Entertainment

Reggae music's newest flavour

By Howard Campbell Observer senior writer

Sunday, October 21, 2012    

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HEADS bob approvingly to the frenetic beats pounding the studio walls at Beres Hammond's Harmony House studio.

Among those sitting in on the listening session is singer Courtney John. He is the creator of Rootstronic, a kinetic fusion of roots-reggae and electronica.

John says he conceived the sound last year.

According to the wiry vocalist, it is time for a new music concept to break out of Jamaica.

"Jamaica has become a melting pot of creative elements. When I was growing up you had about four or five radio stations but this generation has YouTube and the Internet and you can't restrict what they're listening," he told the Jamaica Observer.

"Jamaica has become a melting pot of creative elements. When I was growing up you had about four or five radio stations but this generation has YouTube and the Internet and you can't restrict what they're listening," he told the Jamaica Observer.

"I do think dancehall is great but I also think that we're too creative a people to think that's where the buck stops."

John's Soul of a Man is the first song on the new beat. It is available digitally and is expected to be followed by Very Special, both co-produced by Nastasia 'The Wizard' Hammond and keyboardist/producer Stephen 'Lenky' Marsden.

Like Dubstep, Grime, House and Drum and Bass which are popular with British clubbers, Rootstronic borrows from roots-reggae, the dominant sound in Jamaica during the 1970s.

"If you listen keenly you'll hear that foundation sound. I love the vibe because it allows me to stay true to the core elements and still experiment," John said.

Since the sensational Sleng Teng erupted in 1985, computerised rhythms have dominated Jamaican music.

The dancehall sound made significant inroads in the lucrative American market throughout the 1990s and the 2000s on the strength of big-selling albums and songs from Shabba Ranks, Shaggy and Sean Paul.

Dancehall hits have trickled in recent years, as the global market becomes flooded by new sounds like electronica and dubstep.

John first made his mark as Yogie in the late 1990s with the lovers rock song That was Then, followed by a cover of blue-eyed soul singer Paul Davis' I Go Crazy.

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