One of the more prominent of the second generation of Jamaican roots reggae singers, Tarrus Riley made a bold entrance onto the music scene in the mid-2000s with albums like Challenges and Parables, the latter of which included the Sly & Robbie-aided hit "She's Royal." The son of veteran singer and former Uniques and Techniques member Jimmy Riley, Tarrus' music embraces contemporary sounds while remaining tied to the country's roots traditions as well as Rastafarianism. While continuing to rack up hits and awards, he maintained a focus on incorporating Black history into his music on tracks like 2011's "Shaka Zulu Pickney" and launching the youth education initiative, the Tarrus Riley Freedom Writers Competition. Riley's success continued throughout the 2010s with albums like Love Situation and a prolific run of singles. He returned to album work in 2020 with Healing.
Riley was born in the Bronx, New York, but raised in Jamaica. Like his father, he has a sweet, nuanced, tenor vocal style, although his first connection with the Jamaican music scene was as a DJ (under the name Taurus). Riley taught himself to play keyboards and several percussion instruments and began writing his own songs, many of which had strong Rastafarian and consciousness-leaning themes. His first album, Challenges, was produced by the great Jamaican saxophonist Dean Fraser and released on Yaman Records. It yielded a couple of big reggae chart hits, including the song "Larger Than Life." Fraser also produced 14 of the 15 tracks (the other was produced by Chris Chin) on Riley's sophomore effort, Parables, which appeared in 2006 from VP Records and featured the legendary rhythm section of Sly Dunbar and Robbie Shakespeare. It too generated a big single in "She's Royal." Over the next several years, his music racked up several awards including the 2007 Jamaica Observer Artiste of the Year, and an impressive four Reggae Academy Awards in 2008. The following year, his third album, Contagious, yielded yet more hits with "Good Girl Gone Bad" featuring Konshens and a cover of Robin Thicke's "Superman."
Meanwhile, Riley continued to engage with his African roots with tracks like "Shaka Zulu Pickney" from the 2011 Nyabinghi Riddim compilation. Regular tours throughout Europe helped expand his audience in the front half of the 2010s and he enjoyed a particularly prolific streak with Mecoustic (2012), To the Limit (2013), and Love Situation (2014). At this point, he shifted to a steady stream of singles, putting out tracks like "Feel Free," "Haunted," and "B.L.E.M." Finally, in 2020, Riley returned to the album format with Healing, his first full-length in six years.
Written by Steve Leggett
Windell Beneto Edwards became the singer known as Gyptian when he left his rural home in St. Andrew, Jamaica, and traveled to Portmore, the town where the promoter known as Mr. Wong ran his studio. Gyptian had grown up singing in his mother's Adventist church and listening to his Rastafarian father's music. His father had been a promoter himself for a time, so he understood the grooming and networking that would be involved in turning Gyptian's passion into his profession. His parents trusted Ravin Wong, having seen the promoter turn many an unpolished talent into reggae stars, I Wayne being a good example. Under Wong's direction, Windell became "Egyptian," then "I-Gyptian," and finally just Gyptian. The smooth singer was eventually presented with a song that would suit his conscious upbringing, "Serious Times," and after adding his own verse to it, he cut the track in Wong's studio.
Combining hypnotic nyabinghi drums with lyrics that plead for an end to violence and crime, "Serious Times" exploded across Jamaica, putting Gyptian in the company of Jah Cure and Fantan Mojah, two other artists who were becoming popular by fighting for peace and justice in a roots reggae style. By the time the single had become a Jamaican number one, numerous producers were contacting Gyptian in hopes he would appear on their tracks, but the roots-minded singer refused most of the offers since their lyrics were filled with gun talk and misogyny. After being presented with enough socially conscious music and old-school lovers rock to fill a full-length, Gyptian made his debut in 2006 with My Name Is Gyptian on the VP label. Two years later he returned with I Can Feel Your Pain, an album heavily influenced by contemporary R&B. In 2010 his massive Jamaican hit "Hold You" put him back in the spotlight. It was followed by a soca remix of the track, a hip-hop remix with rapper Nicki Minaj as guest, dubstep remixes from Diplo and Toddla T, plus a full-length album of the same name. In 2013, he returned with the album Love, Sex and Reggae, a more pop-oriented effort with Diplo returning as a producer. Gyptian has recently released I'm For You, a collaboration with Khalia.
