Grammy nominated producer 'Jah Mikes' projects busy year
KINGSTON, Jamaica — Things have always been competitive on the New York reggae scene. Yet, the independent music producer has managed to survive and score hit songs there, and in Jamaica.
Michael 'Jah Mikes' Coburn is one of those independent producers. Since 1994, he has operated Reggae Vibes Productions out of The Bronx.
Coburn co-produced Courtney Melody's hit song Modern Girl and Ky-Mani Marley's Grammy-nominated album Many More Roads. He projects a busy year for his camp.
"I'm working with some young artistes and I want to help them get their talent showcased. Reggae Vibes Productions always make positive songs and always try to help the reggae music stand up," he said.
Nando Fresh, a deejay who lives in Brooklyn, and singer Anthony Wayne from Queens, are among the label's young acts. They have songs on Reggae Vibes Productions' recently released I Can't Stand It rhythm.
But Coburn is also focused on projects by stalwart acts to boost his company's catalogue. Albums from Ras Shiloh, Johnny Osbourne, Yami Bolo, Prince Theo and Ras Capulu are in the works.
He has worked for several years with journeyman roots singer Prince Theo who is from St Thomas.
Over the years, Coburn produced songs and albums by Beres Hammond, Luciano, Jah Mason and Wayne Wonder, mainly because it suits his format.
"The difference between my productions is that I use professional musicians and live rhythms. I specialise in one drop reggae so I use professional engineers and my productions have a different feel and sound," he explained.
Coburn was born in Kingston but grew up in Stony Hill, rural St Andrew. He got his start in music co-producing songs by Courtney Melody and Major Worries, with singer Robert Ffrench.
In 1987, they got the breakthrough with Modern Girl, which was a hit in Jamaica, as well as dancehall markets throughout the United States, United Kingdom and Japan.
Coburn's finest moment came when Marley's Many More Roads was nominated for Best Reggae Album in 2002.
He believes his current projects have the quality for a crack at music's biggest showpiece.
"I hope to be nominated for a Grammy again and win it," said Coburn.