Alborosie: The Italian Rasta Pirate

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Greg Swank

Dec. 2009

 

Biography

Alberto D'Ascola, a religiously converted Christian to Rastafarian Reggae artist, was born in Sicily, Italy in 1977.  His Rastafarian beliefs and famed music career has brought him aliases such as Puppa Albo, Stena, Don, and most notably Alborosie.  "I'm an artiste/ producer/ musician. I started (in music) like about 1993 with my own ting. My band and everything. And then bit by bit now, me get bigger and bigger and reach like the top top level. You understand. This was in Italy. We signed major deals almost with everybody like BMG, EMI and the works... And then after ten years of shows and albums and all kinds of stuff. I decided to move to Jamaica," explained Alborosie, (Walters, 2007).

Being from Sicily, D’Ascola has been surrounded by a visible population and culture of Italians of African descent throughout his earlier life.  In the late 19th century, through both World Wars, Italy held in its power a colonial empire.  This empire spread through various continents and parts of Africa, including Ethiopia, a holy land for Rastafarians.  There has always been an African presence within Italy since then.  The ISTAT (Istituto Nazionale di Statistica) proposed a population of 755,000 immigrants from Africa were living in Italy in 2006.  The largest group of immigrants is from North Africa, totaling 525,000 people.  It is not hard to see that any interest in the African cultures and music could be pursued if desired, (Wikipedia II, 2009).

Alborosie started his music career in Sicily under the pseudo name “Stena” with the Reggae National Tickets when he was fifteen years old.  Alborosie, as foreman and creator of the Reggae National Tickets, signed to BMG Italia in1993 “performing on sold-out tours, selling over 200,000 units and solidifying his international reputation at memorable performances at Sunsplash in 1999 and Sumfest in 2000,” (Geejam Group, 2009).

A great deal of respect emanates from Alborosie to the Rastafarian culture and Reggae music.  He does not forget that the Reggae roots stem from Jamaicans and their customs.  "I felt like I want to discover reggae more. I need to find the roots, the real foundation. So I came to Jamaica,” (Walters, 2007).  “I’m a new school guy.  The old school know is my inspiration.  Of course I have to mention, the man himself, the legend, Toots [Hibbert].  Toots is a real superstar, a real rocker.  Without him, people like me wouldn’t exist,” (Alborosie, 2009).

Puppa Albo was born in Sicily, which he explains to be “real bad man turf,” (Walters, 2007).  He sees the societal links between the two islands in the daily workings and crime syndicate.  During an interview with Malcolm Moore he said, “They are close, let me tell you. I don’t know why. Jamaica love the Mafia 'ting'.  He added, You know, they have a real ‘gangsta’ culture in Jamaica.  The men always have a hard man attitude. There's this thing about making you kiss the hand.  And the music business is really corrupt.  If you earn, you have to pay out.  And it's not nice when they stick a 9mm gun in your face.  It is very cruel and the violence is incredible.  However, as a Sicilian, he said, I really feel at home here. Jamaica is my home,” (Moore, 2008).

The island can be an intimidating place if you don’t take control of your surroundings and make the best out the situation as all true Rastafarians do.  They can take nothing and nothing and make it into something, they are a very resourceful people unlike many European and western cultures, (Snider, 2009).  When asked by Angus Taylor, a reporter for United Reggae an online reggae magazine, where his alias came from he had the following to say, “It's hard to explain. Borosie was what they used to call me. Let me put it like this. My early experience in Jamaica was … not nice. Borosie was a name they used to call me and it have a negative meaning. So I said ‘I'm gonna use this name and mash up the place turn a negative into a positive thing!  Yes. Basically my name is Albert so I add Al’ – Al-borosie. But I’m not gonna tell you what borosie mean! (Laughs),” (Taylor, 2008). 

Alborosie immigrated to Jamaica in 2001 having converting to the Rastafarian religion.  “I felt like I want to discover reggae more. I need to find the roots, the real foundation. So I came to Jamaica.  I was coming to Jamaica before as a tourist and so on.  Then 2001 I decided to move to Jamaica and I left everything. I left the band; I left the agency, the label. Dem time deh, me did sign with Universal (Records). And I just sell everything and come to Jamaica. To get a different vibes, different life,” (Walters, 2007).

