Werx Musings

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.

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.


Album review of “Survival” – Ginjah



Roots reggae artist Ginjah released his long-awaited 3rd album “Survival’ on March 20, 2020.  The album was released under the Young Veterans Music label and distributed by VPal

Before writing this review I went back and listened to Ginjah’s two previous albums as I was not very familiar with them. I can see growth and maturity in this latest album which has increased in spiritual and conscious content.


The album opens with “Jah By My Side”, a song revealing Ginjah’s unfailing trust in Jah. “Imma be fine. Imma be ok. I know I’ll be alright.”  a faith that would help us all in this time.


Fire Blaze” is my favorite track on the album. It’s a song about artists who compromise their morals and try to be something they are not for stardom. “They will do anything to live the life of a superstar.”  I not only like the lyrical content of this track but Ginjah sings this song in a lower register than he is normally known for. I think he should do this more often as it shows a richness to his voice that is not as evident in the higher register.


The following track is “Jah Light”. This track talks about the light of Jah that shines through the darkness that is often associated with the music industry as a whole. This light is what keeps him going and not giving up.


In “Shootie ShootieGinjah hits on the subject of gun violence and murder by the youth in gangs. He asks the murderer how they feel now, in other words, is it on their conscience.


Life is a struggle with many hills and valleys before you find peace of mind, This is the theme of “Many Mountains”. This track has a big band, old school feel to it and a variety of instruments to give it a real full sound.


Previously released as a single in 2019, “Survival”, the title song, is a song about keeping negative people a way to find peace of mind. Ginjah also sings about forgiving those who have done him wrong to obtain that peace.


With its infectious ska beat, “Stronger Together” speaks of ending the fussing and fighting and coming together to make the whole world stronger. This is a light-hearted beat with a deep deep message.


Another song with a deep message is ”White Lies”. Ginjah says that freedom is a lie that the white world would have everybody believe. The black race is still in slavery because of the way it is discriminated against and is still facing what the ancestors faced 500 years ago.


Moving” is a song about how Ginjah sees the stages in his life, how he sees his life-changing to make him a better person. He likens these stages to the stages of the moon and how it becomes brighter.


The pain and hopelessness of feeling no-one cares is what Ginjah describes in “To Be Alone”. When you are going through struggles you feel you are on your own even if you are not. This song is poignant and convincing enough to make you believe that Ginjah has been there.


Ginjah’s debut album “Urge To Love” was an album of love songs but “Special Friends” is the only song on this album that is a love song.  Some of this album speaks of the love of life or the love of your fellow man but this one is a romantic call to a girl to be a special friend even if they can’t be lovers. “Even though you’re not my honey. You’re sweeter than pocket money.” is a little cheezy but a great line.


The final song on the album is “I’m Alive”. This is a call for celebration, to feel the vibes,  to cherish life and to believe in your dreams, a fitting end to a diverse and uplifting album.


As I’ve said in reviews before, don’t just pick and choose the tracks to download. For the price of a couple of fancy coffees, you will have an album that will grow on you more and more each time you hear it. This is an album that will last over time. Well done Ginjah and Young Veterans Music. I look forward to more in the future.


When is a band not a band?

album cover


 When I was first made aware of the Reggae Powerhouse Band, I was intrigued by the idea of a band that was not just a band but a concept. To find out more about the band I had to talk to Leroy Scarlet, the man behind the magic. 

   Leroy Scarlet has been in the music business since back in the 1970s. He was born and raised in the parish of St Andrew in Jamaica. Growing up Leroy was exposed to music by the local sound systems and singers who lived in the area. He remembers seeing George Nooks, who had to pass his yard going to and from school, singing and chanting while walking the seven or so miles to his home. Wherever there was music Leroy could be found, both in school and in the community. At the age of twelve, Leroy became a box lifter for a sound system called Killaphonic and eventually was given a chance to sing. The first time he tried he didn’t even have a microphone, they had to reverse the sound back through a speaker. DJ Big Joe had a sound system called Rebel Tone in the community and Leroy began to chant on it regularly. Whenever Leroy heard that a big sound system was coming to town, he would be at the spot way before they arrived because he didn’t want to miss anything and by this time he was performing at every opportunity he could get.


