Kumar wants fans to know 'It's Alright'
Since Kumar Bent split from the popular reggae band Raging Fyah, the former frontman has been toiling in studio. And today, December 14, fans can finally get a listen to Kumar's first solo release, called It's Alright. In addition to rolling out new music, Kumar has begun to play his part in educating youth across the world about reggae and world music history.
Kumar's newest music will have a different sound than the roots-rock-reggae vibe to which Raging Fyah fans have become accustomed. "It's reggae, but not fully. It has a little pop sound. It's bridging the gap, like Koffee or Chronixx. It shows that we're talented, and not just in the way you think us to be. I believe it to be a thing that kids will love. My son loves it," he told The Gleaner.
Education & Music
Kumar knows that his new song resonates with young people, and not just because his five-year-old son already sings along. He recently concluded a workshop tour at the International School of Geneva, attended by children aged nine to 16 years old. At its end, the singer led a concert for the students, featuring It's Alright.
"They liked it! It was the best show of my life. The children appreciated what I did, and I got paid. It was the school booking me to teach the history of music - not just reggae, but also music of the Americas," he told The Gleaner.
The singer hopes to get back on the road and in the musical groove, which also means more educational gigs. "I'm not just a musician. I study a lot of music history. They'll soon understand that I'm not a guy walking around pretending he can sing. I know a lot of history and get more involved with teaching in schools - opening doors for the kids."
Out of the Box
It's Alright is just the first step. Kumar is building towards releasing his first solo album next year. "I'm not rushing anything, but the cries are loud everywhere I go!" he exclaimed.
His songwriting skills were made famous during his time with Raging Fyah, which produced three studio albums. Now separated from the world-renowned unit, Kumar's approach to songwriting is mostly unchanged. What has been altered is the musician's approach to production.
"Any original Raging Fyah song is anything Kumar would have written," the newly solo singer clarified. However, Raging Fyah's branding as roots-rock-reggae musicians limited creative exploration, which Kumar believes did not allow his individual growth and improvement - at least not at a pace he was comfortable with.
"Music is not one way. We don't have to box ourselves in - not that Raging Fyah was boxed in. But when you're in a band, the ideas don't stand alone. In terms of improvements, it's not just roots music. The beat is what I was speaking to, making a more international sound," he expounded.
Kumar identified himself as a huge fan of jazz music and rock and roll. Recent evidence of his penchant for the latter American music style is his vocal contribution to Alborosie's Metallica cover - The Unforgiven. His pop-music ability gets a shine on his collaboration with Jesse Royal on Pillow (2018).
In Good Health
Following the surprising departure from the Grammy-nominated reggae band, Kumar cited mismanagement, lack of transparency, and concern for his mental health as the main reasons he left. Since making what he calls a "painful decision" to sever ties with the group, there has been no communication between the singer and his former bandmates. "I've tried," he admitted. Despite those fruitless attempts, Kumar has carried on with the development of a new path in his musical career - and he feels all the better for it.
"My life has changed. It's been great. I've been energetic in doing things for the last few months. I've not had a migraine in a while," Kumar said. Fittingly, his single speaks to that. It's Alright is produced by Robert Livingstone (Big Yard Music Group) and Llamar 'Riff Raff' Brown (Nebilus Records). "We really have been working a lot in the studio, but I had this song before I left the band. I'm always writing on the side," Kumar said.
As Kumar preps for some family time during the holidays, he is still anticipating hitting the road again like he used to. He told The Gleaner that there has been interest from the United States, so he may head off again as early as February 2019. "Gone back to mi dutty ways! For the last eight years, I was on the road with Raging Fyah. But I enjoy touring. I'm looking forward to a lot more shows and collaborations," he confessed.