 Alborosie, speaking about Sicily, said “‘We had deals with BMG and nuff shows.  But I decided to go to Jamaica to get the real vibe.’  He sold his shop, his record label and all his possessions and left with £700 in his pocket.  ‘My destiny was to follow a journey similar to the early days of many great talents and musical legends before me,’ he explained. ‘At the beginning, my parents did not understand why I had to move, but I had to follow my spirit,’ he told the La Stampa newspaper,” (Moore, 2008).  He further explained to the newspaper, which he assumed, it was a hard struggle leaving his place of birth and what he knew all his life.  When he got to Jamaica, he “worked a bit in a studio on the mixer and I learned a lot. But what money? I was paid in plates of chicken and rice. If I think back, it was a real pain,” (Moore, 2008).

Alborosie further said this when comparing the island of his birth to the island of Jamaica, “It’s nearly eight years now [February 2008].  It’s kinda similar to Sicily, it have the same vibe, the same kinda roots.  Jamaica is a beautiful place but it’s kinda violent at the same time so you have to learn how to move without invading nobody space.  I see Jamaica as a school.  Jamaica really teach you the hard-knock life, how to live life in a certain way.  It’s also a school because I’m learning my thing, I’m a student of music and I really love Jamaican people - so it really comes natural to get into the thing and learn,” (Taylor, 2008).

He embraces the island as his new home and has flourishes there as a converted Rastafarian.  “I have never had a problem with being black or white, even though my music is the music of a certain group. There has always been a great respect for me, and I have never had any bad reaction about being white in a black country. One love, you understand?” (Moore, 2008).  

Puppa Albo describes how the move to Jamaica has paid dividends for him. "So I start to work with Gee-Jam producing and in the meantime doing my own thing building my tune dem and stuff, learning the thing. I put together an album and now the thing is bubbling and I get a nice number one tune now inna Europe. The first song was Herbalist. That song created like a major impact in Europe. In Europe it was like one of the biggest tunes, but in Jamaica it wasn't radio-friendly.  And then now I released Kingston Town. So now the bomb explode and now the song is like number one in Germany, number one in Italy, number three in England by David Rodigan's chart. From January up to now [June 2007], I reached like 400 dubs. Something is happening,” (Walters, 2007).

Alborosie turned his music path to Jamaica when he moved to Kingston but his European roots remain strong though.  “Back home, I’m still a big man, any time I going back I mash up the place,” Alborosie admitted.  “Like MTV mainstream, last show was 35,000 people just for me.  When you catch the people’s brains you live wid dem after life.  That’s the beauty of music.  People remember you not because you have a big house and big cars,” (Geejam Group, 2009).

Alborosie states, “Jamaica is a difficult turf. In Jamaica, the people like my stuff, but the problem is the industry.  I think Jamaica should be more opened to the outside market like Europe, which actually is the market.  But it's not like that.   I love Jamaica.  I love the people, the culture, the food, the music, the vibes and everything. Jamaica is everything to me.  And it's not just the place where I want to live.  Is the place where I want to die.  Because a man like me now with this kind of job, I live all over the world.  But the place where you gonna die is the place where you gonna rest forever.  And you gonna keep the legacy for yah soh Jamaica is my place,” (Walters, 2007)

D’Ascola believes very strongly in his faith and his newer chosen path of Rastafarianism.  “Describing himself as a new generation Rasta, Alborosie, who has been wearing dreadlocks for the past 15 years since 1992, explained ‘The way I see myself is like a Christian Revolutionary. We just work with the Most I [high], we nuh wear nuh uniform. We don't use eye to judge people, we use heart and love. His Majesty, alongside Christ, is a whole family, from Jacob and Moses, it's just one unity and levity,’” (Walters, 2007).

