A dozen years into Rebelution’s stirring career, the release of the California reggae band’s fifth album Falling Into Place finds them more energized than ever. Touring relentlessly since 2014’s Count Me In debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard Reggae chart, the band’s members have expanded their songwriting horizons and recorded 11 tight new tracks that fuse an ever-youthful attitude of celebration with the mature perspective of men of the world.
The lyrics of “Lay My Claim” get right to the point: “Let it all unfold straight from the soul.” It’s about working hard and then reaping the benefits, says singer/guitarist/lyricist Eric Rachmany – about “being present with the music instead of just thinking about the outcome and the limelight. We’re not making music to hit a certain demographic. We’re just making music that we enjoy!”
For Falling into Place, Rebelution’s four core members – Rachmany, keyboardist Rory Carey, drummer Wesley Finley, and bassist Marley D. Williams – got some refreshing new perspectives by writing with different producers and writers and recording at multiple studios. For Rachmany, the creativity began with an inspirational trip to Jamaica, the birthplace of reggae, where he did some of the writing.
Dwayne "Supa Dups" Chin-Quee (Bruno Mars, Eminem) produced many of the tracks. Others feature the studio wizardry of Yeti Beats (Kool Keith, Los Rakas, and Rebelution’s two previous albums), while Donovan “DonCorleon” Bennett (Sean Paul, Vybz Kartel, Morgan Heritage) produced two.
Locking it all together are rock-solid musicianship, a “sun splashy sound” (Relix), an intense work ethic, and constant devotion to their art. “We named the album Falling Into Place because all of our varied inspirations and experiences came together into one cohesive collection of music that we really love,” says Rachmany.
As Billboard writes, “Their dynamic brand of original music weaves hypnotic threads of alt-rock and pop, retro-funk, blues, dub, even traditional Middle Eastern strains. Rachmany’s expressive voice wraps his soul-searching lyrics in beguiling melodies.”
Falling Into Place mingles stories of love gained and lost with reminiscences of years gone by (“Pretty Lady,” “Those Days,” “Santa Barbara”) and socially pertinent songs like “Know It All,” which challenges the hatred in an ever-more-violent world and a fraught political environment. Jamaican deejay and one time tour-mate Protoje adds guest vocals on “Inhale Exhale,” an intense earworm celebrating the movement towards further legalization of marijuana.
Rebelution came together in Isla Vista in 2004. The college friends evolved into one of the brightest lights of modern reggae. Their Debut album Courage to Grow, was named iTunes’ Editors’ Choice for Best Reggae Album of 2007. Bright Side of Life, released on their own 87 Music label in 2009, hit #1 on the iTunes Reggae chart. It was also the third most downloaded album in the U.S. in all genres, and reached #1 on the Billboard Top Reggae Albums chart and #34 on Billboard's top 200.
The triple-album Peace of Mind, released in 2012 with acoustic and dub versions, marked an even higher chart debut: #13 on the Billboard Top 200. It hit #1 on both the Reggae and Independent charts, and was the #4 iTunes album overall.
Island Sun Weekly called the next album, 2014’s Count Me In “an energetic melding of catchy reggae sounds, sunny vocals and a pulse of alternative flare. It’s full of positive vibes, bounding island melodies, and inspiring 2 reggae beats.” Sure enough, it made an even bigger splash, entering the Reggae chart at #1 and the Billboard overall chart at #14, thanks to the band’s best-ever week of sales. It also premiered in the top 5 on both the Independent Albums and Digital charts.
On the road for at least half the year, Rebelution continues to bring its intense, sun-drenched California reggae to widening audiences all over.
The songs say it all. “Plant a seed, watch the whole thing grow.” Rebelution doesn’t just play and sing. They live these words and this music – as more fans learn with every new release.
Some people go a lifetime without knowing their mission in life, without feeling they have true calling, and without knowing why they even do what they do. Nahko is not one of them. And that calling and mission has never been clearer than it is on Nahko and Medicine for the People' s third fulllength album, HOKA (SideOneDummy Records).
