Archive for the ‘Dancehall reggae’ Tag

S.O.B’s Japan Benefit Concert!   Leave a comment

 

We all know about the crisis that hit Japan in March this year. S.O.B’s along with the talents of Mr. Vegas, Beniton the Menace, Rayvon, Red Foxx, Kingjam sound and more brought the crowd out to support Japan’s recovery! I happened to be in the area and got some footage. Plus you get to see Mr. Vegas “palance”!

JIJA: Yush 2010   Leave a comment

Yush 2010 was mad! Held at the National Stadium, the music was fast and furious. Looking forward to 2011!


 

 

 

 

 

Japanese TV spot!   Leave a comment

I appeared on Nihon Terebi for two seconds (literally) in a small acting role for a mini-documentary on world-famous Japanese dancehall queen, Junko. Was a good experience! You can watch the entire video on youtube here. (Japanese only). I also attached it below.

Checkout the picture from my previous post about the TV shoot, here.

cheers!

The Story of Reggae Dancer Junko

Aoyama Rooftop Party   Leave a comment

On a lazy sunday afternoon, I checked out a rooftop party in the trendy upscale district of Aoyama. Didn’t stay very long, but here are some pics…

Goodbye Tokyo summer.

Some nice views of the city from up here.

Free Maga 3rd Year Annivesary   Leave a comment

A rooftop, a ginormous Blue skateboarding bear, Japanese celebs and Michael Jackson where in attendance at the Freemaga 3rd year anniversary party.

People were treated to celeb style photos upon entering. The theme was blue shirts, meaning myself and four other people were wearing blue : p

Tons of free Condoms were available. But alas, this is Japan….

Chilling with a friend and the creators of Free Maga magazine.

Fellow Tokyo blogger Foo 4 Thought was in attendance.

Nothing like a Japanese Mike to get things popping.

Big blue skateboarding bear pretty interesting.

 

Nihon Terebi TV Shoot 日本テレビイベント!   3 comments

Junko was the 2002 Dancehall queen winner in Jamaica. This might not sound like much, but Junko is Japanese, and she flew all the way to Jamaica back then and against all the odds (or so people thought) was crowned the first Japanese dancehall queen of Jamaica. Nihon Terebi (Japan TV) was recording a small feature on her and needed some talent to act as Jamaicans in a re-enactment of her first time in Jamaica. Yours truly was the MC and the spot will be aired on October 8th. I had the opportunity to go to her birthday party last year when I was living in Hamamatsu, Shizuoka.  Glasses, Watch and Belt by Nooka. Jeans by Gimme Richie, Mad A Road t-shirt by Marcus Bird.

Me & 2002 Dancehall Queen Junko!

On Tour with Maxi Priest, Part One   1 comment

I first saw Maxi Priest at a celebrity football match in the late nineties. I was in the stands with my parents, on a overcast summer day. I had laughed at the clumsy way the artistes played football, with the crowd roaring each time Beenie man received a pass, or Spragga Benz took a horrible shot at goal. Maxi, like the other artistes, was having fun. In the distance I could see his trademark locks, swaying about like snakes.

In the distance, I saw his trademark locks flashing to and fro like black snakes. As the artistes (Mad Cobra and Spragga Benz were also playing) passed the ball to each other, I laughed at their clumsiness. Maxi got a pass or two, flashing his trademark smile if he was tackled. Something about him glowed like an ember. This, I thought, is star power.

In Tokyo in Augst 2009, I see him again for the second time. I`m walking behind my cousin, performing artiste Karl Zanders, whose stage name is Beniton The Menace. Everyone calls him Benny. A white bus with the Billboard Live in conservative print across its breadth sits idly outside the KOEI Plaza Hotel, in Shinjuku . We are the last to arrive.
“This is my cousin.” Benny starts.
Maxi interrupts him.
“You didn`t have to tell me anything big man!” he says with a laugh.
“From I see the `John Wayne` walk, I know is must your family that!”
I laugh, and so does the rest of the bus. Maxi looks exactly like how i`ve remembered him, a little under average height, his locks streaming from a khaki coloured hat.

