Leighton Levy, Gleaner Writer
Mystikal Revolution will launch their debut album on Friday, March 1, less than a year after the six-member band was among winners of the Heineken Inspire contest that was aimed at unearthing Jamaica's artistic talent.
The album titled Divide and Rule will feature some of the band's best work in collaboration with established entertainers, including Sizzla, Bunny Rugs, Queen Ifrika, and Tarrus Riley.
The launch, which will be fully sponsored by Heineken and held at the Edna Manley College of the Visual and Performing Arts, represents a significant milestone in the life of the reggae band.
"First and foremost, it is a dream come true. My high-school dream has become a reality. It is an epic moment," said band leader and drummer Obrian Williams. The album was produced exclusively by the band.
Williams, 25, a graduate of the Edna Manley College of the Visual and Performing Arts, declares that this point would have eventually come, but entering and winning the Heineken Inspire competition last year fast-tracked their progress.
"It definitely helped. It gave us a lot of publicity, both locally and internationally, and the money we won helped to foster the growth and development of the band," said the musician who had once harboured thoughts of becoming a sports journalist but eventually went against his parents' wishes and enrolled at Edna Manley.
Along with Williams, the other members of the band are lead vocalist Sanjay Barrett, keyboardist and vocalist Jermaine Williams, keyboardist and vocalist Paulos Simpson, lead guitarist and vocalist Gaiwane Campbell, and bassist Mfonabasi Udosen. Barrett is the only member of the band who did not attend Edna Manley and his selection was very deliberate, Williams explained. "We wanted a different sound that would make us more competitive and marketable. We wanted that street sound - the ragamuffin and edgy sound that will make people want to listen to us."
So far, the strategy seems to be working just fine as, following their win at the Heineken Inspire contest, Mystikal Revolution was featured on the US network NBC as 'Jamaica's hottest reggae band'. For the brand, the band's rise is validation of the achievement of the competition's objectives.
"From Heineken's perspective, it has been a positive turnaround for Mystikal Revolution and Heineken Inspire. We believe their involvement in the competition has fully developed and opened a whole new world for the band," said Imru James, the assistant brand manager for Heineken.
James said Heineken's sponsorship of the album launch is a continuation of the support that began last year April.
"It's really about supporting a band that has shown true potential and our drive to develop young Jamaican music talent."
At the launch, the band will be performing several tracks from the album and there will also be performances from Sizzla, Queen Ifrika, the Blueprint Band, and Riley.
For Williams, having this major album launch and being supported by an international beer brand still feels like a dream.
"A big brand like Heineken wanting to tie in with a band like Mystikal Revolution is a great thing. It's going to be a great event."