IN an effort to expand reggae’s footprint on the African continent, Contractor Music Records has released a 25-track project dubbed Tropical House Cruises to Jamaica: The Reggae Collector’s Edition.
The various artiste’s compilation set debuted in Ghana on June 5 and is headlined by that country’s hot-ticket act, Shatta Wale, with Dream.
“The project’s main objective is to tap into the African market — first with Ghana and then neighboring Nigeria. Africa has one billion people and is basically untapped in terms of reggae music. Everyday reggae artistes will go there to play their music but there has never been a recording label to market their music,” Sean “Contractor” Edwards, the set’s executive producer, told Jamaica Observer.
“Ghana is also selected because there is a lot of young people there. This is why the album has a trace of hip hop. There is also the seasoned Capelton and Sizzla with authentic reggae music, and hardcore dancehall represented by artiste like Tommy Lee Sparta. The artistes were chosen based on their target audience,” he continued.
Born Charles Nii Armah Mensah Jr, Shatta Wale is known in his homeland for songs such as Dancehall King, Enter The Net, and Like My Ting. A studio engineer by profession, he has collaborated with Jamaican acts, including Jah Vinci, Aidonia, Alkaline, and Shenseea.
Also included on Tropical House Cruises to Jamaica are Mojo and Peetah Morgan from sibling group Morgan’s Heritage, Beenie Man, Elephant Man, Kip Rich, Wayne Wonder, Singing Melody, Warrior King, Don Yute and Tommy Lee Sparta. British singer Jethro “Alone star” Sheeran, cousin of singer Ed Sheeran, is also included in the project.
Edwards touted the project’s high quality and aspires to raise the bar set by the other outstanding outfits.
“Whenever one talks about the compilation of album out of Jamaica, I think there has to be a level of versatility ̶ from hardcore dancehall to the polished, high standard of reggae ̶ that people like Sly and Robbie has set before. I cannot compare myself to Sly and Robbie but I try to follow them,” he said.
“There were no hitches. The whole process went through smoothly. I wanted the lyrics to be natural, so I trusted each artiste to come up with their best songs. The rhythms are from different producers and musicians in the industry.”
The executive producer declined to give a cost for the project but preferred to say: “This [cost] is immeasurable, but I can tell you it runs into the millions because of the number of years of experience these artistes have been in the business. They were very prominent in the music business during the boom years .”
Mojo Morgan had high praise for the project.
“The success of Tropical House Cruises to Jamaica has gone beyond our expectations. It is a great compilation series that brings together the best of reggae and dancehall music. In its latest release it adds hip hop and Afro-beats to the mix which was amazing for the globalization of the compilation series,” said Morgan.
Meanwhile, Edwards ̶ who has been an executive producer since 2017 ̶ he is hoping the set will be nominated for a Reggae Grammy Award. Tropical House Cruises to Jamaica had peaked at number four on the Current Reggae Album Chart in June. It currently occupies the sixth position.
This is Edward’s third such project, having produced the original Tropical Cruises to Jamaica in 2018.