The New Music of Jamaica



Before analyzing the new music of Jamaica we reviewed the many genres that Jamaica has created. That amazing history includes Mento, Ska, Rock Steady, Reggae, Dub, and Dancehall. Reggae sub-genres Nyahbingi, lover’s rock, and rub-a-dub are also popular styles.

There was a peak in dancehall popularity in the early 2000s followed by a decline in quality reggae. At that time vinyl formats transitioned to the CD. Then CDs went out and digital downloads came in. As a result, DJs started using laptops to play music and consumers turned to personal electronics. This transitional period subsequently led to what we call the reggae revival.

Replay of THe new music of jamaica Reggae Lover podcast episode cover image
The New Music of Jamaica: Reggae Lover Podcast

The current global dancehall and reggae revival movements are creating genre-bending trends. Artists like Protoje, Chronixx, Kabaka Pyramid, Jesse Royal, Damian Marley, Lila Ike, and Koffee are synonymous with such trends. They represent the new music of Jamaica well.

Based on our analysis there either is a new emerging genre, or the concept of genres is simply dead. Distinctions between genres have become blurred and young audiences around the world are embracing that change.

The New Music of Jamaica: Reggae Lover Podcast
References: The New Music of Jamaica
  • Lord Fly with Dan Williams – Medley of Jamaican Mento
  • Koffee – Toast
  • Culture – Two Sevens Clash
  • Lila Ike – Biggest Fan
  • Toots and the Maytals – Do the Reggae
  • Reggae Lover Episode 20 – Lee ‘Scratch’ Perry,
  • Johnny Osborne – Water Pumping
  • Reggae Lover Episode 21 – Augustus Pablo,
  • The Skatalites – Guns of Navarone
  • Reggae Lover Episode 120 – Dub.
  • Ras Michael and the Sons of Negus – None of Jah Jah Children
  • Hood Celebrity – Walking Trophy
  • King Tubbys – King of the Arena
  • Ed Sheeran – Shape of You
  • Justin Beiber – Sorry
  • Koffee – Rapture
  • Bob Marley – Talking Blues
  • Reggae Lover Episode 126 – Dancehall vs Reggae
  • Reggae Lover Episode 133 – The Influence of Reggae

Transcription: Episode 197 – Reggae Lover – New Music of Jamaica (Replay)

Introduction: New Music of Jamaica

Intro Voiceover: [00:00:02] Welcome to the reggae Lover podcast.

Kahlil Wonda: [00:00:10] Reggae Lover Podcast listeners, Welcome back. This is Kahlil Wonda.

AGARD: [00:00:12] This is AGARD. What up.

Kahlil Wonda: [00:00:14] Yo. Big up to, all the listeners listening on live on Monday and throughout the weeks and months as you’re hearing this on any podcast platform. Yo, if you heard the sound of our voices, we appreciate you.

AGARD: [00:00:28] Yeah man definitely appreciate it. Thank you very much.

Kahlil Wonda: [00:00:30] Yeah Man. Got, a special presentation again from the archives of the show this week. We touched on a topic that really spawned a lot of comments online. A lot of people were interested in the opinions that were shared.

We talk about the new music of Jamaica and some trends started a couple of years ago, which continue now with just genre-bending and breaking stuff, you know, things coming out of Jamaica that are anything you want to call it. From jazz to blues, rhythm & blues, pop, EDM, Electro, even Trap, Dancehall, Trap, or whatever.

AGARD: [00:01:10] Neo soul, All that.

Kahlil Wonda: [00:01:12] Yeah, man. So everything “deh deh.” One of the interesting opinions shared by AGARD was that genres are just dead now. It’s completely irrelevant.

AGARD: [00:01:22] Yeah. I still stick behind that perspective. I think that look at what the record labels are coming out and saying right now, That they’re going to do a rebranding of quote-unquote, the urban genre, whatever that means. You know what I’m saying. Like, I think a lot of genres are definitely random. That’s… That’s my story. I’m sticking to it.

Kahlil Wonda: [00:01:46] Yeah. I mean, yo, I would love to see. Not that I listen to radio, but I just have a problem with the urban radio programming.

AGARD: [00:01:53] Yeah man. All of That. And even I don’t know, I can’t remember if we spoke about this, this episode but referring to Jamaican music as Jamaican music, you know what I mean, like that’s what it is, you know.

You know, we’ve had the debate, a debate of reggae versus dancehall. Jamaican music is Jamaican music, even if it’s sung by somebody other than the Jamaican. It’s Jamaican music.

Kahlil Wonda: [00:02:18] True. True. So, yeah. That’s the type of argument that we have in this episode. And in the beginning, you know, you’ll hear me go through some history.

So this is really good for people who are new to reggae music or maybe started listening more recently and didn’t really know about what came before. Right.

So I very briefly and concisely take you through the history of the genres to have come out of Jamaica, of which there are so many now and then we bring it current and talk about the music that was really seen as sensational and very exciting, the music of today.

AGARD: [00:03:00] I think that covers it all. So enjoy the episode!

Start of Replay: New Music of Jamaica

Kahlil Wonda: [00:03:08] On today’s show, we’re going to talk about the genres of music that comes out of Jamaica. We’ve touched on this in previous shows, of course, but today we’re going to talk about how many genres are there.

You know, some people say there’s four, some say five. Some say eight. And some say either one of those. And then several subgenres, which that’s a fact. You know what I mean, of music that comes out of Jamaica.

Kahlil Wonda: [00:03:38] We’re going to do a brief history and now we’re going to talk about what’s going on now. You know, our good friend Walshy Fire, who is a member of the group, Major Lazer, one of the major producers on the scene in the last 10 years.

Last 20 years and selector. You know, he recently was quoted as saying that he believes that we’re on the verge of creating a new Jamaican genre right now.

Kahlil Wonda: [00:04:06] So we’re gonna get into that.

History of Jamaican Music: New Music of Jamaica

But let’s take it all the way back to the roots of the thing. All right. So you guys know or you may know that Jamaica had an original genre of music that was kind of acoustic-based, just live bands playing the banjo and some other simple instruments.

Mento: New Music of Jamaica

And that was like during colonial times, starting in actually in the 1940s and in the early 1950s. And this is called by some people Jamaican Calypso. It is very similar to Calypso, but Calypso is more the Trinidadian, and the Jamaican Calypso is known as Mento.