On HOKA , Nahko's voice is strong. His mission is clear. The mandate has been thrown down. "Hoka is a Lakota word, an indigenous tribe from the Great Plains, it is a call to action. It's what Crazy Horse would say when he went into battle, 'Hoka, hey!' My call is to put action to the words that I speak and the lyrics I sing. Not just to talk, but to do," says Oregon born singer/songwriter Nahko, who is of Puerto Rican, Native American (Apache), and Filipino
"This is the soundtrack of the movement for a better planet," he continues. "I want to challenge myself and others to make a change." "Hoka," which is the intro to the first track, "Directions," is one of the album's many song intros used as a way to round out the storytelling on the tracks. "On this intro, my uncles are chanting the lyrics to 'Directions' in Lakota, and the three female voices include a clairvoyant, an astrologer, and a friend who all had important messages for me that are a big part of my story," he explains.
It's been three years since the Los Angeles, California based Nahko and Medicine for the People's last record, D ark As Night . That release reached No. 4 on Billboard's Top Alternative New Album, No. 6 on the Heatseekers album chart, No. 36 on the Top Independent Album chart, and No. 7 in Australia on Triple J's Top 10 Roots Albums of 2013. Nahko and Medicine for the People gathered more members of their global tribe of likeminded
fans as they spread their powerful and impactful musical message on tour with such acts as Michael Franti, Xavier Rudd, SOJA, and Trevor Hall, and on festivals including Outside Lands, Electric Forest, Wanderlust, Bumbershoot, California Roots Music Festival, Byron Bay Blues & Roots Festival, and many more.
Critics have praised the group's worldly blend of rock, hiphop, and altfolk. OC Weekly called the group which also includes Chase Makai (lead guitar), Justin Chittams (drums), Pato (bass and kora),Tim Snider (violin) and Max Ribner (horns), "empowering" and "powerful. "The Huffington Post called Dark As Night "beautiful and stirring," and compared Nahko to Bob Marley and a "musical prophet."
Collie Buddz, from the isle of Bermuda, has done something not impossible but something once seemingly very implausible. He's become the most buzz-worthy current Reggae artist over the past few years. In the summer, 2007, Collie Buddz Columbia Records self-titled debut album stormed the charts entering the Billboard Reggae Chart at first position. The Reggae singjay became an international star when this album then went on to debut across the world at the top of every chart from Japan to Germany. With much of the production coming from Collie himself, he delivered a solid debut with contributions from Supa Dups, Shea Taylor, Bang Out, Screwface, Bobby Konders and Crown N Kah-So-Real to name just a few. Released just a day before US Independence Day, Collie's debut album could be heard blasting out of car windows from Brooklyn to Kingston all summer long. Critically speaking, Collie's debut was a monster. Speaking of his first single, an undeniable summer anthem titled, Come Around, Source Magazine proclaimed, "This 24 year old shotta has got an anthem spreading across the seas". "The song is a monster", claimed Miami New Times. And, Hip Hop Weekly said, "Collie Buddz is one of the most firmly grounded voices you may ever encounter."
The industry excitement about this new voice in music manifested in many ways namely by inspiring Collie's musical peers to either create their own remixes of Come Around, or join Collie on the official remix of the single. Everyone from Busta Rhymes, Cypress Hill and Paul Wall to G-Unit and Shaggy contributed to the anthem. Incorporating influences from Hip-Hop to Soca, Collie's music nevertheless has a rock-solid foundation in Reggae - and its power to connect ghetto reality with the highest heights of human aspiration - that is a rarity even in Jamaica. But, to say he's connected to the Caribbean community would be an understatement.
Collie Buddz, born Colin Harper, has become the Caribbean culture's resident ambassador.Touring extensively, Collies passport stamps are a relative reflection of the worldwide love for Reggae and Caribbean culture. From Madison Square Garden to Dubai, Collie Buddz is the definition of an international recording artist. "It was crazy performing in the Middle East. Who would have guessed how big reggae music is there? They knew all my songs", a jubilant Collie Buddz explains. He has toured throughout Germany, France, England, Japan, North and South America and the Caribbean. His unique blend of Hip-Hop, Soca and Dancehall underlined with his ever-present passion for the modern Roots Reggae sound has attracted tastemaker supporters all over the world. Reggae pioneer David Rodigan [London] and New York Reggae stalwarts at legendary radio station, Hot 97, Massive B and Short-Man [Heavy Hitters] are just some of his most ardent supporters.
