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Ras-I starts his ‘Tsojourna’ with ‘Ordinary Day’

Published:Thursday | October 31, 2019 | 12:07 AMKimberley Small/Staff Reporter
Cover art for Ras-I’s Ordinary Day.
Ras-I on the mic during sound check for Strictly Roots at House of Dancehall during Kingston Music Week 2019.

Rising reggae artiste Ras-I, real name Immanuel Kerr, is feeling good and excited about his upcoming debut album, Tsojourna, scheduled for release in the third week of November. The young singer said surely that the work would yield a positive response, with confidence likely sprouting from all the time spent in making the project worthwhile. Usually sporting a wide grin, with dreadlocks reaching down the length of his back, Ras-I’s image already exudes ‘roots’, but fans and new listeners can also expect a little R&B vibes from the millennial up-and-comer – like in his latest single called Ordinary Day.

“Tsojourna is very good. This has been four or five years in the making. Because this is going to be my first major project, I don’t want it to fall on deaf ears. I want it to have that impact,” he told The Gleaner. The album announcement comes on the heels of Ordinary Day’s release, which premiered on popular music blog last week. The song was written by Ras-I and produced by Koastal Kings, comprising Shamir Walker and Keneil Delisser.

According to Koastal Kings, the song came from the heavens, because none of it was planned. “We just vibed and it came together piece by piece, note by note. That’s how Koastal Kings work, really. It’s about energy. Good vibes and good people equal good music,” they said.

Additional instrumentation is credited to Almando Douglas, Kelsey Gonzales, Andrew Stotch, Okiel McIntyre, and Zoë Brown.

The minimalist, sunset-hued cover art shows Ras-I’s animated grin in a rearview mirror, coasting along a shoreline – a perfect reflection of Ordinary Day’s light, breezy serenade. On the track, Ras-I’s voice bounces between almost conversational to a crispy falsetto, supported by delicate flute work.

All that considered, the artiste describes his debut album as a collection of original roots reggae – with a twist.

Additional flavour

The additional flavour comes from tracks like Ordinary Day, or Crazy Over You, featuring Runkus and Royal Blu, released earlier this year. While Tsojourna is heavily roots, songs like Ordinary Day are a show of versatility. “Reggae is the base, but we can also flex in different genres.”

Delisser’s recent history playing drums on tour with Buju Banton afforded the musician a healthy network, which led to Ras-I landing a notable credit on his debut album. That undeniable R&B groove in Ordinary Day is enhanced by the production’s bass player Kelsey Gonzales, a member of American singer and multi-instrumentalist Anderson.Paak’s band, Free Nationals. “Working with musicians from different genres bring a different vibe. You don’t want to be doing the same thing over and over. And musicians like to interact with musicians, so it was really organic. Keneil sent Kelsey the track and he loved it. So he laid down some bass line deh weh really amazing. I’m forever grateful to him for being a part of the project.”

In a heavy tech world, young Ras-I has plans for Tsojourna to be distributed on vinyl. “From even before I started doing music, I grew up in an area near a pressing plant. Vinyl is not just a regular thing, it’s like a collector’s item.

“And vinyl is coming back.” He may be right.

According to The Fader, a team of European inventors are currently designing the Phonocut, a desktop analog vinyl lathe that will enable users to make 10” records at home. It will be the first consumer device of the sort and is expected to hit the market in late 2020. Ras-I said: “I don’t want to be one of them at the last minute trying to do it. Plus, it’s nice to look up on a shelf and see your name on it.”