FOR his latest album, singer Mikey General says he wanted to make a statement, one that would make an impression on Jamaica's most troubled demographic.
That album, African Story African Glory was released in early December. It bears the seal of Qabalah First, a record label Mikey General and close friend Luciano established in 2000.
Reaching out to Jamaican youth with Afro-strong themes is the driving force behind African Story African Glory. According to Mikey General, that message had a lasting impression on his generation and can be just as effective.
"It's important to build positive messages for the youths so wi trying to encourage people to teach dem stories of great Africans and their achievements," said the burly roots singer. When yuh look at all the violence going on with young people, I think a lot of it stems from low self-esteem."
Mikey General wrote or co-wrote each of African Story African Glory's 16 songs, most of which are inspired by his Rastafarian faith. But there is also space for the customary 'weed tune' (I Blaze) and ballads like Streets of Glory and Yene Mar, the latter done with singer Lutan Fyah.
African Story African Glory comes two years after Born To Rule, Mikey General's previous album which was also a Qabalah First production, but distributed by a German independent company.
Not much, however, was heard of that project in areas like Europe where artistes like Mikey General have their strongest audience. He blames that on inadequate promotion.
"What that showed me is that yuh can't leave things in other people's hands. I plan to be more patient with this album because I've learned my lesson," he said.
Born Michael Taylor in England to Jamaican parents, Mikey General cut his teeth working the sound system circuit in Kingston where he grew up. Returning to the United Kingdom in his early 20s, he found steady work in the London underground, gigging regularly with sound systems like Saxon.
His recording output picked up in the 1990s when he and Luciano joined the growing Xterminator label, owned by producer Phillip 'Fattis' Burrell. For the last 20 years, Mikey General has toured the world as opening act for Luciano, an association he admits may have stalled his career.
"To be honest, it has hurt and helped," he said. "Is like yuh have two trees in a garden an' the two of them growing but one overshadows the other even though its bearing good fruit."
Mikey General is scheduled at an event marking the 50th anniversary of the Coral Gardens incident in St James, on March 29.