Sunday, March 2, 2008

Version City Jamaica

Stubborn Records in conjunction with Freedom Sounds launches Version City label in Jamaica!!

Last year King Django went down to Jamaica carrying the latest riddim from Version City Studios called Fortitude. With a killer vocal from Jamaican dancehall singer Johnny Osbourne on top of this hot Version City Rockers riddim, this is one heavyweight tune. On the strength of this tune he was able to start Version City Records with support and distribution from veteran reggae producer Bertram Brown, who has run his own Freedom Sounds label since the 1970's. They put out a few 45s featuring vocalists from JA and the US on both the Fortitude riddim and Mr. Brown's Ethiopian Kings riddim that have been turning out hits, and in January of this year Django went back to Jamaica and brought back a whole new batch of sides. These 45s are red hot and flying off the shelves like hotcakes!

Written and recorded by Django as the first riddim for the Version City Rockers' Darker Roots sessions. This riddim features the original drum and bass team from Boston's Skavoovie and the Epitones - Ben "Benny Beats" Herson and Rob Jost. The rest of the Version City Rockers crew on this release are King Django on piano and percussion, the Slackers' Vic Ruggiero on organ, Jamaican music legends Sugar Minott and Glen Brown on percussion and guitarists Brett Tubin and Shane Gooding.

Sample it

Rocker T - Dread Inna Mi Heart
No Version City Rockers tune would feel right without Rocker T pon di mic. The guy never disappoints, and on Dread Inna Mi Heart he kills. Drop that needle and prepare yourself for a non-stop lyrical attack of that only Rocker T can bring. Latest news from Version City is that this tune will appear on his upcoming album. What a thing to look forward to!

King Django – The More I Learn
The man returns at the top of his game on this one, putting down some of his greatest lyrics in years. There's a humbling lesson to be had here, teaching us that no matter what we think we know, there's always more to learn. At times it's best to keep our eyes open and our mouths closed. As we grow older we need to value what's truly important. It sounds as though Django has reached a high point in his life, where he "Got everything [he] need and everything is OK." Reminding us why he is the King, not only the lyrics but his flow kills this riddim, and ranks up there with some of his best tunes.

Gideon Blumenthal – Tabernacle
The Westbound Train keyboardist takes the B-Side to The More I Learn, showing his chops on this instrumental, Jackie Mittoo flavored number. The melody sounds like a haunting take on the popular Norwegian Wood melody, and showcases the organist's skills front and center.

Little John - I Feel Good
Another stand out tune, Jamaican singer Little John's voice puts you at ease. His vocal is just right on this riddim, blending in harmoniously. You really get a taste of Django's mixing on this one, listen closely and you will feel good... guaranteed.

Roaring Lion – Terble Sinting
A catchy call-and-response anthem, Roaring Lion sounds like he can mash up any dancehall and carry any crowd along for the ride. This track captures the live vibe best of any of these singles, and it will have you chanting "Terble Sinting" in your head for hours!

Pampidoo - Selassie I Rule
Hard hitting gritty vocals that can't be matched. Jamaica's Pampidoo brings a whole new flavor to the riddim taking complete control of the tune.Chatting up and down like a true champ. When he hits you with the chorus look out! This thing is wicked.

Nigger Kojak - Give Ear
Again a throw back to the early deejay styles, 1970s hit-making artist/producer Kojak, who pioneered the male/female deejay combination, lays down a soothing solo vocal. Just like most of these singles, you get a scorching Dub version on the B-Side that'll leave your neck sore for days.

Prince Allah - We No Want No Bomb
The latest tune to be cut and plated on the Fortitude Riddim, it drops this week!
We heard this on a preview and you better believe this is hot! Singing out "What we need is unity in every community." A message that sends out vibrations the world over. The B-Side features a killer acoustic Niyabinghi version that really makes the Version City Rockers signature sound shine.

Performed by a special lineup of the Soul Syndicate Band, including Earl Chinna Smith and Fully Fullwood. Released by Freedom Sounds in JA, and produced by King Django.

Sample it

Predator One – Back From the Dead

A feel good, uplifting number, NJ reggae veteran Predator One voices thanks and praise to Jah for love and life. If you need a pick-me-up when you're down, or just a little encouragement, this is the tune to play.

