Wednesday, 31 March 2021

NEW MUSIC REVIEW: Turn up the volume on these hot-hot tracks from Chronixx, Etana, Usain Bolt’s A-Team, Chris Martin, Popcaan and Beres

“If the World was Ending” – Chris Martin & Lia Caribe 
If the world was indeed coming to an end who better to warn us than this talented twosome who bring undeniable chemistry to their harmonious duet about holding on to that significant someone especially in a time of crisis. Our world needed this cool song. B+ 

“God is Love” – Popcaan feat. Beres Hammond 
Beres is the truth! The living legend proves he’s still at the top of his game vocally, on this powerful, uplifting two-hander, alongside the dancehall superstar. A solid Jukeboxx production, it’s certainly headed for the top of the chart.

“Say Less” – Usain Bolt, NJ, Bibi and Kamal 
After setting clubs and part dancefloors ablaze with 2019’s Olympe Rosé medley, Usain Bolt and the A-Team are back for more with this fiery, attitude-laden rocker that’s whetting appetites for what they have planned for the summer. B+ 

“Proppa” – Etana feat. Stonebwoy 
Gearing up to drop another sizzling solo project, The Strong One takes ‘em to school on this sassy, infectiously groovy number, on which the African soldier Stonebwoy proves that he’s more than up to the challenge. Brothers, take notes. B+ 

“Safe N Sound” – Chronixx 
People say Chronixx has been showcasing a mellower side in recent times, but on his latest single we catch glimpses of that fearless, militant side, as he assesses the socio-economic status quo while mixing commentary with his hard-hitting lyrics. A-

Tuesday, 30 March 2021

PEOPLE IN THE NEWS: Olive Senior is Jamaica’s new Poet Laureate / Leon Bailey teams up with Food for the Poor / Laura Heron takes over as NEHRA Chairman

>> WOMAN OF HER WORD: Celebrated author Olive Senior is the new Poet Laureate of Jamaica (2021-2024). Her ceremony of investiture took place last Wednesday, conducted by Governor General Sir Patrick Allen. Senior takes over from Lorna Goodison, whose tenure came to an end at the close of last year. A multi-prize-winning scribe (the Commonwealth Writer’s Prize, the Musgrave Gold Medal, the OCM Bocas Literary Prize, the Jamaica Centenary Medal for Creative Writing), Senior says her plans include the promotion of eco-poetics, in a bid to encourage Jamaicans “to protect and celebrate the environment.” 

>> GOOD SPORT: Reggae Boy and international soccer star Leon Bailey has signed on as the newest ambassador of Food for the Poor Jamaica. “His intention, through the foundation, is to give back to the people of Jamaica, especially the children who are in need,” says manager Craig Butler. “We thank Food for the Poor for the opportunity to support their cause this way.” The moment also ties in with the launch of the Leon Baily Dare to Care Foundation, which will construct a state-of-the-art facility in Mona, complete with medical clinic, classrooms, stadium seating and artificial turf field. Bailey will represent the charity while promoting Food for the Poor brand awareness.

>> THE ADVOCATE: “The most important thing is to try and get the country back to a position where people can get back to work, in a very significant way,” says recently appointed Chairman of the North East Regional Health Authority (NERHA), Laura Heron. She succeeds the late Tyrone Robinson, who died in January. Heron comes to the post with a wealth of public- and private-sector experience. At present, she is Director of Guardsman Group Ltd, Deputy Chair of the Tourism Product Development Company (TPDCo.) and a director at Jampro. But Heron’s primary focus is on marked improvement to the hospitals and health centres in her jurisdiction (St. Ann, St. Mary and Portland). “We have some significant work to be done,” she says, “in terms of improvement of facilities that I’m trying to spearhead as well.”

Thursday, 25 March 2021

Q-&-A: Fresh face Rudyard Mears talk about his acting debut, societal change and what he’s most looking forward to

READY FOR HIS CLOSE-UP: "Every time I think I've found my niche, something new becomes a passion," says Mears, 28.

