United Kingdom - Tuesday, December 23, 2003
The 2003 Musical Year In Review
Brief - What a year it was.......

2003 was a growing and productive year for Caribbean music.

The COLUMBUS riddim, originally done by Burning Spear was versioned by the cream-of-the-crop of Reggae's artists: Beres Hammond, Lloyd Brown, Al Campbell, Peter Hunnigale, Gregory Isaacs, Don Campbell, Horace Andy and others; who carried us from 2002 into 2003.

Talking about LLOYD BROWN; many have rated him as the top British Reggae artist, having made impressive reviews in Miami, New York, Los Angeles and many other cities worldwide. He had 2 big UK and US hits with "Bless Me" (Baby Why riddim) & "Main Squeeze" (Columbus riddim). He also jointly shares Ital-K's choice for ALBUM OF THE YEAR for "Against The Grain" with BURNING SPEAR's "Freeman".

Canada produced some quality tunes. GARNET CHALLENGER & Carib Records in Ottawa, SONIA COLLYMORE & XeS enjoyed success with her winning Canadian Grammy hit "Breathe". There was also great works from the DMI Music Group in Toronto featuring the "Heartache" riddim with LEROY BROWN, GLEN WASHINGTON, and NANA McLEAN's Canadian Grammy hit "Got To Move On".

From the UK, BRIAN & TONY GOLD gained huge amounts of respect for "Irresistible". TIPPA IRIE kept the dancehall vibes alive with successful mini-US tours. MACKA-B produced a boom album "By Royale Command", full of conscious vibes! He also produced and toasted a militant tribute to patois, the language of Jamaica called appropriately "Jamaican" on the "Columbus" riddim. THRILLA JENNA & SISTA (13-piece all female band) produced a crucial winner with "Focus".

Jamaican reggae artists continued to shine. BERES HAMMOND is unquestionably Reggae's top draw with continuous sellout concerts at a top dollar price.. MIKEY SPICE made bodies sway with his rendition of Luther Vandross's "Dance With My Mother". MARCIA GRIFFITHS made South Africa's Miriam Makeba proud with "Pata Pata". THIRD WORLD "Ain't Giving Up", BUJU BANTON "Friends For Life", SEAN PAUL "Dutty Rock", WAYNE WONDER "No Letting Go", and BURNING SPEAR "Freeman" were all nominated for the Best Reggae Album for the 2003 Grammy Awards.

The Jamaican bashment scene made significant inroads into the American pop/R & B markets. Grammy-nominated SEAN PAUL "Dutty Rock", RED RAT, WAYNE WONDER "No Letting Go", ELEPHANT MAN "Good To Go" with his hits: "Signal De Plane" and "Pon De River" all made prime-time visits to major American music programmes.

The passing of the "Foundation Raggamuffin" SCOTTY left a gaping hole in our hearts with his untimely passing. The bobo-dread SIZZLA enjoyed worldwide acclaim for his album "Da Real Thing"; the authentic roots touch from Bobby Digital was the difference. The Marley family was right there in the runnings. BOB MARLEY's DVD release of "Legend" is a must-have. ZIGGY MARLEY's crossover hit "True To Myself" from the album "Butterfly"; "Raggamuffin" STEPHEN MARLEY'S tribute to Stevie Wonder with "Master Blaster" created waves; and talking about Marley; Bob's hits continue to be THE FOUNDATION of today's hits.

The "Screwface" riddim spent 10 months on Clint Oneil's and Ital-K's charts. Wat-a-riddim-nice!!!

Reworked to perfection by South Florida based Willie Lindo and Heavybeat Records, the album "Tun It Up" is a must! GLEN WASHINGTON "I Found Me A Love", BRENT DOWE "That Little Girl", KASHIEF LINDO "No Show", and who can forget South Florida's and Ital's tune courtesy of AL CAMPBELL "Nah Sorry Fi Dem......(sing with me now!!)" JACKIE ROBINSON, former lead singer from the 60's group "The Pioneers" found his magic touch with "Bamboo Tree" on the brilliant album "Power of Love".

Rootically, the strength continues to pour out of the foundation. CULTURE's "World Peace", BURNING SPEAR's "Freeman", MORGAN HERITAGE'S "Three In One", GONDWANA's (Santiago Chile) "Made in Jamaica", NASIO's (Dominica) "Living In The Positive,"TOOTS & THE MAYTALS's "World Is Turning", MIKEY DREAD's "Rasta In Control", FREDDIE MCGREGOR's "Heart Is Willing" all rose to the surface. If dubwise is your thing, GREGORY ISAACS's "Dub A de Number One", JACKIE MITTOO's "Champion In The Arena", DEAN FRASER's "Sax Of Life", VIVIAN JONES's "Big Leaders In Dub' all quench that spiritual thirst for authentic drum-and-bass.

Rupee, Denise Belfon, Super P, Kevin Little, Burning Flames, Square One, David Rudder were exceptional in keeping that Soca fire burning.

2003, a good year for our music. With music firmly as our identity, we continue to make deeper inroads into the many music markets and genres worldwide. Let's hope the momentum continues into 2004.

Ital-K
CEO-Afiwi.com & Co-Host of "Sounds of the Caribbean" WLRN 91.3fm Miami Florida