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Old January 1st, 2021, 11:35 AM
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Default Are Jamaica’s Biggest Stars Leaving Reggae Behind?

Patricia Meschino
Thu, December 31, 2020, 4:47 AM EST

Jamaica’s first reggae radio station, IRIE FM, debuted on the island’s airwaves in August 1990. In Jamaican Rastafarian parlance, “irie” means good, cool, nice, and the station utilized a simple jingle to announce its content: “Reggae in the morning, reggae in the evening, reggae at nighttime on IRIE FM.” Thirty years on, IRIE still plays the original jingle. But it’s no longer quite true.

Some of the biggest stars featured on IRIE FM are playing a hybrid style that would’ve been unrecognizable as reggae when the station began. To many fans, it’s unrecognizable now. The new sound of Jamaica owes as much to trap, EDM, Afrobeat, and contemporary R&B as it does to dancehall or the original roots of reggae. It’s a style that doesn’t have a name yet, at least not one that’s stuck (although it’s sometimes referred to as trap dancehall) and you can hear it all over Jamaica.

“Reggae and dancehall continue to influence and contribute to the birth of various genres, as we’ve seen with hip hop, reggaeton and tropical house; now we are experiencing the birth of trap dancehall. Listeners to IRIE hear reggae and dancehall but also their offspring in a bid to further propel the art forms,” comments Kshema Francis of IRIE FM.

Three marquee names—Tarrus Riley, Protoje, and Dre Island—released outstanding albums this year that embody this evolutionary sound. All have incorporated influences and teachings from their Rastafari way of life, yet numerous tracks on their new albums bear little resemblance to the reggae of a generation ago. “I love the authentic reggae and dancehall sounds, but there are mixtures of other influences within those sounds,” Tarrus Riley, whose album Healing dropped on Aug. 28, told The Daily Beast in a recent Zoom interview.

Tarrus, 41, is an unlikely poster child for this new movement. He ascended to reggae stardom in 2006 with “She’s Royal,” a beautiful roots tribute to women and one of the decade’s most popular Jamaican singles. Tarrus’s breakthrough was part of the ‘00s mid-decade resurgence in roots reggae. Another roots movement appeared in Jamaica in the early 2010s, referred to as the Reggae Revival, which saw the emergence of several charismatic young talents including Chronixx, Jah9, Jesse Royal, and Kabaka Pyramid. Tarrus sees himself as the middle child in the reggae family.

“Buju [Banton] and Sizzla were before me in the 1990s and Chronixx is after me so, I understand the roots and I understand the youths,” he explains. “When I was young, me and my father (the late Jimmy Riley whose singing career began in Jamaica’s mid-’60s rocksteady era) never liked the same music. It’s a new decade now, new things are happening so while the people from before want to hold on to music that had its time, the youths want to give you something new.”

Tarrus’ impressive catalogue showcases his finely tuned expressive vocals, which are adaptable to a range of styles from soft rock (“Jah Will”) to traditional Rastafarian Nyabinghi drumming (“Lion Paw”) to energetic dancehall (“Good Girl Gone Bad”). Then there’s the EDM power ballad “Powerful,” a certified gold single produced by Major Lazer, featuring Tarrus and Ellie Goulding.

Jamaica went into its coronavirus lockdown in late March. Tarrus abruptly ended his touring, returned home, and began writing and recording the songs that would become Healing, produced by Tarrus with co-production by Shane Brown and legendary saxophonist Dean Fraser.

https://www.yahoo.com/news/jamaica-b...094701016.html
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