Thursday, March 17, 2011

Crucial News Update: UK To Japan To Jamaica

UK reggae sing-jay Gappy Ranks was on tour in Japan during the recent 9.0 earthquake. Luckily he survived the quake and was able to send updates on his status via Twitter.

Gappy tweeted: "I Never Thought That My First Experience In #Japan Would Be #TheWorldsBiggestEarthquake – The People Of Japan Have Been So Strong & Calm..."

He followed that the next day with, "Fuckkkkkkk - These Aftershocks Are Hard Like The Very First One – #PrayFiJapan..."

There's an thorough account of his experience and videos from his tour at OKPlayer's Large Up site. Gappy Ranks debuted a new video this week for the song "Could A RunAway" featuring Delly Ranks. (see embed at the bottom of this post.)
British reggae MC Smiley Culture died in a police raid Saturday February 26. The cause of death was ruled to be a single stab wound through the heart. The entertainer's family has asked for an inquiry into the bizarre killing and assert that there may have been police misconduct.

Smiley Culture scored several hits in the late-80s including "Police Officer" and "Cockney Translation" and was a member of the Saxon Sound System. He helped popularize the British "fast chat" style of MCing along with Papa Levi, Asher Senator and others. For a more detailed biography, read the Guardian UK's obit.

United Reggae reported the untimely passing of Anthony Doyley from the 1970s roots reggae trio Knowledge. Doley pased Saturday February 6 2011 in London at the age of 55. He was the trio's lead singer and songwriter and penned searing tracks like "A Fool And His Money" on albums such as Hail Dread and Judgment. See a full discography at  Roots Archives. Knowledge was never as well known as their contemporaries Culture, Israel Vibration or The Itals but contributed to Jamaica's fertile 1970s-80s reggae vocal trio era, which also included acts like The Mighty Diamond, Black Uhuru and Cultural Roots.
The reggae website of the week is definitely InFineStyle. It's a blog, archive and research portal devoted to telling the story of Jamican cartoon artist and album jacket designer Wilfred Limonious.

InFineStyle notes: "Limonious was responsible for designing over 150 dancehall reggae album covers and is considered one of the key architects of genre's aesthetic."

Famous examples of his work include the album cover for Stallag 17-18-19 on Techniques Recordings, which included Tenor Saw's massive hit "Ring The Alarn." Lesser known was Limonious's work as a cartoonist for daily Jamaican newspapers (see example above).
A new dancehall movie now in production called Gangstas follows a Jamaican thug as he attempts to expand his operations to the United States. The film's title song features Barrington Levy, Vybz Kartel and Khago (download). The film is currently casting extras and shooting scenes. For more information go  here.
Check your record racks for the new set of Lee Scratch Perry rarities, The Return of Sound System Scratch on Pressure Sounds.

The label describes the project as: "Eighteen tracks that span Lee Perry's time at his Black Ark studio showcasing 'Scratch' at the peak of his creative powers. Special one off exclusive dub plate mixes and super rare 45s that you can't find anywhere else. There are tracks that have never been released before such as Aleas Jube's 'Righteous land' and the dub version of the same song 'Righteous Rocking'; 'Longer dub', which was mixed at King Tubbys studio, is an exclusive remix of Junior Byles 'Long Way'."

Other new releases due out soon:
Assassin Most Wanted – VP – March 29, 2011
Various: The Evolution of Dub Volume 6 – Greensleeves – March 21, 2011 
SanchezLove You More – VP – May 10
ChinoChino – VP –May 24
Various: Biggest Reggae One Drop Anthems – Greensleeves – May 31

And here's Gappy Rank's new video for "Could A RunAway"