His character continues to be recognized on many levels by many important staples in the Jamaican music industry and music industries internationally.  Basil Walters, a reporter from The Jamaican Observer, describes Puppa Albo by saying, “In the history of popular Jamaican music, Alborosie is at that place where the late Barbadian Jackie Opel, as well as such Trinidadians as Kenrick Patrick, aka Lord Creator and Lord Laro, distinguished themselves using Jamaican music and culture. They were their respective countries' gift to Jamaica. And to the extent to which he captures the ethos of the dancehall/reggae, it is safe to say, Alborosie is now Italy's gift to Jamaica,” (Walters, 2007).  Having done a collaboration with Dennis Brown on his second album and getting love from Toots Hibbert in the studio just goes to show that these past greats are supporting his style and place in the Jamaican music scene.  In an interview with Sean Paul and Alborosie in Jamaica, Sean Paul (describing Alborosie) had this to say, “Yeah, some foreigners come in & representin’ reggae an’dem not live de life, but this man [Alborosie] live de life, ya know whad I sayin’,” (Alborosie, 2009).

Music Career

Alborosie has been a natural music protégé since his teenage years.  After starting a successful music group, The Reggae National Tickets, in 1993 in Italy and signing to BMG Italia, he pursued larger aspirations.  “I start very young. I was 14.  I sign my first contract with BMG when I was 17 - my father signed it.  We toured for ten years.  We signed with most of the big labels and we did about 8 albums - we were really big in Italy. Then I got tired because I start so young, too much pressure, so I said listen.  I wanna change my life, start from scratch, do something different.  I wanna talk to a bigger audience. I want to go Jamaica.  I used to go as a tourist but then I want to come and live in Jamaica,” (Taylor, 2008).

Alborosie was asked in an interview with Angus Taylor from the United Reggae online

reggae magazine, “You’ve been praised by selectors and fans for your consistency and quality

control.  Do you try and avoid compromise in your work?”  He responded, “(Laughs) To tell the truth I just love to work and I love my job. I’m trying to create a sound that is my own. I’m buying different instruments – especially vintage instruments – from 1975 and things like that. I

love vintage instruments. I have a lot of vintage instruments,” (Taylor, 2008).

Having worked in Europe since the age of seventeen, Alborosie crossed over to the Reggae capital and didn’t look back.  “It was thanks to a chance meeting with studio owner and international record executive Jon Baker at Port Antonio’s Geejam in 1999 that led to the next phase of his career.  After signing on as an in-house producer and engineer for Geejam Studios, he co-launched Forward Recordings with Baker and continued to collaborate with local and international artists,” (Geejam Group, 2009).

Since signing with Port Antonio’s Geejam, Alborosie has been involved with some big names in the global music scene.  International names including Wyclef Jean, Sisqo, Jewel, Mario, Angie Stone, No Doubt, Virgin France's Les Nubians, Jimmy Cozier, and Manu Chao.  Alborosie has also done work with Jamaicans such as Beenie Man, Lutan Fya, All-stars Dean Frazer, Zoe, Ky-Mani Marley, Luciano, Michael Rose, Morgan Heritage, Jah Cure, and a number more.  Further, he has performed with and produced music for the transglobal soul movement Adelante in 2005, and produced The Singerz album in 2006 – a project that featured up-and-coming Jamaican talent and was released on Universal Japan.  Alborosie was featured on Reggae songbird Etana’s track ‘Blessings’ released in June 2008,” (Geejam Group, 2008).  Her collaborations with Puppa Albo helped her attain Best Female Vocalist and Best Album at the International Reggae and World Music Awards (IRAWMA) held in New York in May 2009.  Another project with Gentleman’s ‘Celebration’ released in August 2007 gained him further notoriety within the Jamaican music circuit.  Gentleman was quoted saying, “Alborosie and Gentleman right here for long time.  We are gifted you know,” (Alborosie, 2009). 

