The proceedings began with an exclusive listening session where media houses were given a sample of the new album. The 8 Year Affair is a 14 track compilation which Protoje described as a continuation of a musical journey since the release of his last album. It features guest appearances from songbirds Tessanne Chin, Toi and crooner Romain Virgo. InDiggnation, the official band of Protoje was also instrumental to the album which was executively produced by the accomplished Don Corleon.
Those who have heard the 7 Year Itch will witness a more mature Protoje this time around. He did however stay true to his roots reggae foundation, with raw spirituality at the forefront of his evocative lyrics. Its clear he wants you to pay attention to his message. He draws on the works of his predecessor, as vintage reggae is unmistakenly present though each track possesses that signature and unique flow that we have come to identify his work with.
With teasers such as ''This is Not A Marijuana Song" and "Kingston Be Wise" in heavy rotation it is no surprise that many turned out to show their support to the 'Rasta Love' bard. Fans, colleagues and distinguished guests, among them Dr. Carolyn Cooper and author Dutty Bookman were present. Emcee of the night, Queen of Jamaican radio, Elise Kelly welcomed all in attendance with her inviting voice and her always enlightening words. She soon introduced Dutty Bookman on stage who spoke of what he called a Reggae Revival. He expressed his joy to see artistes like Protoje who are giving back Reggae music a voice, championing a movement that mirrored what Bob Marley and his counterparts did in the 70s, when good music reigned, when the cry of the people was heard. He lauded the artiste for his good work and commended attendees for their support of something positive and encouraged the growth of the creative industries.
Thereafter radio personality Zj Sparks (also known as Wild Child) shared her thoughts on the new album. Known for being very opinionated with little or no reservations when it comes to the truth, Sparks expressed her appreciation for Protoje's 'pace'. As a discjock, she explained, everyday she is bombarded with new singles by artistes who's focus seems not on content but simply airplay. To her Protoje's keen attention to the message and quality of his work is a clear indication of why he releases music in proper pace and with much intelligence. She also made mention of the final track on the album "Music From My Heart" focusing particularly on the line "Work for all the younger ones that coming up, show dem love. No competition, it's not I, it's us." For her he embodies a selfless artiste who is planting seeds for future generations to benefit and realizing that for reggae music to grow, we have to do it communally.
Then it was finally time for the man of the night to mount the stage. First he presented his album to The National Library of Jamaica, an act he encouraged his counterparts to do as our music is an inseparable part of our history. After a list of thank yous and shout Protoje then invited all his guests to listen to his album which soon echoed in the atmosphere at Tuff Gong.
Before the night came to an end, patrons bought every copy of the album on sale. This of course was a clear indication as to the response to Protoje's second masterpiece. With the vibrations of black history and reggae month in the air, it's safe to say that the artiste had perfectly timed this musical beacon of hope for the masses.