Werx Musings

Reggae In The Desert has become one of the premier Roots Reggae festivals.

As a 6 year resident of Las Vegas, I look forward to the annual Reggae In The Desert festival.  Even though the lineup is usually not announced when pre-sale tickets go on sale, I know from experience that it always features an excellent selection of artists so I get my ticket early. This year, being the 20th anniversary of the festival, did not disappoint, with headliners such as Morgan Heritage, The Wailers, and Romain Virgo.

In the past few years when the festival was held in June, the heat has been a factor. Last year Mr Vegas had issues with his DJ’s laptop overheating and the same thing happened to Kabaka Pyramid’s keyboard player a few years ago and only the most resilient fans would brave the scorching temperatures to stand in front of the stage before the sun went down. This year the promoters moved the festival to the beginning of May which resulted in a much more comfortable experience without any heat-related problems.

The festival started at 11 am and opened with 2 local acts. Bounce Cruz, a talented Guam transplant, did an acoustic set, and the upcoming Reggae band Driftone, who describe their sound as “spicy Reggae”,  successfully hyped up the crowd for the next performance by Bonafide, a Jamaican band comprised of four brothers who are now based in Las Vegas. 

Bonafide are recipients of a Congressional Commendation in recognition of their community work in Las Vegas. They could be considered Reggae Ambassadors for Las Vegas. They showcased new material from their upcoming E.P. and delighted the audience with collaborations featuring Damian ‘Jr Gong’ Marley and Vybz Kartel. Bonafide was supported by a newcomer to Las Vegas, Jamaican Reggae/Dancehall DJ known as Problem. The band, currently under new management, was warmly welcomed by the crowd and appeared to be on an upward trajectory in their career.

When you have the likes of artists such as Romain Virgo, The Wailers, and Morgan Heritage on the lineup you have expectations of a good festival but I often find somewhere in the middle of the program there is an artist that takes control of the crowd, and delivers an unforgettable performance. In 2019 it was Jesse Royal, who mesmerized the audience with his stage presence. This year that artist was Junior Toots, the son of the late Toots Hibbert from Toots and the Maytals. From the moment he took the stage, he captivated the audience with renditions of his father’s songs with a sprinkling of his own songs in the mix. The crowd enthusiastically sang along to Toots and The Maytals’ classics like Pressure Drop and Monkey Man. To everyone’s delight, Junior Toots even jumped the barrier and spent several minutes dancing and singing in the crowd, he had them eating out of his hand. Backed by the talented FaYahSquad Band, this was a performance to remember. The words “brilliant” and “wicked performance” could be heard not only by the crowd but by other artists in attendance. 

Following Junior Toots was the gracious, elegant Hempress Sativa who entertained us with her beautiful voice and conscious lyrics. She captivated the crowd with the ease she delivered her unique Roots Reggae with a mix of other genres. The crowd was quiet and entranced by the vibe emanating from the stage from this barefoot warrior of consciousness.

Next in the lineup was the incredibly talented and accomplished Romain Virgo. His consummate professionalism, remarkable vocal talent, and more laid-back vibe were precisely what the audience needed at that moment.  Fans enthusiastically took over the vocals on his hit songs, solidifying Romain Virgo as a popular addition to the festival. His band was exceptional and his backup singers were among the finest to emerge from Jamaica. Overall, Romain Virgo delivered the type of performance that you come to expect from him.

The penultimate act at Reggae In The Desert was none other than The Wailers. Led by Aston Barrett Jr,  son of original Wailer,  Aston “Family Man” Barrett, The Wailers took us on a trip down memory lane by performing the iconic songs made famous by Bob Marley and The Wailers. While it is common for  Reggae artists to include a Bob Marley song in their set at festivals, it was particularly special to witness an entire set dedicated to Bob Marley and The Wailers’ songs.

To close out the 20th Reggae In The Desert, Morgan Heritage took the stage and delivered the stellar performance that this legendary group is known for. They treated the crowd to a mix of their best-known Grammy-nominated and Grammy-winning songs, as well as tracks from their newly released album “The Homeland”.  It was a perfect conclusion to the festival, leaving the audience thoroughly satisfied.

