Roots Reggae Soul Artiste Mr. Duane Stephenson

By :- Janette Brin


Roots Reggae Soul Artiste Mr. Duane Stephenson

Interviewed by Sherina Russell-Garcia a Jamaican based Entertainment Writer for Caribbean POSH who has previously interviewed the likes of Chronixx, Ms. Angela Thame and Ms. Nadine Sutherland to name a few.

Borrowing a few hypnotic beckoning lines from Bunny Wailers 1981 monster hit Cool Runnings, Jamaican Roots reggae soul artiste Duane Stephenson wants young people to:

  “Rope in
Come on and tune in
I said you Ride in
'Cause this session is vital”

His new fifteen tracks album Dangerously Roots released under the distinguished VP Records Label is the perfect fix for fans especially the younger ones to discover, savour and celebrate the magnetic and explosive Jamaican musical era between 1975 and 1983 dubbed roots reggae.

The album set to be a collectors’ item, was placed at the envious fourth place on the world-famous Billboard Magazine Reggae Charts, three weeks after the launch.

Hoping to inspire the next generation to get in touch with roots reggae genre, Stephenson is also pleased that the album has been receiving much love.

“I am ecstatic about it (number four position on Billboard Reggae Charts) and that people are tuning in and listening to the new album. It doesn’t get any better than that to just be on the chart, and that the fact that I am there is a great feat” Stephenson said.

Caribbean POSH recently caught up with him in New York doing major radio promotions for his new album.

Without a doubt, the most popular song on the album, a re-make of Cool Runnings, and the accompanying video by entertainment guru Ras Kassa effortlessly channels fans squarely back into the steamy dance hall.

Saturated with the signature heavy bass line and sensual love lyrics, the retro track, is a tribute to Wailer, one of the longest surviving members of the famed Bob Marley and the Wailers Group.

With more lyrics from the song that truly captures the true essence of the physical dance hall space where most reggae legends were born and fans followed:

“And it's a cool runnings
I know dancehall a go nice
Tell you it's a cool runnings
De riddim a go drip like sugar and spice
Say now, cool runnings
Jus' rock with your woman all night long
I say now, cool runnings
while the disk jockey play your fav'rite song”

Stephenson practically mesmerizes fans with an insatiable modern-day interpretation- resurrecting and injecting new life into the beloved song with his sweet textured smooth and crystal-clear vocals.

 “Jah B Bunny Wailer is a legend and his music will always live on. But the youths need a different musical carrier because a lot of them are not familiar with roots reggae, so I use my age as an opportunity to introduce songs to a new generation” Stephenson explained.

Carrying the Rastafarian flag of reggae roots high, present-day giants Taurus Riley and Lutan Fyah are featured on the album along with reggae/dancehall sensation I-Octane with specially chosen heavyweights in music production such as Clive Hunt, Dean Fraser, Donovan Germain, Phillip “Winta” James and Christopher Birch.

“The album gives fans the freedom to tune themselves to roots music. On a good day you can put in the roots album, or if you having a bad day you can listen to the album to clear your mind” Stephenson noted.

“For this album I did a lot of soul-searching and listened to Joe Higgs, to Bob Marley to Chronixx. The album recaptures what attracted people to reggae music.

His first album August Town in 2007 engineered major hits such as Ghetto Pain, the sultry cover of Tyrone Taylor’s Cottage in Negril as well as the title track announcing Stephenson’s arrival as a significant soldier in the fight to keep roots reggae alive.

 He said: “we Jamaicans have always been a social people, well-educated and big on social commentary but roots music was marginalized as dangerous to the mind even though it was a popular music played in Jamaica. Today the genre gets played on radio stations for one hour a day.”

“Roots reggae is conscious music and is not just about violence. It is about relationships, love and spreading equality, how the average man lives so he can relate to roots music” he added.

A well-respected songwriter he confessed that he has to know the particular artiste well before he can put pen to paper and come up with something that fits well with the artiste and their fans.

Reggae mainstays Jah Cure, Gyptian, I-Octane and Morgan Heritage are some of the big names he has written songs for.

Born in August Town, a special reverence for reggae roots was instilled in him from early.

 ‘As a young boy in August Town I lived near to the Silver Hawks Sound System base, and half of the time the songs we heard were beyond our years. If you wanted a dancehall vibe, there was only one place because the dancehall was always flamboyant and over the top. Back then it was a place to hear the latest music including rhythm and blues and even gospel” he added.

 “The dance hall was somewhere you could drink two Guinness, drink some goat head soup and have some love vibes on a Friday and Saturday to help you unwind after a rough week.

On every album I have done, it is all about inspiring and entertaining people. It cannot be about making some money or trying to get two girls down the lane.

My album is a journey from August Town to take people back to good reggae music, good vibes, and to make people relate at a level of hearing a nice love song, a roots rocker beat, or if you want a rent-a-tile feel” Stephenson said.

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