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NEWS

On February 8th - two days after his father Bob Marley would have turned 70 years old - Ziggy Marley collected his seventh Grammy, recognizing 'Fly Rasta' as the year's Best Reggae Album. With a seriously crowded trophy case, Ziggy has won more Grammt awards than any other reggae artist: he's won a total of six Grammys for Best Reggae Album (three as a member of the Melody Makers, three as a solo act), plus a Grammy for Best Musical Album for Children for his disc 'Family Time'.

"If Usain (Bolt) is in a race we expect him to win," Ziggy told the Jamaica Observer recently when asked about the Marley's winning streak. "If Brazil is playing a football match, we expect them to win because they are Brazil... I guess it's the same with us. I really have nothing bad to say about this... I actually feel good that people expect us to win."

Eddie Murphy is already one of the most successul actors in Hollywood history, and now he's returning to his love of music with his latest single 'Oh Jah Jah' topping the iTunes reggae charts. "I was watching CNN about two or three months ago and all this craziness was going on with the terrorism and chopping off people's heads and then St. Louis, Ferguson. A bunch of police brutality going on," he said.

He's collaborated with Shabba and Snoop Lion in the past, but when asked by ABC News if he would he ever release a full reggae album Eddie says that one is up to the fans. "I've got 25 years of stuff on the shelf. I could go right now and pick six, seven, eight reggae songs and put out a reggae album. I could go back there and pick seven or eight country songs and do a country album, or I could do a regular dance/R&B album. But if the fans don't demand it the songs could sit on the shelf indefinitely - I'd be fine with that too."

TRACKS
On Busy Signal's new 'What If' the Turf General stirs up the pot from the first lines of this thought-provoking track, poking fun at the crack-smokers, the bleachers, and the eyeball-tattooers. Later in the song Busy alleges that he was sold out to the cops resulting in his six months' jail time, and also takes a veiled shot at Vybz Kartel and his murder case.

When it comes to getting people talking, Kendrick Lamar's done the trick with his latest track 'Blacker The Berry' which has everybody buzzing about the follow-up to debut album 'good kid m.A.A.d city'. The song takes on racism in America and how racist thinking soaks into everybody's mind. The song also features a blazing hook courtesy of Assassin - making this the second time he has been featured on a major rap star's album following his work on Kanye West's 'Yeezus'. Both are great looks - however, Assassin doesn't seem to be properly credited as a featured artist on either track.

RIDDIMS
Hot riddims in rotation at the moment include YVP's '50 Cal Riddim' - with a name like that, you know this one's a sureshot and voicings from Beenie Man and Popcaan tend to stretch toward the gangsta side. I-Octane changes the mood with his chat about 'styling gel' and the youth named Blak Diamon with a peace-loving track called 'Leggo Badness'.

ALBUM
After making their name acting in films like 'Better Mus Come' and appearing in a series for Puma trainer ads, The No-Maddz have linked with reggae legends Sly Dunbar and Robbie Shakespear to create an album worthy of all the love they've received from their fans over the years. With singles like 'Romance' and 'Shotta' the band surely now have the tracks to deliver on all the buzz.

GIGS
Born in Scotland, the son of a British jazz musician, Finley Quaye began experimenting with reggae, dub and jazz fusion in the 1990s, winning MOBO and Brit Awards along the way. On February 28th, Quaye brings his unique sound to London's Brixton Jamm - listen out for songs like 'Even After All' and 'Sunday Shining', his quirky take on Bob Marley's 'Misty Morning'.

TO WRAP UP
With both Reggae's King (Bob Marley, born February 6, 1945) and Crown Prince (Dennis Brown, born February 1, 1957) having birthdays during the first week of February, it's only fitting that Jamaica has designated the entire 28-day span as Reggae Month. Although it may be the shortest month of the year, the island's singers and players of instruments make the most of the available time, filling up the calendar with all manner of shows and gigs in honour of the occasion.

Jamaica's Reggae Industry Association even set up a Reggae Village near King's House at Ranny Williams Entertainment Centre, where live reggae could be heard almost every night of the week, regardless of the hour, the weather, or the size of the crowd. Of course the biggest shows this month were part of the celebration for what would have Bob Marley's 70th birthday.

Bob's former home and studio at 56 Hope Road in Kingston, which is now the Bob Marley museum, opened its gates to the public on the 6th of February for an entire day of entertainment. The festivities started in the early hours of the morning with some prayers and the ceremonial releasing of white doves. Bob's children Cedella, Rohan, Julian, and Kymani strolled through the yard, hosting the event.

The celebrations went on all day to include performances by powerful local bands like No-Maddz, who are fast becoming the most talked-about group in Jamaica. Along with reggae fans from all around the world, the yard was filled with the likes of Marcia Griffiths—one-third of Bob's legendary I Three vocal trio—Miss Jamaica Universe Kaci Fennell, and Jamaica's Minister of Youth and Culture Lisa Hanna, all mingling and vibing to some classic Bob Marley selections.

Evening saw a lineup of stage performances by some of the youngsters who are making a name for themselves as reggae's new roots movement. Iba Mahr touched the staged and invited Tarrus Riley to join him as they performed the remix of his smash hit 'Diamond Sox'. Of course there was no leaving out Kabaka Pyramid whose song "No Capitalist" has been dominating the island airwaves of late.

Chronixx closed out the night with an acoustic set of his hits like 'Start A Fire', 'Spirulina', 'Smile Jamaica' and 'Clean Like A Whistle'. Addressing the recent proposal to legal marijuana in Jamaica, Chronixx didn't hold back on his real feelings: "Where it concerns Chronixx I don't need nothing from the government", he said. "My only question is what are they gonna do to all of the people who have been incarcerated and murdered for ganaja over the years now that it is legal?"

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Day 2 of the celebrations continued downtown at Kingston's waterfront, where a free show was sponsored by Digicel featuring artists like Cocoa Tea and I-Octane, who was joined on stage by Vybz Kartel's former Portmore Empire protege Gaza Slim. Despite his usual high energy performance Capleton turned things down one notch during his Bob tribute as he sang his way through 'Three Little Birds' and reassured the fans that "every little thing is gonna be alright."

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Tessanne Chin wowed the crowd with a spine-tingling rendition of Marley's 'Redemption Song', sounding even better than the version she performed during her triumphant run as a contestant on The Voice. As the night came to a close it was time for the Marley brothers to step up. Up first was Kymani who had Protoje join him to perform their hit "Rasta Love." He also welcomed a relatively new talent up on the stage with him named 'Runkuss'—the son of dancehall star Determine, who showed why so many people are predicted big things for him in the future.

After Kymani wrapped up It was time for Julian to show why they call him "Ju Ju Royal." The UK-based singer and songwriter performed a mixture of his father's gems sprinkled with original cuts like 'Boom Draw' and 'Harder Days'.

The headliner for the night was Bob's youngest son Damian 'Jr Gong' Marley. Opening his set as usual with 'Mek It Bun Dem' his EDM-flavoured track produced by Skrillex, he had the crowd on high energy all the way until they sung along with the hook "Out in the streets they call it murder" during his show-closing performance of 'Welcome to Jamrock'. The night closed on a note of unity as 3 Marley brothers came together to pay tribute to their father by performing his song "Get Up Stand Up" and assuring all within earshot that they would "never give up the fight".

See ya next month!

Words: Reshma B (online/Twitter)

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