Weatherman - Work Hunting
This is a double A-Side to Back From The Dead featuring Jamaican DJ Weatherman from New Jersey. This cut had us wondering is this Channel 1 or Freedom Sounds? It's easy to feel like you’re listening to something from back in the day with Weatherman's style riding this riddim on a subject we can all sympathize with. You can't help but sing along, "No hiring, no hiring; what we gonna do to make some money come in."

King Django – One Finger w/B-Side East Avenue
Updating his classic Nex Finga lyrics to fit this riddim, Django has found yet another outlet to keep this tune fresh and original. Nex Finga is a staple of the King Django cannon, appearing in many forms over the years, but it finds a comfortable new home here on this wicked riddim.
The B-Side East avenue kills and King D says it is one of his favorite tracks he's ever done.

After listening to all these sure fire revolvers, we were blown away and had a ton of questions. King Django was nice enough to answer a few of em'...

In January you went back JA. Can you tell us about the atmosphere during those recording sessions for these new singles? What was the process?

Django: The recording sessions were very wild and crazy. I set up in the office of Freedom Sounds with my new portable voicing rig. We didn't have a mic stand, so they brought out this huge stand from the back that looked like the base of a fan from the 1950s. It was really huge and heavy. Then they brought out a roll of packing tape and proceeded to tape this $150 shockmount and $1000 microphone onto this thing. It was pretty crazy, but super Jamaican and pretty practical in the end. We would voice late at night because we had to wait for the traffic on the street to die down. Surprisingly we only wound up with passing cars on one track and barking dogs on another.

What voices have you brought back with you this time around?
Django: I worked with some really good artists this time, mostly young, up and coming Kingston artists. Blacka Devon is a singer with a very pretty voice and great melodies. My friend Kapaichie did a couple of great numbers, too. He's got more of that modern, rough-tough singjay style, very talented youth. Finnigan is a deejay who's been rocking it since the 80's; Yellowman got some of his lyrics off of Finnigan. I was also very lucky to have the opportunity to work with Prince Alla this time - he's a very underrated singer, but very well respected in deep reggae circles, not to mention a very nice man. Roaring Lion and Pampidoo also did a couple more sides, and a few other assorted guys. I think I came back with about 15 usable sides in all.

Are you planning on laying down some new riddims? If so what do you have in mind?
Django: Actually I have riddims piled up, waiting for voices, so I don't need to do any Version City Rockers sessions for a minute. There are still a load of unreleased ones, and we're only working a couple at a time. For new recordings, I need to focus on finishing up stuff that's piled up in the queue. I'm still trying to finish Roots & Culture 2 and a new King Django EP, aside from all of the projects I am working on for other people.

Any plans to bundle all the singles onto a cd? Maybe something similar to the riddim driven series?
Django: Yes, the original plan was to work towards a one-riddim CD. We still may do that, or we may release a CD with the best tunes on the group of riddims we are currently working. I'm not really decided yet.

How do you feel about the market shifting back to singles and away from albums? Do you see yourself continuing to work in this format in the future?
Django: Honestly I am not sure how it's going to pan out. This is kind of experimental for us at the moment. The 45s are definitely moving well out of Jamaica into the international markets and my partner in Kingston is pressing me to continue sending down more sides. He says that the 45s are more like promotion for the CD when it finally comes out. The reaction seems to be very positive on the whole. Obviously all of the music markets are going through very rapid changes. We have to keep our eye on how things are going and be ready to change with the times as far as the delivery mediums go. I got stuck with a load of cassettes when CDs first came onto the marketplace. For our domestic sales, the vinyl seems to be moving well mostly with collectors and selectors.

Well there you have it folks. Exciting times for Stubborn and Version City, and from the looks of things, this batch of tunes is only the beginning. Get your hands on these tasty morsels while they’re hot! And keep an eye out for more to come from Version City Jamaica! Stubborn Records is has some killer deals on these 45s right now, check em' out! You can also sample more of the singles in their entirety on the Stubborn Records Jukebox. And if you haven’t done so already, join the Stubborn Records Forums where you can get up to the minute news, discussions, and even give your input on upcoming projects to the Stubborn powers that be!

Written by Mike and Gabe

No comments:

Post a Comment

What do you think?