Hip-hop mogul Jay-Z may have encountered a slight stall with the National Football League in his effort to advance the football career of Colin Kaepernick but recent reports are that his Roc Nation music label is speeding steadily forward with a partnership he allegedly inked with Jamaica’s dancehall deejay Mark Myrie aka Buju Banton, the Gargamel.
As a matter of fact, since signing the deal, the Gargamel released a full-length video and tuneful dancehall release called “Steppa.”
Slated to coincide with a pop-up shop opening in Miami, Florida on Nov. 29, the track is the first of an anticipated medley of music slated for release in 2020 and marks Banton’s first in a decade since his Grammy winning “Before The Dawn.”
To that end, Jay -Z summoned one of his strongest ammunition to steer the publicity campaign in a direction that will be palatable to universal audiences. The Brooklyn native tapped Yvette Noel Schure, a Grenadian celebrity flack whose associations with Mariah Carey, John Legend, Destinys Child and Beyonce — among top pop achievers — have only yielded amicable public relations.
The two met in Kingston last weekend to discuss the way forward and probably most importantly how the controversial deportee can regain trust with audiences he might have lost since the release of FBI film footage captured him sampling cocaine for sale.
For that he was jailed, convicted and found guilty of a litany of charges related with intent to distribution the illegal substance.
Throughout his incarceration, many of his loyal fans, primarily those from his diasporan Caribbean communities maintained hope and campaigned for his release with a “Free Buju” slogan.
After spending almost a decade in lockup his release was met with jubilation and an inverted mantra “Buju Free!”
Three months later he tested the waters by headlining concerts in the region. Reportedly successful at each destination the Gargamel may now want to cross the waters into Asia, Africa, Europe where in addition to the stain of conviction is surpassed by an indelible taint of homophobia which might impede promoters from booking concerts for fear of lingering resentment from members and sympathizers of the LGBTQ communities.
In order to win global appeal the nicknamed Gargamel must commit to a more universal, diverse and humbling politic — one that extends past the Caribbean borders where he is revered.
Perhaps Jay-Z’s handpicked Spice Islander may be able to secure international visas and inevitably renew access to American audiences.
Jamaica’s teenaged deejay sensation Mikayla Simpsom aka Koffee is ending the year in a big way. After a blockbuster year of heating up the clubs with her scalding hot single “Toast,” the newcomer will not only count her blessings for the success she acquired in 2019 but may also usher in 2020 with a victory celebration of her Grammy-nominated acquisition.
One of five nominees in the Reggae Album category, the Spanish Town native joins Julian Marley, Steel Pulse, Third World and Sly & Robbie for an all but decisive win on Jan. 26, 2020 when the National Academy of Recording Arts & Sciences reveal the best of the best in the category.
She won acclaim and probably pop appeal by breaking past her border to soar with an orchestrated publicity campaign that enticed appearances here, there and everywhere music lovers meet and greet.
She also scored a major alliance with the organizers of the International Reggae & World Music Awards when she was tapped to co-host the honors with Tony Rebel in Kingston earlier this year. Koffee was the darling of reggae radio stations and the single seemed the hottest brew to savor. That she only released a five-song EP and on her first outing is now contending with veterans of the genre may seem a contentious point to argue. However, it should be noted that NARAS’s decision is based on a qualification that only requires that 51 percent of the content must be represented. Like sentiments that prevailed last year about Shaggy’s “Don’t Make Me Wait” collaboration effort with Sting on his “44/876” which reaped a winner on radio, clubs and with the Grammys, the buzz began soon after NARAS announced the nominees.
Former first lady Michelle Obama is another hot commodity on the roster of nominees. Nominated for her memoir entitled “Becoming” the first Black first lady joins luminaries in the Best Spoken Word category. She must beat the Beastie Boys Book and others to win. If she is victorious, she will be the second former White House first lady to cop the miniature, golden gramophone.
Hillary Clinton scored the first for her 1996 publication and best seller “It Takes A Village.”
There’s something hilarious about contenders in the Best Comedy album category. It includes talk-show hosts Ellen DeGeneres and Trevor Noah, funnymen Jim Gaffigan and Aziz Ansar and the irreverent stand up achiever Dave Chappelle.
Broadway’s current rhythm & blues quintets puts Detroit’s Motown legends The Temptations in contest for a win in the Best Musical Theater category for their biographical parody entitled ”Ain’t Too Proud To Beg.”
With 70 nominations to her credit, and despite the fact Queen Bey — the pop diva popularly known as Beyonce – did not even release an album, she still manages to enter the fray with four nominations for her superlative contribution to the “Lion King: The Gift” soundtrack. She has already won 23.
Eighty-four categories are up for consideration on the music industry’s biggest showcase slated to air on CBS.
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