  Leroy’s High School graduation was coming up and as the festivities finished early Leroy had the vision to hold a dance for the graduation. At the time Leroy’s father worked on road construction so Leroy went to work with him to pay for this dream, although his pay was only $50. Leroy’s neighbor was Noel Harper whose father had a large grocery store and bar. Noel would play music in the bar area on Friday and Saturday nights. Noel decided he wanted to build a sound system so he and the boys went around the community buying up all the cedar boards they could find and he made an 18 box system. This was the birth of the now famous Killamanjaro sound system. After Leroy received his paycheck for working on the roads, he went to Noel Harper and asked how much it would cost to have Killamanjaro play at the graduation dance. Noel said it would be $250 but Leroy only had $50. When Leroy told him this he said “Boy, you are ambitious. I charge $250 and you only have $50. I will take that as a deposit but how are you going to pay for the goat and the drinks etc?” Leroy replied, “I don’t know how but I’ve got to do it”. As was stated earlier, Noel Harper’s father owned a big grocery store, so somehow they persuaded him to let Leroy have the provisions he needed on consignment. With help from his parents, his father on the gate and his mother running the bar, Leroy put on the biggest dance in the community with everyone from the school in attendance. The dance was such a success that Leroy had enough money to pay Mr. Harper and Killamanjaro and had money left over.


  By this time, Leroy’s cousin Chris Stanley had returned from the US and was living about 20 miles from Leroy’s home. After graduation Leroy went to live with him. Chris had a grand piano in his house so one day Leroy decided he was going to teach himself to play it. He took a record player and put it by the piano and played a record over and over until he picked out a note in the bassline, then the whole bassline, and then he started to sing along with it. When his cousin came in he was impressed by his singing and playing and from then on he didn’t look back. Leroy met Tyrone Downie from Bob Marley &The Wailers and told him he was a singer, Tyrone listened to him and sent him to Bob’s Hope Road Studio for an audition. Leroy was disappointed that he didn’t get to meet Bob while he was there. Leroy was becoming increasingly frustrated for as hard as he tried he wasn’t getting any results from the producers he was reaching out to.  

  Chris Stanley had decided to build a studio on the large piece of property he lived on. While Chris was traveling and collecting the equipment he needed for the studio, Leroy was singing 7 days a week at dances. At the return of his cousin, they worked day and night until Music Mountain Studio was finished. Jimi Cliff attended the grand opening of the studio and as most of the recording studios in Jamaica at that time were located in Kingston, artists began pouring into Music Mountain Studio because of the proximity to where they lived. Some of the earliest recordings at the studio were Boris Gardner’sI Want To Wake Up With You”, Sophia George’sToo Girlie Girlie” and Black Uhuru’s Solidarity” album. Although Leroy wasn’t being paid he was always in the background helping out and running errands. He met big artists like Toots and The Maytals, Marcia Griffiths, Glen Ricks and many more. Around this time Sly and Robbie started to use the studio and Leroy closely studied the recording process. One day he commented to Sly Dunbar that he really liked the track they were working on so Sly told him to take a shot at it. With David Roy as the engineer, Leroy recorded his first single “Murder”. The single was released just before Christmas 1987 and was quite successful. He was paid $100J for the single which was a lot of money at that time. After Christmas when Sly and Robbie returned to the studio, Leroy told them he didn’t want to sing anymore. This was a big surprise to them as the single had done well but Leroy explained to them that he loved the producer’s lifestyle. Producers were making more money than the artists and without the stress of having to perform every night. It was obvious then that Leroy was very ambitious and driven. He produced his first track with instrumental help from Tyrone Downie of The Wailers and Trapper John from The Bloodfire Posse and the first artist to voice on it was Super Glen, following that he produced an album for Melvin Irie. Gregory Isaacs was passing through so Leroy had him voice a track, then Anthony Red Rose and Linval Thompson both voiced a couple of songs. Leroy was on his way up.


