Thursday, February 4, 2010

90s New Roots Revival

The new wave of conscious roots reggae coming out of Jamaica picked up pace after 1993. The movement was championed by long-time rasta artists like Cocoa Tea, Dennis Brown, Yami Bolo, Junior Reid, Mutabaruka & Admiral Tibet and rising stars like Tony Rebel & Louie Culture. Meanwhile, deejay-turned-singer Garnett Silk elevated the music to new spiritual heights with anthems like Retreat Wicked Man, Lionheart & Hello Mama Africa and raised the popularity of singers after long periods of deejay dominance. Buju, Luciano and Capleton re-invented themselves as conscious artists and a whole new generation of singers and deejays emerged by the mid-90s, man like Sizzla, Anthony B, Morgan Heritage, Daweh Congo, Bushman & Jah Cure. Older, established artists like Michael Rose, Marcia Griffiths, Culture, Gregory Isaacs, Everton Blender & Barrington Levy enjoyed a revival while everyone from Shabba, Cobra & Ninjaman to Sanchez, Frankie Paul, Beenie Man & Bounty Killer rode the nu-roots train, making this the most exiting period for reggae fans since the early digi era....

The real advocators of the nu-roots revolution, however, were the producers and musicians... Bobby Digital, Donovan Germain & Phillip Burrell, all of who had roots & dancehall credentials and a history in the business, set up studios in the early 90s alongside man like King Jammy, Jack Scorpio & Gussie Clarke and proceeded to put out roots 45s over 'live' riddims, built around crisp, vintage samples of classic Studio 1 & Channel One hooks. Junjo Lawes & Niney even got back into the ring. Engineer Soldgie promoted a return to heavy dub sounds at Xterminator. Sly & Robbie, Steelie & Cleevie, Mafia & Fluxy, Dean Fraser and The Firehouse Crew provided wicked mixed media riddims. Fashion, Saxon, & Jetstar kept it hot in the UK.

Roots reggae had never really gone away - it had been overshadowed by digital dancehall, 1986-87, and then the ragga-bogle-something in 1992, but again only temporarily until the top creative elements returned to draw upon and expand a rich tradition.

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