IN 2011, singer Troy Stephen decided it was time to record songs again after a decade-long break. His comeback, however, was not inspired by missing the music business but what he considers a national crisis.
"Jamaica needs leadership now and music has always provided leadership. What is missing from the scene at the moment is strong social commentary," Stephen said.
The Trench Town-born Stephen says he is currently working on his first album which he hopes to release in early 2013. Since returning to the scene last year with Mother of my Children, he has maintained a steady schedule in the recording studio.
With the support of the Firehouse Crew and bass player Paul Hutchinson, Stephen has completed six songs to date for his debut set. They include Youths to Know Love, Civilise the People and Strength of Character which, given adequate airtime, he believes can make a mark with dancehall-obsessed youth.
"What I do is message music because I feel that's what's wanted in this time. I do other genres but for now my songs are roots-based," he said.
Stephen made his recording debut in the late 1990s with Rougher Than Rough and made other roots-based songs before calling it quits just over 10 years ago.
The roots message of Bob Marley and Burning Spear appealed to Stephen when he was growing up in Trench Town and Payne Lands, two tough St Andrew communities scarred by years of gang and political violence.
The areas also produced numerous grassroots artistes who made it big internationally, largely pitching the message of peace and Rastafari. Troy Stephen is following in their footsteps.