  Leroy Scarlet later produced and released several albums includingReggae Train” series one and two, Frankie Paul “It’s My Time”, Easy B “Prophecy”, Anthony B “Judgement Time” and “Dimensions In Music” containing tracks by Glen Washington, Luciano Messenjah, Frankie Paul, General Pecos, Easy B, Anthony B, Sizzla, and Beres Hammond plus a fourteen track album called “Four The Hardway” featuring Capleton, Sizzla, Luciano, and Anthony B. Most of the well-known artists of the 1990s have recorded something with Leroy Scarlet.

  In the late ’90s, reggae music sales plummeted. Singles that had up until then sold from 70,000 to 80,000 copies for a hit single suddenly were selling on an average 1,000 copies. The artists were making money from shows but the producer was no longer making as much money and Leroy realized the tables had turned. Although he loved making music, he wondered how he was going to continue to make a living. 


  With a heavy heart, Leroy switched from making music to Real Estate. He had some building skills and he learned tiling and painting and decorating then he bought some old properties, fixed them up into apartments and sold them. This brought him in a decent amount of money so he left the music and concentrated on the Real Estate business. Unfortunately, after some time Leroy started to feel ill. He went to the doctor who told him the dust from construction had given him severe asthma. With this in mind, he took some time off from construction.


  During his break from construction, Leroy was talking with his longtime friend Duckie Simpson from Black Uhuru about the state of the reggae industry and about how he had a lot of music that had never been released.  Duckie suggested he formed a band and use the band in combination with some of his catalog of unreleased music to get the music out there. Leroy liked this idea so he set about putting together a band.  Leroy had always liked the idea of being part of something meaningful and he believed that a band could contribute a lot with the unity of ideas, energy, and methods. A band relies on teamwork so unity is the key to success. Meanwhile, a producer of the movie “One Love” flew into Jamaica from the UK to meet with the late Gregory Isaacs wife to get permission to create a movie of the life story of Gregory but permission wasn’t given so the idea was dropped. Leroy thought this was a travesty as he believed Gregory’s legacy should be recorded. He talked to Sly and Robbie about this and Sly said: “The story doesn’t have to just be the life of Gregory Isaacs, call it The Powerhouse of Reggae or something similar and make it the life of all the reggae powerhouses.” The idea seemed like a good one but it still has a long way to go, although when forming the band Leroy adopted the name Reggae Powerhouse Band.


  When putting together the band, Leroy didn’t want to stick with solely Jamaican singers and musicians so, still with the theme of unity in mind, he traveled to other Caribbean islands in search of talent. He was producing a show in Antigua with Sanchez and the late Frankie Paul using local artists to start the show. It was there where he found his first lead vocalist, Cordel Dunnah. He immediately signed him and then going on from there signed Pernal Winchester from Trinidad and Tobago and Kobla Mentor from Guyana. The backbone of the musicians in the Reggae Powerhouse Band is drummer Joslyn McKenzie aka Speckles, drummer for Sanchez, who has played for many artists including Luciano and Culture. The musicians of the Reggae Powerhouse Band change up from time to time, showcasing talents during recording but there is a set lineup for performances. Each of the lead vocalists has his own song on each track but they all know each other’s songs so no show would ever have to be canceled due to illness. In theory, the Reggae Powerhouse Band could be playing in three different countries at the same time. As they are a relatively new band they have only performed at a few shows so far. They were invited by Tuff Gong to play at the Bob Marley Earthstrong Show at the Bob Marley Museum and in turn, invited double platinum South African artist Don Dada to perform with them. Don Dada’s single “Jah Is Good” was produced by Leroy Scarlet. Since then they have also performed in 2 shows in the Jamaica Live Concert series. 