Music playing: [00:05:06] (Song excerpt)

Ska: New Music of Jamaica

Kahlil Wonda: [00:05:06] Jamaica’s original music that was actually recorded and stuff that was Mento. And then, Mento gave way to Ska. Ska came in at about the early 1960s. Right when Jamaica gained independence in 1962, and that’s when Skai really just exploded.

And a lot of Jamaicans really grasped onto Ska because they felt like it was their own, like their first music, you know, post-colonialism. And that was, you know, very up-tempo very, you know, kind of like similar to a lot of the music in America at the time as well.

Kahlil Wonda: [00:05:48] At that point, you know, you had Ska bands. Of course, the Skatellites come to mind. Prince Buster comes to mind as some of the iconic figures in Ska.

AGARD: [00:06:15] And Ska is, kind of like the first dance music for Jamaica I would say. Similar to like Swing.

Kahlil Wonda: [00:06:23] Right. Definitely a party music. Up Tempo beat, Fast dancing. You’re going to sweat. You know, People getting properly dressed up and Yeah. Some acrobat… I’ve seen some very acrobatic Ska dance moves on recorded video from back then. So that’s pretty cool.

Rocksteady: New Music of Jamaica

And that music transplanted over to England and really took off and grew legs in the United Kingdom as well. So you got like about a five year solid run of Ska music before Rock Steady in 1967 when the beat of the Ska tune started to slow down. And as the beat slowed down, you know, you have what’s called Rock Steady.

Music playing: [00:07:29] (song snippet plays)

Kahlil Wonda: [00:07:29] Now, Rock Steady only lasted like two years. Really, 1967. By mid-1968, a new genre had come in, and that’s the genre known now as Reggae. So the term reggae credited to Toot’s from Toots and The Maytals, who had a song, you know, “do the reggae” I think it was a dance.

Music playing: [00:08:17] (song excerpt)

Kahlil Wonda: [00:08:17] And that was like the early reggae period. 1967 to 1970 is like the early reggae period. So it’s still, you still hear it’s still very much murky. And, you know, it’s not a clear separation between Rock Steady, Reggae, and even Ska still. You know what I mean.

Foundation dancehall: New Music of Jamaica

But then by 1970, reggae, I think, really became established. So now at the same time. Dance hall, there were dance halls in Jamaica, sound systems in Jamaica, and MC’s in Jamaica. That, well, I wouldn’t say M.C’s. You had selectors back then. Disc jockeys who would play records, right.

Kahlil Wonda: [00:09:04] This coincided with the start of dub music. And what dub music was, was producers like King Tubby’s would remove the vocals from a track or remove parts of the vocal.

Music playing: [00:09:35] (song snippet)

Kahlil Wonda: [00:09:35] and those spaces that were left gave the opportunity for selectors that were holding the microphone to start filling in the space with jive-talking and what was called Toating. Using their vocals over these rhythm tracks, over these versions.

Dub: New Music of Jamaica

So that whole thing gave rise to Dub. So now you have B sides of all types of records coming out, producers experimenting and getting, like, really wild and crazy with it. That’s dub music. Which, ever since 1967 till the present day. And Dub itself has spawned tons of musical genres. Definitely refer to episode 126, which is dancehall versus reggae. And what’s the other one we talked about the lot?

AGARD: [00:10:27] Well, I know you had actual dub mix that you did.

Kahlil Wonda: [00:10:30] Yeah, I did a Dub mix but did actually several dub mixes because I did a Lee “Scratch” Perry mix, Reggae Lover Episode 20. Episode 21 was an Augustus Pablo mix, and then in this past season, there was a dub mix which featured classic and new Dub thats episode 120. So definitely check those out for reference on Dub music.

And then we talked about it in “The influence of Reggae,” Episode 133. We talked a lot about the global different genres. The different effects of reggae with Dub. Dub played a major part in that. You know, EDM and House Music and all that. Everything that you’re hearing right now. OK, so jump back to the timeline.

Classic Reggae: New Music of Jamaica

OK. So reggae is, fully classic reggae, 1970 all the way to 1980, I’d say. And in the late 70s is when the style, the dancehall style and the rubadub style became popular. So you always had singers, but the emcees, a.k.a. deejays, a.k.a. artists that were rapping and rhyming over rhythms as opposed to singing. They got really popular in the late 70s.

Nyabingi and Roots: New Music of Jamaica

Now, one of the things that really became a part of the reggae sound was Nyabingi, which was Rasta. You know, Rastafarianism, the rise of the Rasta movement. From 1966 or so when Selassie visited the island in Jamaica through 1977, which was when the year that “the two sevens clashed.” The year that Marcus Garvey prophesied that what was it…? It was gonna be the end of the world or…

AGARD: [00:12:28] You know, more than me man.

Kahlil Wonda: [00:12:29] Well, you know, there was a song by Culture.

AGARD: [00:12:32] Yeah. The Two Sevens (Clash).

Music playing: [00:12:38] (Song snippet)

Kahlil Wonda: [00:12:53] “…when the Two sevens clash.” And Marcus Garvey said this and that. So Rastafari, Nyabingi, which was like ritual drumming, African drumming.

Music playing: [00:13:23] (song exceprt)

Kahlil Wonda: [00:13:23] That sound was infused with reggae music and you had roots music, which was more like what Coxsone Dodd was producing a lot of in his Studio One label. And then you had Duke Reid over at Treasure Isle, who stayed more secular with it.

And it was a lot more love songs, music, talking about, you know, love and non-spiritual, nonpolitical subject matter. So pretty interesting stuff. Really all good music. But, you know, those two labels are kind of rivals in a sense. And they kind of ran that decade of the seventies.

Its just, you know, one of my favorites, That classic reggae period. So then now we talked about dancehall coming around. People starting to deejay. 79, 80, all the way to like 82-83. As rub a dub style. Rub a dub comes from the heavy swinging dub, The drum, and bass that’s very well suited for dancing.

There were a few different people that had a few different definitions of rub a dub, but in like, in a sound system sense, Rub a dub was when as a sound system is playing out, selectors will play a song. Then flip to the B side of the record where the dub or the version is there, and they let that run for a while.