Written by David Jeffries
From the beginning Ce'Cile has been an innovator. This 'Bad Gyal' has kept tongues wagging since first breaking into the Dancehall scene with the self produced, shockingly refreshing and thought provoking smash "Changez" designed as a marketing ploy by poking fun at her male counterparts. Rhythmically inventive and catchy, it shot across dancehall's macho braggadocio, light-heartedly lampooning the music's biggest male names with unflattering speculation on their bedroom performance. Not surprisingly, it won her a legion of female fans. Ce'Cile is a deadly combination of sex appeal with veracity and though dancehall for the most part is purely a testosterone-driven sphere, to miss Ce'Cile is to miss half the story. She writes lyrics that other females shy away from for fear of being shunned in Jamaica's male dominated music scene. Being the most outspoken, especially on issues concerning women, Ce'Cile has never felt trapped from expressing her stance as being bold, calculating and brutally honest in her lyrics and subject matter. "Can You Do Di Wuk" a duet with Sean Paul featured on his Grammy winning multi - platinum selling album "Dutty Rock" was a testiment to her "badgyal" demeanor and the track became a natural pick for djs worldwide and made it possible for her to join Sean in Europe during his Dutty Rock tour for several shows including the Europe MTV Awards pre-party and Wembly Stadium in the UK.
Ce'Cile's signature sound - the combination of sultry singing, along with finely honed deejaying, has left in her wake a string of "Ce'Cile knockoffs" that have started emulating her pioneering style, but Ce'Cile maintains she is a full package that can never be duplicated. Ce'Cile has been widely acknowledged with the bevy of award nominations received over the past five years which include capturing accolades for; the Irie Jam Radio Awards, Jamaican Federation of Musicians, 2 IRAWMA awards, South Florida Reggae Awards, Stone Love Awards, Star Awards, Richie B's awards, Tamika Awards and more. To date, Ce'Cile is still one of the few Dancehall artists to be featured in Source Magazine, Vibe Magazine and XLR8R Magazine. Ce'Cile also yearly tours Caribbean, USA and Europe bringing her fresh style to all audiences. This groundwork has lead to crossover hits in Germany such as: "Rude Bwoy Thug Life", "Hot Like We", a collaboration with DJ Tomec and other genre-crossing collaborations with British breakbeat producers Stanton Warriors and the electornica wizard Amon Tobin. Ce'Cile has managed to secure collaborations with elite artists including; Trina, Shaggy, Timberland, Beenie Man, Elephant Man, Sean Paul, Lady Saw and Olivia. Ce'Cile has come this far by doing things her own way, in her eyes being true to herself and her music is why she is Jamaica's (and soon the world) loving Bad Gyal. Such an uncompromising attitude makes Ce'Cile truly an original voice.
Afro B is the working moniker of rapper, singer, songwriter, producer, and former DJ Ross-Emmanuel Bayeto. He calls his signature meld of electronic dance music, hip hop, Afro-pop, reggaeton, Afrobeat, and dancehall, "AfroWave." Though he DJ'ed in the London club scene for years, and produced and participated in various recording projects from 2015 on, it was 2018's "Drogba (Joanna)" that broke him internationally and inspired the international #DrogbaChallenge dance craze. The single peaked at number 23 on the U.S. R&B/Hip-Hop Airplay chart in 2019, and has inspired several remixes. The track became a club staple on both sides of the Atlantic for more than two years. He followed it with the singles "Melanin" and "Shape Nice," the latter with Jamaican stars Vybz Kartel and Dre Skull. He released three numbered full-length mixtapes entitled AfroWave. Two were self-released while the third, AfroWave 3, was issued by the U.K. independent EMPIRE in 2019.