  The debut album “Reggae Powerhouse Band and Friends” which contains collaborations with Richie Spice, Black Uhuru, Gregory Isaacs and, Don Dada, Luciano and Sizzla, has ended up with 20 tracks, so is being released in two volumes, the first going out in early 2020, distributed by Tuff Gong. Some of the tracks have been released as singles but there are still some epic tracks that haven’t been heard. Life has turned full circle for Leroy Scarlett as he has 5 songs on the album himself and he also joins the band sometimes on stage. “Tribute To The Legends Past and Present” is another album being recorded at this time by the Reggae Powerhouse Band


  A six-city tour of the UK is pending for the band in 2020. 


  There is a saying “You can’t keep an old dog down”, well the “old dog”, Leroy Scarlet, is proving that to be true. Leroy Scarlet and the Reggae Powerhouse Band are names we will be hearing a lot about in the years to come. A little bird has also told me that a book of memories of his life in the music industry is also in the works for Leroy Scarlet. Having heard some of the stories, this could be very entertaining.



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For bookings: reggaepowerhouseband@hotmail.com


First published in Island Stage Magazine.


What brings together a tattooed hip-hop artist and a veteran reggae artist?



B4TheFall” is a collaboration between heavily tattooed hip-hop artist CARPETFACE and veteran reggae artist JIMI LYONS. It is the first single released from an upcoming album by the duo. Like myself, you are probably wondering how this unlikely duo got together and if you know either of them it would seem even more unlikely. CARPETFACE is extremely outgoing and his brain seems to be on overdrive with ideas both in music and community activism. Jimi, on the other hand, is a quiet, humble rastaman, who thoroughly meditates on everything he does before doing it. Let me give you a little background into how I came to know about this project.


As I once worked in radio and subsequently ended up on a mailing list, I am often sent unsolicited music. I don’t always have time to listen to it so it’s usually the reggae music that gets first priority. I don’t generally listen to hip-hop music, so the fact that I listened to a single by CARPETFACE must have been predestined. The single had been sent to me by an overenthusiastic team member who was helping with his marketing. It was the hip-hop/jazz

fusion track “Painstaking Arranger” from his 2nd solo album “Cognitive Diss”  I did what I usually do when I get sent music that I rate, I wrote back and said I liked it. To my surprise, I received an email the following day, from CARPETFACE, thanking me. We’ve since kept in touch so when he was ready to release “B4TheFall”, a duo with veteran reggae artist JIMI LYONS, he sent it to me. What follows is the story behind the project.




CARPETFACE, real name Adam Russell, was born in Wembley, UK. He has been a drummer since the age of 14yrs and since then has developed into an acclaimed hip-hop artist and producer. His first studio job at the age of 22, was remixing a track by Lee Scratch Perry for Mad Professor’s Ariwa label. CARPETFACE has released records steadily over the years and has been proclaimed as “One of the UK’s most talented underground artists” by Rough Trade records. He has released records on many different record labels and has formed his own label, New Bias Records. One of his songs, “Don’t Get It Twisted” was voted “Runner Up” for Best Single – 2nd place out of <1400 international releases in Wigwam Radio International Radio Awards in 2017. CARPETFACE has made many collaborations including with US rap legend Donald-D, UK dance heroes The Stereo MC’s, and Young Einstein. He has performed on stage supporting the likes of Ice-T, De La Soul, Lords of the Underground, The Pharcyde and many more established hip-hop artists. DJ Format described him as “Wembley’s answer to The Beastie Boys.”

CARPETFACE has always been an activist, using his hip-hop platform to speak out (or shout) about many injustices not only in the UK but around the world. In 2003 he was asked to participate as a hip-hop artist in a “last chance” workshop for young offenders. As CARPETFACE himself had been a bully and a “bad boy ” in his school days, he could relate to the kids, so he agreed. After this, he was contacted by organizers of workshops every now and again to participate. As these were paid workshops this became another source of income, rather like a performance gig.