Beginnings of Dancehall Era: New Music of Jamaica

Kahlil Wonda: [00:14:56] And then artists come to the microphone and chant and sing over the rhythm and then go back to another new song. Let that song play, then flip it over for dubwise version. So the artists can again come up and entertain the crowd live.

Music playing: [00:15:12] (audio sample)

Kahlil Wonda: [00:15:44] So that’s the rub-a-dub period, a.k.a. the beginning of dancehall. But I’d say dancehall really jumped off in 1983 and really exploded in nineteen eighty-five with the first electronic rhythms starting to come out.

AGARD: [00:16:02] Yeah, I mean, I would add to it the rub a dub period, that’s when, you know, I think a lot of people associate that with what they call Water Pompee. You know, I guess I don’t even know how to describe it, I guess. Whining. Like, even when the deejays are toasting or whatever you’re with your significant other your woman.

And, you know, it’s a slow-dancing type of situation, you know. I would also add to it that, you know, Dub was at the forefront of technology. In terms of, you know, the heavy echo, plates. You know, at first, it was analog. You know. Of course, we have now digital echoes and reverbs and all of these things.

But the dub, dub period, they were experimental, experimenting with a lot of that stuff, analog, you know, reverbs and delays and echoes and all these different things, which was what led into, like you said, the age of computer rhythms, you know, starting off with King Jammys, you know.

Digital Dancehall: New Music of Jamaica

Kahlil Wonda: [00:17:16] Exactly. So Jammy’s Sleng Teng rhythm, 1985. And that just really ushered in electronic dance hall. So like we argued in dancehall versus reggae. In my opinion, it’s one genre, but to many people around the world, dancehall is a different genre and it’s replacing the instrumentation of live musicians with computerized instrumentation essentially.

AGARD: [00:17:49] Yeah. And while you’re going down that timeline, I actually have an idea that I’m going to pose to you a little bit later along the lines of the distinctions between reggae versus dancehall and whatever this new time is. But go ahead.

Kahlil Wonda: [00:18:05] Okay. Yeah. And I just wanted to say that the Water Pumping that you mentioned it, you know, Johnny Osborne had a song called “Water Pumping” on release by King Jammys, 1983.

Music playing: [00:18:41] (Song Excerpt)

Kahlil Wonda: [00:18:43] Definitely a good song to rock and swing and hold your darling and do the Water Pumping. You know, you had a lot of songs for particular dance moves and that was one that kind of characterized that period.

AGARD: [00:18:57] Yeah. And speaking of dances, I feel like when dancehall came in, you know, there was still the whole whining and all of that. But I feel like that was the start of individual dancing in a sense. You know, you had this Skank, you know, that type of thing where the rudeboys would try to, you know, do a skank and certain things, you know?

Kahlil Wonda: [00:19:19] And you mean as a distinction from partner dancing,…?

AGARD: [00:19:22] Right. Exactly. Exactly. [Coupling up.] Yeah. So it started a little bit more stylistic to where it wasn’t necessarily you and your partner dancing to a rhythm. It was like you started making up dances to go with the rhythms as they started to speed up as well because that’s another characteristic of dancehall.

Kahlil Wonda: [00:19:41] And that was when Yeah. Deejays would come up with songs to go along with the latest dance trends. We’ve reached to DanceHall, which pretty much brings us to present day, right.

Modern Dancehall and the Reggae Revival: New Music of Jamaica

Now, Dancehall is the popular music of Jamaica. And in recent times, Let’s say 2014, 2015, you know, to present there was a movement that became known as the reggae revival. Many point to Protegé. Many people, among other artists, point to Protegé as the leader. Some refer to Chronixx as the leader of this reggae revival.

And it’s basically just, in a time that’s dominated by dancehall, now you have young artists that were apparently paying homage to the roots of the music. And they were taken back, really infusing a lot of elements from the original rhythms of the 70s and, you know, including the Nyabingi drumming and things like that.

But one thing that You’ll notice if you listen to their music, is that they’re also incorporating modern elements. It’s like you hearing computerized elements. You’re also hearing live instruments as well in combination. And AGARD, you’re a producer, so you probably have some more technical verbiage for this,

You know what I mean, but there is a producer, Winta James, who produced a lot of Chronixx stuff. You know, he took a lot of, like Ini Kamoze rhythms from the 80s and refreshed them and redid them with the modern instrumentation, you know, but just still including the very rough, heavy drum and bass.

And these are the type of tracks that Chronixx and Jesse Royal, Kabaka Pyramid, and Protegé were using and performing over. And we had talked about Rory from Stone Love, who became a producer himself and has his own label called Black Dub. I’m pretty amazed at Rory’s production. I’m not going to lie.

AGARD: [00:22:11] So so I’m going to say something that might be controversial to some. Some may disagree with it. But the thing about music in Jamaica for a while, it was very you know, I think that the reggae revival was the answer to a lot of dancehall centric. For lack of a better term, dancehall centric music.

For a long time that righteousness, you know, not to say that it had left, but there was a lot of like, for lack of a better word, stale, you know, conscious music. It wasn’t young, you know. A lot of the artists that were…

Kahlil Wonda: [00:22:48] You said “stale, conscious music?”

AGARD: [00:22:50] I’m not saying stale. Let’s just put it different.

Kahlil Wonda: [00:22:53] I mean, You don’t gotta. [All right.] If that’s How you feel.

Kahlil Wonda: [00:22:57] That’s how you feel put it on the table.

AGARD: [00:22:59] Because a lot of the conscious artists, I believe, were you know, they started out in the 90s, you know.

Kahlil Wonda: [00:23:08] Right.

AGARD: [00:23:09] And some newer artists, even in the early 2000s, by the time you got to 2013 and 14, you know, their careers had already stalled. But that’s not even when I’m trying to say so.

You know, being that Europe and Japan, Asia, but mainly Japan and some parts of like Southeast Asia, they never lost that that roots type of element in their music. You know what I’m saying? So a lot of those artists, those local artists in Japan and in Europe were still making roots-style music, you know, and as they were making that type of music, it was evolving.

AGARD: [00:23:52] And I feel like in Jamaica, they weren’t paying attention to that necessarily. To me. And it stalled. And I feel like some of the elements that are added back into the reggae revival were actually, you know, those producers, I think, paying attention to elsewhere in the world. You know, I don’t know if that makes sense, but that’s just my opinion, just being an observer.

