Closing off our opening night in his first-ever (and long awaited) ROTR appearance, Protoje is at the forefront of the exciting resurgence of conscious music in Jamaica, known as the “Reggae Revival.” Leading the band The Indiggnation, the philosophical thinker and powerful songwriter reports for duty, re-establishing the standard for the decaying art of socially responsible, mentally stimulating lyricism.
Noted reggae DJ/historian David Rodigan declared he was “particularly impressed” with Protoje’s debut album, The Seven Year Itch (2011), and reactions to his subsequent albums by top music charts, social media sites, and critics confirm Protoje is gaining momentum. Within a week of releasing The 8 Year Affair (2013), which reached Top 5 on the iTunes Reggae Albums charts in the U.S., U.K., France, Germany, Spain, and Switzerland, Protoje attained #4 on the Billboard-affiliated “Next Big Sound” chart. His latest album, Ancient Future (2015), reached #1 on the Billboard Top Reggae Albums chart just two weeks after being released. A signifier of his growing influence, Protoje was identified as one of BBC Radio 1Xtra’s “Hot for 2015” artists. He and The Indiggnation have toured extensively since 2010, on a mission to bring Roots Rock Reggae’s message of uplifting consciousness to the world.
Formed in 2006 by their father and bassist Courtney Panton Sr., New Kingston features brothers Tahir (keys), Courtney Jr. (drums), and Stephen (guitar), who blend reggae with R&B and hip-hop to create their New York-meets-Jamaica sound. They are truly a U.S. reggae band, with a focus on digital marketing, heavy national touring, and constantly evolving their musical stylings. As second generation Jamaican-Americans, they just as easily hold their own with the traditional reggae scene. New Kingston self-released two albums, In The Streets (2010) and Kingston University (2013), and released their third album, Kingston City (2015), under reggae label Easy Star Records, which hit #1 on the Billboard Top Reggae Albums chart. They have toured with artists such as Rebelution, The Green, SOJA, Matisyahu, and Collie Buddz, while also performing at notable festivals around the world- including this inaugural ROTR set.
A Humboldt homegrown favorite, Jah Sun’s following has reached beyond California to audiences worldwide. With a collection of international anthems and a commitment to conscious living, Jah Sun draws inspiration from an eclectic mix of musical styles. His debut album, Height of Light (2006), met much acclaim, and ranges from fierce hip-hop explosions to melodic ballads to rootsy sensual dancehall anthems.
Jah Sun’s breakout album, Battle the Dragon (2012), charted on radio stations internationally and earned various recognitions, including the 2012 International Album of the Year at the Positive Vibrations Reggae Awards. Since, he has released Rise As One (2013) and New Paradigm (2015), which was voted the #5 Album of 2015 by Reggaeville.com; and another album is slated to release this year. Jah Sun has worked with reggae superstars and toured the U.S., Europe, and beyond – attracting new fans with the positive vibes and message of hope that have become his trademark. We welcome Jah Sun home to the ROTR stage for what will surely be a memorable performance!
Born in the U.K. and hailing from Italy, Lion D combines several reggae styles, from sing-jaying to new roots to modern dancehall. His conscious lyrics address major topics, like social justice and spirituality, with a positive attitude. From writing songs in Jamaican patwa in his youth to later partaking in dancehall sound systems across Italy, he started releasing singles in 2007. His first album, The Burnin' Melody, was released in 2009, followed by Reap What You Sow (2011), Bring Back The Vibes (2013), and his latest album, Heartical Soul (2015), which was produced by Alborosie. His tours throughout Europe and the U.S. confirm the power of his music, quality of his live performances, and talent in the international reggae scene.
Raphael began his music career as a teenager in 2002 when he co-founded the Italian reggae band, the Eazy Skankers.
Raphael has since launched his solo career – delivering many singles, a solo EP titled My Name is Raphael (2012), his debut album, Mind VS Heart (2013), and his latest, Reggae Survival (2016) – which features Lion D and was released by Jah Sun and Don Sugar’s new label Sugar Cane Records. Hailing from Italy and working worldwide, Raphael continues to gain momentum and international renown.
Dubtonic Kru specializes in heavy basslines, one drops, psychedelic guitar riffs, echoing keyboards, popping percussion, and conscious lyrics. Their music has earned them several honors and awards, including Best New Band in the World at the Global Battle of the Bands World Finals in 2011. Their lyrics are thought-provoking, while their rhythm/dub section walks through the passage of time with a gritty sound. Over the years, they have backed some of the biggest names in reggae music. Their fourth and most recent album, Dub Conscious, was released in 2015, delivering more medicinal dub to audiences worldwide.
Newen Afrobeat formed in 2009 as Chile’s first Afrobeat orchestra – blending funk, jazz, African, and Latin American musical traditions. Focusing on oneness and equality, they aim to help create a spiritual revolution among the youth of Chile and around the globe. Their self-titled album was released in 2014 and they have played in Chile, Brazil, Nigeria, France, and beyond. Reggae on the River holds the honor of launching their first U.S. tour!