In conclusion, the only disappointment of the festival was the non-appearance of the publicized veteran DJ, Eek-A-Mouse, which was beyond the control of the festival promoters due to delays in his performance visa processing by the immigration department. I only have two criticisms of the festival, one being the limited availability of water to purchase. There was only one vendor selling cans of water at a ridiculous price and considering that we are a desert community,  I believe there should have been more options available. The other criticism pertains to the amount of time between acts which was attributed to technical issues. Despite these minor setbacks, the festival was overall a resounding success, executed with precision and enough to rank Reggae In The Desert as one of the premier Roots Reggae festivals.

Album review of “Reflections Of The Dragon Slayer” by Mark Wonder.

Having been a fan of Mark Wonder’s music for many years, the anticipation for his upcoming album “Reflections Of The Dragon Slayer” was building. I was honored when asked by the producer to do an album review. With it being the third album in the “Dragon Slayer” series, I was intrigued to see which dragons he was slaying this time. The album uses riddims from previous releases and was produced by Jon Moon and released on the Yutman Records label.

   The album opens with “Controlled Hypocrisy” reflecting on the hypocrisy shown by worldwide governments. Mark advises “Don’t get caught up in the spin.” but encourages us to build on the revolutionary foundation set by those who come before us. At first, I wondered why this track was picked as the opener as it is a slow track but then when I listened to the lyrics, I realized it set the “revolutionary” foundation of the album.

   “African People” is a tribute to Mark’s African roots and his pride in being African. “I’m from the land of the sunburned skin” is one of my favorite lyrics of the album.

   “Urgency”, the first single released from the album is a track urging us to wake up and see the state of the world, of politics, the plight of the poor, and the ecological effect we are having on the earth and to do something before it’s too late.

   Governments need to change and listen to the people they represent and not govern to satisfy their egos, is the message in the next track “Power For The People”,  “it’s time for a change”, and ”we need more power for the people”.

   A beautiful love song “For The Reason” is the last original song on the album, showing the versatility of the dragon slayer Mark Wonder. Opening with a piano and a rising chorus of voices it leads to an upbeat declaration of love. I particularly liked the section of horns in the middle.

   The last four tracks on the album consist of an acoustic version of “For The Reason” and dub versions of “Controlled Hypocrisy”, “African People” and “Urgency”. I wouldn’t describe myself as a true lover of dub, but I really like the dub version of “Urgency”, it adds an extra dimension to an already excellent song.

   Mark Wonder’s album “Reflections Of The Dragon Slayer” is a powerful and thought-provoking album that addresses important social and political issues. With slower and faster tracks, a love song, and dub versions, it is a must-listen for fans of Roots Reggae and anyone who cares about social justice issues.

   What a wonderful culmination of the albums in the Dragon Slayer series.

“I” by Jahdon album review

Every once in a while I come across an album of such outstanding quality that it’s difficult to choose a favorite track. “I” by Jahdon, his sophomore album, is one of those.  It’s a “feel good” album that I can’t see myself ever tiring of.

JAHDON, musical ecosystem. Hailing from Canaan Heights, Clarendon, his background: singing in church, participating in countless stage shows and being a part of a local singing group nurtured his poetical style.

He formed his label, Look Ya Noww Entertainment in 2017 and released his debut, breakthrough projects: Congo Bongo (single) and Congo Bongo E.P. The Queen of Jamaican radio, Elise Kelly called it “her song for 2018”. Radio veteran Ron Muchette announced it as “one of the biggest songs for 2019, and Mutabaruka made it an anthem on Irie FM.

In 2020 the Jamaican Gleaner’s review of his debut album “369” dubbed him as “Reggae Music’s Next Messenger”. He performed during Reggae Month 2020, most notably being featured on the lineup with the late Toots Hibbert at Jamaica Reggae Industry Association’s Reggae Wednesdays at Emancipation Park in Kingston and the Children Of The Icons and Emerging Acts in St Mary, Jamaica, headlined by Bounty Killer. Reggaeville writer Steve Topple described “369” as “a glorious full introduction and hints at the potential greatness to come” from Jahdon.”  (excerpt from bio)

Jahdon’s album “I” builds on the momentum created by Jahdon’s 2020 debut album, “369”.  With 10 tracks, his latest album takes you on a journey of faith and love, from love of Jah to love of family. 

