It was a boy’s night out as Bounty, Shaggy & Ele held the vibes at BB Kings in Times Square, NYC. The official after party for the Hot 97 On Da Reggae Tip event at Hammerstein Ballroom, was followed up by a free party hosted by Hot 97’s Bobby Kondors, Jabba, and Mr. Cee. Serani, Beenieman, Busta Rhymes and Spliffstar were also in the building.
September 5, 2009 No Comments
‘No Woman No Cry’ Songwriter Vincent Tata Ford Died
By: Brittany Somerset, Intrepid Reporter
Vincent Tata Ford, the songwriter credited with composing the Bob Marley roots reggae classic mega-hit “No Woman, No Cry” died in a hospital in Kingston, Jamaica, on Sunday, December 28th. He was 68. Ford suffered from a life long struggle with diabetes, lost both his legs to the disease and required the use of a wheelchair. A spokesman for the Bob Marley Foundation stated that Ford had died from complications caused by diabetes.
Despite his disability, he remained a gentle, upbeat, caring soul. Ford, known affectionally as Tata, ran a soup kitchen in his native Jamaica. He was frequently seen at the Bob Marley Museum and at various events held in Bob’s honor.
Ford’s timeless, international classic hit song ‘No Woman No Cry’ appeared on Marley’s Natty Dread album in 1974 and was re-released on the 1975 album, Live! No Woman No Cry’ garnered further international acclaim when it appeared on Bob Marley’s greatest hits compilation, Legend in 1984. Legend remains the best selling reggae album of all time.
Ford is also credited with three songs on Marley’s album, Rastaman Vibration, released in 1976:
1. “Positive Vibration” (Vincent Ford) – 3:33
2. “Roots, Rock, Reggae” (Vincent Ford) – 3:38
3. “Crazy Baldhead” (Rita Marley/Vincent Ford) – 3:11
While Marley is the most world renowned, revered performer of reggae music, and is credited for helping spread Jamaican music on a global scale, Ford lived in relative anonymity until his death. He discontinued writing songs after Marley’s death in 1981.
Both Marley and Ford were friends who lived in the Trench Town ghetto in Kingston in the 1960s, when Marley was still performing with the original Wailers. Some detractors claim Marley wrote No Woman No Cry himself, for his wife Rita, but gave Ford the songwriting credit to ensure that his friend would be financially supported by the song’s royalties.
That rumor is unlikely; however, considering Ford is also credited as the writer for “Everything’s Gonna Be Alright,” on the soundtrack to the dismal 2003 J.Lo and Ben Affleck flic Gigli. Vincent Ford also dabbled in acting, appearing as a team captain in the 1986 movie, “FDR: A One Man Show.”
Vincent Ford is survived by his two children.
January 5, 2009 No Comments
Massachusetts Decriminalizes Marijuana
By: Brittany Somerset, Intrepid Reporter.
It was a NORML day in the new year, when in a major step towards repealing marijuana prohibition in the United States, Massachusetts decriminalized marijuana, hash and THC, as of January 2nd, 2009.
The Sensible Marijuana Policy Initiative, also known as Massachusetts Ballot Question 2, was an initiated state statute, i.e., a new law that a state adopts via the initiative process, that replaces current criminal penalties with civil penalties on adults possessing an ounce or less of marijuana. The Question 2 initiative appeared on the November 4, 2008 ballot in Massachusetts. Question 3, the initiative to ban greyhound professional dog racing, was also approved on the same ballot.
These citizen-initiated ballot questions, which were placed on the November ballot by collecting signatures from the public, are now newly enacted state laws. In laymen’s terms, the people of Massachusetts, a state rich in revolutionary history, stood up for their right to not be treated as criminal offenders for puffing the la and they won. Marijuana users caught in the act, or with pot in their pockets, will not be treated as criminals; although, they will be subjected to citations and fines of $100.