Performing this acoustic warm-up set to whet your palette for their main performance, see Friday’s schedule for a full bio on this exciting North African ensemble.
7th Generation Rise was started by Lakota/Yaqui artist and buffalo activist, Goodshield Aguilar in 2001. A self-described "Indigenous Soul" band, their style ranges from funk, reggae, rock, and soul- and for this special performance will include members of the all-Native reggae group, Into The Current. With Indigenous overtones and culturally conscious lyrics, their music focuses on the philosophies of one love and global unity.
Born in Montego Bay, Kemar Donaldson – aka KRANIUM – immigrated to Florida at age 12, where he spent time with his uncle/mentor, a former dancehall star known as Screwdriver, learning about breath control and making music. Upon relocating to Queens, N.Y., he gravitated to the reggae scene thriving amongst the large Caribbean population in New York City’s outer boroughs. He started to record around 2008, earning the name “KRANIUM” for his ability to record songs “straight off the head” with no pen or paper.
In 2013, he joined the Frequent Flyers label and management team, and recorded his breakout hit “Nobody Has To Know.” The tune’s irresistible melody and seductive lyrics have racked up 9 million+ plays on Soundcloud and over 12 million views on Youtube, and catapulted KRANIUM’s career from New York’s underground dancehall scene to performing on BET and, in late 2014, ultimately becoming one of the few reggae artists to sign to Atlantic Records. His first release from Atlantic was a remix of “Nobody Has To Know,” featuring his label mate, Ty Dolla $ign, and he has collaborated with other artists such as Sizzla, Shaggy, Justin Bieber, Chris Brown, and more. Far from a one-hit wonder, KRANIUM followed up his initial success with songs such as “Lifestyle” “History,” and released a special 12-track debut project titled Rumors in 2015. In a very short time, KRANIUM has established himself as one of the hottest international dancehall artists – and he’s just getting started.
Soul Syndicate, one of the top reggae session bands in Jamaica in the 1970s and ‘80s, hardly requires an introduction. In the ‘70s, they recorded for producers such as Keith Hudson, Winston Holness (under the pseudonym The Observers), Duke Reid, and others on some of the most popular and influential recordings of the time. Having worked with just about every top artist of the era, their ubiquity shaped reggae music, providing another dimension to the roots sound. In addition to backing so many revered songs and albums, Soul Syndicate has the additional distinction of being Peter Tosh's studio and touring band. Soul Syndicate has also released albums of their own over the years, including classics Harvest Uptown, Famine Downtown (1977) and Was, Is, & Always (1980), plus Friends and Family (1996), and their latest EP Legendary (2015).
Members of the band include world-renowned bassist and band founder George "Fully" Fullwood, who was also an original member of Peter Tosh's famous Word, Sound and Power ensemble; original member and rhythm guitarist Tony Chin who was prominent in creating the “flyers” rhythm guitar style popular in reggae; lead guitarist/ vocalist Vince Black, former Black Uhuru member and collaborator with Maxi Priest and numerous reggae stars; drummer Karl Wright; keyboardist Keith Sterling; and the Jah Connection Horns. Mixed by Mad Professor and accompanied by special guests Big Youth, U-Roy, Randy Valentine, Marty Dread, and Earl Zero, this once-in-a-lifetime collaboration is guaranteed to be a highlight of the festival.
Considered one of the best reggae producers of all time, Mad Professor earned his moniker from his experiments with electronics as a youth. In the early ‘80s, having built his own mixing desk, he launched his career along with his own home recording studio and label, Ariwa Sounds. Dub Me Crazy, the first in a 12-part series of albums released 1982-1993, became the label’s beacon, attracting many artists with Mad Professor’s dub style, cool sound, and clarity of his mixing.
By the late ‘90s, Ariwa Sounds had gained international notoriety and its record catalogue contained over 155 titles, including over 30 dub albums from Mad Professor, as well as artists such as Massive Attack, U-Roy, Lee “Scratch” Perry, Sandra Cross, John Mclean, Kofi, and more. The turn of the century saw new releases, and the Ariwa catalogue passed the 200 figure, bumped up by new albums from Macka B, Max Romeo, Randy Valentine, and young protégé Joe Ariwa. Throughout his career, Mad Professor has toured extensively, as fresh demand for the dub show has taken Ariwa Sounds to the far corners of the globe. The legendary sound engineer will be mixing sound for the entire Soul Syndicate reunion performance.