Kahlil Wonda: [00:24:18] So are you saying the reggae revival producers were paying attention to the global right?

AGARD: [00:24:23] Yes.

Kahlil Wonda: [00:24:24] I’m just trying to understand what you’re saying.

AGARD: [00:24:27] Yeah. Yeah, I think I think so. Because when you check it just like us as soundmen, you know, right now with in the age of the Internet, everything is global, you know, and with the sound system culture, there’s a lot of rhythms and a style of cutting dubs that came about because and is popularized because of the Internet.

Right. We get ideas and I feel like some of that the same thing happened for reggae revival. You know, I’m saying, yeah, I, I’m not attributing that to the re-emergence of conscious reggae from the young people. I’m just saying that now that things are a lot more globalized there’s influences coming from other places where I think Jamaica, it was kind of stuck on the one drop thing.

For us, Conscious reggae was one drop. So when you have Protegé come in and Chronixx come in, even though they’re relicking rhythms, you know, a lot of the new stuff or somebody like Kabaka Pyramid, you know that or even Junior Gong, they’re introducing Hip-Hop elements. They’re introducing a lot of other elements that still know that is the reggae revival. You know what I mean?

Kahlil Wonda: [00:25:45] Yeah, I mean. I’m sure there’s some truth to what you’re saying and cause I. What what comes to mind is I think of that period from the year 2000 to the year 2010. All right. We call that, what, the 2000s. Right.

That’s the decade known as the 2000s. Early 2000s was the height of dancehall. Sean Paul, Wayne Wonder. All these guys all over your MTV, and, you know what I mean, like your magazines and your TV and your Internet. Right.

AGARD: [00:26:20] The height of dancehall crossover.

Kahlil Wonda: [00:26:21] Yeah. The height of dancehall crossover. But don’t get it twisted like, you know what I’m saying like in Europe, in Japan, in America and in a lot of other places, you know, say outside of the Caribbean. I’m talking.

Kahlil Wonda: [00:26:37] At that time.

Kahlil Wonda: [00:26:40] Promoters of reggae and dancehall are making the most money at that time. You would hear the most reggae in a mainstream club. Any club you’d go to your were hearing the longest dancehall segments at that time. Like ever.

AGARD: [00:26:57] I agree.

Kahlil Wonda: [00:26:57] You know what I’m saying like there were more people signing on, logging on. You know, you have Elephant Man speaking of Log-On. You know, there was a legit dancehall craze.

That’s when the dancers, Ding-Dong and Ravers and Weddy Time and, you know, Bogle like that’s when everything just went nuts. And no matter your skin color or your language, you speak.

Everyone was “signaling in the plane.” And you know what I’m saying? Everybody knew what that was like.

AGARD: [00:27:31] Right.

Kahlil Wonda: [00:27:32] So after that, it started a decline. There was a decline after that? Now at that same time, now, after the 90s, the type of reggae music in terms of one-drop culture and lovers rock, It did take a dip. It did.

You know, I remember when Don Corleone started making one-drop rhythms, you know, and he had like Sean Paul and Wayne Wunder and some other artists started coming out like Alaine, for example, were on a lot of his rhythms. You know, Morgan Heritage…

AGARD: [00:28:08] I believe T.O.K, had a few. Yeah. TOK.

Kahlil Wonda: [00:28:13] Jah Cure, you know, had a few songs and he is still in jail and you know. Those Don Corleone rhythms is what I referred to that time.

Kahlil Wonda: [00:28:24] Well, that was the… Those were the best one drop songs from that little period coming out of Jamaica, you know what I’m saying and everything like if it was getting played, it had a similar sound.

As matter of fact, he produced a lot of the rhythms that were dominant at that time and there wasn’t much else, you know, at, you know. Like Luciano, the singers that emerged. You know, That’s when Sizzla’s music changed. Capleton was on fire time. Sizzla was on fire time.

See what I’m saying? It was just very fast, very hype. Bun out everything. You know what I’m saying? But not singing on one-drop rhythms as much anymore. People like I mean, Bush Man is one of the artists that actually emerged at that time. And, you know, eventually, like Queen Ifrica.

You know, I’m just I’m talking specific artists now because what also took place at that time was a transition where vinyl went out. CDs came in and then CDs lasted for you a few years and they went out. And then Final Scratch came in, which was starting to play off of laptops. So during that time, [Yeah.]

Just like how certain deejays and sound systems didn’t make the cut, didn’t make the transition or, struggled to, it seems like artists and producers also just struggled at that time. And it was at that time that rhythms started coming out of Europe like Pow Pow Sound from Germany, for example. They had started producing rhythms and some other labels out of especially Germany and France.

Kahlil Wonda: [00:29:57] They started putting out rhythms that were filled with like the new fire culture artists at that time. Fifth Element crew, Richie Spice and Chuck Fender came out, you know, Anthony Cruz and debt. They were like there was only a handful. It was just that crew.

There’s just that crew. It was just Don Corleone rhythms. That was what Jamaica was doing. And, you know, eventually, Gyptian came out with a Serious Time. There was not a whole lot going on for that music. And I can tell you, I put out that mixtape, “Sizzling.”

Sizzling was like the last mixtape that I did. That was a vinyl mix. And in order to compile that mix. It took like it was almost like a difficult, arduous task. You know, that was like some of the last visits to the record store right there.

And I had. Like a lot of music for a long period of time collected to produce that mix. And there’s a lot of music that you can’t find anywhere in now because it’s not even on digital. That was like the end of a particular era man, like early 2000s. So I went off on a long tangent there. But the point is that. A revival was needed.

AGARD: [00:31:23] Definitely, definitely.

AGARD: [00:31:26] But even though you mentioned POW POW.

AGARD: [00:31:28] And that was also the emergence of another German producer, Junior Blender, who did a lot of, like Major Lazers production, you know, helped them with their albums.

You know, I’m saying but Junior Blender, like what I remember of him is he was making like reggae remixes to like Bruno Mars. And, you know what I’m saying like Katy Perry and Beyonce and Rihanna, you know, I mean,

Kahlil Wonda: [00:31:57] Everything. But he did like Motown. Yes, he did. Michael Jackson, he did like tons of them.

AGARD: [00:32:04] So what I’m saying is, like those producers who are out there in Europe.

AGARD: [00:32:09] That’s what they were hype off.