Born in the Greenwich region of London in 1993 to French-speaking Ivorian parents, Ross-Emmanuel Bayeto began playing piano while in secondary school and eventually assumed the role in his church choir. From listening to the radio and the recordings of friends, he became obsessed with turntablism and mixing. His early DJ tracks included 2013's "My Sweet Coco" in collaboration with Mista Silva, and Baba God” in collaboration with SK, a modern gospel worship song. During a long tenure at a Jamaican club called NW10, he began promoting the scene that has become "Afrobeats" in London, a hybrid, multilingual music that crisscrosses genres, origins, and languages, not to be confused with Nigerian Afrobeat. The Londoner then moved into producing. Carefully curating his integrative new style, it caught on and other DJs and producers began spinning, mixing, and recording music as Afrobeats. Afro B's debut mixtape AfroWave appeared in 2017. "Drogba (Joanna)" was cut as as an homage to Didier Drogba, a Chelsea and Ivory Coast National Team football star. A 2018 re-release and initial "garage" remix produced by Team Salut climbed to the upper rungs of the U.K. dance charts. Afro B then developed the dance that became the "#Drogba Challenge" that quite literally took over the U.K. dance scene for the better part of two years, while the single ran up the U.S. R&B/Hip-Hop Airplay chart and peaked at number 23. The video, shot in multiple locations including New York and Paris, featured the artist and a bevy of Afrobeats dancers moving to the song's infectious chorus. It also highlighted some of the viral Drogba Challenge videos from social media, and included clips of Didier Drogba himself. Afro B issued the "Stepped In (Sexy Back)" feat. Swift single in May and the AfroWave 2 mixtape compilation later in the year.
Ghazi Shami, president and CEO of U.K. independent EMPIRE signed Afro B to the label in June of 2019 as the French Montana remix of "Drogba (Joanna)" was rampaging over the dancefloors of clubs in the U.K., the U.S., and the Caribbean. The single "Melanin" (feat. Yemi Alade) appeared at the same time and was followed by "Shape Nice" (feat. Vybz Kartel and Dre Skull). Afro B made his own guest spot on Ashanti's "Pretty Little Thing" single and followed it with his own "Go Dance" (feat. Busy Signal) and "Fine Wine & Hennessey" (feat. Slim Jxmmi), and appeared on Josey's "Touch My Body." AfroWave 3 appeared before the end of the year and included the track "Condo" in collaboration with T-Pain. Afro B kicked off 2020 with two club smashes in "Slow Wine" (feat. Machel Montano) and the streaming hit "Safety 2020" in collaboration with Chris Brown and DJ Snake.
Written by Thom Jurek
Carolyne Naomi’s music is a tapestry of culture and music, which encompasses love and light through guitar, voice and soul.
The Nigerian-born guitarist realized her love for music at an early age. At 9 years old, she penned her first original composition. As a teenager, the guitar became her instrument of choice. With her new instrument, she wrote more songs, performed on different stages, becoming a contestant on the premier edition of MTN Project Fame West Africa, a music competition/reality TV show that aired in various parts of the African continent. Her nickname during the show was “the Guitar Girl”.
She fine-tuned her writing skills by writing jingles for Beat 99.9 FM, and other urban radio stations in Lagos. She also wrote one for renowned on-air personality, IK Osakioduwa, host of Big Brother Nigeria and The Voice Nigeria.
Over the years, she has cultivated her own sound, which embraces many genres. Naomi describes her style as a “culmination of different music I grew up listening to over the years: R&B and soul from the ’80s era to present, pop, jazz, gospel, and Afro-beats.” Naomi currently calls Minneapolis home.
Every once in a while, an artiste with a new powerful song, crisp vocals, and on-point lyrics emerges that makes one say wow! That’s what music is about. Nerada Brissette from Westmoreland, Jamaica with his potent delivery of ‘Turn Up The Music’ is such an artiste. His new Ep ‘Call Me Nerry’ contains 7 gems including some ballads (which suites his voice perfectly), conscious reggae, and dancehall.
Nerry as he is called professionally has been around since the mid-90s and performed at most of Jamaica’s major music festivals. He not only sings but is also a player of various instruments; the bass guitar being his favorite. Nerry last toured Germany and Austria back in 2008 with Freddie McGregor and has been touring the US since. His sound is authentic and he effortlessly captivates his audience with his soulful, smooth, and raspy vocals.
Written by David Lawrence
SOUND OF FUJUN
Sound of Fujun has been bringing the hottest music to the Twin Cities since 2003. The first Caribbean DJ from Minnesota to go global, he broadcasts to avid fans via soundoffujun.podomatic.com. "Fujun" comes from his Trinidadian roots, spelled as it is pronounced back home. His ability to fuse music- dancehall, hip hop, reggae, soca, afrobeats - keeps the vibe fresh and fans wanting more. Check out this year's Bayfront Reggae & World Music podcast.