Three tracks previously released as singles, “Here We Go”, “Cooking” and the title track “I”, give a perfect overview of the album.

The album opens with “Here We Go Again”, a catchy song, featuring the beautiful voice of Jamaican artist TruVice, and I guarantee you’ll be singing along with the chorus by the end. This is the first of several love songs going into depth about the different aspects of personal relationships, support, and loyalty, including “Family Man” featuring the legendary saxophonist Dean Fraser.

Broomie” gives a glimpse into Jahdon’s early years as a maker and seller of brooms, with the metaphorical significance of sweeping out the bad in the Babylon world. Another glimpse into the world of Jahdon and his passion for healthy living comes across in the song “Cooking”.

The importance of Jahdon’s spiritual life is represented with “Give Ankhs” and “Rastafari”. 

Ending the album with a dub version of “Broomie” brings this beautiful album something for every Reggae lover, with the tracks flowing seamlessly through love songs and the personal and spiritual life of this talented artist. 

After listening to “I” from Jahdon you will be asking yourself why this album is not in the running for a Grammy. 

The album is distributed by Tuff Gong International.

The Importance Of ISRC Codes When Sending Music To DJs And Radio Stations

At a time when many independent artists are in control of their own careers and wearing many hats, they choose to use a service such as CD Baby, TuneCore, Distrokid, etc to distribute their music. Part of this service is the addition of codes into the metadata that are used to track sales, streams, and radio broadcasts. The important thing to remember for an artist who independently sends out their tracks to DJs and radio stations, either themselves or through a manager, publicist, etc, is to make sure the ISRC code is embedded in the track. THIS IS HOW RADIO PLAY IS TRACKED SO THAT YOU GET PAID.

After the code has been issued by the distributor, the code should be collected from the same distributor and embedded into the track.

If creating your own video, don’t forget to add the ISRC code to your track before attaching it. If you have a videographer creating it for you, do the same.

Contact me if you would like me to perform this service for you.

Correct labeling is always appreciated by radio stations and DJs and will definitely improve the chances of getting the music played.  Name of artist: Song title: Album (if it’s an album track).

Jen Cheshire

Reggaewerx PR LLC.


Pernell Needs our help.

Sadly I have an update to this post. Pernell lost his battle with cancer in the early hours of February 4th.

All of the artists I work with will tell you that when I start working with them they become family. Their families also become family. Recently our beloved Pernell Winchester (Kabasi) from the Reggae Powerhouse Band became sick and was hospitalized. Last week he was given the devastating diagnosis of stage 4 lung cancer. Pernell is one of the sweetest, humblest artists that I know. He is always ready to work on a jingle, a video, or any type of content that I ask from him, despite working a regular job to provide for his family. Pernell is only 49 years old and a loving partner and father to two beautiful children ages 11 and 7. As Pernell lives in Tobago, a country that has universal healthcare, his medical treatment comes at no cost to him but he will have extra expenses from traveling to and from the hospital for treatment and most likely, as time goes on, will have extra expenses relating to his care. Pernell is too sick to work now and only one small income in the family does not cover normal household expenses, so we have initiated a GoFundMe to help Pernell and his family. We are appealing for help if possible. Even the smallest amount of money will be greatly appreciated. To donate please click the link below. If you wish to donate by another method please use the contact form and I will get back to you.


Cliff Marley Tosh album review

When I was asked to review “Cliff Marley Tosh”  the latest album by Robert “Dubwise” Browne, I thought this would be difficult as it’s an instrumental album of covers of well-known songs by Jimmy Cliff, Bob Marley, and Peter Tosh. Dubwise is an acclaimed musician, from a talented musical family, and he has been backing artists like Shaggy and Jimmy Cliff for many years.  I imagined “Cliff Marley Tosh” to be an album that would be predominantly background music. Was I in for a surprise!

The album opens with a pretty traditional reggae version of Bob Marley’s “Three Little Birds”,  with background vocals from Chris Smith and Sherieta Lewis and some beautiful rippling guitar riffs. 

   Following that is a change of pace with “Coming In Hot”, the Peter Tosh classic. Dubwise’s version of this classic song has a rock influence to it. With subtle background singing from  Dubwise himself,  I feel I can hear the words to the song coming through the guitar.