As of right now, a person smoking a joint on a sidewalk in Somerset, can not be issued a summons, the way a person drinking a beer would; although government and police officials made it clear that wouldn’t last long as they will immediately seek to ban cannabis use from public areas, especially where children congregate.
Had Question 2 passed last year, High Times Associate Publisher Rick Cusick and NORML founder Keith Stroup, would never have been arrested for sharing a joint at the Boston Freedom Rally. This year’s rally will no doubt have people lighting up en masse, which will send a message to the 49 other states in the union, where pot is still prohibited, that smoking an “L” is fine, in 2009.
(And off the record, how cool is it that you can smoke in SOMERSET!!!!!!!!!)
January 2, 2009 No Comments
I am just absolutely thrilled to announce that marijuana has been decriminalized in (one of) my namesake counties!
January 2, 2009 No Comments
By Brittany Somerset, Intrepid Repoter
Multi-platinum-selling, Grammy-winning, dancehall reggae artist, Sean Paul Henriques, his brother, Jason “Jigzagula” Henriques, and back up singer / hype man, Farenheit, performed at the Lehman Center for the Performing Arts, at Lehman College, 250 Bedford Park Boulevard West, in the Boogie Down Bronx, on Saturday, November 8th, 2008.
Even though this particular venue featured theatre seating, once Sean Paul took the stage, everyone jumped up out of their seats and rushed towards the stage, to be as close to the superstar as possible.
The Lehman Center was filled with people of all ages and ethnicities. Children as young as 6 years old attended this show with their parents and grandparents, proving that Sean Paul has massive, universal appeal and can’t be pigeonholed into a specific demographic.
Despite the Jamaican national motto, “Out of Many, One People,” Sean Paul has drawn criticism in the past by certain detractors who feel his multicultural background (Jamaican, Indian, Portuguese, etc), rather than his megawatt talent, is the reason for his mass appeal. Like Obama, Sean Paul belongs to everyone, and everyone relates to Sean Paul.
Sean Paul performed a slew of songs from his catalogue of hits such as “Like Glue,” from the 2003 album Dutty Rock, and “We Be Burnin” from his 2005 album Trinity. He also performed “Break It Off” (which features Rihanna). He closed with “Temperature,” and opted not to perform an encore.
Exclusive photos of this concert can be viewed at www.yardedge.net
November 11, 2008 No Comments
By: Brittany Somerset, Intrepid Reporter, Manhattan
The job of a reporter is to investigate the source and accuracy of a statement, to establish its authenticity, before reporting on it. A press release currently being circulated by Changez Media, on behalf of Bruno Gaston, the International Editor of the Redding News Review, with a headline stating, “American TV Host calls Jamaican Women the B word” gives pause for concern. Who is this TV host, and how could he possibly slander the wonderful women of Jamaica, by calling them such a nasty word, and still remain on the air? Surely this was wrong, no true? Well not so fast…
Bruno Gaston, the International Editor of Redding News Review (ReddingNewsReview.com), which is an interesting and informative, albeit poorly formatted, website concerning, “Black News Exclusive Reports & Daily Research of National & World News Events 24-7,” first reported this story. His short article, which ran with the headline, “DANCEHALL REGGAE VETERAN HITS INDUSTRY OVER TRAVEL CHANNEL PROFANITY,” was forwarded to my email inbox by Changez Media, as a much longer article, in which Jason Walker of Changez Media quotes himself, with the additional embellished headline, “AMERICAN TV HOST CALLS JAMAICAN WOMEN THE ‘B’ WORD.”
While Mr. Bruno Gaston is to be applauded for his tireless passion for reporting the news, it is unfortunate and dismaying that his much more successful, fellow journalistic colleague Anthony’s Bourdain’s words were taken completely out of context, possibly for the purpose of stirring up discord.
Anthony Bourdain is the host of the Emmy-nominated series “No Reservations,” on the Travel Channel. He is the quintessential adventurer. He is renowned for being something of a tough guy, and frequently shows his audience the rougher side of the towns he visits. He rode a motorcycle through Mexico during a previous episode.
