One Blood

During the first half of 2007, it seemed impossible to escape New York rapper MIMS' omnipresent single "This Is Why I'm Hot." The song loomed over society telling people exactly why MIMS was hot and was just as precise in its explanation of why you're not. Although the song went gold, then platinum, and was a certified smash, the dancehall-style remix version that surfaced a few months later was even bigger.

If you couldn't instantly place the Jamaican singing in the opening verse that gave the remix most of its vitality, it was that of longtime reggae crooner Junior "One Blood" Reid. The 44-year-old singer has been teetering at the brink of icon status in his native Jamaica for close to two decades, ever since his days in the seminal group Black Uhuru, yet for many in the U.S., it's as if Reid's music just arrived on these shores a few years ago. He's had a resurgence in his career of late within urban markets by lending his vocals to the right hip-hop tracks. It was Reid's fire-blazing voice that blessed the Game's "One Blood" single a year ago, and he's also appeared on cuts with everyone from Rick Ross to the RZA.

Asked what he thinks crossing over into the hip-hop market has done for his career, he responds, "I wouldn't say crossing over; it's just helping the music reach more people," he says. "We take the message to the next generation. The music is expanding... I've got new hits, new fans, I have fans that are 5, 6, and 7 years old. At this stage in my career, that's a blessing."

Reid has been pursuing a path in music since his days as a youth in the Waterhouse section of Kingston — the same neighborhood that gave birth to reggae legends King Tubby, King Jammy, the Wailing Souls, Black Uhuru, Beenie Man, Don Carlos, and countless others.

"All the popular artists of the time were right there," Reid says reminiscing. "We were all friends. We'd smoke every day and play football or hang outside of the studio. It was a community back then. That's what made me want to write songs."

What's ironic about Reid's ascent and the revitalized interest in his signature song, "One Blood," is that he first recorded the tune in 1988. It was a hit in Jamaica 19 years ago, and despite an obvious lull, the song is back and just as popular today.

"So was it in the beginning, so it shall be in the end," Reid says in a soft-spoken patois. "The song had good roots, me do good work, so it shall live on forever."

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Jonathan Cunningham