Keeping the beat alive
Just over a week ago marked one year since the death of music producer Winston Riley.
He was shot in the head in November 2011, and went into a coma from which he never recovered.
Riley died on January 19. There have been no arrests for his death.
His Techniques label has enjoyed a revival of sorts with his sons Kurt and Andre, responsible for that rebirth.
The label’s latest project is the Animal Instinct rhythm.
“The Animal Instinct riddim is the re-launch of the label and so far the response has been overwhelming, especially from the international scene,” Riley told the Jamaica Observer.
Featured on the beat are songs from Popcaan, Voicemail, ZJ Liquid, newcomer Cee Gee, Beenie Man, Ninja Kid, Chevaughn, Chino, Mavado, Darrio, Konshens, Demarco, I-Octane and Leftside.
Riley is banking on the Animal Instinct to steer Techniques back to the hit-making territory it was dominant for over 30 years.
He points out that in order to achieve this, he and Andre must release quality, cutting-edge productions similar to those sounds for which their father was known.
Riley plans to release several projects on Techniques this year, including the pending Eternity riddim and songs from Morgan Heritage, Torch, Beres Hammond, D Major, Ice Man, Guyanese singer Timeka Marshall and Christopher Martin.
There is also a joint production with the Truckback Records label.
“You can expect nothing but more great music from the Techniques label and the artistes we are working with. Maybe one day we will send 10 more Shaggys and Sean Pauls to the Billboard charts,” Riley said.
At the height of its dominance, the Techniques label produced a number of hit songs by Red Dragon, Sister Charmaine, Junie Ranks, Lady G, Sister Nancy, General Echo, Frankie Paul, and Lone Ranger.
An original member of the Techniques group, Winston Riley first gained international fame with Dave and Ansel Collins’ Double Barrel, a massive 1973 hit in Britain.
His Stalag rhythm, reportedly the most sampled reggae beat of all time, was first released in 1974 as an instrumental.
It has driven hit songs by General Echo (Arleen) and Tenor Saw (Ring The Alarm) and was recently sampled for the Kanye West hit Mercy.
Riley points out that his father’s work is still being licensed to international companies.
“We continue to license the catalogue to various publishing houses worldwide,” he said.
Although he developed an interest in music at an early age, Kurt Riley did not get actively involved in music production until his 20s.
He says Riley senior passed on his vast knowledge of the music business to he and his brother.
“My father taught us to always find talent and help to expose them. He also told us to go through every piece of document, and if we don’t understand what we see, never be ashamed to ask,” he said. “He also advised us to be strong and connect mankind through music.”