REGGAE ROOTS

Nigerian-American Reggae artist T-Kross is connecting the music genre back to its roots. The singer who released his single “Mama,” says he wants to showcase to fans of the genre, where the popular Jamaican sound got its roots.

With the wave of West African artists producing and singing music in the Jamaican genre, the New York City-based singer says this not new nor a trend at all. In fact he says many Nigerians such as himself, were raised on reggae, and the intercontinental fusion is a culmination of all African-inspired music.

“We heard it everywhere, from movies, to radio — we listened to reggae music and every genre. It’s never going to go away,” said T-Kross. “We understand it and we are also able to sing in our pidgin English. In our generation we are taking it a step further and are able to fuse it with more African elements.”

The 28-year-old singer who recently signed to VP Records wrote his current single a few years ago celebrating mothers and recalling his childhood as the seventh of eight children. His song was remastered for a new release.

“This song is about mothers around world and I channel it to Africa and what it specifically means to us,” he said. “We have big families and being number seven in reality is being a hand-me-down child, and wanting to get attention from my mom — that’s what inspired me to write this. It got me thinking about mothers in general and what they go through,” he said.

The track is sung over a common reggae beat, but with an emphasis on the bass and drum, which is also the African origin of the music. His producer Stanley “Rellee” Hayden said when he produced the instrumental it was easy to find the sound he was looking for because of the similarities between the music styles.

“In Caribbean music, particularly dancehall and soca, and in African music — we all have one phase instrumentation in the sound,” he said. “We all have that similar sound and it’s easy to build a reggae beat or a soca beat on layout of an African beat.”

Hayden said he incorporated this while producing, and also added universal aspects for a more worldly sound. It won’t just be reggae-inspired, he said.

“What I’m doing with T-Kross is bringing him back to the foundation, but with world sound,” he said. “We’re bringing reggae back to it’s authentic sound with a little bit of percussion and other instruments.”

So far T-Kross said he is proud of where his career is now, and sees a bright future for it. Inspired by artists such as Bob Marley and Fela Kuti, he said it is not so much their music he is a fan of but the motivational ideas these artists integrated in their music which influences him to be the humanitarian artist he is trying to be.

“They have great voices no doubt, but it’s the messages in their music and what they stood for,” he said. “I don’t want to do random music. I want to use my time and I want to stand for something. I want people to know the bigger we get, we’re not gonna fade into a penthouse view, but we want to keep our relationship with our fans.”

T-Kross does not have an album release date, but his debut album is expected to be released this year.

Reach reporter Alexandra Simon at (718) 260–8310 or e-mail her at asimo[email protected]local.com.

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