After the birth of his son, CARPETFACE settled down and realized that with his connection to children, combined with his activism, he could educate future generations by combining song and public health information, although in his words he could be “a little preachy” at times.

He was approached by Beats House Records in France to write a song and he agreed as long as his portion of any money generated went to charity. The song was called “ 1-2-3-4-5 Wake Up”, a song about welcoming refugees. The song and the subsequent tour was a fundraiser for the Refugee Community Kitchen. The 15-day tour of Europe, from Cornwall to the French Alps and back raised £2.2k in cash donations and filled a truck with food and blankets donated along the way. Although this was very successful, CARPETFACE realized it was just a drop in the ocean, a short-term solution to an ongoing problem and that something sustainable was needed. He also decided that as an artist, just donating the money he made was not the most cost-effective way of doing charity work. His next step was to take a course to learn how to set up and run a non-profit organization. he then turned his record company NEWBIAS Records into a non-profit Community Interest Company NEWBIAS CIC, which acts as lead SW UK partner for London-based urban regeneration org “Respace Projects” – winners of 2019’s Sustainable Cities Award for Innovation


Because of his rapport with youth, CARPETFACE was often asked by people he knew to try and reach their troubled kids using his musical talents. It soon became obvious that to continue this he needed a space to do so. He was donated empty office space but this was not ideal, a Youth Club type of setting would have been better. Unfortunately, the government has stopped funding for Youth Club programs, which has been suggested is one of the reasons for the massive acceleration of gang activity and knife crime in the inner-city areas. Having recently been donated a caravan (mobile home) CARPETFACE and a team of like-minded activist friends “up-cycled” memory foam and carpet and created a “pop-up” Youth Service Unit with A.V production suite, live room and an overnight emergency respite facility for young beneficiaries.

CARPETFACE then set up a new division of NEWBIAS CIC using the name of his workshops, “HEADSKILLZ

 Headskillz Centres was born in 2018. Using donated caravans, donated unused land, materials that would normally end up in landfills and donated time and skills by tradesmen in the communities, HEADSKILLZ is now creating pop-up Youth Clubs with a pilot unit serving North Cornwall in SW UK – and also developing an “Open Soundcheck” workshop installation tour for young people, before the doors open, at applicable music venues wherever he’s booked to perform in 2020




JIMI LYONS was born in London to a Jamaican father and a Guyanese mother, both part of the Windrush Generation. His maternal grandfather was a Warrant Officer in the Guyanese Volunteer Force and performed with the band. The band was invited to the UK to perform at the Coronation of Queen Elizabeth 2nd in 1952 and Jimi’s grandfather stayed and became a citizen. He then brought his family over and that was how Jimi’s mother came to the UK. Jimi had music in his blood which became obvious later. His mother made sure all the children had music lessons and JIMI learned piano. 

At the age of 10, JIMI had a paper route to earn a little money of his own. On Saturdays, he would follow his dad into town and while his dad was in the pub he would go to the record shop and hang out listening to music and buying records with that money. He can remember the counter being higher than he was. He would buy records by Big Youth, I Roy, U Roy, and Dennis Walks among others. As an adult, he has been privileged to spend time with these heroes from his childhood.

When JIMI was 12 his mother left his father and returned to Guyana. Jimi took his record collection with him and he became popular with the older people as he introduced them to reggae music. His uncle made him aware of Bob Marley’s music and he was hooked. He started playing bass guitar in his school band and was also the main vocalist. A teacher from a neighboring school took him around to local venues and backed him while he sang and played. He sang a lot of Bob Marley songs which weren’t played in Guyana at the time as it was considered incendiary.