AGARD: [00:32:11] You know what I’m saying and I think conversely in Jamaica, to me, up until the most recent times, like now, you have Russian and other people right that are making a lot of money. But the last hype producer that I could think of that people are excited about after Don Corleone was Stephen McGregor.

You know what I’m saying because then he made, you know, Anger Management and all those rhythms. Right. But then even like there were there was a lull for dance hall and there was a lull for one drop, conscious music, all that stuff.

You know what I’m saying and I’m just backing up your point to where it’s like, hey, there was need for a reggae revival. And when the reggae revival took off, dancehall was still in a lull, you know, because Vibez Kartel was arrested. And, you know what I’m saying Buju was in jail, you know, and there was no leadership in dancehall.

Kahlil Wonda: [00:33:17] Yeah, yeah, I mean, Buju went in jail. What, 2012? 2011. When did Kartel? I think Kartel still, he was going through trials and stuff like that. He didn’t get his actual conviction yet, but it was like shortly after that that that happened. But there’s something about when Kartel came out, you know, that’s when I feel like music wasn’t as strong.

And so he just like stood out so much because of his advanced, you know, word-play and skills with the lyrics. In addition to some of the things that he did outside of the music, which went along with the trend that we see today of hype, you know, hype and.

You know, using the Internet and social media and stuff like that, he was all over that. You know, he really pioneered a lot of the stuff that’s going on today.

Kahlil Wonda: [00:34:23] With the whole Clarkes thing, you know, I mean, the controversy. The good and the bad of it, you know. So now we have the reggae revival. You know, you have like the Roots Man rhythm from Winta James which was an original, Ini Kamoze song from the 80s.

And when I think of, you know, if you listen to the two side by side and compare. It’s almost like how when Chris Blackwell came and teamed up with Bob and started refreshing some of the Wailers classics, you know what I mean, reproducing them, adding different instruments, and putting out a sound that would appeal to a global audience.

That’s what the reggae revival basically did in my eyes. Of course, those original tracks that were produced as well, but they all had the vibe of… Of that old school vibe. And then artists were able to come out of that. You know, Walshy Fire did that Start A Fyah mixtape with Chronixx.

Kahlil Wonda: [00:35:35] And you know that that whole scene and movement took off after that. You know, ever since, everywhere around the world has been producing and my you know, in my opinion, that really quality reggae music.

Really heavy stuff. It doesn’t all sound the same. But a lot of it is is very good. You know, I mean, Lots of different instruments and sounds and styles coming out of Australia, New Zealand, California is crazy. You know, the East Coast. I don’t know. What happened to New York B? Yo, it just hit me like a ton of bricks. What happened to New York?

AGARD: [00:36:18] There’s no producers out here right now.

AGARD: [00:36:22] I don’t know where Kranium is getting those rhythms from, but that’s the only East Coast artist I could think of in terms of East Coast, East Coast, United States that has any amount of freshness other than that…

Kahlil Wonda: [00:36:36] Right. Well, You know, last year you had…

Kahlil Wonda: [00:36:43] And this is, she’s not a Reggae revival artist or reggae. You know, she’s more dancehall. But you had Hood Celebrity, who I believe is New York-based.

AGARD: [00:36:55] Yeah. That’s one song though, that’s one song.

Kahlil Wonda: [00:36:58] Yeah, that is one song. But still it got so big and got you know, from what I understand, it got so much radio play that, you know, it pretty much is a mainstream song, right?

AGARD: [00:37:10] Yeah. Yeah, definitely. My theory where her is she made an up to date current dancehall-style track. But then she was able to have the push from The States. You know what I’m saying like that to me with that style of that track to me was Jamaica. No what I mean, That to me wasn’t, you know, a New York thing.

Like, Kranium is totally, to me, he’s very, very unique. You know what I’m saying. Like it’s similar to like Hood Celebrity is similar to Dovey Magnum. Right. Like, you know, people wouldn’t know that she launched from Atlanta. You know what I’m saying her style is very, very nowadays Dancehall, Jamaica.

Kahlil Wonda: [00:38:01] And so and then you have last year, you have Steff London, Stefflon Don. However you say it. You have Shenseea. You have Jada Kingdom, you know, There’s like a slew of females that just appeared like as just a, you know, a spark. Just a bright spot.

AGARD: [00:38:23] And shout out to Jada Kingdon because hers is like totally unique. Totally, totally, totally unique. You can’t place her in any category.

Kahlil Wonda: [00:38:34] Yeah man. And then now you have, on your roots side, so many females. Like we did “Women in Reggae.” And that’s the number one show for the new season so far. By the way. So thanks to all the listeners. I mean, I still have. People are still commenting.

People are still sending email and feedback about that particular show. That’s the one that a lot of people are discovering. So big ups to, you know, everybody that we mentioned, and didn’t mention. Hempress Sativa.

And, you know, now you know, you have Lila Ike. You have Sevana. That’s what I’ve been listening to really hard, You know, lately. Listening to a lot of Lila Ike. Her song…

Kahlil Wonda: [00:39:25] Jeez, I’m not going to remember the name of a song now of course. The song when she’s talking about her mom. How her mom, you know, didn’t want her to go to the studio and would like beat her and tell her to read a psalm before she left the house and this and that.

And now her mom’s her biggest fan. Yeah. “Biggest Fan.” That’s it. And I heard One-A-Day in that clash against King Addies. Recent name brand sound system soundclash in Brooklyn, in Queens. And they played to Lila Ike dubs in a row. Sounded really good to0. So big ups on that.

AGARD: [00:40:02] Well, they probably did that because Addies is the one who, you know, buss her in America. But anyway.

Kahlil Wonda: [00:40:11] Right. Right. Yeah. They were trying to play out Addie’s anthems, which just obviously was a bad look.

AGARD: [00:40:17] So. So here’s the thing. I know we’re getting into like we started in the history, and we were kind of moving up through time and I think what we get into is this thing that’s come out now. A controversial statement or you know that there’s a new brand, Genre of Jamaican music, right?

Kahlil Wonda: [00:40:42] Right. Well, you know, Walshy… He said that we’re on the verge. Like we’re on the verge of a new genre. Is how he put it. Yeah. And he didn’t want to try to be the one to come up with a name or whatever. He said that’s not his place. He thinks it should be from one of the artists.