Big Youth ruled the dancehalls in the 1970s, and continues making his mark on its legacy. He began toasting and deejaying as a teenager in Kingston, initially performing at dances, and eventually becoming a regular with Lord Tippertone's sound system. His breakthrough songs “The Killer,” “Tippertone Rocking” and “S-90 Skank” – which became his first Jamaican #1 hit – put him in high demand. Big Youth’s debut album, Screaming Target, was released in 1973 and is still considered a classic of its genre. From there, Big Youth continued to release singles that charted, collaborated with many producers and artists – including Soul Syndicate – and launched two labels: Negusa Nagast and Augustus Buchanan. The ‘70s enjoyed his most well-known hits, including albums Dreadlocks Dread (1975), 1976’s self-produced Natty Cultural Dread and Hit the Road Jack, Reggae Phenomenon (1977), and, after signing with Virgin’s Frontline label, Isaiah First Prophet of Old (1978). Throughout the years, he has released over 20 albums and hundreds of singles. For the first time since 1992, we welcome him back to the ROTR stage- once again in the company of Soul Syndicate!
Jamaican vocalist and toasting pioneer, U-Roy is noted for his melodic style and approach to remixing previously recorded tracks with new vocals – greatly influencing early hip-hop. In the early 1960s, U-Roy started his professional career deejaying on sound systems for Dickie Wong, Sir George, Sir Coxsone Dodd, Sir Percy, and King Tubby. His first singles "Dynamic Fashion Way,” produced by Keith Hudson, and "Earth's Rightful Ruler" with Peter Tosh, produced by Bunny Lee, were released in 1969. But it wasn’t until the ‘70s that he became one of Jamaica’s most popular toasters, with releases of "Wake the Town" and "Wear You to the Ball" on Duke Reid's Treasure Isle label, and the release of albums Dread in a Babylon (1975), Natty Rebel (1976), Rasta Ambassador (1977), and Jah Son of Africa (1978). Throughout the years he has released over a dozen more albums – his most recent being Pray Fi Di People (2012). In recognition of his contribution to the music, U-Roy was awarded the Order of Distinction by the Jamaican government in 2007.
Hailing from the U.K., versatile singer, songwriter, and producer Randy Valentine emerged on the scene in 2005 as a club and online radio DJ. Working with J.O.A.T (Jack Of All Trades) and Hemp Higher Productions, Randy’s career has been growing since the release of his debut mixtape, Bring Back the Love, in 2012. His first EP, Break The Chain, was released in 2014, followed by Still Pushing in 2015, which was produced by Joe Ariwa on Mad Professor’s Ariwa label. Both EPs topped the iTunes Reggae Albums chart, confirming his status as a leading young reggae artist. His latest project is a 19-track mixtape titled Radio Music (2016), recorded over a series of classic hip-hop instrumentals.
When it comes to touring as a performer and breaking new ground, few in Hawaii's music scene can hold a candle to Maui's Marty Dread. Known as Hawaii's Reggae Ambassador, it has been 21 years since Marty Dread's first album, Versatile Roots, was released on his own label, Five Corners Music. His 18th studio album, A Wonderful Life, was released earlier this year. A longtime collaborator with George "Fully" Fullwood, Marty Dread joins Soul Syndicate in his long-awaited ROTR debut, bringing with him a little taste of Aloha.
Earl Zero began his career in Jamaica in the 1970s, during which time he released a number of hit songs and recorded with Soul Syndicate. Indeed, Soul Syndicate backed him on his first two classic albums, Only Jah Can Ease The Pressure (1979) and Visions of Love (1980). He later relocated to Northern California and remains a leading reggae artist in the region. In 2014, Earl received several legend awards at San Diego’s Tribute To The Reggae Legends festival. He continues to tour internationally and release music, including his most recent works Roots & Romance (2001), Marketplace (2011), and And God Said to Man (2014).
Janine “Jah9” Cunningham is part of the “Roots Revival” movement being forwarded by her brethren Chronixx, Kabaka Pyramid, and Protoje. Her signature style of singing over a blend of classic jazz melodies and reggae riddims with overtones of dub was created at her underground poetry shows in Kingston, Jamaica. Growing up in a conscious family, this choir-singing, introspective daughter of a preacher and a social worker experienced a spiritual, afrocentric and artistic awakening while studying psychology at the University of the West Indies. Like many of the Jamaican new wave, she came up through live music and performance poetry rather than chanting on a sound.
Linking up with producers such as Rory “Stone Love” and Don Corleon to produce powerful roots anthems, Jah9 has the cool style of Billie Holiday and confidence of Sizzla Kalonji. A yoga teacher and community activist, Jah9 captures audiences with her lyrical prowess by delivering hard hitting, imaginative messages promoting social justice, gender equality, healthy living, and matters of the heart. Her bold 2013 debut album, New Name, added new fuel to the reggae fire and among much acclaim, was voted Album of the Year by AchisReggae.com. Her highly anticipated sophomore album titled 9 – homage to the number nine as the symbol of creation and womb of the universe, also represented in her stage name – will be released this year. Her dub-filled live performances elevate consciousness and invoke a spiritual reawakening. This year, Jah9 returns to our stage in the company of her JA-based band, The Dub Treatment.