Alborosie embarked on making a name for himself as a reggae artist and his first solo LP in Jamaica titled ‘Soul Pirate’ proved his continued aptitude for versatility both on and off the microphone.  The self-penned singles ‘Herbalist’ and ‘Kingston Town’ were unofficially dropped in early 2006 and did well in Jamaica and across Europe with strong radio support.  “‘Soul Pirate,’ an album released in [March] 2008, provides a kind of sonic montage of his personal journey through his adopted Jamaican homeland.  ‘After five years of production I decided to go back to the original roots which is artiste and I made my album,’ Alborosie said.  The album is an assembly of conscious reflections on life in Jamaica, a life he views as pirated, hence the name.  Said Alborosie, ‘Jamaica has a tradition with pirates, to me being in Jamaica you have to be a pirate as a European,’” (Geejam Group, 2009).  I play like six different instruments, I'm a engineer and I mix, so basically the album is me.  Its reggae mixed with hip hop, soul and I call it Soul Pirate cause I'm a pirate,” he said (Blogger, 2008).

“Critics may think of pirate as a form of theft, a European stealing Jamaicans’ local culture.  Alborosie says he does not intend it as a theft, but capturing a forgotten part of Jamaican past.  I don't really steal music, I see the pirate as a wild person, a rough person as I sail into the ocean, you don't know where you leaving or when you coming back. My soul is a pirate. Soul Pirate is basically my diary. Five years in Jamaica for me, fifteen songs from reggae to hip hop,’” (Blogger, 2008). 

In the Angus Taylor interview from United Reggae, he said this about sampling the single Kingston Town.  “Yes.  That’s me.  When I buy my lickle vintage instruments I’m able to recreate sounds y’understand?  Dub wise sounds.  So that’s me – not a sample.  I use Protools to record but my piano (organ) is a Whirlitzer from 1965, I use long time instruments especially when it comes to the outboard.  I have a Spring Reverb from 1967.  Stuff from back in the day,” (Taylor, 2008). 

Taylor further asked about the song line up of Soul Pirate, if it will consist mainly of already released singles or if there will be any surprises.  Alborosie replied, “Well not everyone knows the singles!  There will be seven or eight songs we already released and then ten or eleven brand new songs.  I had to include the old songs because I see the album as a celebration of what I call my… humble success.  Musically I’m celebrating that we did well in 2007 and those songs are part of that,” (Taylor, 2008).  The already released singles at the time [February 2008] included, “the unofficial releases... Herbalist, Kingston Town, Guess Who's Coming (To Dinner)?, Rastafari Anthem (on the Last War Riddim), Informer 'longside Lady Ann, Sound Killa, Ghetto, Burnin' & Lootin' feat Kymani Marley, are some of my favorite tracks to date” stated Albo, (Blogger, 2008).  The albums final lineup included Intro – Rodigan, Diversity, Precious feat. Ranking Joe, Kingston Town, Rastafari Anthem, Still Blazing, Herbalist, Dutty Road, Police, Moonshine, Bad Mind, Callin feat. Michael Rose, Black Woman, Sound Killa, Work, Patricia, Waan The Herb feat. Michael Rose, and Natural Mystic feat. Ky-mani Marley.  

Puppa Albo certainly had some trouble when releasing one of his singles in early 2008.  “His songs have already created a stir, the video for his first single Herbalist has been banned from TV.  ‘The Herbalist tune is just a story of this guy who sell weed from him likkle to big to get rich.  Di tune is a big tune in the sound, in the dance." Alborosie has been in great demand - cutting 'nuff dubplates and he's currently [Summer 2008] doing a European tour 'longside the Sheng Yeng Clan,” (Blogger, 2008).

“According to Dubvendor, England's most influential 7inch distributor of Reggae, Herbalist was the number 1 selling 45' for weeks.  Herbalist created quite a bit of excitement and controversy in Jamaica.  After massive radio rotation and video rotation, it was banned by the Jamaica Broadcast Commission (JBC), which prevented the single from gaining its full course in Jamaica.  However, now [September 2006] it is gaining full course overseas,” (Yardflex, 2006).  This is very similar to the Eekamouse track Ganja Smuggling getting banned in 1982.  If the  Jamaican Broadcast Commission had not banned this song it probably would not have had such a strong following and impact in the Reggae circuit.  This can be seen again later with another of Alborosie's songs off his second album titled Real Story which chronicles herb trafficking also.  Though he did not push for this song to be a single, thus without the strong force pushing the track in the authorities faces it was not banned nor as popular as Herbalist, (Collins, 2009). 

