Producer Yared “BoomDraw” Lee is blissful after reggae artiste Jesse Royal's 11-track album Royal received a Grammy nomination in the Best Reggae Album category.
“Being one of the producers on one of the Grammy-nominated albums, I've been overwhelmed with joy. This is one of the happiest moments of my life. It's a culmination of a lot of hard work both with building my skills as a musician and building relationships with the people involved on the album. It's like getting recognition as a family, because many of the people who worked on it, I've known for many years and some of them since birth,” he told the Jamaica Observer.
Twenty-six-year-old Lee is producer of Black, one of the songs from Royal which is distributed by Easy Star Records. He is the son of Gabre Selassie, principal of Kingston Dub Club, and popular media personality Amelia “Milk” Sewell.
He said production for Black was an intricate process that started out “bare bones” until it was brought to life.
“They (Jesse Royal and team member Jason Panton) wanted it to sound very live. So we had a lot of live instrumentals, but it wasn't overpowering, so everything was a perfect balance. The first session (with Jesse) happened in early part of 2020 and it (the track) sat with them for a while then went back into studio months later with Iotosh and I to work on it some more,” Lee added.
The musicians on Black are Almando “Mundo” Douglas (guitar), Benjahmin “KINGBNJMN” Singh-Reynolds (drum programming), Darren “Jaxx” Jack (piano), Keneil Delisser of Koastal Kings (drums), Nemanja “Hornsman Coyote” Kojić (trombone) Jody-Ann Brown (percussion), and Salim Browne (bass). Keznamdi and ZAC JONE$ are credited as co-writers.
The producer said he was certain Royal would be among the top picks for the golden gramophone.
“I was definitely more than 50 per cent sure that we were gonna get the nomination. It's so musically diverse. Once I saw that we were submitted I was definitely already excited. It's the Grammys, anything possible and the Grammys are often unpredictable,” Lee added.
In 2017, the Wolmer's Boys' School alumnus paused his education at Florida International University (FIU) to follow his true passion. Being from a traditional family, this was a hard pill for some relatives to follow; however, the economics major said if Jesse Royal wins the Grammy, it will validate his career choice.
“It's not easy taking on a non-traditional career path. I decided to put higher education on hold. Being nominated and possibly winning would feel better than getting a masters degree. It would give me more leverage when negotiating with people 'cause then I can say, 'I've worked on an album that won a Grammy,' so automatically, my price will go up. Hopefully, getting a Grammy win will be more reason to celebrate with loved ones. I'm still pretty young and this song is the first one I've really done that got a full release,” he said.
In a Grammy nomination that was solely decided by the Recording Academy's voting membership for the first time in 30 years, Spice ( 10), Etana ( Pamoja), Sean Paul ( Live N Livin), Gramps Morgan ( Positive Vibration) and Virginia-based reggae group SOJA ( Beauty in The Silence) are also nominated in the Best Reggae Album category.
Lee hopes Jesse Royal walks away with the award but will be content no matter how the cards are played at the Grammy ceremony which is set for the Crypto.com Arena in Los Angeles on January 31 next year.
“Big up to the contenders; it's still a collective victory, regardless of who wins. I'm happy to see representation of reggae and dancehall on the global stage. I have lots of friends and peers nominated in the category too,” he told the Observer.