   “Real Situation”, another Bob Marley song, has the traditional reggae beat but with a smooth jazz influence.

   Once again the mood changes with a Jimmy Cliff song “Rebel In Me”. The heavy blues guitar and the sexy melodious voice of Wayne Armond (singer, songwriter, and founder of the group Chalice) makes this one of my favorite tracks on the album.

   “Turn Your Lights Down Low”, the Bob Marley classic, retains the “baby-making” atmosphere of the original song with Dubwise on background vocals, and once again the guitar seems to sing out to you.

   The Jimmy Cliff song “We All Are One”, with its funk rhythm and background vocals by Chris Smith, will have you up and dancing. It’s hard to stay still listening to this track. 

   “Johnny B Goode”, originally by Chuck Berry and given a reggae flavor by Peter Tosh, is the next track. Edgy vocals from artist Errol Bonnick with background vocals from Sherieta Lewis compliment the updated version of this iconic song.

   Following on, the next classic song chosen by Dubwise is “Why Must I Cry” also a  Peter Tosh classic, another favorite of mine. This also is one of the tracks where the guitar seems to be singing the song. You can almost hear the words.

   “Journey”, one more Jimmy Cliff song, is the final song on the album and a great way to finish. A jazz-inspired reggae version of this classic summarizes the mellow, inspiring album from Robert “Dubwise” Browne and leaves you wanting more.

I can’t wait for his next album.  

Previously published in Island Stage Magazine

Album Review “Live N Livin”

“’Live N Livin’ is one of two albums from the multi-award-winning dancehall star, Sean Paul, offering a collaboration over confrontation undertone, that showcases unity in Dancehall. The album was inspired by the perception of members of the music industry that dancehall is dead, instead, Sean Paul believes dancehall is alive and well, with a strong pulse. Looking to show the world that dancehall is flourishing and still birthing stars, ‘Live N Livin’ showcase over twenty artists on one body of work.”  

It was important to me to show that in our genre of dancehall, we don’t need to clash in order to attain the spotlight. We don’t need to divide our fans to attain the rotations on the airwaves or streams. Over the years myself, Shaggy, and more recently Koffee, Shensea and others are tapping into the world stage and we are not clashing our co-workers, nor are we dividing our fans. This album ‘Live N Livin’ is an album I hold very dear to my heart because it shows the effort of collaboration over confrontation,” said Sean Paul.

Sean Paul has had many critics over the years amongst the Dancehall artists and fans alike, calling him a “sell-out” for crossing over to a more mainstream sound at times over the years,  but Sean has never left his dancehall roots. His latest album “Live N Livin” is an eclectic mix of hardcore Dancehall and conscious Dancehall that guarantees something for all Dancehall fans. Sean collaborates with artists from both sides, illustrating the unity that he was wanting to convey. The album is superbly put together and the following are the tracks that resonated with me. 

Boom” featuring Busy Signal is a hard track to sit still and listen to. This one is guaranteed to be a party and club favorite, with the crowd singing “Boom” along with it. 

Initially listening to “The Plug” featuring Chi Ching Ching, I was concentrating on the flow and not paying too much attention to the lyrics. The second time I listened I heard the track as an anthem to the DJ who brings the energy to the club or the radio but then after the third listening I realized there was a sexual undertone to this song. This song highlights the undeniable talent that can incorporate lyrics conveying whatever you want them to mean, without being explicit.

Another stand-out old-school style dancehall song is “Crazy” featuring Buju Banton.”

This is a different sound from how you would normally hear Buju. Working with him is a dream come true for me” -Sean Paul

This is a fun track that I think will be a favorite.

Schedule” featuring Jr. Gong and Chi Ching Ching is a catchy, tongue-in-cheek song about the sexual superiority of the Jamaican man. “That’s how we do it, we do it every day.” “That’s how we do it the Jamaican way.” This is the “earworm” track on the album. I found myself singing or humming it all day after I heard it.

The first of the conscious tracks on the album is “Protect Me” featuring Serani. This track is tackling this issue of the people in the industry who are jealous of your success and try to bring you down. “I say a prayer for mi betrayer. They can’t put mi under.”

