Music News

Rootz Underground

Roots Rock doesn't really have a home in contemporary reggae any more. A good number of singers are keeping the consciousness aspects of the music alive like Tarrus Riley, I-Wayne, and others, but where those artists shine as individuals, it's rarer still to find a full band willing to trod on collectively. Kingston's Rootz Underground is ready and willing to change this, and proof of that is draped all over their debut release, MOVEMENT. The six musicians obviously put a lot of work into the album, which bangs out with the uninhibited energy of a raw demo, though sonically it's all fine-tuned and easy on the ears. Certain cuts like "Hammer," "Victims of a System," and "In the Jungle" are just as hard-hitting musically as they are educationally. Spreading a message of not just love but higher meditation and social responsibility is keen to the group's sound. But Rootz Underground doesn't preach, they teach, and none of the messages on MOVEMENT come off as overbearing. Lead singer Stevie Newland has the rare, raspy, smoked out voice of young Bob Marley meeting Smokey Robinson, and, over one-drop riddims, his singing style is addictive. These cats should definitely make a smash on the global reggae scene in 2008, and if you're curious what else is hot in the genre besides standard dancehall tunes, MOVEMENT is the answer.

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Jonathan Cunningham