Gappy Ranks is a British dancehall musician of Jamaican and Dominican descent, and was raised in Harlesden, northwest London. He faced numerous obstacles after leaving school, including homelessness, which forced his music aside, but he found salvation in the music upon joining the U.K. dancehall collective Suncycle with childhood friend and fellow artist Redman UK. Ranks began his solo career in 2004, releasing singles like “Little Understanding" (2005), for which he won Best Song in London's Silk Awards; and contributing to the hit single "What We Do" by Kray Twinz featuring Twista and Lethal B. After signing with Greensleeves Records in 2009, he released his first studio album, Put The Stereo On (2010), which was well received worldwide as a sort of time capsule, reminiscent of 1960s’ reggae. He was even nominated that year for Best Reggae Act at the 2010 MOBO Awards. His subsequent albums, Thanks & Praise (2011) and Shining Hope (2013), were released on his own Hot Coffee Music label, and his fourth album, Guide Me, has just been released this year.
Ranks has toured throughout Europe, North and South America, the West Indies, and Australasia- furthering the global legacy of U.K. sound system artists like Macka B, Smiley Culture, Pato Banton, and Tippa Irie. And now, for the first time, Gappy Ranks will bring his creative musical stylings to the ROTR stage, backed by California’s own 7th Street Band.
Democratoz represents the new generation of revolutionary music emerging from North Africa’s Algeria, which lifted its 19-year State of Emergency in 2011 and has since experienced a period of musical experimentation. The band mashes up local gnawa and diwan music and instruments with rock guitar and reggae’s thrumming pulse. This mixing comes naturally to Democratoz, who hail from the city of Oran, the cradle of the region’s best-known sound, rai – a mix of Berber, Arabic, Andalusian, and French influences, with the heady punch of reggae.
Within a song, the rhythm at reggae’s core often eases into an Algerian pulse, only to leap back into bouncing bass and bursts of funky keys. The colloquial Arabic lyrics hook into reggae’s other revolutionary side with messages of resistance, pride, and dissent. Democratoz is passionate about addressing the ongoing political and societal struggles faced by their generation. They debut in the U.S. this year as part of Center Stage, an exchange program of the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs.
Meleku, son of headliner Sizzla Kalonji, is fresh on the international reggae scene. His musical influences include his father, as well as Garnet Silk, Chronixx, Buju Banton, and Jesse Royal. 2015 saw the release of his first two singles “Right Place” and “African Child,” both produced by Big 12 Productions. Welcoming Meleku and his band to the ROTR stage, we can’t wait to hear more from this talented young artist!
The Dubba Dubs are a seven-member original roots reggae band based out of California’s Emerald Triangle. Striving to bring a new sound and style while keeping the roots alive, every musical groove is sown with intention. They’ve performed at the Humboldt Harvest Gala, the Trinity Jamboree, and have opened for Thrive, The Expanders, and Fortunate Youth in their hometown of Arcata, CA. Their debut album, Seed, was released in late 2015, and they are quickly establishing themselves one of the top reggae bands in Humboldt.
Sizzla Kalonji emerged onto the scene in the late ‘90s to lead dancehall back to the musical and spiritual influence of roots reggae with heavily Rastafarian subject matter. Groomed by Homer Harris at a young age, he learned the skills and techniques to be an excellent artist. Harris nicknamed him “Sizzla” from how he drank his sizzling soup like cold water, which also reflected his lyrical style and delivery.
He had the opportunity to perform with the Caveman Hi-Fi sound system, tour with Luciano, and cut his first single for the small Zagalou label in 1995, but didn't manage a breakout success until meeting producer Philip "Fatis" Burrell. A run of successful singles led to the release of Sizzla's debut album, Burning Up (1995), followed by Praise Ye Jah (1997). His major breakthrough, though, came with the release of Black Woman and Child (1997), which earned him universal praise, including his first nomination for Best International Reggae Artist of the Year at the 1998 MOBO Awards. A versatile singjay-style vocalist with a gruff, gravelly tone, Sizzla is capable of both rapid-fire chanting and powerful melodic singing, with backing riddims that are the strongest in contemporary dancehall.
Sizzla has released over 60 albums and over 1000 EPs and singles crossing different genres of reggae. Highlights include Da Real Thing (2002), Overstanding (2006), Ghetto Youth Ology (2009), Crucial Times (2010), The Scriptures (2011), and The Messiah (2013). Of note, much of his music has been released under his own record label, Kalonji Records, which launched in 2002. Sizzla has 28 records that reached the Billboard Top Reggae Albums charts and placed on numerous Top 10 and Top 100 Album of the Year lists. He has received awards from the International Reggae and World Music Awards, Vibe Magazine, Rolling Stone, People Choice Awards, Reggae Academy Awards, among others, and has been nominated for several Grammys. He remains somewhat of an enigma to the public at large, rarely granting interviews and concert appearances. Reggae on the River is honored and thrilled to host Sizzla’s first U.S. appearance in years!