By the time JIMI was 15 he became a much more serious student. He was having a hard time dealing with his parent’s divorce and the return to poverty in Guyana, so he was determined to get out of that situation. He graduated when he was 16 and took a position as a bank clerk. In his spare time, JIMI read a lot and further educated himself. When he was 17 JIMI’s mother returned to the UK, taking her children with her. This allowed him to continue his education so he enrolled in the City Literary Institute where he became certified in all aspects of music and learned to play piano and guitar to a higher level. In his spare time, JIMI would frequent the places where the musicians hung out. Through a family member, he met Ross Andrews of Basement Studios where he recorded his first record “Firing Line”, an original song, which had a cover of Bob Marley’s “Wisdom” on the B side. After that, he met Wally Frazer, a record producer/benefactor who introduced him to the big names of that time, Dennis Brown, Alton Ellis, Junior Delgado, John Holt to name a few. He traveled to Jamaica and recorded several singles produced by Junior Delgado and engineered by Tappa Zukie but at that time Jamaica didn’t really support artists who were not born in Jamaica and his style of reggae didn’t fit into what was popular in the UK, having a heavy Soul influence, so his singles didn’t really take off. One big influence in JIMI’s life was Danny Simms, the music business entrepreneur who recorded Bob Marley and The Wailers in their early days. Danny became his mentor, guiding him along the way. Dancehall music became very popular in the ’90s but JIMI didn’t want to go in that direction, so although he didn’t stop writing, he put his music career to the background.

JIMI has been constantly involved in music in various capacities over the years and is very well respected in the reggae industry for all he has done to help others. Despite all his connections, he hasn’t pushed the catalog of music he has built up over the years. JIMI LYONS is getting older now and has realized it’s time to build a legacy with his own music.




Every year JIMI LYONS curates the Rasta Village at the One Love Festival, the UK’s premier reggae festival. CARPETFACE and JIMI have a mutual friend who had been trying to link them for a couple of years so Jimi invited him to the festival and he turned up with five friends including CARPETFACE and his young son. JIMI gave CARPETFACE the opportunity to perform on the showcase stage. During the first day of the festival, CARPETFACE ’s son developed a severe toothache that the first aid people couldn’t handle but the nearest hospital was many miles away, so JIMI offered to take them. It was during the trip to the hospital and back that they talked and built a strong connection. JIMI discovered that CARPETFACE was born on the same date that his daughter passed away, which was also that Saturday of the festival. It brought a closeness to him on a very difficult day. After the festival, they agreed to meet up again. 

CARPETFACE was in London with another hip-hop artist soon after so they called in on him. They were surprised to see the studio in JIMI’s house and they got to work making music. CARPETFACE was due to go to Europe to perform with this artist but was let down so he and JIMI continued working. Enter the duo.


CARPETFACE and JIMI LYONS have created enough material for an album of which “B4The Fall” is the first single to be released. 

** “ ”B4TheFall” is a direct reflection of this uncertain time of desperate societal decline, public outrage at widespread corruption and fear of imminent environmental catastrophe. “B4TheFall” tells the story of how we got into the mess we’re in, taking the listener on the emotive journey from the birth of humankind, through our subsequent corruption, greed and separation from nature, to the present-day injustice, hypocrisy and inequality built into our current social systems, with the final anthemic chorus-hook filled with the hope of survival, redemption and prosperity for future generations.”**

The independent record and the subsequent video were entirely produced at Headskillz Southwest, an off-grid studio and youth support center and community hub based in SW UK, a project previously mentioned. 

2019 has seen this unlikely duo of CARPETFACE and JIMI LYONS craft a bank of conscious and uplifting cross-over material, enough to become an album. The album will contain tracks appealing to all ages and multi-genre music lovers, bringing back the classic male duo with a twist.


**“100% of profits generated from all digital and merchandise sales of this record will go towards funding our latest youth-support project “Headskillz UK” delivering a wide range of support initiatives stemming from engagement in creative practice to disadvantaged young people in urban and hard-to-reach areas across the UK over 2020”**


** Quotes from the “B4TheFall” press release.


First published in Island Stage Magazine.


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