Ras Emmanuel looks to Africa


Ras Emmanuel looks to Africa

By Howard Campbell
Observer senior writer

Thursday, June 13, 2019

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Repatriation to Africa has been a cry from Rastafarians and roots-reggae artistes since the late 1960s. After making his first trod to the continent last year, New Jersey-based singer Ras Emmanuel is determined to make a mark there with his music.

While visiting The Gambia in May, he recorded the song Break Up Your Back with hometown singer Black Bubba and plans to capitalise on his growing popularity in the West African country.

“I returned to The Gambia on a second trip in late April to early May for two weeks. The trips were orchestrated by a popular disc jockey there called Mutabaruka at Paradise FM in Banjul, the capital. He heard my music on digital platforms, made contact and extended an invitation,” Ras Emmanuel told the Jamaica Observer.

Ras Emmanuel, who has been recording since the early 1990s, is from Central Village in Spanish Town. He first went to The Gambia last November to promote his album, My Day, and discovered he had a following thanks to consistent airplay.

“Radio is big there, so that's the number one vehicle for getting the music out. Most of the venues there are medium-sized, not stadiums like in the US. Some are community centres, schools and the beaches too, where a makeshift stage is constructed for shows,” he said.

The Gambia is fertile ground for reggae. Many top artistes, including Beres Hammond, Frankie Paul, Luciano and Mavado, have performed there. British producer Neal “Mad Professor” Fraser promoted his Back To Africa concert in the city of Batukunku.

That Day is Ras Emmanuel's second album; his first, Loving Enemies, was released in 2005. Both blend the dancehall/reggae sounds Ras Emmanuel (given name Nasir Gowdie) grew up listening to in Jamaica before migrating to the United States in 1997.

He has established himself on the New Jersey/New York roots circuit through songs like Loving Enemies, Nuh Send Nuh Guns to Jamaica and I Know. Ras Emmanuel has also toured Europe and Australia with the Easy Star All-Stars Band.

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