Sun | Aug 18, 2019

Grammy hopes for The No-Maddz album

Published:Sunday | April 28, 2019 | 12:13 AMSade Gardner - Gleaner Writer
Major Lazer’s Walshy Fire and The No-Maddz at the group’s pre-listening album soiree at Epican in Kingston on Wednesday.
Major Lazer’s Walshy Fire and The No-Maddz at the group’s pre-listening album soiree at Epican in Kingston on Wednesday.

Major Lazer’s Walshy Fire is ­anticipating a Grammy nod for art collective dub poetry duo The No-Maddz for their upcoming sophomore set Heaven on Earth ( H.O.E). The international producer is behind the 11-track masterpiece, which premiered at a pre-­listening party at Epican in Kingston on Wednesday night.

“I really would like for it to get a nomination, and I know it can happen. It just needs to get to the ears of the people that are listening and voting for what goes on at the Grammys,” he told The Sunday Gleaner. “We need everyone here and those reading this article to go and listen to it when it drops and give it a full chance, cause it’s not the normal thing. We understand seh sometimes new can be awkward, and we run away from different because nobody wants to be in an uncomfortable space. But, hopefully, people will take the trod and enter into this realm called The No-Maddz, and share it with friends. When you look at the year from November 2018 to November coming, hopefully, people will say that this was one of the best ­reggae albums.”

H.O.E. was recorded at Geejam Studios in Portland and mixed by The Wixard, who Fire said, “took the time to manifest this project and bring out what I believe is the best of The No-Maddz.”

Two years in the making, Walshy Fire described it as unlike anything one would ever hear. He was right. The meticulously arranged body of work takes a critical look at society and the often unspoken ills therein, with consistent reminders that a mentally healthy nation is vital to ridding injustices and the plight of the less fortunate.

It opens with The Chant, a heavy drum-based production that unfolds in a scripture reading, speaking out against crime and poverty, and dreams of a liberated, empowered Africa. In true No-Maddz style, there is an eclectic feel to the album as members Everaldo Creary and Sheldon Shepherd dabble in dub, reggae, pop, hip hop, and even funk without neglecting their militant mission of educating listeners on the powers of the mind.

Babylon Paper (originally recorded in 2006) tackles the dangers that lie with the misuse of money while the title track speaks to creating the perfect heaven in your mind. Themes of being mentally strong endure in songs like Mountain Lion and Trod. The newly released In Town, which features vocals by Creary’s son and The Wixard, is dripped in heavy basslines and dub, similar to Beat Them Down – a primarily hip hop track featuring rapper Shadow and Idris Elba.

There is also the funky, disco number Wretched , featuring Kumar Bent, which incorporates nursery rhymes in speaking to corruption in society.

Popular singles like Clarkz Like Dis (a fun number that tackles branding and the concept of capitalisation) and Wha Dis ( Puku Poo) are also featured. The latter is also featured on the group’s first studio album produced by Sly Dunbar and Robbie Shakespeare in 2014.

“You’re lucky as an artiste when you find your signature sound. The No-Maddz has a sound that is synonymous, ­indigenous, and just The No-Maddz. We can never leave out the ‘A-Game’, so we decided to include that song on every album, just remixed each time,” Creary, dressed in his signature colour-painted jacket and a pair of Clarks, told The Sunday Gleaner.

Creary also carried an umbrella for the evening, symbolising the group’s stance that the mind is like an umbrella – best used when open. Other accessories at the event included The No-Maddz merchandise and a pendant collection, proceeds of which go to the Eve for Life HIV support group.

Though Creary said that the group would love to be recognised by their peers, their expectations supersede awards. “We want the people to hear the songs and know it, cause our lyrics are a different stimulant to the brain. It’s medicine,” he said. “Given the regular music we are exposed to, I think we have something different to offer in terms of critical thinking. In this society, not everybody reads a book, listen TED talks or listen music ritually, and we embed ourselves in the various doctrines of various artistes, but sometimes, those doctrines don’t align with the long-term vision of people, but it’s what we get. So in the long run, we’d love to be a part of what you get.”

Formerly a quartet, The No-Maddz was formed two decades ago when the dub poetry scene was suppressed by rising deejays. The creatives have since appeared in films, including Better Mus Come (2010) and Yardie (2018). The group has not decided on at date for the album’s release.