U-Roy's latest album drops July 16Sunday, May 23, 2021
A day after veteran reggae artiste U-Roy was laid to rest, his record label Trojan Jamaica/BMG has announced the release of Solid Gold U-Roy, the latest full-length album.
The album was originally set to hit the market in 2020, with plans for a worldwide tour in support, but unfortunately, the pandemic delayed the release. With his death on February 17, the label noted that the album has become a celebration of one of what it calls “the most profoundly influential reggae stars of his generation”.
Solid Gold U-Roy, which hits the streets on July 16, features guest appearances by heavyweights including Ziggy Marley, Shaggy, Mick Jones of The Clash, Santigold, Sly & Robbie, David Hinds of Steel Pulse, Big Youth, Tarrus Riley, Rygin King, Jesse Royal, Richie Spice, and Scientist. The lead single, Man Next Door featuring Santigold, was originally composed by John Holt and released in 1968 by his group, The Paragons. U-Roy sampled the song in 1982 for the track Peace and Love in the Ghetto which appeared on his Original DJ album.
An official music video is also available now for Man Next Door. The clip captures U-Roy in 2018 at the Trojan Jamaica studios in one of his last sessions. Santigold was filmed at Sunset Sound later that year. The video was directed by Nick Franco/1185 Films in collaboration with Trojan Jamaica co-founders Zak Starkey and Sharna “Sshh” Liguz.
“It was such an honor to get to work on this project with U-Roy, a true creator,” said Santigold. “He was a major pioneer in a genre that influenced me so deeply, and it just so happened that the song I was asked to sing, Man Next Door, has been a favorite of mine since I was a little girl. It felt so special to get to sing that song in particular – I knew the harmonies in my body without having to think for a second – and to hear his voice cutting through, driving the rhythm, drawing us all into his world. What a gift that I got a chance to sing on this track with him! He was one of the greats.”
Zak Starkey and Sshh met U-Roy in 2018 and their friendship quickly developed beyond merely being his label presidents. They feel privileged to have signed him, were devastated by the surprise news of his death, and are deeply committed to honouring his legacy.
“We met U-Roy through our friend, Wayne Jobson, who took us to meet him in Kingston in early 2018,” Sshh recalled. “We ate lunch and got on great, and talked about re-recording his greatest hits with him joined by special guest artistes. He was easy to talk to, very dignified and confident but very approachable, cool-looking and unassuming; but then he would open his mouth, and out would come a big, booming statement.”
Zak Starkey also had fond memories of the late artiste.
“Three weeks after our meeting we started recording in Trojan Jamaica Sounds studio in Ocho Rios,” Zak Starkey said. “U-Roy would toast his songs live and Sshh would sing the songs that were to be sung later by the guests. Sshh and U-Roy bonded quickly doing this and had a lot of fun doing it. The band was Sly & Robbie, Tony Chin, Robbie Lyn and me. We had to work quickly [four days], as U-Roy was leaving for a six-week European tour right after recording his parts. After he split to go on tour, we spent a couple of months overdubbing and adding the guest artistes. Most artists came to our studio in JA and some recorded at their own studios. An honour, a pleasure, and a musical education from 'The Originator', Daddy U-Roy. We loved touring with him and I worked out some good riffs to bounce off his signature style. Sshh and U-Roy had particularly good chemistry on stage – the whole Brazilian tour was so much fun and so rewarding because of the fantastic songs that we got to play and sing with him. We played gigs for 150,000 people and many of them were waving his vinyl records and hailing him as The Originator,” he shared.
“We had always loved U-Roy because of the power of his voice, and his lyrics with their humour and seriousness,” continued Sshh. “We made the Solid Gold album because we wanted everyone to know that U-Roy helped invent rap.
“One of our favorite memories is of him explaining to us why Bob Marley and others cut dubplates especially for him, because 'I was it, man, I was it!' ” she shared.