According to Changez Media, Bourdain referred to women as “bitches” when describing dancehall music in the Jamaican-themed episode of the show. As he and his crew head to a passa passa street performance in Kingston, Bourdain narrates:
“There’s no rootsy, laid back Rasta vibe. This ain’t about standing up for your rights or praising Jah or anything like that. Like Reggaetón, its mutant cousin, dancehall is the hardcore beat behind lyrics concerning, for the most part: acquiring possessions, getting respect on the street, beating down perceived enemies and enjoying the physical charms of varied, if not multitudinous, bitches.”
Clearly, if you are capable of understanding English, nowhere in that episode of his television program did Bourdain call Jamaican women, or even female dance hall fans, “bitches.” He clearly states, to paraphrase, while explaining dancehall music, presumably to people who may be unfamiliar with it, that the lyrics describe, “acquiring money & bitches.” Pardon me, but some of it absolutely does! The ‘B’ word and its more commonly used Patois synonym, “sketel,” are uttered often in dancehall lyrics. Perhaps Sasha’s track, “Kill The Bitch,” was played at the particular party Anthony Bourdain attended. The worst Mr. Bourdain can be accused of is generalizing.
The intention of Anthony Bourdain’s program, as an American, is to travel to foreign places and report on them, presumably for viewers who live vicariously through his exploits, because they may or may not have a chance to travel to the places he does. His program is entertaining as well as informative.
In the maligned episode in question, Anthony Bourdain visited Jamaica, and described to people who might not know what dancehall is, what it is all about. Anthony simply pointed out the obvious. Don’t shoot the messenger, or alter his message, simply because he is Caucasian and/or foreign. He certainly did not call Jamaican women, “bitches”. That is a falsehood, and misleading reporting. If Mr. Bourdain had stated in his narration, “…beating down perceived enemies and enjoying the physical charms of varied, if not multitudinous, sketels,” this entire controversy would be without merit; however, the American audience most likely wouldn’t comprehend what he was talking about.
Veteran reggae artist, Nadine Sutherland states in Bruno Gaston’s article,
“I’m not going to have any self-righteous outrage at this man because that is what has been perpetuated. Why is it that a foreigner can’t do it? I don’t know if this is a moment that will change that, or even initiate dialogue, but this is indeed a moment a lot of us can look at ourselves and see some sense of shame.”
While his synopsis of dancehall music leaves room for debate amongst its participants and fans, his intentions while describing it, should not. As a seasoned travel reporter he has the utmost respect for the people and places he visits. It is provocative that his remarks are being used as a catalyst to spark discussion about raunchy dancehall lyrics; however, it is unfair to make him a scapegoat for describing what he heard.
Furthermore, if we as a dancehall culture do not want our music to be perceived in a negative light by outsiders, perhaps its time that we alter the vernacular in the lyrics, and omit words like “Bitch,” “Ho,” and “Sketel” from the songs altogether. Apparently Red Stripe’s corporate executives agree with this perspective, citing the “increasingly offensive lyrical content in dancehall music” as their primary reason for pulling their annual sponsorship from Reggae Sumfest, the notoriously popular dancehall festival in Montego Bay, Jamaica.
July 11, 2008 1 Comment
By Brittany Somerset, Intrepid Reporter, Manhattan NY
Due to a combination of poor ticket sales and inclement weather, Carifest C.A.R.E.S, which was scheduled for tomorrow, July 6th, has been cancelled. In the past Carifest has drawn criticism from gay activist groups who vehemently protested certain dancehall artists who used Carifest as a platform to wax philosophical about burning gays. Anti-gay sentiments that receive massive forwards from audiences at festivals in Jamaica, where homophobia is socially acceptable and even encouraged, do not go over well in New York City.
