NEW ALBUM !!!
BiG PEOPLE MUSIC
Revisiting the classic soul/reggae songs of his childhood, Asian Dub Foundation frontman and Rastafari sage, Ghetto Priest returns with his latest album Big People Music, due April 2021 on Ramrock Records.
Supported by BBC RADIO 6 MUSIC & BBC RADIO 1Xtra
Artist: Ghetto Priest.
Album title: Big People Music.
Release Date: 9th April 2021.
Format: CD, LP & Digital.
Label: Ramrock Records.
Lead single Hercules.
Co-produced by Carlton “Bubblers” Ogilvie (Aswad, Barrington Levy) and mixed by dub engineer and On-U Sound don, Adrian Sherwood, Big People Music sees Ghetto Priest re-work classics by Ken Boothe, Nat King Cole, Dennis Brown & more, across ten triumphantly fresh cuts, saluting the cultural legacy of Jamaica, the land of his parents’ birth, as well as countless musical icons, from Peter Tosh to King Tubby.
“It’s a history lesson in black music. Big People Music looks back on a time when my parents came over to England. I was going back into the past to bring these songs in to the future. There are lessons to be learned from previous generations. It’s constant flow.”
Referencing a term often used in Jamaican and Caribbean households to define music listened to by parents or elders, Ghetto Priest’s Big People Music was conceived originally as an EP to commemorate the life and passing of his father, back in 2009. However after whittling it down to 5 covers of his father’s favourite songs, Priest soon rediscovered other previously forgotten staples of his childhood and thus began to lay the foundations for his sixth studio full-length.
Having relocated to England from St Thomas Parish in south-east Jamaica, just before the turn of 1960s, Ghetto Priest’s parents moved to Bromley By Bow, East London (where Priest was born only a few years later) as part of a generation of Caribbean migrants often referred to as the Windrush Generation, named after the Empire Windrush cruise ship, which arrived at Tilbury Docks, 20 miles down the River Thames, from Jamaica in 1948. Growing up only a few miles down the road from the underground mecca of Reggae, the Four Aces Club in Dalston, and with his mother (“a beautiful singer”), and his father, who sung as part of a three-part harmony Jamaican gospel group, regularly performing at services in churches across the island, like Janet Kay, Maxi Priest and many other children born of this generation, Ghetto Priest describes his earliest years accompanied by the sounds of reggae, rocksteady alongside other favourites from his parents’ record collection.
“Every Sunday was a time for music when I was growing up. In the morning after Church, you hear the sounds of Jim Reeves, Fats Domino, Elvis Presley, Frank Sinatra, a lot of the old classics, and in the afternoon it was reggae. Jamaica has always had a love of blues and RnB. We just put our own twist on it. On Big People Music, I wanted to follow that tradition.”
From its foundations in calypso, mento and ska to its distorted, echo-drenched dub cousin, reggae music history is a story of invention and reinvention. As hit US RnB/soul 7” singles of the time circulated across the Caribbean, it became commonplace for Jamaican singers to re-version or cover these songs, but with a twist. This concept of a “re-version” or “version” was taken even further years later by reggae/dancehall producers who would press the instrumental or dub on the B-side of each vocal 7” single, encouraging other artists to sing or toast over the same riddim. This process not only gave the music the freedom to evolve as it so pleased but also gave space for intergenerational exchange, something Ghetto Priest was acutely aware of and sought to create on Big People Music.
From Priest’s rendition of Ken Boothe’s crooning ska ballad I Don’t Want To See You Cry, to the orchestral reggae swing of Dean Martin’s Sway, Big People Music is a compilation of landmark re-workings of 20th century classics unlike no other. Priest’s unwavering love of Nat King Cole proved a catalyst for the album, re-versioning two of his most iconic singles, Smile & Nature Boy, in his distinct and mellifluous roots-meets-chanson style. Reinterpretations of Slim Smith’s Blessed Are the Meek & Dennis Brown’s upful steppers album track Oh Mother follow, but its Priest’s dynamic re-interpretation of Aaron Neville’s (of Neville Brothers fame) Hercules, an affecting rare groove anthem versing on the friction of inner-city living, that takes Big People Music in new and divergent directions (its remix by Ashley Beedle and Darren Morris of North Street West even more silky). Delroy Wilson’s Have Some Mercy gets the Adrian Sherwood treatment however its on the two closing tracks that the Bishop of Dub shows a more acoustic side to his production talents, stripping back I Love I Bring (Pablo Moses) & Madness (Maytones) to just voice, strings and guitar, played on these occasions by Little Axe’s Skip McDonald.