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'Veterans in Dub' an assortment of reggae, dancehall legends

Published:Wednesday | June 1, 2016 | 6:00 AM

Reggae producer Kemar 'Flava' McGregor, has released a new LP titled Veterans in Dub.

The LP, which is currently available for preview on iTunes and Amazon, features mellow, crystalline dub renditions of popular hits from an international assortment of reggae and dancehall legends, including pop celebrity Maxi Priest, lovers rock crooner Beres Hammond, Marcia Griffiths, and all-time reggae luminary Sugar Minott. The LP also features romantic, dance club melodies from UK lovers rock legend Janet Kay and dancehall sensation JC Lodge, among others.

Barrington Levy's new dub song, a psychedelic version of his 1993 hit single, Murderer, features Levy's sharp, streamlined vocal tone over a copious reggae bass groove.

Not that mainstream radio is anything new for Barrington Levy or his 1993 hit single. It was most famously interpolated by Levy, Snoop Dogg, Wyclef Jean and Shaggy on their collaborative 2010 hit, Murderer, then retooled for another 2010 hit, Watch Dem, featuring Snoop Dogg and MIMS, and was introduced yet again as Murdera, on Levy's acoustic LP, Acousticalevy, contributing to Levy's 2016 Grammy nomination for Best Reggae Album.

"It's a melodic, catchy song, and it's a popular song, not just among reggae fans, but also among the hip hop and pop genres, and all over the world," said McGregor. "When I did the dub version, I tried my best to maintain that melodic sound and to keep it in the dub version, where it still would be catchy."

While McGregor's version does not attempt hip hop, it offers a unique pop-radio sound blend, amalgamating the colorist effects of Lee 'Scratch' Perry's bass-and-drum dub moods with the candy pop sweetness of Miley Cyrus or Justin Bieber. It's part of McGregor's overall push to elevate pop-reggae - optimising its flavour, but without losing the spike in its punch.

"The concept of the record is that it's a rebellious vibe with romance added to it, that's the whole idea behind it," said McGregor. "The mix is more of a pop-reggae mix. The record is brighter, it's not the traditional way of mixing a reggae record. I gave it a pop sound."

 

MAINSTREAM IDENTITY

 

It is specifically this pop sound that granted McGregor his mainstream identity. In 2011, he produced Sinead O'Connor's reggae hit, How About I Be Me?, which propelled McGregor's LP, Club Dance Riddim, to number nine on the iTunes Reggae chart, a rare accomplishment for riddim albums. In 2013, he produced Musiq Soulchild and Syleena Johnson's pop-reggae album, 9INE, whose lead single, Feel the Fire, peaked at number 23 on the iTunes R&B/Soul chart and topped the Billboard Reggae chart that same year.

The new album features smooth, dub-style cuts from Grammy-nominated artistes Maxi Priest, Beres Hammond and Freddie McGregor, along with a club track from chart-topping dancehall singer JC Lodge. The pop-reggae on Veterans in Dub, is heavily characterised by romantic, melodious lovers rock, but with some songs pouring an ounce of aggressive lyrical passion.

"It's gonna be totally different," said McGregor. "It took me almost two years to make this record. It took a lot of time for me to research different sounds and styles of mixing, so the production concept alone took me two years. I know this record is going to be well received, especially among the diehard, hardcore reggae fanbase around the world, which was listening to reggae before I was born. Reggae deejays who play hardcore roots and smooth lovers rock are going to appreciate it. You will never find another record coming from Jamaica that sounds like this."