In an effort to make a positive change this year, Carifest C.A.R.E.S (Compassionate Artists Recognizing Entertainment Solutions) was meant to be a charitable event to sponsor Keep A Child Alive (KACA) an organization which provides medicine and relief to African children orphaned due to the AIDS pandemic, which has claimed millions of lives. Some critics felt however, that taking a community renowned for its homophobia, and preaching AIDS awareness to them, was an insurmountable task and alienated its core audience.
While it is ridiculously ignorant in this day and age to think that AIDS is a disease that primarily effects homosexuals, a popular, promiscuous reggae singer who asked that his name be withheld stated while he hardly ever uses prophylactic protection, he believes as long as he thinks positively, he wouldn’t get AIDS because Jah would protect him. It was this type of detrimental and potentially deadly attitude that Carifest CARES wanted to enlighten people about.
Carifest CARES has not been without controversy. Earlier in the month, artist Eek-A-Mouse was kicked off the bill, due to the racist remarks he made during a press conference for the event, verbally attacking white Jewish reggae artist Matisyahu, among others. His tirade was posted on YouTube.com for the world to see, drawing derision from even the most loyal of his fans. He posted a rebuttal on YouTube.com, further explaining his position, to no avail.
Various artists with a much more positive vibration were considered as a replacement for Eek-A-Mouse, from Spanner Banner to the Sierra Leone Refugee All Stars, however the promoter was not able to secure the necessary additional time from the Parks Department, in order to accommodate additional band changes.
While removing Eek-A-Mouse from the bill did not do any damage to the integrity of the festival itself, fans speculate that the overall line-up itself simply wasn’t strong enough to draw the amount of people required to make the event a success. Whereas past Carifests have included heavy hitters with crossover appeal like Collie Buddz, and Ninjaman, who had been previously barred from entering the country for over a decade, and who is heralded as the best Jamaican-born MC, as well as typically top drawing festival artists like Beenieman, the Carifest CARES line-up featured repeat artists like Matisyahu, and newcomers like Meta and the Cornerstones, causing people to speculate that the caliber of artists necessary to make this event a commercial success did not want to participate or be associated with a benefit for AIDS awareness. Others would speculate that it is difficult to get Jamaican artists to reduce their performance fees for a charitable event of any kind.
Fourth of July weekend itself, normally a notorious party weekend in New York, has been washed out, due to fog and rain. At many hotspots all over the city where people had assembled to watch the fireworks, from the rooftop of the Gansevoort hotel to South Street Seaport, myriad complaints could be heard about not being able to see the fireworks clearly. It stands to reason that people who are not going to want to stand out in the rain to see the annual fireworks display, are not going to want to stand out in the rain to see an annual concert event.
While Carifest Cares promoters Team Legendary and Alphonso D’Niscio Brooks in particular are to be commended for their efforts to enlighten their community about the AIDS crisis, it is unfortunate that this event had to be cancelled partially due to lack of support from their community. Carifest CARES publicist Erika Tooker stated, “Moving forward with the concert under these circumstances will in no way benefit the cause. Reggae-Carifest N.Y., Inc. apologizes to all patrons who purchased tickets and assures such patrons that full refunds will be made. All ticket holders can return to point of purchase to receive a full refund.” At this time, no plans have been made to reschedule Carifest CARES.
July 5, 2008 No Comments
By: Brittany Somerset, Intrepid Reporter, Manhattan
Elvis may be the King, and Beenieman may be the self-proclaimed, “King ofthe dance hall,” but Capleton is the Emperor, as well as the emissary of BoboShanti enlightenment. His performance in the heart of Babylon, at BB King’s in Times Square, New York City, on Sunday, June 15th, was positively electrifying. Capleton and the David House Crew burned a fire so hot BoBo Kings almost spontaneously combusted. Capleton was supported by special guest artists Jah Thunder and Culture Knoxx. All three artists were backed by the five-piece ensemble, The Prophecy.
