This past week we caught up with Jah Teff while he was on tour with Anthony B at B.B. King's in NYC. He talked with us about his new album, life on the road and his new clothing line. Make sure you check out the full interview on here on Reggae In NYC.
Written By: Yuval Peretz
The stage was set this past week for some foundation dancehall by the legendary Yellowman. On a quiet Monday (pre-election) night, B.B. King’s Bar & Grill had a nice turn out for Winston Foster a.k.a. Yellowman, a frequent visitor to the Big Apple. Everyone was in for a special addition to the night’s lineup, the beautiful K’reema, the daughter of none other than the Deejay himself. With a sweet melodic voice, K’reema greeted New Yorkers and took the stage for full set accompanied by her father’s band. She played a string of her songs, but really took the crowd over with a cover medley ranging from “Work” (Rihanna) to “No Games” (Serani).
Written By Yuval Peretz
"Bua, Bua, Bua!" The hyped up yelling of gunshot sounds and shouts of "Pull-Up" all freeze to a roaring “YOOOOOOOOOO” in the commanding voice that Sizzla posses. He follows up with what seemed like a calling; "New York, Brooklyn, Queens, Bedstuy, Yonkers, Philly, New Jersey, Long Island, di whole entire place, di whole America North and South.” He makes sure everybody is feeling his words, power and sound.
After eight long years Miguel Collins’ U.S. work visa was reinstated in order for Sizzla Kalonji to take the stage for the first time ever at B.B. King's in Times Square. The iconic club was filled from wall to wall with an eager crowd (that has seen their share of Jamaican artists cancel shows over the years), ready to erupt for the long awaited legend to preform in the Big Apple. Long awaited seemed to be the theme of the night… “I’ve got so many songs you know”, Sizzla kept mentioning as he rattled off another hit tune. It seemed he was trying to make up for lost time and give the NYC crowd as much as he could out of his long repertoire of hit songs.
DJ Norie started the night, getting the crowd to give it up for foundation tunes and calling up younger artists making sure to set the vibes for what would be a real Jamaican stage show. The amount of "pull-ups" once Sizzla was up is no surprise considering he showcased Da Real Thing and Black Woman & Child. He started off with a Ganja themed medley that got everyone hyped and the place filled with a large cloud of white smoke. With phones non-stop flashing and recording, Sizzla took a few moments to talk about current U.S. affairs like the elections and Black Lives Matter movement. He quickly changed it up going into a love-medley getting some extra cheers from his large female presence in the audience.
They say lightning does not strike the same place twice. It had been more than 25 years since Bunny Wailer played in New York City and I assumed that I would never be able to see him play here again. The only living member of the original Wailers his legacy in the reggae community is immense.
As I walked down 8th Ave towards B.B. King’s I could see the line of people waiting for the show from a block away. With a capacity crowd on hand, even after the doors where open there was a line to get inside as fans flooded from all five boroughs to see the show. As I entered B.B. King’s there was chaos at the ticket booth, last minute buyers trying to get into this sold out show along with the fans patiently waiting to get inside.
The beautiful thing about Bunny Wailer is that his music impacts all people. This was one of the few shows where you could see people of all ages and races in one room, rocking together. Kids who probably just this year bought the Legend CD and were hearing his music live for the first time side by side with their parents who were alive to see and hear The Wailers when they were in their prime.
As the crowd packed in, shoulder to shoulder, the sway of one group ready for music. The lights dimmed and from off stage the Rastaman Chant began. Taking the stage in full regalia, a rasta colored vest, lion of Judah headpiece and dreads wrapped neatly around his head, even at age 69, Bunny Wailer was a presence. “Man will fly away home” sang the crowd. His first song, not even fully on the stage and the crowd was already participating. Bunny continued right into Baldheaded Jesus off his Liberation album, letting us know that this was to be a night of classics and not just from The Wailers.
This past week B.B. King’s was blessed with an amazing show put on by the royal family of reggae music, Morgan Heritage. For those who have been out of the scene for the past few months, Morgan Heritage was just awarded with the Grammy for Best Reggae Album, a well-deserved honor for their latest album, Strictly Roots. This family band made their return to their hometown of NYC to celebrate with all of us at BB King’s.
The show kicked off with great reggae vibes supplied by Synpa Movements. As the venue began to fill up, Blackalicous took the stage. The mix of an lyrical rapper opening for a roots reggae band seemed strange at first, but the audience showed their love, rapping along with Gift of Gab and Latryx Lateef as Chief Xcel laid the beats, rolling through new tracks and classic hits. They ended their set with a fast paced freestyle session and the amazing Alphabet Aerobics.
Following Blackalicious, Jamere Morgan hit the stage. By this point the crowd had filled in, ordered their drinks and were ready for some of the roots reggae they had come to see. Jamere serenaded the crowd with his new singles, kicking off the family vibe and ending with a strong version of Neighborhood Girl. This will be an artist to watch as his career grows.
Morgan Heritage hit the stage strong, shouting out their hometown of NYC, specifically Brooklyn. They worked their way through the new Strictly Roots album with the title track and others, blazing the Rockers vibe that the packed BB King’s club had come to see. As the great band that they are, they did not focus solely on new material, but took us back with some of their classic tacks, performing a beautiful version of Down By The River and Don’t Haffi Dread, that had the whole crowd singing along and swaying from side to side.