Now on the verge of Collie's sophomore album release, the anticipation is palpable. In spite of averaging an eleven month yearly touring schedule since 2007, Collie Buddz is prepared to release a sophomore album that promises an even greater insight into the multi-talented, producer/singer-songwriter/performer. He's also made time to work with some of the most respected producers and artists in the industry while also making beautiful music with the production team that made his debut album an overnight success. "We don't have a title for the new album just yet but whatever we call it, the album will be mad", Collie excitedly explains. With production by Supa Dups, Massive B and Seanie B among other contributors, Collie's fans can anticipate Collie's unique twist on popular music. Tony Kelly [K-Licious], producer of more crossover hits than any other producer in the genre [Sean Paul, Patra, Supercat, Wayne Wonder, Shaggy] and TJ Records [Beenie Man] return with production for this album as well.
Among friends, Collie is known as a studio rat, as given any sort of free time in the schedule, Collie is hunkered down behind the boards of a recording studio. So it comes to no surprise to anyone that Collie is also ready to release a brand new mixtape. "I was just in Los Angeles finishing a song with Sugar Ray, and I love the vibe on that track", says Collie of the new mixtape. Also with verses on hit songs by Beyonce, Rihanna and Kid Cudi, the mixtape is sure to give Collie's fans an appetizer to the entre of the sophomore album. "I always want to give all the sound-systems and DJs something to rock the clubs with while I work on releasing my new material", Collie says. It is this love for constantly creating that drives Collie.
Wanting to release music more frequently and with fewer restrictions, Collie's affiliation with Columbia Records/Sony Music Entertainment, Inc ended in 2008. He has since founded his own independent record label, Harper Digital alongside his brother [Smokey] and DJ [DJ Genie] while working with his longtime management group, Mojiza Management. The Harper Digital team is already grooming the label into a full production house and artist development business. Humble as always, Collie simply says, "I'm just excited to be putting out another album. I love to make music and the satisfaction is in having other people from all over the world enjoy it. I live out of a suitcase and I wouldn't have it any other way." And Collie means just what he says. With a nonstop touring schedule with his band The New Kingston Band and his longtime compatriot and hype man, Pee Wee, Collie just has one quick stop before hitting the road yet again. He's got to stop by the embassy and pick up more page inserts for his passport.
Hirie–the frontwoman of the exhilarating reggae band HIRIE–grew up a global citizen. Her father worked for the United Nations and she was born in the Philippines, spent years in Italy, before her family settled in Hawaii, which became her spiritual home.
While in Hawaii, Hirie fell in love with reggae music, and took to the culture naturally. On the radio, and in conversation, she would hear the exclamation “irie.” The popular reggae term is derived from a Jamaican patois, and it encompasses warmth and positivity—it’s a greeting, an affectionate term of approval, and a mindset. In these painfully complex times, we could all use some irie in our life.
San Diego’s seven-piece band HIRIE is ready to offer a global spiritual uplift. Melding the balmy island touches of its singer’s beloved home—as symbolized by its moniker’s first letter, a “H” for “Hawaii,” with that feeling of irie, the award-winning group offers a soundtrack of hope. Now, with its masterful new album, Wandering Soul, brimming with invigorating female-fronted shamanistic reggae an oasis of positivity is just an album away.
“Hirie is a lifestyle choice, it’s about healing the body, the mind, and the spirit. Our fans and our band are always saying ‘let’s get HIRIE,’ it’s a way to detach from the painful complexities of the world, and bask in joyous energy,” says the band’s lead singer and sage who has taken the band’s namesake for her own.