DON’T be fooled by Rudyard Mears’ soft, gentlemanly exterior. At heart, he’s a tough kid who keeps his goals in sharp focus. That’s partly why he’s ideally cast in Ashé’s new web drama series Chill, as Jevaughn (aka Jevie), an ambitious, family-oriented go-getter who finds the inner strength to cope with the myriad domestic and other real-life problems he encounters. A 28-year-old UWI Mona undergrad (pursuing a Bachelor’s in Management Studies), the acting newbie threw himself into the meaty role and, by his own admission, has been transformed by the process. Here, he chats with TALLAWAH… 

TALLAWAH: Congrats on landing such an intriguing role for your acting debut. How did you prepare? 
Rudyard Mears: [Director] Michael [Holgate] encouraged me to watch a lot of movies, and he would send me some links as well. I had to learn about responding to the camera and how to articulate in a scene. It was a real learning experience for me. 

TALLAWAH: You have a kissing scene! How did that go down? 
RM: It wasn’t in the script, but on-set Michael saw the chemistry between me and Ackera. I was not prepared for it, honestly; it was a little awkward at first. And the funny thing is, Ackera and I are actually really good friends. 

TALLAWAH: On a heavier note, Chill touches on some pretty important themes and explores sobering societal issues. 
RM: I feel like it is something that hasn’t been done before in Jamaica; we’re always addressing the [usual] stuff, but Chill looks at some controversial subjects, like reproductive health, HIV and STIs and the issue of LGBT rights and identity. I feel like as a society Jamaica is too afraid to take on some of those issues. 

TALLAWAH: Do you think that will change? 
RM: I believe it will change. Now is the right time to address them. The minds of Jamaican people have been prepared for it.

TALLAWAH: Now that you’ve been bitten by the acting bug, what do you see in your future? 
RM: I’ve never given it any real thought, but after going through the process I feel like it is something I want to do more of. I want to explore my artistic side more. It’s like every time I think I’ve found my niche, something new becomes a passion. I mean, the acting really came out of nowhere. 

TALLAWAH: So how do you spend your time when you’re not studying or working on the series? 
RM: I’m business-minded. I run two supermarkets [in St. Catherine] with my brother and a bar with my mom. I like hanging out with my friends. I love the outdoors. Card games, barbecues. We have a lot of fun.

Friday, 5 March 2021

ONE YEAR LATER: A father’s desperate search continues – Is Jasmine Deen still alive?

WHERE IS MY DAUGHTER? Deen's father, Lloyd, says he's living every parent's worst nightmare.

JASMINE Deen would have celebrated another birthday on November 28, 2020. The party went on without her. Her father, Lloyd, her siblings and other relatives gathered at the family home to mark the occasion, holding on to the hope that she was alive out there somewhere. 

As the public is now well aware, Jasmine, a visually impaired 23-year-old UWI Mona student, vanished without a trace. According to reports, she was last seen alive on February 26 at the university’s Irvine Hall gate waiting on transportation. 

Last April, two men were arrested in connection with her disappearance after being found in possession of her ID, bank cards and other personal items. The men were subsequently charged with illegal possession of identity information, simple larceny and unauthorized access to computer data. 

By December, as the investigation wore on, the police said more evidence would be needed for additional charges – such as murder – to be laid against the men. Now, a full year since his daughter’s disappearance, Lloyd Deen remains determined to find out what happened to the promising young woman who was like his “best friend.” 

In the absence of hard evidence that his daughter is dead, he is holding on to the glimmer of hope that they will be reunited; that one day she will return home. “As long as mi live and mi nuh see her, mi ah guh look fi her every day, and mi will keep anything [mi have] fi her same way,” he told the Observer. It’s been the most stressful year of his life, he admits. “One year after, [it’s] like mi shoulda find her already… Mi cyaan rest… It just ah stress me out more and more. The longer it takes, it gets worse for me. But mi cyaah stop… Even if ah 100 years later, mi nah give up.” 

Since last year, more than 50 search operations have been carried out islandwide. Last weekend saw the premiere of the documentary Missing Without a Trace. In the television feature, senior policewoman SSP Stephanie Lindsay reiterated that at this stage of the investigation only a presumption of homicide is possible. Without the irrefutable evidence, no murder charges can be laid.