Lion Heart”, released as a single in December 2020,  is the only solo song by Sean Paul on the album. It was a response to the industry people who were criticizing Sean for not taking part in a Verzus style clash like many other dancehall artists. Sean believed that the clash atmosphere was creating division between fans, and not promoting the unity needed to make Dancehall an International genre.

In December 2020, Sean Paul also released “Guns of Navarone” featuring Jesse Royal and Mutabaruka. This song is a remix now also featuring Ghanaian artist Stonebwoy. It highlights the glorification of violence and the casual disregard for life by the acceptance of it. “How can a people be so traumatized that they start to love the traumatic experiences?”. 

Danger Zone” featuring Bugle and Sotto Bless is a call to Dancehall artists to think carefully about how their lyrics are influencing the younger generation, especially the lyrics about violence and gun culture. Although artists have different reasons for their lyrics, some for fame, some for girls but some of them “chat” about righteousness but then live by the gun. The song follows up by highlighting some of the more insidious crimes that are affecting society and how we are living in a Danger Zone where only Jah can save us.

Choosing which tracks to highlight on this album was difficult but I had to include the remix of the 2018 single “I’m Sanctify” featuring Mavado and Agent Sasco. Mavado sums up the world we are in at this time with “To be born ‘pon this earth is a risk.” It’s hard to pick a favorite track on this album but for right now this is mine.

Buy the album in its entirety because some tracks that may not hit you initially, can become among your favorites.

Sean Paul said this is an album for all Dancehall fans with something to please everyone. I’m sure the conscious section of this album will surprise many and apparently he has more to say in upcoming releases. I can’t wait.

Album review of “Gotta Be Tough

          When Toots and The Maytals released “Gotta Be Tough” after a hiatus of a decade, little did we know that this would be the last album while Frederick “Toots”  Hibbert was still with us.

          The album opens with the gritty rock/bluesy track, “Drop Off Head,” a sound that made Toots and the Maytals a festival favorite. This track is loud, raucous and guaranteed to wake you up with the advice, “Don’t let the enemies get you down.” 

         Following this is another track, very reminiscent of ‘60 and ‘70s rock/blues. “Just Brutal” incorporates horns, saxophones, and guitars which, combined with Toots’ gravelly voice, depicts the lack of love and the brutality of the world as it is today. The harshness of the track enhances the seriousness of the subject matter.

        “Got To Be Tough”, the title track, turns out to be quite prophetic under the circumstances. Toots reminds us to take care of each other and to be tough in these difficult times as life is short and we never know how much longer we have.

         When I saw that the next track, “Freedom Train”, was included, I assumed it was the 1996 “Freedom Train” from the “Tough Time: The Anthology” album,  but it isn’t. The train-like beat is  there but with a rock sound. Toots points out that although there are claims of freedom, many things are still holding the black man back. He’s saying you need to get on board and fight to make a better life, the same message as in the original “Freedom Train” but with more of an urgency in the sound.

          “Warning, Warning” is a message to all to let it be seen that you are living your life the right way with decency and respect.

          A track with a blues element, a love song about working to keep a relationship going, switches from the harsh warning theme of the previous tracks to a softer, poignant plea in “Good Thing That You Call”.”

       “Stand Accused” highlights the critics and naysayers who say Toots is too quick to help people, from the children in need of education, to his enemies. After being hit by a bottle thrown by an excited fan while he was performing at a Virginia festival, he requested leniency from the judge. This was a perfect example of his compassion. 

        When I saw “Three Little Birds” on the tracklist I was expecting a traditional cover of the iconic Bob Marley song. I should have known better coming from Toots and The Maytals. Toots totally made it his own in a clever version featuring Ziggy Marley.

          “Having A Party,” with its fast ska beat, should have everyone up and dancing. It is a much livelier song than the band’s “Having A Party” from the 1973 “In The Dark” album. You can envision Toots arriving at a party saying, “Let’s get this party started.” This track is sure to be a staple in the collection of event DJs.

A plea for the people in his life and people in general to “Stop the fighting, the shooting and killing” is the cry for love and unity that Toots makes in the final song on the album. He touches on things in his life and in the current atmosphere of both Jamaica and the rest of the world.. “We’ve got to find a way to stop it.

