Dancehall + Roots=Vibes

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Stephen McGregor teams up with Shakira on El Dorado

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Stephen Di Genius McGregor teams up with Colombian pop star Shakira on her recently released eleventh studio album El Dorado. McGregor’s contribution is on the single Amarillo

Di Genius has made a name for himself in the industry over the years delivering consistently strong hardcore dancehall productions like Outbreak of 2009 and more commercial grades like Pepper of 2011. Stephen seamlessly transitions from producer to artist back to producer again and is able to release classic reggae bangers like Cyaan Friend Again of 2010 which still gets huge forwards in the dancehall almost 8 years later. It seems he’s taken que from his father the legendary Freddie McGregor on how to truly stand the test of time in this business.

Stephen posted a pic of Shakira’s El Dorado  with a comment of appreciation via Instagram this week.

@digenius1 🙏Grateful to be a part of this @shakira album!🙏. Did production on track #5 #Amarillo. Big shouts to my bros on the album as well…

Shakira is no stranger to collabs it seems anytime an artist graces her album both see almost immediate crossover market and demographic success. Possibly her greatest collab has been her 2010 contribution to the FIFA World Cup South Africa and Coca Cola with her monster hit “Waka Waka.”  Watch the video below

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Freddie McGregor, RastafarI and Dancehall

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Freddie Mcgregor celebrated his 60th birthday this week. He’s had a vibrant career contributing to reggae and dancehall over the course of almost 6 decades. Mcgregor is among the likes of Dennis Brown, Bob Marley, Judy Mowatt and others who in time joined the Twelve Tribes of Israel.

Freddie’s popularity soared in the early 80’s with the release of Bobby Bobylon and hits like Big Ship, Push Comes to Shove, Just Don’t Want To Be Lonely (a UK top ten hit) and I Was Born a Winner.

The establishment of the Big Ship Label in 1983 is possibly one of Freddie’s most lasting contributions to the industry. The label has gone on to produce for artists like Papa San, Lieutenant Stitchie, Tiger, Luciano and Mickey Spice. His Son Stephen seriously intends to keep up with his father’s legacy having produced countless contemporary dancehall/reggae hits. This year Stephen contributed to Shakira’s latest album. In 2013 Freddie received a Marcus Garvey Lifetime Achievement Award from the Institute of Caribbean Studies.

RastaFaraI and Dancehall

There is no doubt that Rastafarianism has played a major role in defining Jamaica’s identity. Almost everything which makes Jamaica so different from the host of islands that dot the globe is Rastafarianism and reggae music. Many tourists still believe Jamaica’s national colours are red, green and gold. While these colors have been rightly appropriated from the Abyssinian flag to signify the movements imperial sovereignty and direct association with His Imperial Majesty Haile Selassie (Ras Tafari).

The early 90’s saw an upsurge of interest in Rastafarianism. Perhaps it was due to a collective rise in black nationalism that surged after the widely publicized Rodney King incident, Spike Lee movies and Hip Hop music which began to reflect more and more nationalistic content. It appears simultaneously reggae and dancehall saw its own resurgence of nationalism as popular dancehall deejays like Capleton and Buju Banton began growing locks and infusing Africa and Rasta tenets into their tunes.

It seems music coming from Africans in the diaspora may follow common fluctuations of highs and lows in terms of culturally conscious content. Whether its Billie Holiday’s Strange Fruit, Marvin Gaye’s What’s Going On, Garnett Silk’s Christ in his Kingly Character or Buju’s Til Shiloh, there is a consistent common thread that seems to begin to lean towards something more than the money, love, power and sexual prowess subject matter that experiences popularity spikes throughout music’s ongoing history.

Reggae Routes: The Story of Jamaican Music
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