Monday, 1 March 2021

2020 IN REVIEW: Jamaica’s 10 Most Fascinating People of the Year

In a year that will forever be remembered for many things (the advent of the coronavirus, the death of Butch Stewart), these ten Jamaicans staunchly epitomized the idea of the intriguing newsmaker. 

Skip Marley 
The Billboard coup and double Grammy nod (in the reggae and R&B categories) not only solidified Skip Marley’s triumphant year; it confirmed his status as one of the most important ascending artistes of this generation, following in the footsteps of Junior Gong, Stephen Marley and Ziggy Marley with music that’s both tuneful and timeless. 

Dr. Jacqueline Bisasor-McKenzie 
To call her a “woman of substance” or a “powerhouse” in her field would be a mammoth understatement, as the Chief Medical Officer’s extraordinary efforts to meet and overcome the challenges of her job, especially given the alarming COVID-19 stats, continuously highlights her capacity for leadership we can trust in a time of crisis. 

Lila Iké 
By the time Lila Iké dropped her hit-laden EP The Experience, she had already cemented her place as reggae’s new it girl. Since then, she has not disappointed, releasing sublime singles (and accompanying videos) that showcase her astonishing artistry and fearlessness as a young, very competent singer-songwriter with something meaningful to say. 

Dr. Christopher Tufton 
Without a doubt, Chris Tufton concurs with PM Andrew Holness that 2020 was the toughest year of his political career. The health ministry’s handling of the COVID crisis has certainly tested the mettle of the veteran government minister who has had countless sleepless nights since March. Then there was the Market Me controversy that brought even more drama, ahead of the intense General Elections in September. In the end, Tufton proved he’s tough enough. 

Even in the face of tragedy (she lost her mother), Shenseea put in work that outperformed most of her male peers by a furlong, making her a shoo-in for Entertainer of the Year, an honour well-supported by the endorsement deals (Boom Energy Drink, Rihanna’s Savage X Fenty line), the solo business ventures and the hit singles that dominated the airwaves, music video playlists and the charts. 

Mark Golding 
New party president Mark Golding ended the year with a bold promise that he’ll be constantly reminded of: the People’s National Party will be back in full force within three years. The man who fended off a stern challenge from Lisa Hanna to replace Dr. Peter Phillips as PNP leader has his cut out for him, but with the competent Opposition team he’s assembled, we’re anticipating a display of first-rate sportsmanship that does justice to the party’s storied history and legacy. 

Delroy Chuck 
If there’s one thing Delroy Chuck learned this year it’s that one should never take a light approach to serious issues like sexual harassment. Though he quickly apologized for his blooper, the Justice Minister’s insensitive utterance cut deep for many, especially women in power, who took him to task. When the dust settled, Chuck managed to hold on to his seat in the House, following the September General Elections, ample proof that we the people still believe in him. 

Leon Bailey 
As his goal-scoring exploits for Bayern L continued to garner attention and win him new fans, Leon Bailey entered a new chapter in his life, becoming a father for the first time, at age 24. The JFF controversy aside, the Reggae Boy maintains close ties on the island, even popping in to attend Usain Bolt’s 34th birthday party in August. And like a loyal son, he leaped to Craig Butler’s defence in early December, publicly voicing support for his manager-adopted father in the face of domestic abuse allegations. 

Chris Gayle 
Will Chris Gayle ever make a return to the Jamaica Tallawahs squad? By all accounts, that’s water under the bridge for the superstar batsman whose row with the CPL team’s top brass over his shocking omission from the 2020 lineup made headlines, which only gained more public attention when a series of videos uploaded to his YouTube page, in response to the development, landed him in hot water. 

Buju Banton 
Releasing the kind of captivating and stirring reggae music that made him a household name back in the day, Buju Banton recaptured his fanbase in a year that climaxed with him picking up another Grammy nomination for Best Reggae Album and snagging Best Reggae Act at the MOBO Awards, for Upside Down 2020 – a blend of roots-rockin’ reggae and hard-hitting social commentary. As if the music wasn’t enough, Banton found time to branch off into fashion retail with, offering his fans a mix of street staples and cool urbanwear.