Whilst in London during the summer, I was fortunate to catch a few shows at the 02 celebrating Jamaica’s 50th anniversary of independence. I saw Toots and the Maytals, Morgan Heritage, Shaggy, Rootz Underground and a new band called Raging Fyah. The latter 2 really impressed me, both young bands full of energy with catchy songs and a true Jamaican reggae vibe.
Needless to say I bought their albums, and I was not disappointed… it seems there is something of a renaissance of roots rock reggae in Jamaica right now, and Raging Fyah and Rootz Underground are proof of this, along with some other bands such as Dubtonic Kru (recent winners of the global battle of the bands contest) and Di Blueprint. (look out for them in the future) By the second time of playing Raging Fyah’s album, I was already singing along with the choruses, and pulling up the tracks.
The lyrical contend, the musicianship and production was a reminder that reggae music is alive and well, and still flourishing amidst the hardships and trials of daily Jamaican life, as it always has since its beginnings. I know Jamaican roots reggae has suffered a lot recently due to the increase in popularity of Dancehall/Ragga amongst young people. Along with this a growing number of American and European reggae bands and artists are proving that reggae has indeed gone global and you don’t need to be Jamaican to make great reggae music. It would appear that all of this has not gone unnoticed in Jamaica, and a new generation of artistes are stepping up and reclaiming some ground.
Already featuring on the line up at major European reggae music festivals, Raging Fyah and Rootz Underground are doing a stellar job of carrying the torch for Jamaican reggae. Rootz undergrounds performance at the ‘Jamaica House’ – set up at the 02 during the Olympics to promote Jamaican culture and trade – was full of energy, and another reminder that the future of reggae is in safe hands.
Conscious lyrics along with the vitality and energy one expects from roots rock reggae are taken to a new level with Rootz Underground’s lead singer Stephen Newland – who’s strong and unique voice combined with his superhuman leaps into the air onstage guarantee an unforgettable show. Their recent album Gravity is a must have for any record collection, and I hear they have a new album in the works.
One of the highlights of Rootz Undergrounds performance was when they brought onstage another new voice of Jamaica.