HIRIE is poppy and purposeful, harnessing the power of accessible songcraft, social consciousness, world class musicianship, and the disarming and spellbinding qualities of reggae, the band exudes mainstream appeal without diluting its artistic vision. HIRIE is Hirie lead vocals, guitar, uke; Chris Hampton saxophone, flute, melodica, and accordion; Andrew McKee trombone, guitar, didgeridoo, and percussion; Andy Flores bass; Blaine Dillinger lead guitar; and Joey Muraoka on drums.
The mission to spread HIRIE began in 2013, and, since then, the septet has garnered some high watermarks. HIRIE was nominated as San Diego’s Best World Music Award, and its video for the hit “Sensi Boy” has accrued over 545,000 views. The group has received airplay nationally and internationally, with strongholds in Hawaii, Guam, New Zealand, and Tahiti, and in the college market. Its self-titled album debuted at #4 on the iTunes Reggae chart and rocketed to #9 Billboard Reggae chart. For three years, the group toured tirelessly, building a robust and highly dedicated fanbase. Select live performance highlights, past and present, include nationwide tours with Tribal Seeds, Iration, J Boog, and The Rebelution Tour. In the fall of 2016, HIRIE will tour with Nahko & Medicine for the People.
Onstage, the band is comprised of formidable performers. A collective of virtuosic musicians united in the selfless power of serving the reggae skank. At the center of it all, leading the way to spiritual musical enlightenment, is Hirie. Her signature aesthetic conjures the seductive expressiveness of divas like Mariah Carey and Whitney Houston, the raw emotionality of Lauryn Hill and Tanya Stephens, and the mystic sensuality of Enya. Together, HIRIE put on a polished show complete with choreography that offers big-production entertainment and big-heart transcendence.
Hirie’s immersion into the reggae lifestyle came at a young age through growing up in Hawaii, after stints living in the Philippines and Italy. Reggae is the top music in Hawaii, and it was only natural when Hirie emerged a singer-songwriter she would be vocalizing over skank reggae rhythms. “It’s just how I write music,” she says. At 19, when she moved to San Diego, California she made the leap from open-mic intimacy to craving the power and majesty of a full band.
In 2013, she issued her debut, but it would take three years of touring to produce the septet’s defining work, thus far, Wandering Soul. True to its title, the album explores spiritual searching, the life-changing experiences of meeting new people and sharing in the profound emotions that bond music fanatics. The album also celebrates the band’s solidification as a creative powerhouse. Working together nonstop for three years sharpened HIRIE’s chops, group musical interplay, and distinct pop-reggae vision.
“Living like a gypsy, I began to pose a lot of foundational questions, and being in touch with fans and people on the road enlightened me. So there is this soul searching quality to the music, it’s not religion, it’s just a general feeling of spirituality,” Hirie reveals.
Wandering Soul’s lush construct reflects this depth. The songs feature chord sequences that have a sophisticated, tension and release accessibility. The musicianship is high-level restraint, showcasing that point of mature virtuosity where laying back implies instrumental prowess. The album’s trippy production—the bulk of it courtesy of Danny Kalb (Beck, Ben Harper, Sia)—replete with adventurous textured passages, heady dub segues, and subtle psychedelic flourishes, make it a rare headphone experience for a pop oriented record.
The album opens with the smoldering and ambitious title track—a sonic journey through heartfelt longing, and heady dub passages. The militant “Renegade” features Nahko Bear of Nahko and Medicine For The People and boasts stately horns, simmering grooves, and call-to-arms individuality against the massification of culture. The personal “Melody of a Broken Heart” and “You Won’t Be Alone” shine a light on personal domestic struggles. “I wrote ‘You Won’t Be Alone’ for my daughter with the hopes that she understands my life when she hears me on the radio. I hope she understands how much I love her and how I can be a role model by showing her she can be anything she wants,” Hirie confides. The sleek futuristic electronic textures of “Boom Fire” represents HIRIE’s party vibe and exudes vivaciousness of in the moment HIRIE living.
Reflecting on the power of HIRIE, Hirie shares this story: “I met a fan who was suffering from of six tumors. He shared with me ‘Your music is the reason I get out of bed, you’re my medicine.’ That drives me to push this movement forward to share conscious music. I feel a responsibility and a duty to share a positive message.”
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