It is easy to see why the Jamaican Broadcast Commission (JBC) would want this single banned.  In Jamaica the police and overlying authorities are seen as hindrances to the local Rastafarians.  They just want to be able to eat, drink, smoke, and laugh in peace and harmony with one another, ‘One Love’ for all.  But the JBC and the Jamaican law officials see this as a threat and could end up losing power over the people.  So the authorities continue to control the herb trade and in some cases the food market in general.  Rastafarians have the ability to use the land for all it’s worth and to take little or nothing and survive on it.  So when Alborosie has a song with lyrics such as; “(Chorus) Babylon dem thief my herb dem thief my herb, Babylon dem thief my herb dem thief my herb,” it can be seen he is trying to make a statement about the Jamaican authorities, Babylon, coming and seizing his Ganja which is his comfort from oppression, his livelihood, and, since he’s Rasta, his holy sacrament, (Lyricsmania, 2009).

The first verse sets the scene for the Herbalist, or Herb Dealer, and how he has to watch for the authorities when making deals. “(Verse) Twenty pound of weed inna three black bag, You sit inna van black crowning a black rag, Who a di thug weh promote a long beach, Dem load it a leave before policeman dem reach yo, Herbalist high grade specialist, export green stash, Import green cash, Build up a big house a so di money get wash, Yo exit no more call us no rush,” (Lyricsmania, 2009).  In the first line of the verse Alborosie is explaining that the Herbalist has twenty pounds of ganja in three black bags and the buyer (in black vans with black clothing for protection) waits for him to make the drug deal.  When they meet up they make the transaction quick so as to not get caught by the police and arrested.  Later in the verse, “Export green stash, Import green cash, Build up a big house a so di money get wash.”  This is stating the Herb business man sells green weed for green currency to buy a large house with property so that his money will not be seized.  If he invests, he looks legitimate and has a reason to have nice assets.     

The second verse describes the corrupt side of dealing herb and how it is transported.  “(Verse) Five pound of weed inna vacuum sealed bag, Four a dem pack fit inna Gucci brown sack, Westmoreland fast to Kingston air park,  Deliver to pilot and Cessna depart yo, Herbalist high grade specialist, export green cash, import green stash, Buy a escalade so di money get wash, Yo exit no more call us no rush,” (Lyricsmania, 2009).  The first couple of lines of this verse are describing a drug transaction between a courier, someone who just transports drugs from the dealer to the next courier or buyer, with five pounds of weed in a vacuum sealed bag.  This is to ensure that no drug sniffing dogs will be able to smell the product if placed in that situation.  Four of the sealed bags can fit into the Gucci duffle bag, totaling 20 pounds of weight.    Later lines in the verse state, “Westmoreland fast to Kingston air park, Deliver to pilot and Cessna depart yo.”  The pilot is another courier carrying the product in a Cessna airplane to the Kingston airport from a small parish is southern Jamaica called Westmoreland.  A Cessna is a single engine, maybe 4 passenger plane, which is often used for drug trafficking because they can fly ‘below the radar’ and not always have to land in major, highly patrolled airports.  The Herbalist will next buy a Cadillac Escalade to cover some more cash which his ganja brings him, now hes got a nice house and a nice car to get him around.

The third verse explains the corruption that can happen within law enforcement agencies and the eventual downfall that will come to you if you are not protected as an Herbalist.  “(Verse) C.I.A. and F.B.I. dem have eye pon you, Money inna envelope big up di blue suit, Round your backyard and landscape fi run, Mi neva hear no modda faster dan gun, Herbalist high grade specialist, Export green stash, Import green cash, Build up a go-go a so di money get wash, Yo exit no more call us no rush, Herbalist high grade specialist, Export green stash, Import green cash, Buy nuff pum pum so di money get wash, Yo exit no more call us no rush yeah,” (Lyricsmania, 2009).  The first two lines of the verse are describing that with  law enforcement officers, such as the C.I.A. and F.B.I., either you play their game and pay them off or you get closed down for business.  If you put “money inna envelope” and give it to the man in the blue suit you will be watched and not harmed by other law officers.  If things go the other way for you and you decide to run instead of paying ‘Big Brother’ or even the other higher-up drug dealer of that area, you will not make it out alive.  You can run out in your backyard and try to get away, but even if you get in a car (modda) it’s not faster than the eventual death by gunfire that will come to you if you cross the wrong people.  You need to live life while it’s good if you are an Herbalist, and “build up a go-go” and “buy nuff pum pum.”  Meaning that your next purchase will be a club, a “go-go” and this will again cover some money and give you a reasonable income.  You have to keep your time occupied with women, “pum pum” and get them nice things to keep hanging around.