BB King’s was dank and stank with the smell of sticky icky, wrapped in the cloying scents of strawberry, blueberry, vanilla and honey blunts, that thankfully cloaked the rancid smell of bidis.
Capleton’s radioactive, neon orange outfit was brighter than the neon lights of Times Square and perfectly accessorized his high-octane, off the Richter scale activity on stage. The consummate performer, he mesmerized the crowd, moved with the dexterity of a mountain lion, and shined like a solar flare. He practically did jumping jacks throughout his radiant, 1000watt set. The fire was burnin’ red hot underneath Times Square. Not even the rattling of the subway trains running underground nearby could eclipse the energy Capleton exuded as the audience roared with approval. It was a very fortunate crowd who were able to experience the euphoria of dancing in the dark with the dancehall diaspora.
Capleton elicited a huge forward from the audience when he said he didn’tlike it when he came to “foreign” (lands), and heard people calling each other “dog.” He said, “Dogs piss up yuh yard inna Jamaica, so mi nah wah hear peoplecall each udda dat.” He said he’s not a dog, but rather he’s a lion.(Maybe that’s why Snatcha Dogg changed his name to “Snatcha Lion”!) He said, “Call im ‘Snoop,’ leave out di ‘dog’. Call im ‘Daddy,’ leave out di ‘Puff’!” These hilarious remarks were greeted with screaming cheers of approval.
In between tracks, he took time out to extol the virtues of vegetarianism and racial unity. He also expressed his controversial views against “chi chi men”, child molestation, and oral sex, all considered equal acts of perversion within the boundaries of Bobo Shanti society.
Capleton performed his entire catalogue of hits like “Slew Dem,” “Tour,” “Jah Jah City,” “Love Potion,” “Good in Har Clothes,” as well as his new tracks “Toppa Tings,” and “Gimmie Di Ting,” released on the Truck Back label. The enthusiastic crowd chanted along with every single word, with their lighters and hands aloft high above their heads. He gave a stellar, two-hour performance worthy of Sumfest in the intimate underground venue. He did an unprecedented 5 encores. The crowd just would not let him leave.
Capleton’s manager, Queen Claudette Kemp, looked as regal as ever. Shawne Lee, AKA Miss Black Empress, and Lady Saw’s DJ Missy represented the lovely ladies in attendance. All three beauties proved that wearing alluring yet humble attire is always more attractive than wearing batty riders.
For those of you who missed Capleton’s amazing performance last night, he is playing again on the 29th of June at Hammerstein Ballroom.
June 16, 2008 3 Comments
By Brittany Somerset, Intrepid Reporter, New York City Carifest C.A.R.E.S. But Eek-A-Mouse Doesn’t. When asked at last week’s Carifest CARES (Compassionate Artists Recognizing Entertainment Solutions) press conference what Carifest meant to him, Eek-A-Mouse replied. “It doesn’t mean (expletive) to me” He then changed the subject entirely and went off on a tirade, dissing all the “white people who control reggae, like Ace Of Base, Matisyahu, (whose name he repeatedly mispronounced and called Matissaweh), Sean Paul and Shaggy; bitterly blaming them for his inability to get signed by a major label. He even he included the late, great, reggae founder Bob Marley in his racist rant, citing that he had a white father. “They nah wan no black people to run reggae music. They wan Sean Paul and Shaggy; A true. Matissaweh jump inna di business and starts selling all dem records deh, and now mi cyan sell none, and mi cant sign me, so mi wonder wagwann. Bloodclot! All dem white boys get money from reggae music and me cyan get none. Toots and the Maytalls, Dennis Brown, get nuttin and here comes Massassahoo, here comes UB40…” he angrily repeated himself, getting visibly more amplified by the second, as shown in this video of his spiteful speech: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8gz2-SHGlYs Music transcends race. If Eek-A-Mouse can’t get signed or earn money, perhaps its his attitude, not his skin color, that’s holding him back. Perhaps that and his paranoid dementia. Ace of Base aren’t even reggae. Team Legendary Promoter, Alfonso D’Niscio Brooks told Eek-A-Mouse’s management and agent that, “Unless he issues a public apology to Carifest, it’s affiliates and it’s supporters, his performing at Carifest will not be allowed and I will expect a complete refund.” Mr. Brooks further emphatically stated, “I can’t condone or promote his negative behavior. Carifest C.A.R.E.S is about Love. Racism and/or prejudices will in no way be accepted. Carifest has a very diverse audience and will not alienate anyone. I mean it when I say we will represent only good vibes! Carifest is not the platform for negativity.” Stay tuned to find out if Eek-A-Mouse recants his racist remarks or if the show will go on with out him.