         When Toots compiled this album,  he didn’t know this would be the last one to be released before he was taken from us. After six decades of performing and recording, “Gotta Be Tough” has encapsulated the essence of Toots and the Maytals; the consummate “life of the party,”  but with a serious message. This album is a must for any music collection, not only for the connoisseurs of reggae.

     The music world will miss this legend but like all the greats in the reggae industry, his presence will continue to influence and inspire. 

          The message will live on.  

Rootz Underground “Red-Gold-Green Album” review

Roots Underground

When I was asked to write this album review and received the project, I was a bit overwhelmed by the size of the “Red-Gold-Green Album” as it is three albums together. I couldn’t understand why anyone would release three albums as one project, but after reading the album bio, I realized why. Let me share with you the words of Rootz Underground.

The latest production from Rootz Underground and their newly formed label, Thunderground Music is an unprecedented triple album of Roots Rock Reggae which also coincides with the band’s 20th anniversary. This music collection explores the bands willingness and ability to set themselves apart from the terrain of the modern industry and transcend into the heart and souls of fans and listeners as originally intended. “The intention is to remain underground and not adapt, convert and conform in the universal quest for popularity or social media fame. Instead this music is intended to bring good courage and faith and determination for all people and not only musically elite. The project is aptly titled RED, GOLD, GREEN and seeks to musically interpret the feelings of these Rastafari colors and the significance thereof and will be released on July 23, 2020, the birthday of The Emperor of Ethiopia, Haile Selassie I, The conquering Lion of Judah.”  [Rootz Underground]

As the combined album(s) total 37 tracks, I’m going to pick out the tracks that stand out to me.

RED ALBUM represents the Fierceness and the realness of rebel determination and it is produced with the grittiness combined with love and the desire to see a universal solidarity beginning with introspection.” [Roots Underground]

“Strength Of Days” is the second track on the Red Album. This track starts with rather ominous instrumentals but becomes more upbeat with the vocals. It’s a song about how your choices, with Jah’s guidance, will determine the outcome of your life. “Strength of my days, determined by my ways.”

Herb Green,” the obligatory ganja tune encourages and gives advice to the youth going into the ganja farming industry. It speaks of the history and struggles of the ganja farmer. Check out the official video on YouTube.

A social commentary on how “Babylon” infiltrates our brains by many means and distracts us from the truth and rights, “We and Dem” encourages us to think for ourselves and not be led like sheep. With a marching beat and impressive vocals, this track will stir up the rebellion in you.

“Across The Binghi-Verse” is a play on words in the title of this cover of John Lennon and Paul McCartney’s  “Across The Universe.” Covering a classic Beatles song is a gamble that Rootz Underground has beautifully pulled off, making it their own with the inclusion of Nyahbinghi drumming and a few changes in lyrics. A beautiful track which has become one of my favorites.

GOLD ALBUM – “a tribute to the Sisters, Mothers and Daughters and celebrating the feminine balance which is needed in modernity! All songs handpicked to contain a powerful message with 3 original songs and featuring versions of songs by Prince Lincoln (Lincoln Thompson) and the Royal Rasses, Nina Simone, Crowded House, Amy Winehouse, The Lioness I-nergy is very high on this chapter of the project which welcomes the brilliant vocals of Desiree Dawson, Nattali Rize, and Brina X.” [Rootz Underground]

It was difficult for me to pick standout tracks from this album as every track is exceptional. 

I am a huge fan of Nattali Rize, so I had to include “No Fairytales.” Written by Stevie Lightening and Nattali Rize, this track reminds us that real love needs communication and understanding to survive and not the sugar-coated version that the media portrays. “Love is not a game. This ain’t no fairytale”.

One Common Need” is a song from 50 yrs ago by Prince Lincoln (Thompson) and the Royal Rasses. This song is a classic reggae track on the subject of those that have material things in excess and those that don’t have enough to get by. Something that doesn’t seem to have changed in the 50 years since the song was written. Stevie Lightening and Brina have done justice to this classic by making it sound relevant to the day but keeping the classic reggae feel.

