No-Maddz goes mainstream

BY HOWARD CAMPBELL Observer senior writer

Saturday, February 07, 2015

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THE mellow strains of The No-Maddz' Romance fill the room of Sly and Robbie's One Pop studio. Group members Everaldo Creary and Christopher Downer listen intently to the track, lead song from their album, Sly and Robbie Presents The No-Maddz.


'Sly and Robbie Presents' was released January 27 and is The No-Maddz' most commercial effort to date. It includes the lovers rock song, Romance, and the hard-rocking Shotta.


Creary told the Sunday Observer that he and his colleagues met with drummer Sly Dunbar early last year to discuss a possible project. It would be different from previous recordings.


"Wi always have people who sey wi too cultural for mainstream, but from wi in high school wi want to win a Grammy," said Creary. "But wi want to do it, jus' like how Harry Belafonte did...Day O was so Caribbean, so roots, so Jamaican. There's room for that."


'Presents' is far from Belafonte territory, but Downer notes it "has songs for every region".


Romance, Shotta and Champion are reminiscent of Sly and Robbie's Taxi productions from the late 1970s. Shotta was written over 20 years ago by dub poet Keith Shepherd, father of member Sheldon Shepherd.


The world beatish Pucku Poo, a staple of No-Maddz live shows, was inspired by dub poet Mikey Smith's Wha Dis.


Creary said the link with Sly and Robbie came through a mutual friend. Their previous projects including te 2010 album, The Trod, were self-produced but they decided on a change of course after getting advice from a music industry legend.


"We were talking with Chris Blackwell and he told us in a constructive way that we need some songs," Creary disclosed.


The original version of No-Maddz came out of Kingston College where Creary, Shepherd, singer/guitarist Oneil Peart and Christopher Gordon were part of the drama programme run by Peter Heslop.


Originally seven members, they competed in various Jamaica Cultural Development Commission competitions. The No-Maddz became a quartet after one member died, another migrated and Shane Fitzgerald (who named the group) became a family man.


Downer, a product of the Tivoli Gardens Comprehensive drama programme, is the newest member of the group.


The No-Maddz have built a following in Jamaica with a busy schedule, mainly in Kingston. Since 2011, they have appeared on major European festivals such as Superjam in Germany and Belgium's Geel.


Creary believes an album will make the group even more attractive in 2015.


"We have something for people to hear, not that there wasn't something to hear before, but things are a lot different now," he said.


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