The first thing I sense about him is a powerful energy. Some stars are notoriously moody, boring or eloquent. Some look at people they don`t know with disquieted eyes, and others are so gregarious their managers need to monitor people for them. Maxi had a laugh that came from the recesses of his soul. It was pure and exultant, filled with the confidence of a man who`s been doing what he wants to for the majority of his life.
“Yow, check them boots here.” He says to Marvin, his son. “Nice eeh?” He is wearing a pair of black designer boots with a thick white sole. I glance at Marvin. He looks like his father in complexion and height, but has less of the boyish features Maxi still possesses in his late forties. Marvin has quiet eyes, a firm jaw and a slightly muscular build. Once he speaks, I feel the Priest energy flow from him as well, as pure as rain. “Bless.” He says, giving me a firm handshake.

The bus rolls off and Tokyo flies by as the band members chat about a common topic when groups of Jamaicans meet: The state of Jamaican as it relates to violence. I sit and listen to opinions flow back and forth, laughing to myself that even in Tokyo, certain things never change.

At the Billboard event hall, we are greeted by courteous staff who usher us to the artist’s room. It is small but clean, and the band starts to laugh about a joke. Phanso, the drummer on duty for the tour, is chided for saying he will take a week to eat an entire gallon of ice cream. I observe the people in the group. There are mostly band members but a few people like myself tagging along for the ride. One of them who left an impression on me was Akico. She was sitting quietly at the table as conversation roared in Jamaican patois. Her face was strikingly beautiful, and she embodied the term “ageless”. Apparently she had been touring with the band for ten years, which made it even harder for me to discern her age. “I sometimes play piano for the band.” She says with a sly smile. That`s all she told me about her time with the band.

I meet the rest of the band in stages. There`s Steve, the outspoken road manager who keeps everyone tickled with an endless stream of jokes. Taddy is the bassist, tall with thick locks and a quiet demeanour. Goofy is the pianist, nicknamed so for being a constant joker. The first show goes smoothly, and I am impressed by Maxi`s singing ability. I had never seen him perform live, and his stage presence was remarkable. The crowd was a tad shy and conservative, but soon they were standing up and singing along. “Domo arigato gozaimashita!” Maxi says in a perfect Japanese accent, creating a cascade of “oohs” through the crowd. To me, the show flows seamlessly, with Maxi hitting the high notes, all the songs end on cue and they don`t go a minute overtime.
During lunch, Maxi gives instructions to tweak some instruments. “I don’t need the guitar drowning out my voice, do you know?” he says to Steve, while sipping a bottle of water. “It`s like I can`t hear myself speak and I have to bring it up too much.”
His voice has dropped into his English inflection from his London roots, connoting a seriousness I hadn`t felt before.

Then, a large woman in an African print outfit with a small entourage enters the room. She speaks with casual Jamaican aplomb, and chats to Maxi for a few minutes with him before taking pictures. Behind her, a few men with locks and sharp smile and listen to the conversation. Maxi evolves into his Jamaican self, laughing it up for a few minutes with his fans. He smiles, chit-chats and watches them leave. After the door is closed to the artist room he turns to Steve. “Steve, people can`t come in here like that when the band is eating. Let`s not make it happen again.” His voice has that English lilt again; the boss voice.

After the final show two girls have followed us back to the hotel, Americans traveling through Asia. They have an early flight in the morning, and thought partying it up with the band would be a good sendoff. In the hotel room, one looks up a youtube video on my laptop while the other sips a beer. They look a little antsy, because no one is really moving. Benny is doing something down the hall, and I’m trying to find out what to do in this area. They head to Marvin`s room, and soon we are headed out into the nighttime life of Shinjuku.