Whereas he’s just a producer. So, you know, I mean, we’re not gonna try to come up with the name either. But I wanted to just talk all around this thing because I think, you know, it’s just so new and There are a lot of people signing on to this genre, right now as we speak. And a lot of people are being drawn in by one particular artist.

AGARD: [00:41:28] Which artist is that?

Kahlil Wonda: [00:41:31] The artist is Koffee. All right. So and let me say something before. And I said people are being drawn in. But I think what’s even more important or maybe more important is people who are. Re – Joining the reggae brand. People who are re-noticing the dancehall thing.

You know what I’m saying, because there are people who in the early 2000s do on it. But after that, they left. When things died down, that period that we just described, you know, they left. Some people came back when the reggae revival began.

Some people still haven’t come back. You know what I mean? And I think that Koffee, who is a 19-year-old artist now, who is the new reggae sensation? She. Her song, Toast.

Music playing: [00:42:26] (Song sample)

Kahlil Wonda: [00:42:47] Was, the Song of the Year in Jamaica, 2018. And that particular song. For all intents and purposes, it’s a pop song. You care to argue that?

AGARD: [00:43:01] Nah so. No, I’m not going to argue that it’s a pop song.

Kahlil Wonda: [00:43:08] Yo the rhythm. The song is, to me, it sounds just like You know…

AGARD: [00:43:14] To me that’s a dancehall song that happens… That has pop elements cause there’s dance elements. But I will agree with you that it’s a pop song because many people who know music when they comment on that song, they basically say there’s something for everybody there. You know, [Right]

Whatever it is… That’s one of the things to when we look back on this tough time period and we look back at that rhythm, that “Toast” is on. To me, that rhythm itself is a transformative rhythm because it has dancehall and elements. Yet the way how it’s produced, it can be consumed by people like House Music.

You know, the four on the floor that “umph, mph, umph, umph.” There’s that. You know, but then because of the plucking of the strings. Doo doo doo doo. Like that, it has dancehall elements. It’s a beautiful rhythm. Like to me…

Kahlil Wonda: [00:44:15] It has Afrobeat elements.

AGARD: [00:44:17] It has everything.

Kahlil Wonda: [00:44:18] It’s very similar to a Soca kind of sound.

AGARD: [00:44:23] Dude, It’s perfect.

Kahlil Wonda: [00:44:24] But look, you know, remember I was talking about how. Like, you know, Ed Sheeran’s “Shape of You” and Justin Bieber’s “Sorry.” Yeah. And, you know, like that, you know, a lot of the Major Lazer stuff. Stuff that Sia put out last year.

AGARD: [00:44:46] The big song with Sia and Sean Paul, that was hitting for years.

Kahlil Wonda: [00:44:50] Yeah. A lot of the top 40 hits of the last five years have a Jamaican foundation straight up, you know, but nobody talks about that. Nobody says that, yo this is a dancehall song. You know what I mean?

So I’m only calling “Toast” a pop song just because I want to kind of like, compare, and contrast or kind of group it with these top 40 hits over the last five years. But this is from a real Jamaican born in Spanish Town, Jamaica. You know what I’m saying? And she’s her lyrics are. I mean, it’s patois. It’s Jamaica Patois.

AGARD: [00:45:30] Right. And it’s a callback to a time when the time you were talking about some late 80s, even they had another reemergence in the early 2000s. Right. To where the reason why reggae music was being or dancehall, reggae, or whatever it was being consumed at such a rate is because it was dance music.

And a lot of Americans didn’t understand the lyrics, but they’re able to dance to it. And that’s the quality that this song now has. You know what I mean, you can’t resist it. And let me know when you ready for my theory on. What’s going on in music right now?

Kahlil Wonda: [00:46:11] Ok, OK, but, you know, I just want to. I’m not finished talking about Koffee. So I don’t know if you want to…

Kahlil Wonda: [00:46:28] Ok. The Toast beat was produced by Izy Beats. That’s the producer. And so check Izy Beats beat out? Obviously he’s a phenomenal producer and he’s got other stuff. You know, he did that track, though.

You know, Koffee worked with Walshy Fire on, you know, some of the other material that she’s got out now. And Toast has like over like 14, 15 million views on YouTube. It’s just bananas. And her E.P. called “Rapture” a five-song EP was released this year.

One thing about her is her lyrics. Like she definitely puts a lot of the artist out to shame. I mean, any genre, you know, I’m saying like. There was a study done about the, you know, about lyrical content in hip-hop music and the different words, the vocabulary that a lot of rappers use. And. You know, they’re even, they’re now.

There are New Age rappers who use a wide range of vocabulary words who some people would call mumble rappers. You know what I’m saying, it’s not all 90’s rap that’s only, you know what I’m saying, good. But, you know, definitely when you examine the reggae genre.

And the other artists in that grouping right now, especially the young artists. I mean, she (Koffee) totally annihilates like most of the field lyrically. And it’s not just craftiness. It’s just that you can tell that she writes with passion. There’s no wasted words. No wasted bars.

There is no filler like anywhere on any of her songs. So you could take her song and break it apart and study it. And you get meaning from everything that she says. Just it’s pretty crazy. Pretty sick.

AGARD: [00:48:30] Yeah, I agree. I mean, yeah, and.

Kahlil Wonda: [00:48:35] And so she’s that is it’s been recognized by a lot of people, you know. She was called up on stage by Cocoa Tea at Rebel Salute and then she was called out on stage by Protegé, later was called out on stage by Chronixx.

These are three of the biggest artists, Cocoa Tea in history and, you know, Protegé and Chronixx, the leaders of the reggae revival. She’s been invited to do freestyles and, you know, perform on different media outlets, radio shows such as the BBC, just to name one. You know, tons of others.

Kahlil Wonda: [00:49:18] I mean, throughout the world, even at this point, Europe, England, all over The States.

AGARD: [00:49:22] Recently did an acoustic re lick or cover of a Afrobeat, Very popular Afrobeat song.

Kahlil Wonda: [00:49:33] She also covered “Talking Blues,” Bob Marley’s song, which. That’s amazing. So, yeah, Koffee and her sound, combined with the production and the lyrical styles of the reggae revival artists. And, you know, some of the other artists that we’ve mentioned of today, you know.

