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Riding the Wave of the Reggae Revolution - Protoje

Protoje performing at Arts in the Park

With the release of his sophomore album The Eight Year Affair, Protoje has firmly cemented his space on the Reggae landscape. Protoje is among a growing cadre of young musicians bent on being game changers, bringing with them a wave of more socially conscious air/ear friendly music. Indeed the album itself pays tribute to this growing community of artists and the accompanying video for 'I&I features cameos from Nomaddz, Jah9 and Kabaka Pyramid.

Protoje has also spoken about this wave of new artists which some have described as a reggae revolution and others a reggae renaissance. For Protoje, it’s simply a movement whose time has come.
"Life is a cycle," he said, explaining that the movement is being propelled by musicians willing to take back the music. "It’s youth from the 80s who are taking it back,” he said. He explained that his own musical influences have included Ini Kamozi and Black Uhuru which helped determine his social awareness.

“It’s about our not taking programming any more," he said. "We're willing to do the research and get the information for ourselves"

Protoje shares a laugh with guitarist Jason WartonThe Eight Year Affair was released February with a listening session at the Tuff Gong studios followed a few days later by the a concert at the Edna Manley College. Protoje’s album titles have been an intriguing tribute to his relationship to the music often likening them to affairs of the more romantic kind.

Ironically, although these titles tend to indicate infidelity, the reggae singer has been using them to underscore his commitment to his craft. His debut album The Seven Year Itch, spoke to the seven years he struggled to make a name for himself in the industry, building a reputation playing small gigs, often with no material compensation in sight. The professional lyricism that was however crafted as a result, is invaluable.

His current album again plays with romantic double entendre with its title ‘The Eight Year Affair’. Protoje explains that the name reflect the change in his relationship to the music at the time the album was created. “It [The Seven Year Itch] was at a point where I would either make it or give up and do something else,” Protoje explained.  However, with the success of the debut, he no longer has space for equivocation. “ The Eight Year Affair is about my love affair with music."

The album was largely produced by Don Carleon and continues to display Proteje’s strong lyrical skills and insightfulness as highlighted on the title track, as well as ‘Kingston Be Wise’ and ‘Who Dem a Program’.

He explains however that he has no particular writing ritual that he follows but simply allows them to flow as they come.

“When Jah decide to give me inspiration I just accept it,” he explained. “Sometimes it flow like a river, sometime it just trickle."

The ebb and flow of his writing has produced an impressive body of songs which easily straddle both the socially conscious and the romantic. The artist explains that he believes it is important for him to deal with both sides.

“Unfortunately, a lot of the youths are only raised by mothers hence we have to treat them with respect,” he said. "They will be the ones building the nation.”

Yet, despite the romantic bent of much of his music, and the metaphors of romantic love that he ascribes to the music, he admits that with his commitment to music, affairs of the heart currently take a back seat in his life.

“You have to have time for that [romance], but right now my focus is on the music,” he admits, “but I know that when Jah is ready for me to have that, it will come.”

Until then, we are left with his musical affairs as he continues to ride the wave of this reggae revolution.