It seems clear the Jamaican Broadcasting Company doesn’t want to portray meanings of anti-establishment and drug trafficking.  For these reasons and more Alborosie’s hit single Herbalist, unofficially dropped in 2006, was subsequently banned from radio play.  This song set the musical revolution that is the ‘New Generation Rasta’ and others in the Jamaican and international music scene, if they didn’t already, began to keep a closer ear to the Sicilian-Rastafarian.

            “After his song Herbalist got banned by local radio stations and the nevertheless great success of the single, Alborosie is back with a new single and accompanying video, which was shot by MTV Italy. The new single Call Up Jah of his forthcoming album ‘Soul Pirate’ enjoys a lot of local and international airplay and will pave the way to another single release in early January [2007],” (Yardflex II, 2006).

            The first track of 'Soul Pirate' when it was officially dropped was Precious feat. Ranking Joe.  The song sampled the Promised Land/Love Fire Riddim which was sampled from the Mos Man Skankin Riddim produced by Aswad originally, (Collins, 2009).  This song is unique because it takes a much older riddim and really updates the lyrics and makes it more 21st century.  One line reads, “A Puppa Albo bring back di rub a dub style, Go pon di MySpace and check out my profile,” (Dancehall Reggae, 2009).  Albo is telling this girl that because his sound is hot and has such a good dub beat that she should check him out more online at MySpace.com.  Later in the song Alborosie praises all walks of women from being precious, “Trinidad Cuban Dominican Jamaican girl, Reachin South American Bermudian girl, Grenadian and Bahamian and St. Lucian girl, Caribbean girrrrrls,” (Dancehall Reggae, 2009). 

            In the track titled Rastafari Anthem, he speaks of strong core Rasta values, beliefs, and doctrines with lines like, “I&I praise King Selassie I” and “Africa shall rise”.  In the song Patricia his style is original Jamaican Ska, as he varies his style to hit different genres of Reggae throughout the album.

            The track Sound Killa is a beat sampled from the Tenor Saw song Ring the Alarm.  He further uses some lyrics from Shabba Ranks’ Ting-a-ling-a-ling when he is describing the Sound System and Dancehall.  He doesn’t just copy the lyrics he uses them to inspire the people on the floor because an old favorite always gets the crowd going.  He is paying tribute to Shabba Ranks when he says “Buyaca Buyaca”.  Don comes in with lyrics like, “Excuse me Mr. Bombo, You drunken dan fambo, Da one ya name dancehall it no pretty like tango, No badda try, Disrespect King Selassie I, A big man like you deh pon di ground man a cry, Don’t ask me why, Pack up bye bye, A so di thing set inna dancehall style.”  In this verse he is explaining a westerner coming in and trying to corrupt the Reggae dance floor with the Tango, a non-sanctioned Rasta dance.  It represents oppression to the Rastafarians.  Albo promptly tells this guy to pack up and leave his dancehall.  Albo also cries out, “My selektah mi no need permission, Leggo di version and free up di Don, Ting a ling ling so di place a go ram, Another sound dead just ring di alarm, Buyaka buyaka, Alborosie inna di place,” (Lyrics II, 2009).  Calling himself the Don he tells his selector (the guy spinning the records) to let go of the version (the beat record with no words) so that he can freestyle and sing more.  He references Tenor Saw and Shabba Ranks to boost up the crowd at the end.

            Throughout this entire album Alborosie continues the themes Ganja Loving, Jah Praising, Living the Good Life, and One Love, which are all core Rastafarian beliefs.