Despite the obstacles of his albinism, growing up in a Kingston orphanage, skin and jaw cancer, and an ensuing invasive surgery, King Yellowman has still reached the top in his career and is certainly unlike any other. Originally making a name for himself by winning a talent contest at Tastee Patties in Kingston, Yellowman became remarkably popular and went on to excite reggae crowds all over Jamaica and the rest of the world with his boastful, and sometimes audacious, lyrics.
His first album, Mister Yellowman, was released was 1982, followed by Zungguzungguguzungguzeng (1983), earning instant success. Since then, he has worked with a number of different producers and labels, sometimes releasing as many as five albums per year.
Some of his most popular albums include Nobody Move, Nobody Get Hurt (1984), King Yellowman (1984), Yellow Like Cheese (1987), Blueberry Hill (1994), and Reggae Anthology: Look How Me Sexy (2001). He was the first dancehall artist to earn a Grammy nomination, and his discography boasts over 50 albums and hundreds of singles and collaborations.
The rudest dancehall toaster of the 1980s, Yellowman greatly influenced the “slackness” of dancehall lyrics and is also widely credited for paving the way for hip-hop in reggae dancehall music. Continuing to release music, his witticisms are as cheeky, spirited, and intelligent as ever, and delivered with his customary sharp, melodic style. Backed by the Sagittarius Band and astonishing with his limitless energy on stage – no doubt the result of his daily fitness regimen – King Yellowman’s performance is a must-see.
Million Stylez was born as Kenshin Iryo in Stockholm, Sweden to a French mother and Japanese father. Living in an immigrant-dense neighborhood allowed him to have friends from around the world, contributing to his respect for, and connection to, all people. He started experimenting with hip-hop at nine years old, and by the age of 18, had moved on to singing and deejaying. In 2005, Million Stylez’s music career came on the radar when he competed in Big Break, an annual talent competition for upcoming artists in Jamaica, where he placed fourth out of thousands of applicants – the first non-Jamaican to ever participate in the competition. His breakthrough smash hit "Miss Fatty” was released in 2006 by German-distributed Soundquake, which was their #1 selling song for a long time. It has also been the #1 track/video on Trace TV/radio, played by DJs all over the world, and has over 23 million views on YouTube.
Million Stylez went on to release his debut album, From A Far, in 2007 with KBC music, incorporating everything from roots, dancehall, and hip-hop, to some R&B-influenced songs. Many tracks contain conscious lyrics about gratitude to God, life struggles, celebration, love and hate, war and peace, and other issues. He created his own label, Adonai Music, and released Everyday (2010), featuring well-revered artists such as Gentleman and Don Carlos, and Revelation Time (2015), including guests like Lutan Fyah, Petah Morgan, Bounty Killer, and Mr.Williamz. Million Stylez has worked with huge stars over the years, performed in every continent, and has sealed his place in reggae as a world-class, globe-trotting artist.
Ziggi Recado grew up in the Caribbean island of St. Eustatius and moved to the Netherlands to study in 1999. In 2006, he stormed the reggae music industry with his debut album So Much Reasons, which received awards in the Netherlands for Best Album, Best Live Act, and Best Artist. In 2008, Ziggi became the first European-based (Dutch) artist to release on VP Records with his sophomore album In Transit, which produced two international hits, “Need To Tell You This” and “Gonna Leave You.” In the time since, he has dropped two more full-length albums, Ziggi Recado (2011) and Therapeutic (2014), and three EPs, Same Difference (2010), Liberation (2012), and Liberation 2.0 (2012), as well as a long list of singles for some of reggae music’s biggest producers and artists. Some of his greatest hits have come from his ability to work with different producers and touch on so many styles of reggae music, helping him mount a loyal worldwide fan base and build his reputation as a must-see live performer.
Fatoumata Diawara presents a joyous mix of the vibrant and understated, combining songs about love, politics, and empowerment. Inspired by Wassoulou tradition, jazz, and blues, Diawara has created her own unique contemporary folk sound, with a distinctly African spin on the concept of a female songwriter. Born in Côte d’Ivoire, raised in Mali, and now based in Paris, Diawara’s life covers a whole gamut of contemporary African experiences: fighting parental opposition to her artistic ambitions and the cultural prejudice faced by women throughout Africa, earning success as an actress in African and French film and theater, touring the world as both a dancer and singer, and finally dedicating herself to music.
She has collaborated with Damon Albarn, Toumani Diabaté, Herbie Hancock, and Led Zeppelin’s John Paul Jones, among others, and her presence has lit up shows in Europe by Africa Express, AfroCubism, and Hancock’s “Imagine” project. Her debut album, Fatou (2011), became the #1 album in the world music charts in 2011, where it remained for six months. It was also awarded #1 acclaim in several end-of-year album polls, including The Times and MOJO magazine. It breathes with the natural warmth, confidence, and spontaneity that are the essence of Diawara herself- and her live performance is high-energy and exhilarating.