June 16, 2008 No Comments
By Brittany Somerset, Intrepid Reporter, New York City Saturday, June 14th, New York, NY. It was a slammin’ Saturday night in the state of New York with so many parties to attend to and so little time. The 11th Annual Jamrock Reggae Festival, the Sean Bell tribute concert, and the Richie Spice concert were all in full effect well into the wee hours of Father’s Day Sunday morning.The 11th Annual Jamrock Reggae Festival, dubbed “Jammin’ In The City,” took place in monsoon-like Manhattan. The event was scheduled to start at 10pm, however it was almost washed up, due to the raging thunderstorm that racked the city. Most Caribbean folk do not like to get their hair wet; however, despite the pouring rain, the die-hard reggae massive was not to be deterred as they arrived soaking wet, but with their spirits up, ready to hear the likes of Etana the Strong One, Assassin, Ky-mani Marley, Beenieman, Mr. Vegas, and Demarco. Surprise last minute additions to the line-up included world famous, critically-acclaimed singers, Wayne Wonder, and Da’Ville, who replaced Sanchez, who unfortunately had to cancel his appearance due to a scheduling conflict.Held at the multi-tiered venue, Hammerstein Ballroom, in Midtown Manhattan, the floor seats were half empty; however, the balconies were full. Da’Ville’s performance was divine, Etana’s was effervescent, Vegas’s was vivacious, Ky-Mani’s was cool, Assassin’s was awesome, Wayne’s was wonderful, but Beenie was bored.Beenie, who almost always closes the show at festival events, due to his power to keep audiences lying in wait for him, was cradling a broken arm in a sling. Always a master of showmanship, he gave a spirited performance; however, he asked the crowd and the promoter, “Can I go home now?” after almost every song, to which the crowd enthusiastically shouted, “No!” After asking the crowd at least three times if he could go home, he addressed the promoter and stated, “You have to do this show earlier next time, I want to go home.” Within five minutes of Beenie’s completed performance, you could practically hear crickets chirping in the empty theater as everyone cleared out in record time, and tromped back into the drizzling rain. Meanwhile in the outer borough of Brooklyn, Sen I Sennon was performing at a Sean Bell tribute concert that appropriately took place in nightclub 1080 on Fulton Street. Sean Bell, the martyred poster child for police ineptness, second only Amadou Diallo, was tragically gunned down while leaving a nightclub after his bachelor party. Sen I Sennon, modeling Color Heritage clothing, performed with Jahspa and Teyazawan.After the Sean Bell tribute, the reggae music fans flocked over to Flatbush, to catch roots reggae artist Richie Spice’s 4AM performance at Caribbean City on Empire Blvd. Spice naturally sang all of his hits from his VP album, “In The Streets to Africa,” to a jam-packed audience, who boisterously sang along, word for word.While the damp, bedraggled vibe at Jammin’ in the City was more like yawning and stretching in the city, the Flatbush party popped off by comparison. It was sardines-in-a-can-crowded at the crack of dawn. Hundreds of people broke night while singing, “Na na na na na na na…”Let’s hope all those pro-active partygoers, who were up bright and early, remembered to call their Fathers and wish them happy Father’s Day.
June 15, 2008 No Comments