It was Jamaica that gave birth to reggae music and introduced it to the world. Roots, dancehall, lovers and dub all form part of the authentic reggae expression and no one embraces these styles with such reverence, joy and vibrancy as Alborosie, who’s currently one of the most in-demand names on Planet Reggae.
Real name Alberto D’ Ascola, the Sicilian with the long dreadlocks is more than just a singer. He’s also a gifted musician, arranger and producer – one who plays virtually everything you hear on his records.
A former musical prodigy, he was born in Sicily but relocated to Milan as a teenager where he played in a variety of bands – most notably Reggae National Tickets, who enjoyed popularity throughout Europe during the mid-to-late nineties.
As the Millennium approached, the Tickets performed in Jamaica and the island immediately enveloped Alborosie in its spell, prompting him to jump ship and take a job as engineer at Gee Jam studios in Port Antonio – a tropical hideaway on Jamaica’s north coast where Amy Winehouse, No Doubt and many other foreign and local stars liked to record.
It was at Gee Jam where Alborosie honed his craft and made the connections that would enable him to become one of reggae music’s biggest names – not through gimmicks, but due to the fact he was making songs of such power and relevance. His breakthrough hits included self-produced songs like “Herbalist,” “Kingston Town” and a cover of Black Uhuru’s “Guess Who’s Coming To Dinner,” which he issued on his own Forward label. All were steeped in old school reggae vibes and inspired by everyday life in Jamaica. A debut album, “Soul Pirate” soon followed and brought him to the attention of Greensleeves, who released his second set, “Escape From Babylon”. Like its predecessor, “Escape From Babylon” was ablaze with old school references. Alborosie says that’s because he was born in the seventies and is therefore “a vintage guy” himself. By his own admission, he identifies more with veterans than younger contemporaries.
The name ‘Alborosie‘ comes from a name he was given in his early years in Jamaica. “Borosie was what they used to call me. Let me put it like this. My early experience in Jamaica was… not nice.
Borosie was a name they used to call me and it have a negative meaning. So I said “I’m gonna use this name and mash up the place turn a negative into a positive thing!” Basically my name is Albert so I add “Al” – Al-borosie. But I’m not gonna tell you what borosie mean!”
In 2011, he became the first white artist to win the M.O.B.O. (Music of Black Origin) Awards in the Best Reggae Act category.
SOUND THE SYSTEM
In 2013 Alborosie released “Sound the System” an album produced and recorded entirely by himself, including nearly all of the instrumentation, he takes no shortcuts, pursuing his passion for vintage recording techniques, combining it with genuine scholarly knowledge of reggae and matching it with his own mission as an artist, a Rastaman and a citizen of both Jamaica and the world.
The intro to the album is a spoken word message delivered by aRasta elder, and it sets the tone for a record that doesn’t waste any time, it reaches out to fellow artists, asking them to be true to the genre and be themselves.
The lead tune, “Play Fool to Catch Wise” reflects Albo’s life in Jamaica, absorbing the parables that people often speak there along with the rhyme, “ghetto youth element of surprise”. As in, don’t try to be beyond reproach, but stay fresh, shine bright, don’t join the ranks of those “running from police”. The poetry here sums up his experience with the system in Jamaica and abroad and his message for its ghetto youth, “Time to follow righteousness, get a meditation, some youth just left behind, just stay on Satan’s medication. Good over evil is the final confrontation, look forward for a global emancipation”. Taking it a step further, he notes what type of discrepancies exist for the poor when it comes to basic needs, injecting some Italian culinary class distinction here with, “Politicians set it, poor people regret it, poor people dumplings but a Minister spaghetti.”
An opportunity to cover Bob Marley & The Wailers is presented when Alborosie teams up with Ky-Mani Marley to record Zion Train, an apropos cover for him as he sees reggae as a mission, and encourages us all to play a part in its success.
Another combination is with Nina Zilli, an Italian pop artist that reflects the classic sound of vintage pop in Italy, here Albo and blends it reggae style to produce a heartfelt Goodbye.
Alborosie presents an agenda that is authentic in its lyrical delivery and true to his mission as a defender of reggae’s roots and culture. His efforts live up to the name, his intention is clear to sound the system with righteousness.
ALBOROSIE & FRIENDS
In 2014, Greensleeves Records released “Specialist Presents Alborosie & Friends”, a collection of collaborations with other artists including Michael Rose, Horace Andy, Etana, Busy Signal, Sizzla and fellow European reggae star, Gentleman.
When the Italian-born reggae singer isn’t touring the world, he spends most of his time in his studio at
home in Jamaica. He describes his own Shengen studio – named after the visa required to visit Europe – as “a museum.” That’s because it’s full of period-piece equipment, including King Tubby’s original two-track tape machine. His enthusiasm for foundation reggae has led to two further incarnations of “Sound The System” as “Sound The System Showcase” a project where he has lovingly reworked the original tunes into full studio 12” versions.
Being a huge fan of analogue mixing, he also created “Dub The System” from these sessions. Both projects were also beautifully presented on vinyl.
DUB OF THRONE
In April of 2015 Alborosie released his current album, “Alborosie Meets King Jammy – Dub Of Thrones”, a historic pairing of one of Jamaica’s most pivotal dub legends King Jammy with the modern day Italian-born dubmaster, Alborosie.
The album comes complete with stunning Tony McDermott ‘Game Of Thrones’ inspired artwork. The album includes a fully-illustrated package by Tony McDermott, Greensleeves Records’ go-to artist for almost four decades known for his iconic cartoon imagery depicting Jamaican music.
Papa Albo made full use of his analogue armoury clashing head to head with the mighty King Jammy in a “Game of Thrones” themed dub summit.
Mixed by Alborosie at his Shengen studio and King Jammy at his studio in the Waterhouse district of Kingston, this old-school meets new-school clash delivers an authentic dub reggae listening experience. With speaker-shaking, neighbour-waking and no-prisoner taking bass, this is designed to be played at high volume for maximum effect. Dub the way it should be…
Watch the video of Alborosie mixing Dub of Thrones at Shengen Studios
Alborosie is currently working on a new album due to be released in early 2016. Two tracks from this forthcoming album, “Poser” and “Rocky Road” have been receiving positive feedback for both their audio and video.
With a full tour schedule every Summer since 2007, covering all major Reggae and World Music Festivals, Alborosie and The Shengen Clan Band which consists of Jamaican musicians, has been traveling the four corners of the earth spreading reggae music to nations.
Alborosie will be appearing at the Garage, Highbury Corner Thursday 13 August 2015 Alborosie is available for media and interviews, please contact Sarah at VP.
ALBOROSIE, W.A.W 2,419 plays