Out of Aotearoa, New Zealand, House of Shem is a harmony trio comprised of Carl Perkins and his two sons, Te Omeka and Isaiah Perkins, who are each multi-instrumentalists and producers. Formed in 2005 in the rural area of Whanganui, the band embodies elements of roots reggae, pacific reggae, and traditional Maori music. Relatable songwriting connects powerfully with not only New Zealand and Australian audiences, but reggae listeners globally – attracting loyal fans from all areas of the world.
After bursting onto the music scene with their debut album Keep Rising (2008), House of Shem worked with Grammy award-winning engineers Errol Brown (Bob Marley, Burning Spear) and James Caruso (Damian Marley, Nas, Stephen Marley) to release Island Vibration (2011) and Harmony (2013). They were the first reggae band in Aotearoa to debut at #1 on the music charts the day their album, Island Vibration, was released. House of Shem seduces audiences with their natural familial bond, harmonies, conscious lyrics, and blend of traditional and contemporary reggae styles. They are currently working on a new EP, album, and several singles to be released in 2016, to the delight of their ever-growing fan base.
No-Maddz is an emerging band from Jamaica with a unique sound of dub poetry, soul, and pop fusion, while maintaining the spirit of JA roots reggae. An eclectic brotherhood of talented musicians, actors, dub poets, and entrepreneurs, they write, produce, and perform their own music. The band comprises of members Everaldo Creary, Christopher Downer, Christopher Gordon, O'neil Peart, and Sheldon Shepherd – all recipients of the prestigious Jamaica Prime Minister Youth Award for Excellence in the field of Arts and Culture, the highest state award for youth in Jamaica. Their hit single “Rise Above Profanity,” which was featured on the PUMA FAAS global campaign alongside top world athlete Usain Bolt, remains the band’s best seller. They have toured several countries in Europe, Asia, and North and South America, including appearances at major festivals. The band's latest album, Sly and Robbie Presents No-Maddz (2015), is a collaboration with the multi-Grammy winners Sly and Robbie, and is testament to the potency of their craft.
Miami-based Locos Por Juana is a Grammy and Latin Grammy-nominated bilingual jam band, most notably recognized for their energetic live performance and unique fusion of Latin, Caribbean, and American rhythms. The band consists of vocalist Itawe Correa, guitarist Mark Kondrat, and drummer Javier Delgado, and are joined by trombonist Lasim Richards and percussionist Carlos Palmet. Locos Por Juana’s sound is a distinct one – incorporating the beloved sounds of their heritage like cumbia, champeta, and Afro-Colombian rhythms, and fusing those sounds with musical influences from Miami and the Caribbean islands including reggae, raggamuffin, and dub, along with hip-hop, rock, and funk into what Kondrat coined "that island swing." They have just released their sixth studio album, Caribe, and promise an exciting performance in this ROTR debut.
A San Francisco favorite, Bayonics has been rocking the Bay Area scene with a unique blend of latin, reggae, hip-hop, and funk music for over a decade. The 11-piece band is led by the powerful vocal stylings of Jairo Vargas, and never fails to deliver fresh new music and move the crowd with consistent passion and energy. Their self-titled debut album was released in 2007, followed by Mission Statement (2011) and City Roots (2013), which features a distinct reggae flair. Bayonics has played to packed houses around the world and shared the stage with J-Boog, Common, Katchafire, Ozomatli, Mos Def, and others.
Draped in the colors of African cloth, trademark staff in hand, and dreadlocks wrapped upon his head, Anthony B has been steadfast in his mission to represent the poor and oppressed, using sharp lyrics to confront political injustices and bring forward the issues of the people. Born in 1976 in Trelawny, Jamaica, his religious upbringing imbued him with a strong sense of spirituality, although his family wasn’t pleased when he adopted Rastafari beliefs as a teenager. During his youth, his favorite singers were reggae legends Bob Marley and Peter Tosh, both of whom strongly influenced his style.
In 1992, Anthony B left home to make his mark on Kingston's music scene. Despite the trend of girl and gun lyrics at the time, Anthony B remained faithful to words of spiritual consciousness and social conviction. He started working with singer Little Devon, and was introduced to Richard "Bell" Bello of Star Trail Records, who saw Anthony B’s talent and shared his commitment to conscious music. The partnership produced a slew of releases, such as "Repentance Time," "Fire Pon Rome," "Rumour," and "Raid di Barn." Anthony B's debut album, Many Things (1996) met high acclaim in the reggae community. Since then, Anthony B has single-handedly raised performance standards and lyrical content in the industry through over 1,000 singles, nearly 20 albums, and appearances on over 100 others. He also started his own label, Born Fire Records, in 2002. His latest album, Tears of Luv (2015), further reinforces his position among the reggae elite.