Desiree Dawson and Rootz Underground bring a new refreshing version of the classic Nina Simone song “Young Gifted & Black,” previously a big reggae hit on mainstream radio for Marcia Griffiths and Bob Andy (R.I.P.) This classic one drop with a modern feel will bring the same inspiration to black youth everywhere, as did Bob and Marcia’s version in 1970.

“Don’t Dream It’s Over,” a classic song previously recorded by Crowded House, is as relevant today, if not more so, as it was when written in 1986 by Neil Finn. Now produced in a reggae version by Desiree Dawson and Rootz Underground, it highlights the issue of the world intruding into life and relationships, especially relevant during the difficult time in the last few months. 

The final track on the Gold Album is “Lonely Stars,” written by Stephen Newland and beautifully sung by Desiree Dawson and Stevie Lightening. I had to include this song as it gave me goosebumps. Performed with a solo piano accompaniment by Vern Hill, this song is the most beautiful love song I have heard in a very long time. 


GREEN ALBUM“Putting a spin on a “Best of Rootz Underground” release concept, this is a 2 chapter, 19-song compilation remixed and remastered of the bands’ classics. The Green Album also includes five previously unreleased songs and delivered in chapters 1 and 2. Also, express musically the band’s moods and evolution over 20 years. The Green Album embodies the band’s studio recordings. from 2000-2020 and includes guest performances by Vaughn Benjamin (Akae Beka), Junior “One Blood Reid”, Toots Hibbert (Toots & the Maytals) and Sherieta Lewis. A stirring reminder of why quality and content matter”. [Rootz Underground]

Originally included on the “Return of The Righteous” album, “Fret Not Thyself” has been remastered for this album. This song is a reminder of the “what goes around comes around” and “what goes up must come down” philosophy. Treating people how you want to be treated is the way to live. The infectious instrumentals with horns in a classic Caribbean style will have you up and dancing to Rootz Underground

Kingston Town” is another song that was initially on the “Return Of the Righteous” album. The song is about the troubles in West Kingston that took the lives of 400 people and the resignation of the Prime Minister and extradition of one of Jamaica’s top area leaders, as told by a resident of Tivoli Gardens. The song to the tune of “House Of The Rising Sun” made famous by The Animals in 1964,  was greatly enhanced by Toots and The Maytals and has been remastered for this album. There is a wicked guitar solo at the beginning of the track.

Rootz Underground, Natural High, and the late Akae Beka (Vaughn Benjamin of Midnight) R.I.P join together with “Frontline,” which was previously on the “Thunderground” album. Listening to the lyrics of this remastered song, you could quite believe it had been written in 2020 instead of 2017, as it is very relevant to what is going on today. “Babylon deceive the whole frontline.”



Another track that has a video on the “must check out” list is the beautiful “Always.” This song by Rootz Underground touched me spiritually. With it’s Nyabinghi drum beats combined and calming vocals, it transports you away from all the stress of this world to a place of peace, for just a little while, and reminds us to hold on.  

 “One Thing”  with Rootz Underground, Natural High, and Junior Reid is a powerful song reminding us to keep life simple. The “one thing” to focus on is Jah’s love. The diversity of the voices in this song adds to the strength of the lyrics,  giving contrast with the complexity of vocals, against the simplicity of the message. “Now all the trouble precipitate like a storm on the horizon. Jah pickney don’t worry if you feel some sorrow ‘because joy, in the morning come.”

Still Raining” is a lively, more light-hearted version of “Rain” on the “Movement” album. This track is a previously unreleased version, although there is a hilarious video on YouTube from 2012.  I think this version of the song better portrays the premise that staying positive and optimistic, even on bad days, is the way to go. Co-writer Sherieta Lewis adds to the vocals, giving it a fun feeling. 

I was going to stop there, but after once again listening to the Green Album, I have to include the final track by Rootz Underground and Natural High, “Long Time”. Originally on the “Thunderground” album, this track has been remastered for and included. The lyrics have become very relevant this year with the pandemic, the lockdown and the protests, with words like  “It’s been Long time, we nu dance out a street free, Babylon, they got their eyes keenly! World seduce all your souls gently. It’s been a long time, dem a put on the pressure tightly, walk with JAH daily and nightly. Haile Selassie I, Almighty!!!!”


