THE New York-based independent label, VP Records, garnered three nominations in the category for Best Reggae Album in the 45th annual Grammy Awards. The nominations were announced yesterday at New York’s Madison Square Gardens, the venue for this year’s awards ceremony.
The albums nominated are Ghetto Dictionary: The Mystery — Bounty Killer (VP Records); Still Blazin’- Capleton (VP Records); and Anything For You- Freddie McGregor (VP Records). The other nominees are Merci by Alpha Blondy (Shanachie Records); and Jamaica ET – Lee Scratch Perry (Trojan).
This isn’t the first time that the label has secured multiple Grammy nominations. In 2001, nominations were picked up for Private and Confidential by Gregory Isaacs, and Dennis Brown‘s Let Me Be the One. Last year, Beres Hammond‘s Music is Life and Luciano’s A New Day were both nominated.
Michelle Lin, director of publicity at VP Records, was at a loss for words when she was contacted for a comment on this year’s nominations.
“This year’s nominations show the diverse range and depth of good music we are putting out. From the lovers rock veteran Freddie McGregor, the fiery roots and culture prophet Capleton, to the king of the dancehall, Bounty Killer. It’s a blessing that our artistes are getting much deserved recognition. They all have worked hard to achieve this level of success. 2002 was truly a big year for VP Records and reggae music on a whole,” Lin said.
Information received from Nielsen Soundscan, the company which tracks sales information in the US, revealed that to date, Capleton’s Still Blazing has sold more than 27,000 copies. Freddie McGregor‘s Anything For You has scanned 10,000 copies, while Bounty Killer’s Ghetto Dictionary: The Mystery has sold more than 18,000 units.
2002 was a good year for VP, as the label not only signed a distribution deal with Atlantic Records, but it enjoyed success with its Riddim Driven, Reggae Gold and Strictly the Best series.
Bounty Killer also made a good showing in 2002, as he made a return to the top of the dancehall game. His string of successive hit singles including Fitness, Raging Storm, Inna You Diesel, the Diwali rhythm inspired Sufferer and Wave Them placed him at the top of the heap.
According to the self-styled “Warlord”, he was surprised that of all his albums Ghetto Dictionary was the one that had gained the nomination. Describing it as his most “hardcore” set to date, the deejay whose real name is Rodney Pryce told the Observer that albums featuring collaborations with a variety of foreign — mostly US — acts that had been done with an appeal to the overseas markets had failed to spark Grammy interest and said he found it ironic that the one that had been done with almost deliberate disregard for the international market had been the one picked.
“It really surprise me now that they picked up the (hard)core one now and nominate it,” he said.
Bounty admitted, however, that his added visibility because of his association with rock group, No Doubt, may have contributed to his nomination.
“It’s really a good moment to know that they have recognised the poor and the representation of the music and the culture and the people. It’s not just the music. For some people just represent Jamaica as a Jamaican out there doing other types of things. I represent Jamaica as a Jamaican with the music and with the culture. Things that I say on a record it’s like a live soundtrack of what’s going back here…I’m not saying things that could sell, I’m saying things that we are living at this moment ,” said the self-styled ‘poor people’s governor’.
Bounty Killer, a first time nominee, described the double album, released in May last year, as a collector’s item which is representative of his career. The tracks, he said, comprises a mixture of material, ranging from hardcore, to more subtle songs, some “conscious” songs, as well as some “rude boy” tracks.
Rock outfit No Doubt, which utilized reggae influences on its Rocksteady album, picked up three nominations in the Grammy Awards. Rocksteady was nominated for Best Pop Vocal Album; while their hit single Hey Baby which was produced by Sly Dunbar and Robbie Shakespeare and which features Bounty Killer, was nominated in the Best Pop Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocal category. The group’s rock song Hella Good picked up a nod in the Best Dance Recording category.
McGregor, who celebrates his 40th anniversary as a recording artiste this year, has been responsible for a lengthy string of hits over the years, among them Push Come To Shove, I Was Born A Winner, Big Ship, Let ‘Em Try, So Many People Want To See Me (Stop Loving You), as well as And So I Will Wait For You.
Like Bounty Killer, McGregor said that he was a bit surprised at the choice of Anything For You as that among his albums to be nominated for the award, noting that he had had greater expectations of his 2001 set, Signatures. He, however, described Anything For You, which was released in June last year, as a good album. McGregor is also a first time nominee, as is Capleton.
“But the feeling is great, you know it just make you know say, you know say, people appreciate your work. That in itself is probably the greatest feeling of all, where the Grammy is concerned,” McGregor said.
Capleton could not be reached for comment but Still Blazin’ has been described as a superb set, containing tracks such as Woah, Gimme The Woman (a hidden track), Hail King Selassie (also released on Reggae Gold 2002 and Reggae Hits 30 (as Never Want the Youth Dem Die) and I Will Survive.
For Alpha Blondy, one of the enduring names in African reggae, Merci, is his first new studio album in four years and marks Alpha’s 20th anniversary as a recording artist. His website describes the album as “a high energy set of classic reggae marked by versions of Free’s rock classic All Right Now and a re-working of The O’Jay’s For The Love Of Money.”
Legendary record producer and artiste the eccentric Lee “Scratch” Perry, is one of the seminal figures in reggae music. Now based in Switzerland, Perry, in the 1960s and 1970s, churned out many a hit for several of Jamaica’s top acts, including The Wailers, from his Black Ark Studios.”