Anthony B has sold out shows worldwide and opened up new regions of the world to reggae music. He embodies all that it is spiritual and proactive about reggae music, and continually proves himself to be one of reggae's most prolific and engaging artists, whose music grips the public social conscience. One of ROTR’s all-time favorite performers, we couldn’t be more excited to close out Reggae 2016 than with this performance by Anthony B!
Out of Kinshasa, capital of the Democratic Republic of Congo and Africa’s 3rd largest city, Mbongwana Star rose from the ashes of Staff Benda Bilili, a band that had hit it big and collapsed under its own success. Coco Ngambali and Theo Nzonza gathered up musicians from the younger generation under the new name – “mbongwana” meaning “change” – and sought a new musical direction beyond their love of Congolese rumba, while still maintaining the creative genius of their home city.
That's when they met Liam Farrell, aka Doctor L, a maverick musician and producer on the Parisian hip-hop and electro scenes, who was looking to find the punk ethic in Kinshasa's raucous swelter-skelter. What emerged from their collaboration was an unclassifiable collision of traditional Congolese rhythms with a big fistful of European post-punk bass and busted electronics. Named one of the best albums of 2015 by SPIN, NPR Music, Rolling Stone, and the New York Times, their debut album, From Kinshasa (2015), has met critical acclaim, as has their single from the album, “Malukayi (feat. Konono No.1).” Not what you would expect from a Congolese band or even an African sound, Mbongwana Star is a trans-global barrier-breaking sound machine. The debut in the U.S. at the 2016 Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival and then return to CA for this highly-anticipated ROTR performance.
Jesse Royal, affectionately called “the small axe,” is one of the voices at the forefront of the modern reggae roots movement, using his music to motivate communities around the world and spur social activism in the tradition of Rastafari. He grew up in Jamaica, and – as fate would have it – developed a special relationship with Daniel “Bambaata” Marley (son of Ziggy Marley) at school. The Marleys were big influences on Royal’s life musically, spiritually, and livitywise. Royal and Daniel’s friendship and devotion to music evolved throughout childhood, and together they began a predestined musical journey designed to inspire, engage, and unite people beyond all geographic borders.
Blessed with a voice that captures the pain and hunger of a downtrodden people, Royal’s militant character and profound lyricism caught the heart of heralded reggae producer, Philip “Fatis” Burrell, who Royal credits as an invaluable inspiration and one of the most influential individuals he has ever encountered. Royal has released two well-received mixtapes, Misheni (2012) and In Comes The Small Axe (2013), as well as singles such as “Greedy Babylon” (2013), “Modern Day Judas” (2014), “Gimmie Likkle” (2015), and “Next to You” (2016) – to name just a few. His debut album, Hope & Love, was released in 2015.
Keznamdi credits his diverse and well-traveled background for his unique blend of music – drawing influences from reggae, dancehall, bongo flava, R&B, and rap. Keznamdi’s debut EP, Bridging The Gap (2013), charted in Billboard’s Top 10 Reggae Albums and claimed the #5 spot on the iTunes Reggae Albums chart. His following single, “Grade” (2013), produced by internationally-renowned Don Corleone, has become a ganja-lover’s anthem.
2015 was a breakout year for Keznamdi, including a Major Lazer collaboration on the Walshy Fire-produced track “Live for Today” and performing alongside Chronixx on the Dread and Terrible U.S. West Coast Tour. Keznamdi was introduced to a whole new audience through his collaboration with Grammy-nominated producer/artist Zhu on “As Crazy As It Is” (2015), the second single from Zhu’s highly-anticipated Generation Series project. In addition to show-stealing performances at Best of the Best, UCLA Jazz and Reggae Festival, and Reggae Sumfest, Keznamdi also released singles including “10 Pound” and “Champion,” which peaked at #1 on the iTunes Reggae Singles chart. Kicking off the year with new hard-hitting single “Nuh Skylarking,” 2016 promises to be just as irie.
Sister Carol, also known as the "Black Cinderella" and "Mother Culture,” is a Grammy-nominated singer, DJ, songwriter, actress, entrepreneur, educator, and humanitarian. Her resilient spirit and energy spans over three decades in a male dominated industry – a true trailblazer for women in reggae. Her music carries a message drawn from her Rastafarian principles that is rich with cultural heritage and infused with social consciousness.
She has released twelve albums including Black Cinderella (1984), which established her in the reggae dancehall/DJ movement. Later records include Call Mi Sister Carol (1994); Lyrically Potent (1996), for which she earned her first Grammy nomination for Best Reggae Album; and her most recent work, Live No Evil (2014). Her music career has also included multiple world tours, television and movie appearances, Grammy nominations, and cultural awards for upholding Jamaican heritage, along with her own Black Cinderella record label, and a clothing line. Sister Carol has become one of reggae music’s top entertainers and a global icon who continues to tour the world and teach her message.