It was definitely challenging writing this review of Rootz Underground’s “Red-Gold-Green Album”, not because it was hard to listen to, but because it’s a fantastic project which made it difficult to decide which tracks to feature. On rare occasions, I come across an album where every track is excellent, and I wouldn’t skip one, but to come across a project with 37 tracks that I wouldn’t skip is phenomenal. 

Rootz Underground, it’s been a long time, but you are back!!! 


Album Review of “Kulture Walk” by Kumar


I was excited when asked to review Kumar’s debut solo album as I was a big fan of the Raging Fyah. I have also met Kumar a couple of times and found him to be a sweet humble young man. 

The album opens with an introduction called “There Is No Movement Without Rhythm”. An infectious African beat creates a  background for Kumar’s philosophy of this musical journey. In spoken word, he talks of how music takes us to places and people and elevates us. “Melodies that carry you to different places, visualizing faces, embracing these stages. Creating, elevating to the highest regions of our minds”. There are many instances when I don’t always agree with the selection of opening songs on an album, but this one is perfect, setting the scene for the album’s journey.

Trading Places” is a very poignant song to a marching beat, which I believe, without him saying so, is describing Kumar’s journey upwards with Raging Fyah and his difficult decision to break from the band to follow his own dreams.

The following track, “Sailing” has the same musical feel that a lot of the US bands have. I’ll admit I didn’t like this song to start with because it was so different from the true Jamaican feel that we have come to know from Kumar. Having said that, after listening to the album 3 more times it has grown on me,  and as the theme of the album is the journey through cultures, it fits well.

Joined by Chevaughn, Kumar brings us “Live Another Day”. a rock fusion song about how having fame and fortune isn’t all it’s cracked up to be and doesn’t make you happy. If they had to make the choice, they would trade it in and go back to the beginning “just to live another day”.

“Grain Of Sand” feat. Agent Sasco has the same underlying beat as the previous track making the flow from one track to the other seamless. The riddim on this track is a lot more complex with horns etc,  filling it out into a big production. The song emphasizes that no matter how much you think you are a big man,  you are as small as a grain of sand to Jah.

With a mystical, somewhat Eastern-sounding backing, Kumar brings a reminder of what this album is about with an interlude called “My Life – My Message”.

Kumar’s next track definitely has a message. “Dry Bones” is questioning if we are programmed to think in a certain way and speculating that we are all owned by the establishment,  which results in us living in a war zone. He sings how he can’t wait to escape the program. 

One Day” is a song about life’s choices and what you do with them. How sometimes you get off on the wrong track and don’t know how to get back home. Some youth become gunmen and can never go back. It continues that however lost you feel, some days you just have to be a Moses.

A complete change of mood comes with the next track. “Loyalty” is about a broken relationship. Kumar sings that loyalty seems to be missing in the world today. Despite this, he is recovered from the hurt and is happy.

In “Race of Your Own” Kumar is joined by M-1 of the US Hip-Hop duo Dead Prez. to brings us a song to make us think about the way we treat the resources of this world, “Where will we go from here when the rain is all gone?”. They are encouraging us to be wiser than before and to not be discouraged when fighting for change but to make small changes ourselves and continue on, alone in a race of our own.

The next track is a new mix of the recently released, highly acclaimed single, “Remember Me”. This is a call to Jah to not forget him and assuring that he won’t become a sellout to the system. With the famous line from “Oh Freedom,” the post-civil war African American freedom song, “Before I’ll be a slave, I’ll be buried in my grave”, this is a powerful anthem.

A piano version of “Dry Bones” is the penultimate song on the album. I love both versions of this song but I think this is my favorite. It’s a simpler sound with piano and strings. It’s beautiful.

Jamaica”, the closing track, should be picked up by the Jamaican Tourist Board. It has a catchy rhythm and enhanced by the horns, made me want to get online and book a ticket to Jamaica. This is the song to take our minds off the craziness in the world right now.

I always add at the end of my reviews to buy the complete album so as not to miss out on some tracks that you initially skip over, but this album is a perfect example of that. When I first listened there were a couple of tracks that I didn’t feel. Now having listened to the album 3 times, there isn’t a track I don’t like. Well done Kumar, it was worth the wait.