As Reggae music evolves to influence other genres like Dancehall and Dub, it is easy for the original Reggae sound to get lost among "new" music. If you listen closely however you will realise that traditional Reggae music is still being preserved by new school artistes like Protoje, Jesse Royal and Cali P.
Cali P is proof of the international appeal that Reggae commands. Though hailing from Guadeloupe, the talented Reggae crooner is now residing in Jamaica, the home of Reggae music, where he is now working on his third studio album.
Having been introduced to Reggae music by his Rastafarian father at an early age, Cali P had this to say about Reggae's evolution: "Reggae music is a music that is constantly evolving. I think this has its pros and cons. This evolution has brought new genres out of reggae music which gives reggae a wider appeal but I believe the original style of reggae music should continue as well because it still has an audience. What I mean to say is that people who started to follow reggae music for the nice roots music would love to hear more new sounds that still have that roots feeling. Or people who started to listen to dancehall music when "bellyas riddim" mash up the place, they would still love to hear riddims coming in that particular style. The Spanish community that works with reggaeton has really understood that."
Cali P believes musicians like The Wailers, Carlton Barrett and longtime reggae duo Sly and Robbie are some of reggae's greatest.
"I look up to each and every musician that takes the time to master his works. Sly and Robbie are the musicians I grew up listening to, so seeing them take reggae music to a next level makes me proud. That's why I was most honored when working with them for my song "Lola Rastaquouere". I wish today's youths would continue learning real instruments and devote themselves to that. That would make our music industry look so much better in the future," the musician stated.
The track samples Serge Gainsbourg's French-reggae track of the same name but is performed in English. His native tongue is French/Kreyol but Cali P revealed that he has always sang in English.
Even in "Si No Hay Amor" - a collaboration between the artiste and I Nesta - Cali P acts as the English Watson to I Nesta's Spanish Holmes. The music video for the Spanglish track was released recently.
Fellow reggae musician, Kabaka Pyramid, also acknowledged Sly and Robbie as musicians who he reveres for their “unison and simplicity” along with Sizzla for his eloquent linguistics and spiritual conviction, GZA from wu-tang clan for his lyrical genius and storytelling, and Fatis Burrell for his understanding of what reggae music production should sound like.
Reggae is in no way short of Rastafarian musicians but Kabaka Pyramid is not your average reggae musician. This lyrical stunner was part or a sound system called Time Bomb Squad and is now creating his own music.
"I used to be on the computer making remixes with artist's vocals over different beats and riddims. This helped me later on when learning how to use studio recording and beat production software. We then built our first home studio in 2002 and it's been music ever since," he explained.
Kabaka Pyramids personal brand of Reggae music is quite unique as the artistes goes beyond reggae to incorporate some hip-hop elements while still preserving that authentic reggae sound. His lyrics are conscious and well penned which makes his honed delivery all the more lethal.
"I think my music gives people an avenue to a different side of music, where conscious messages and lyricism meet, where Rasta and Mysticism meet, and where Hip Hop and Reggae meet," Kabaka Pyramid said, adding that it is his intention to help establish self-sustaining farming communities around the island through his music.
When asked if it was hard to remain a conscious musician in a music industry that seems to thrive on explicit content, Kabaka Pyramid was adamant that it wasn't, adding that "It's easy to be yourself once you know your purpose in life."
Cali P and Kabaka Pyramid might be two different reggae musicians with two different styles of doing music but don't expect them to start feuding over who's the "baddest" anytime soon, as Cali P thinks there is enough division in the industry as it is.
"I feel the reggae industry is too separated and scattered all over the place. It’s hard linking up with musicians sometimes in order to get a project going with the right timing. And this is hindering our own movement. Some artists and management get blind when them see money and just follow that. It’s not because one is a Rasta and one is not that they can't work together. And worst when Rasta and Rasta in competition. I think the industry still needs to wise up in some aspects," Cali P lamented.
While Reggae has come a long way it is clear that there is still much that needs to be done in developing the genre.