close from when I was a child.
When you have performed with your brothers, it has been as the “Ghetto Youths Crew,” are you still working together on that?
Well, we still are a team, but performing as the Ghetto Youths Crew, we haven’t done that in many years now. But we still definitely work as a team. We have a whole lot of new young artists we are working with and getting ready to release some projects next year.
Collaboration with Nas
Your latest collaboration with Nas has been a huge worldwide hit. Can you tell me about the album title Distant Relatives?
It’s called Distant Relatives because of different reasons. Nas and myself, being that we are ‘distant relatives,’ Hip-Hop and Reggae as two genres of music being ‘distant relatives.’ Then on a bigger scale now, all of humanity, because the album itself has the concept of Africa intertwined throughout the whole album. We are trying to say that all of humanity comes from the same birthplace, Africa. So, all of us as humanity are ‘distant relatives.’
Speaking of Africa, I have seen videos of you and your brothers performing in Ethiopia. Have you performed in any southern African country?
I have performed in Ethiopia and Ghana, but those are the only places in Africa I have visited so far. But for sure, my father’s song is the national anthem of Zimbabwe. So, that’s definitely a place I want to go and visit.
You had a couple of big tunes a few years ago produced by Baby G, The Mission and One Loaf of Bread. Are you planning to do any more work with Trevor Baby G?
It’s funny you say that because he is actually here in Miami. We have been doing some work together over the last few weeks. We’re trying to get a few Dancehall tracks together, so actually, I have a few tracks with Baby G being released in the next few weeks.
You are coming to Perth as part of the Good Vibrations festival, a great national festival, what can we expect from your performance here with Nas?
You can expect the best of both worlds. You can expect a great coming together of two genres of music. We do some of the tracks together that we have on the album, then the both of us give a little bit of our own catalogue of music. You gonna get a nice mix of Hip-Hop and Reggae.
Do you have a message for the Perth people?
Yeah man, tell dem Love and we will be there soon. Respect.
Nas & Damian “Zilla” Marley – “Nah Mean” from 2010’s Distant Relatives LP
Jamaica Celebrates Mandela with Distinction and Song
By Jennifer Ryan V9#7 1991
Amandla! The deep-throated roar of the crowd in Kingston’s jam-packed National Stadium reached and rattled the rafters of heaven. As the poignant strains melted into the thunder of myriad voices, Nelson and Winnie Mandela stood straight, tall and proud, fists clenched in the traditional salute to freedom. The Mother and the Father had returned home. The Children wept with joy
For 10 days, newspapers, radio and television had been trumpeting the news to Jamaica’s masses. The Mandela’s were coming! The dream about to be fulfilled. Not since the visit of his Imperial Majesty Emperor Haile Selassie, in 1966, had an event of such momentous import occurred. Unnatural mysticism filled the air since it appeared as though the Mandela’s would actually set foot on Jamaican soil on July 23, the birthday of His Majesty. [Update: The Mandela’s arrived July 24 and stayed 24 hours]Continue reading →
Seriously troubling all the more established Dancehall DJs this year is Buju Banton, a young man with stylish but homely aspirations. Ghetto-born Mark “Buju Banton” Myrie, at only 19, has, in the space of just five months, risen from interesting but run-of-the-mill Kingston DJ to front runner in the ‘92 Superstar Stakes.
True, he doesn’t have anything like the striking bone structure of the man he’s compared to – Shabba Ranks (whom I shan’t even mention ‘cause the two are, according to Buju, ‘two different kekkle of fish’) – but his reassuringly gruff warmth is usually a little less (How shall we say it?) raw! Continue reading →
In Kingston, Jamaica, neighborhoods start and end within blocks, and living on them is a whole other type of education. Instead of a classroom within a single building, the classroom of the streets teaches its students to know which buildings are which. Knowing where you stand geographically can be as important as where you stand politically. The two are often related.
Each neighborhood has its own members of distinction, be they artists, politicians, musicians, or stalking DJs breaking into the international music scene. Seivwright Gardens, one of the toughest sections of the city, is noted for the many DJs that have broken away from it: U Roy, Ninja Man, Josie Wales, and Super Cat, the latest of the Gardens alumni to have graduated with honors. Continue reading →
Windrush Generation – Caribbean Migration to the UK from 1948-1970
Remembering the arrival of MV Empire Windrush in Essex on June 22, 1948. Hundreds of workers and their children arrived from Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago, and other islands in response to the post-war job shortage.
“The Windrush generation has made a significant contribution to British black music for many generations – from grime to UK garage, to drum to jungle, to gospel to Lovers Rock, from Roots and Dub to Ska, to Reggae and Calypso. Narrated by Young Warrior, the son of historic dub legend Jah Shaka, we explore the colourful roots of how British black music has entered the UK mainstream and how it is now embedded across many music genres.
With first-hand accounts from record producer, Dennis Bovell, DJ, David Rodigan, singer Marla Brown (daughter of the late great Crown Prince of Reggae, Dennis Emanuel Brown) and musician and son of Bob Marley, Julian Marley, we explore how Calypso and West Indian culture made huge inroads into the UK mainstream in the 1950s and signified the birth of British black music.
We look at the 1960s which saw Chris Blackwell, founder of Islands Records, bring Millie Small to Britain with My Boy Lollipop and the birth of Trojan records with the release of “Do the Reggay” by The Maytals in 1968, which was the first popular song to use the word ‘reggae’ and defined the developing genre by giving it its name. We also explore the music of the 1970s which saw the first major influx of British reggae with bands such as Aswad and Matumbi and hear about how Jamaican music began to influence British pop music with the rise of bands, such as The Specials and Madness.”