Kahlil Wonda: [00:50:01] And so Walshy, He said that he sat down with Chronixx and with Protegé, and he’s actually said to them, like, you know, “I don’t think what you guys are doing is reggae anymore,” you know what I mean, this is something else.

You know what I’m saying, so that’s what we wanted to really just put out there. And I would have to say that I’m in agreement. There’s something about the amount of bars that comprise a lot of these songs being different than traditional reggae and dancehall music as well.

And being closer to that of hip hop songs. So, you know, there is a lot more lyricism in the way that they’re flowing, even though it’s still rootical in terms of the message and the vibe, you know. Its just something new kind of emerging dancehall and reggae and some other genres as well.

AGARD: [00:51:02] All right. You know, 50 minutes in, we got to that. So my thing is this. So. I believe that there’s globalism, right? Because of the Internet does a lot of different influences, right? We’re talking about Toast. And its like there’s Afrobeat there. There’s Dance, there’s Reggae, there’s dancehall.

Here’s my theory. And this has been my theory for years now. With not just reggae, but any type of music, Genres are dying. OK, like to me, the genre genres are made up by record labels and music companies and radio stations in order to market the music to certain people and say, OK, this is this music’s brand. This is who we sell it to. This is how we sell it. I believe and it’s been happening in hip hop, it’s been happening R&B.

AGARD: [00:52:09] You can’t tell the difference right now between hip-hop and R&B. I mean, just like how. Right now.

Kahlil Wonda: [00:52:16] Right. People say R&B died.

AGARD: [00:52:19] Yeah, yeah, yeah.

Kahlil Wonda: [00:52:20] People say Hip hop died. People say reggae died. …dancehall died. …pop died. They say rock died. What else?

AGARD: [00:52:28] You know what I’m saying. There are a lot of country artists now are rapping, you know what I mean like so my whole thing is to me, genres are dead. And just like how the music industry didn’t want to accept the fact that digital was on the way and they didn’t adopt and adapt to digital is the same way that the music industry right now doesn’t want to admit the genres are dead.

AGARD: [00:53:00] To me, especially as a deejay. Yo. Anybody like I encourage anybody to listen to anything, any mix that Deejay A.M. did.

Kahlil Wonda: [00:53:12] I thought you’re going to say deejay AGARD, lol.

AGARD: [00:53:14] Na na na DJ AM. The reason why I say that is because he could rock a crowd. He could play country, hip hop, rock. He could play everything. And it didn’t matter where you’re from, you’re gonna get rocked because of the way he did it. And that’s the way that music is being produced right now. So my whole theory is genres are dead.

So because of that theory, to me, whatever is happening in reggae, dancehall, what have you. To me, you can’t necessarily classify it as reggae, dancehall, one-drop, this, that or the other. To me, it’s Jamaican music. You know what I mean, like, OK. Ask any deejay.

That’s why they had to leave the distinction Afrobeat and go for Afro-pop. Because if you hear Afro. If some people hear Afrobeat, they think Fela! Right. They think the 70s, you know.

AGARD: [00:54:22] So when this new generation Starboy and Burna Boy and all these people started coming out, they call it Afrobeat. They’re like, hold up Afrobeat? Fela! You know what I’m saying. So then they started going to Afro-Pop and literally there is certain Afro-pop music, that’s literally Soca. There’s artists right now from Jamaica doing Soca tunes with African artists. You know What I mean. So to me…

Kahlil Wonda: [00:54:50] There’s a lot of Afrobeat in dancehall, dancehall in Soca, and vice versa in the mix. And even, you know, the Spanish reggae like Spanish dancehall and the Reggaeton too. Like, It’s mad yo.

Kahlil Wonda: [00:55:07] But you know, I agree with everything you said, except the one thing that, you know, saying that it’s all just Jamaican music. You know, I don’t know if that’s really fair or accurate, because, you know, you’re talking about African music, Trinidadian music, and then. There’s so much reggae coming out of every corner of the planet right now. You know what I’m saying like so many like legitimate industries of reggae coming out of just everywhere.

AGARD: [00:55:45] I’ll be happy to concede that point. I think when I thought about that. No, it’s a bit like we’ve been heavy talking about the Reggae Revival. But when I first thought about that point, I thought about, you know, the new artists in quote-unquote, dancehall: Squash and the 6six Crew and all of this and, you know, Tommy Lee and Alkaline and all these people.

That’s what I originally thought about. But then you know what? I’ll gladly admit to you, you know, you’re right. It’s not just Jamaican. You know what I mean, because, you know, there’ve been rhythms and productions by people from Europe, Canada, America, all over the Caribbean. It’s ridiculous.

I mean, that popular Ding-Dong song where it’s like literally an Afro-pop rhythm. You know, I’m saying and it’s like this to me. I don’t know. This is not going to happen because the music industry is always going to want to classify things. But to me, there’s no more genres. Genres are dead, you know, one time. I want to come out with a mix like that, just like Genres are dead. It is.

Kahlil Wonda: [00:56:52] All right. Well, you know what? I think there’s validity to that. You know what I mean, and like you said, they’re never going to… They’re never going to get rid of genres. It’s just like, you know, I find really. There’s a couple of points, right? I think about movies now. You know, I’m a fan right now. My favorite genre of movies is comedies. You know what I’m saying. There’s hardly any comedies coming out anymore. Like you’ll go the whole year. There’ll be like two like legit bona fide comedies.

Kahlil Wonda: [00:57:32] But the thing is, all the movies are slash, slash, slash, slash. Its Action, slash, drama, slash comedy, slash, whatever, drama.

Kahlil Wonda: [00:57:44] And then, you know, I mean, you have like the. So there’s comedic elements to the action movies. And you know what I’m saying, like, everything is just merged really into one. So if you’re looking for just one thing, it’s like you’re not really going to find it. It’s like all the lines are blurred. So that’s what comes to mind. You know, when you talk about this in terms of the music and, you know.

Kahlil Wonda: [00:58:08] We had this conversation previously that I’ll just recall where we were trying to figure out. What happened to all the singers? What happened to the singers in reggae? So those are the two questions. Two calls to action. Somebody help me out.

What happened to all the producers in New York and what happened to all the singers? You know what I’m saying. At one time. You know, we just went through the history, You know I’m saying there’s like thousands of singers, OK, for every decade. Right now there are like there’s Romain Virgo and Beres.

