A posthumous album from late dancehall and reggae icon U-Roy has been announced, featuring guest spots by Santigold, Ziggy Marley, The Clash‘s Mick Jones and others.
‘Solid Gold U-Roy’, which drops July 16 via Trojan Jamaica/BMG, features the late vocalist’s classics as well as a cover of the reggae standard ‘Man Next Door’ with Santigold. The music video for ‘Man Next Door’ was shared today (May 20) – watch below.
John Holt wrote ‘Man Next Door’ for his group The Paragons in 1968, which was later sampled by U-Roy in 1982 for his song ‘Peace And Love In The Ghetto’.
The visuals for the cover were filmed in 2018, with Santigold’s scenes captured separately later that year. Nick Franco/1185 Films directed the video in collaboration with Trojan Jamaica co-founders Zak Starkey and Sharna “Sshh” Liguz.
“It was such an honour to get to work on this project with U-Roy, a true creator,” Santigold said in a press release. “He was a major pioneer in a genre that influenced me so deeply. And it just so happened that the song I was asked to sing, ‘Man Next Door,’ has been a favourite of mine since I was a little girl. It felt so special to get to sing that song in particular – I knew the harmonies in my body without having to think for a second – and to hear his voice cutting through, driving the rhythm, drawing us all into his world. What a gift that I got a chance to sing on this track with him. He was one of the greats.”
Trojan Jamaica co-founder Liguz explained how the album came about. “We met U-Roy through our friend, Wayne Jobson, who took us to meet him in Kingston in early 2018.
“We ate lunch and got on great, and talked about re-recording his greatest hits, with him joined by special guest artists. He was easy to talk to, very dignified and confident, but very approachable. Cool looking and unassuming, but then he would open his mouth, and out would come a big, booming statement.”
Starkey added: “Three weeks after our meeting, we started recording in Trojan Jamaica Sounds studio in Ocho Rios. U-Roy would toast his songs live and Sshh would sing the songs that were to be sung later by the guests. Sshh and U-Roy bonded quickly doing this and had a lot of fun doing it.
“The band was Sly & Robbie, Tony Chin, Robbie Lyn and me. We had to work quickly (four days), as U-Roy was leaving for a six-week European tour right after recording his parts. After he split to go on tour, we spent a couple of months overdubbing and adding the guest artists. Most artists came to our studio in JA and some recorded at their own studios.”
“We had always loved U-Roy because of the power of his voice, and his lyrics, with their humor and seriousness,” Liguz added. “We made the Solid Gold album because we wanted everyone to know that U-Roy helped invent rap.”
U-Roy was celebrated for pioneering “toasting”, a chatty rhythmic vocal style that became a key foundational element in the early development of rap in the ’70s.
‘Solid Gold U-Roy’ also hears Shaggy, Jesse Royal and Richie Spice, among others, feature on the record’s songs.
The compilation album was recorded back in 2018 and was originally intended for release in 2020. U-Roy died in February at the age of 78.