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Benny is a notoriously savvy self-promoter. Every band practice was broadcasted live through his laptop. Within minutes of taking pictures with fans, or being snapped on stage by a photographer, he would post the pictures to twitter. His laptop was as much of a fixture as his trademarked hair styles.
“I call this style the Illusion.” He said to me the next day. “From a distance you think you know what it is, but as you get closer it changes.” The hairstyle is interesting. He has the slightest beginnings of a mohawk, with shaved blade-like patterns encircling his head leaving two small tufts of hair at the back which resemble miniature ponytails. He is a workhorse, doing the Maxi tours as well as his own production work and shows through the states.  He and Marvin get along pretty well, as they are close in age and mindsets. “Marvin!” Benny barks while looking at something on his laptop. Marvin enters the room with the casual swagger of a star. He is wearing a hotel bathrobe and black rubber sandals. “This is Serani on Good morning New York.” We watch the audio as Serani, a popular new Jamaican dancehall artiste sings “No Games”, his hit song from 2008, in a scratchy, cracking voice. Benny smiles and looks at Marvin.”Can you believe ten million people watched that?”

Maxi Priest is one of the most reknown reggae artistes in the world, but if he`s profited heavily from it, it isn`t immediately apparent. His style casual, with baggy designer jeans, relaxed dress shirts and a variety of caps. Whenever I see him he is smiling and laughing so hard he makes a cackling noise. I could see that the people that followed him weren’t necessarily sponging. He had fame and access, and with this came certain perks which I would soon see firsthand.
“You do photography right?” he said to me backstage on the last day in Tokyo. I nodded. I had become the unofficially official photographer of the tour. “I`m trying to remember the name of a camera… it starts with A.” he said.
“A?” I replied. “I’ll need a little more than that to work with.”
“Okay. It’s black with a red dot on the front.” Maxi replied.
I smiled. For about thirty minutes, Marvin and I try to find the camera he`s talking about. Eventually I find it. It’s a Leica. “Well it ends in A!” Maxi says with a smile. This entire time he has been on his cellphone, chatting to someone.  I`m in the back room, and a well dressed man of middle eastern descent in his forties is sitting beside a young Japanese man. He nods to the young man, who writes down the model number and the name as I recite it from my laptop. They soon leave the room, shaking hands with Maxi.
“That camera was on the UB40 tour I did in Australia a few years back.” He says to me with a bright smile. “It took gorgeous pictures man, beautiful. Those pictures from that camera ended up in the booklet of the tour.” I didn’t need a phd from Harvard to know that he was probably getting that camera for free.

On the second night, a fan gave us access to a party she was hosting in Roppongi. We went in four cabs to the party district. Inside, we received glasses of champagne and a hearty welcome from the hosts. It was a small place called Club Odeon, and it was a Pink Party night. Soon, a pole dancer would thrill the crowd with her heroics, as she suspended her body in difficult positions. Maxi and entourage enjoyed the event reasonably well, drinking champagne and chatting to fans. Then, Benny took the mike and the entire party changed.

He started Hellrazor Sounds systems several years ago, when he did parties and events part-time. Before deciding to go full time on his musical career, this was his calling. TheDJ. “My friends always used to wonder why I wasn’t doing music.” He said to me in the hotel before we went to the club. “These were some hard guys too, drug dealers, gangsters, but they didn’t want that for me. When I started doing the sound thing, guys that had been doing it even longer than me gave me this look like “he knows what he’s doing. ”

The crowd was spellbound as he coordinated some mixes with a Japanese DJ, and brought the house down. The club went from a casual party to a frenzy of dancing and cheering. After ten minutes or so, Benny left the microphone, prompting many to ask him to go back. At some point Maxi slipped out of the club back to the hotel, while the other band members partied a little longer.

The next day, after the last Tokyo show ended, I saw Maxi in the dressing room. He was wiping  his face with a dark brown hand towel. I told him it had been a pleasure meeting him, and seeing him in action. He paused for a second and said, “You not coming with us to Osaka?” I smiled and said I might go, but in that moment, my decision had already been made. Later that day, I bought my train ticket to Osaka.