Blvk H3ro and Leno Banton featured on upcoming album with UB40
The United Kingdom's interest in reggae music has existed for decades. In February 2017, Toddla T visited the island with BBC 1Xtra and organised a freshman cypher with upcoming local artistes. Shenseea, Lila Ike, Leno Banton, and Blvk H3ro were featured. They all got a chance to show their skills on the mic and have since made progressive moves in their careers.
Leno Banton and Blvk H3ro, too, will soon make a remarkable move. Both artistes are set to be featured on the upcoming album of Billboard chart-topping British-based reggae band UB40.
According to Blvk H3ro, they caught the attention of the veteran band from the BBC 1Xtra cypher. "They saw the clip while they were working on their album, and they really liked the freestyle! I'm a young kid in the whole thing, so to have our energies on it, it's crazy! I couldn't believe it!" he told The Gleaner.
"These people have been in reggae for a long time. For them to spot my talent, I have to give thanks for that. It's a pleasure," Leno said. UB40's hit singles include Billboard Hot 100 number ones Red Red Wine and Can't Help Falling in Love. The band has been nominated four times for the Grammy Award in the Best Reggae Album category and has sold over 70 million records worldwide.
UB40 made the announcement of the album on their social media platform on September 2, stating, "On this day in 1985, we released the album Baggariddim". The upcoming collaboration album is titled, Bigga Baggariddim. Band member Robin Campbell stated in the post, "We know we haven't revealed to you how you will be able to get this album yet, but all will be revealed very soon. Big Love, UB40."
"What they're working on is two albums at the same time," Blvk H3ro revealed. The first album is new, original UB40 music. The second is a collaboration. "That collection is other artistes' interpretation of their rhythms. I'm actually on both."
After seeing the cypher, UB40 sent four rhythms to Blvk H3ro, and he put a song on all of them. "To get picked to be on theirs - and on the collaborative album - I feel honoured. It feels like when God is giving you that nod that you're going in the right direction. I don't think there is a word to describe it, but I feel really happy. I feel elated," he continued.
This year, Blvk H3ro's international visibility has increased, with him recently being a featured model in Levi's Vintage Clothing Rockers Collection, inspired by the 1978 classic reggae film. Last month, the young recording artiste released his latest feature called Can't Wait, in collaboration with Swing Ting, a record label and music-production unit based in the UK. The song is featured on Swing Ting's debut EP called Junction, which was released to critical acclaim.
With the variety of projects already released, and more in the pipeline, the eccentric singer believes that his vintage-heavy style has been working to his advantage.
He said, "From what people overseas have said, I'm not straight reggae or dancehall. The message is the same - I sing about Selassie and the black race - but I still approach it different. I'm not afraid of different genres. My mother always told me that the pastor shouldn't be afraid to go where the sinners go. It's the same message in different sounds and spaces. I'm not afraid to take risks."