Mr.Williamz is something of a throwback to the foundation days of dancehall. He deejays in a cool yet serious style similar to Super Cat, and maintains a dapper dress sense in the gentleman rudeboy fashion. Born in London and raised in Jamaica, Mr.Williamz emerged onto the reggae scene in 2008 with his debut single "Babylon in Helicopter," which reached #1 on the U.S. singles charts. Honored by the BBC as the U.K. Artist of the Year (2008), he has since performed around the globe and been featured on numerous albums. His popular song singles include "No Cigarette" (featured on The Biggest Reggae Anthems 2009 Greensleeves CD), “Ganja Palace,” and “Miss Brown,” as well as his full 15-track LP, Set the Standard (2014) and newest single “Raggamuffin DJ.”
Addis Pablo, son of melodica/dub legend Augustus Pablo, carries on the torch from his father – playing the melodica and keyboards in both the roots rock reggae style and a modern, new age sound. In 2010, Addis and his business partner Jamal Ras Jammy Layne formed the Suns of Dub, a multifaceted label, performing act, and production company. He has performed worldwide as a solo artist, an opening act, and a duo with Ras Jammy reminiscent of his father’s Rockers International sound system style. In addition to EPs and singles released both solo and with Suns of Dub, Addis released his debut solo full-length album, In My Fathers House, in 2014. The album received great reviews, helping to solidify his presence on the reggae scene. Addis aims to play the melodica and produce music as expertly as his father, and through these efforts and his belief in the teachings of His Imperial Majesty Haile Selassie I, he continues his family’s legacy.
Local legends- and the closest thing ROTR ever had to a “house band”- Rod Deal and The I-Deals gave voice to political and environmental issues facing Humboldt County that are still relevant today. Their message has reached far and wide to other communities dealing with similar conflicts, and many people find solace in their conscious lyrics and music. Rod Deal and I-Deals guitarist Ty Anderson have both since passed, but are remembered for their contributions to the local community. As tribute, The I-Deals reunite to take the stage, featuring original members Doug Cox on bass, Randy Clark on drums, Jimmy Durchslag on trombone and vocals, Kathryn Lobato on keyboards and vocals, and Peggy Andrews on saxophone, as well as Charles Lewis on vocals, Brody Forester on guitar and vocals, Brian Sykes on guitar and vocals and Orlando Morales on percussion. Playing classics from the Rod Deal songbook, we can think of no finer way to kick off the final day of ROTR 2016!
Special Guest Star
Makeida Beckford, better known as "Keida," emerged on the dancehall/reggae scene in 2009 with her debut single “Jamaican Boy,” which became an instant radio hit in Jamaica and abroad. In 2011, she was nominated for the Excellence in Music and Entertainment Awards’
Best New Female Artist, and won both Best New Female Artist and Best Singjay at The Jamaica Star People's Choice Awards. In addition to many singles such as “Bubble Up,” Dancefloor," and “All Again,” which she collaborated on with Protoje, she released her first mixtape titled Wickedest Ting in 2012, followed by her EP, Ebb and Flow, in 2015.
Andre Ellis, a.k.a Nature, is a free-spirited songwriter from St. James, JA. Since launching his career in 2002, he has recorded with Big Ship, King Jammy's, Truckback Records, and Ricardo Gardener's Heart of Love label. While keeping in the tradition of classic crooners, Nature brings a fresh voice to reggae’s new generation. His album, Life’s Journey (2015), features the hit single “Love You,” which has now been released by popular U.S.-based label Ultra Music and their Sony Records affiliate – poising him to thrive in 2016.
As a youth, Prince Levy attended both the Westmoreland Community Music School and the Edna Manley College of Visual and Performing Arts, where he took home several gold medals in the Jamaica Cultural Development Commission's Performing Arts Competition (1999-2001). He started his career in earnest in 2011, teaming up with producer Jay Edge to create an eclectic fusion of dancehall, reggae, and R&B. Several of his singles have generated buzz on the global reggae charts and an EP is due later this year.
Out of Portmore, JA, Fyakin is an upcoming conscious reggae artist whose music is soulful, uplifting, and delivered with an element of “refined rawness.” He emerged on the reggae scene in 2005 with his debut single “They Don’t Know,” and his acclaimed full-length album, Child of the Nile, was released in 2015. Currently, Fyakin is broadening the scope of his musical reach into America and Europe, perfecting his skills as a producer and musician, and continuing to write songs that have a powerful and lasting effect.
Maintaining a youthful exuberance onstage and off over his 30+ year career, Rocker-T has been a huge influence on every music scene he has been involved in. He’s credited with paving the way for artists like Matisyahu and Alborosie, and hails from a time when American born artists were not performing Hip Hop, Roots or Dancehall in a West Indian Patois. Living a spiritual and holistic lifestyle, with a grand love of life and music, Rocker-T is a pulsating force with much to share with the world.