AGARD: [00:58:49] Maybe Christopher Martin.

Kahlil Wonda: [00:58:51] Christopher nah. SingJay that B.

AGARD: [00:58:54] Tarrus Riley?

Kahlil Wonda: [00:58:55] Singy Singy? He’s not a singer. He’s a singy singy. Oh man, the list is Mad short.

AGARD: [00:59:07] Your favorite, Anthony Cruz.

Kahlil Wonda: [00:59:11] Where’s Anthony Cruz? I think Anthony Cruz son dem a sing now or something. You nah mean, Anthony Cruz retired.

AGARD: [00:59:18] Yo you know whats crazy like yo Did. Bitty McClean ever come out with any music?

Kahlil Wonda: [00:59:23] Yeah. He did but Nothing really cah He worked with Sly and Robbie and you know. But it’s not… It’s not that much, you know. So You have Randy Valentine. And then if anything, if there are singers, there would be female singers.

AGARD: [00:59:40] Alaine is still putting stuff out.

Kahlil Wonda: [00:59:43] She’s still. I haven’t heard her D.J. yet, although the way she sings some of the tune dem – Almost like a singjay thing.

AGARD: [00:59:53] I don’t even know what happened to Tessanne and Tammy Chin.

Kahlil Wonda: [00:59:57] Yeah. I mean, Tammy wasn’t pure Singer to me. Or maybe she was, but more like she was more like a pop singer to me.

AGARD: [01:00:03] But I mean, we’re just basically I know we’re reminiscing and all, but, yo, this is crazy.

Kahlil Wonda: [01:00:10] The singers that are out now are the singers that were out in 2000 and they were out in 95 and they were out in 90. And it’s the same guys. Cocoa Tea, Half-Pint. You know what I mean like there’s no new-new singers. And even you talk Romain, Romain could rhyme and deejay and freestyle and all that.

Don’t get it twisted. He’s just choosing to stay in that lane and preserve as kind of like a Beres, you know what I’m saying, heir to the throne. And then, you know what I’m saying Beres had a sweet album that came out what this year, Last year? Yo, that album flopped B. Flop like John Crow wings.

AGARD: [01:00:53] You know, I was going to send you some on Instagram, but I didn’t want to be bad mind. You know what I’m saying, I saw Anthony Red Rose is coming out with some new things, you know?

Kahlil Wonda: [01:01:02] Yo, he better make sure that he’s DeeJaying.. He better Make its dancehall Cah look. Anthony Malvo, a dat him deh pon you know B. Anthony Malvo had “Give thanks And praises.” Nice tune yo, And it did a little thing. He pushed it really hard. But then he came out with “You’re not on my level” and its like it…

AGARD: [01:01:29] Yo Outside of the U.S. in the U.K., yo there’s no singers coming out, B.

Kahlil Wonda: [01:01:33] There’s one, Samory I, which is… Yeah. So, Rory, we talked about Rory.

AGARD: [01:01:40] Rory has a slew of women.

Kahlil Wonda: [01:01:40] Rory has a stable and one male. Yeah. And know I’m saying.

AGARD: [01:01:47] But here’s the thing though. Like we’re talking about Popular. You know what I’m saying. We’re talking about the potential to like break through. You know what I’m saying like, look, there’s talented singers out there and I appreciate the work that Rory is doing. You know what I’m saying.

But. I don’t think any of those artists are going to make any type of impact anytime soon. This is my opinion, man. I know that’s a big thing. I love the music that he does. You know, it’s different. It’s based in like, you know, a lot of cultural elements and everything, but. None of those singers are going to Bus whe.

Kahlil Wonda: [01:02:30] Yeah. So, you know, the point people, Is that rap is not even a genre, you know what I mean, It’s a style of delivering lyrical content, you know, creativity or whatever, Along with different types of music and deejaying. Same thing. You know, deejaying is… its rap and it’s deejaying across everything right now.

For the most part. You have a few man whe a sing, Sting and then man deh, but dem man deh ole. You know what I’m saying? Any new… Yo, Most of the new artists come out, It’s crazy man… So it’s been a great conversation.

End of Replay, Start of Outro: New Music of Jamaica

Kahlil Wonda: [01:03:14] Yo, I’ll tell you, I forgot how good that episode was, man. I really enjoyed that conversation right there, bro.

AGARD: [01:03:25] Yeah, man, I’ve definitely been honing my skills, you know, have to get my debate chops up being the co-host on this show, because you come across with a lot of knowledge and facts and I come across with a lot of opinions.

Kahlil Wonda: [01:03:39] Yeah, no, I think we lay a good tapestry man. And leaves you coming away with some good edutainment usually. So on that note, this is a movement dedicated to reggae lovers and for the upcoming season, which is going to start around July 2020. Gonna hear a lot of new fresh voices visiting the show alongside ourselves.

Kahlil Wonda: [01:04:02] And one of the things that we have recently done is launched a new Web site, new Web presence, which you can find that or It’s something that when you want to share an episode, when you want to share the show, it’s very easy to do this with this site.

So you can link it from our Facebook or Instagram. Easy to remember Whatever platform anybody listens to, They’ll be able to click somewhere on that page and just start listening right away. Right. You know, immediately from whatever device they’re on, as long as they have the Internet.

AGARD: [01:04:35] Yeah, man I and I like the fact that you know, you have basically every platform on there. And plus you can subscribe to the RSS feed and all of that. So, you know, there’s no excuse not to be connected with us. Please stay connected. And thank you again.

Kahlil Wonda: [01:04:51] Subscribe to the email list.

AGARD: [01:04:53] Yeah. And then when this thing opens back up, you never know. We might be popping into a city near you.

Kahlil Wonda: [01:04:58] That’s the word on the streets right here. Please be safe. Please enjoy your summertime vibes right now and. Yeah. Black Lives Matter.

AGARD: [01:05:09] You stole my line. Yeah. Black Lives Matter.

Kahlil Wonda: [01:05:12] That’s right. Hashtag BLM. Hashtag reggae reform.

AGARD: [01:05:17] Let’s get that started. All right. Peace.

Outro voiceover: [01:05:25] For booking of Highlanda Sound (404) 552-0492 Or E-mail Visit Highlanda Sound on the web at Follow @Highlanda on Twitter. Follow @kahlilwonda on Instagram and like for more information.

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