Yasus Afari’s secret is out

Wednesday, October 02, 2013

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WITH each album, Yasus Afari says he attempts to break new ground. On Public Secret, his latest, the dub poet recorded for the first time with his own band.

The 15-song set was released digitally and on compact disc in June by New York marketing company Fox Fuse. It will be officially launched in Jamaica on Saturday at Redbones Blues Café in St Andrew.

It showcases the Dub Vijan band, a five-piece aggregation that was formed in 2011. For Afari, who co-produced the album through his Senya-Cum and the Mandeville Music Group, working at his own pace was a welcome change.

"With this album, I was able to realise a lifelong ambition which is to record a studio album with my own band. I did things at my own leisure without watching the clock," he said.

Public Secret is the follow-up to last year's Ancient Future which heard Afari working with different producers on songs featuring established acts like Toots Hibbert and Black Uhuru. Dub Vijan debuted on that album, backing Afari on the song Guide ini O Jah.

The members of the band are Oswald Gooden (bass), Fabian Smith (keyboards), Bobby Gardner (guitar), Ricardo Foster (drums) and Cornel Hewitt (guitar).

Public Secret also marks Afari's venture into the hip remix market. Three of its 15 songs -- Let's Talk New York, Ring Pon Comedy and Guidance -- have been retouched by American Dub Smith, a "remix specialist" who has worked with firebrand poet Gil Scott-Heron, Floetry and Black Uhuru.

The St Elizabeth-born Afari was influenced by the fiery message of pioneer dub poets like Linton Kwesi Johnson, Oku Onura and Mikey Smith during the 1980s. A decade later, along with singer Garnet Silk and deejay Tony Rebel, he led the roots-reggae revival that transformed dancehall music which had been dominated by flamboyant acts like Ninja Man and Shabba Ranks.

While he collaborated with Hibbert and Black Uhuru on his previous album, Afari also worked with emerging roots artistes including Kokumo, Black Goddesses and King Kapisi.

There are no duets on Public Secret, a deliberate move, according to Afari.

"I decided to do things my way this time, I neva feel the need for any combination. An' wi still get a good vibe," he said.

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