D’Ascola was quick to put out his second Jamaican LP as Alborosie entitled ‘Escape From Babylon.’  This 16 song album was dropped just over a year after ‘Soul Pirate’ in June of 2009.  For this album he worked with well known names in the Jamaica music circuit.  “The Italian-born, Rastafarian singer, who has now officially made Jamaica his home, is being managed and produced by Clifton 'Specialist' Dillon, the acknowledged genius behind the success of Grammy-winning dancehall star Shabba Ranks.  ‘Specialist and I have a good working relationship and mutual respect.  I have learned a lot from him and we have completed an album, the follow-up to Soul Pirate.  Already there are a couple of deals on the table and the release date is any time now.  Hopefully before we go out of town,’ the man who calls himself the Shengen Don disclosed,” (Peru, 2009).

            “The album, simply entitled Me, ("It's myself, the way I want to sound," Alborosie explained) will be released on the Shengen Clan label, a subsidy of Greensleeve Records.  And his backing aggregation is known as the Shengen Band,” (Peru, 2009).  When the album was actually released in June, it was titled ‘Escape From Babylon’ for the idea that Alborosie had to escape from his ‘Italian Babylon.’  “Already wanting to leave hisItalian Babylon’ Alborosie decided to quit the band, get rid of all his possessions and move to Jamaica.  Looking to find a place he could call his spiritual home, Alborosie immersed himself more fully into the music, the people, the vibe and culture of the island,” (Greensleeve Records, 2009).  ‘Escape From Babylon’ was co-produced by Alberto "Alborosie" D'Ascola and C. "Specialist" Dillon (Greensleeve Records, 2009).

            Some artists start to live the polished life and get real comfortable with the money that is associated with the lifestyle of fame.  This did not happen with Alborosie between the first and second album.  He’s no longer eating plates of chicken and rice as payment, but he hasn’t forgotten the importance of his Rastafarian beliefs either.  This album really reaffirmed his commitment to being a Rasta, and he continues to gain respect from the Jamaican community for this fact.

In his track titled I-Rusalem he has a great line, “I don’t see no race, Just one shade of black.”  This reaffirms his belief that we are all from one and the same African race, One Love.  In No Cocaine he solidifies the idea that Rasta’s do not put impure drugs into their bodies.  In Money he says to take a stand against materialism, capitalism, and monetary systems, which are all beliefs he embodies.

            With the album ‘Escape From Babylon,’ Alborosie creates a sound “paying his respect to his heroes from Reggae’s golden age (Black Uhuru, Burning Spear, Steel Pulse and Bob Marley) and infusing this timeless music with a touch of modern roots and dancehall.  The lead single Mama She Don’t Like You is a humorous ska laden track with enough feel good elements for a great crossover summer hit.  On the thought-provoking America, Alborosie sings about power, globalization and war set against an upbeat rockers rhythm.  One Sound, a collaboration with Gramps from Morgan’s Heritage offers a powerful yet simple message: ‘One Love, One Heart, One Sound, One Destiny’. On the closing Likkle Africa, a beautiful melodic song is stripped down to a Nyabinghi drum pattern.  Alborosie gives an impassioned chant: ‘Only Jah can set my Africa free’. We assume that the Escape From Babylon is still his final goal,” (Greensleeve Records, 2009).

            Alborosie, following the release of his second album in Jamaica, hosted a European tour which kicked off in June 2009.  “Scheduled to complete 45 shows, the artiste will play venues in Norway, Sweden Finland, Germany, Spain, Belgium and France, among other countries.  ‘It’s a lot of rehearsals.  Getting things tight and preparing mentally for the long haul,’ he told a reporter from the Jamaica Observer.  But Albo, has had a lot of practice and it was only in November [2008] that he did a three-week tour of France, which - by his account was – ‘amazing, very successful.’  He even went one step further by adding, ‘Mi mash up di place,’ with a huge grin.  He noted that among his popular songs in that European country are Kingston Town, Call Up Jah, Precious and Herbalist, ‘which is an anthem in France,’” (Peru, 2009).

            Alborosie is his own entity.  He is doing  his own thing in a foreign country and thriving at it.  He is an Italian Rasta Pirate, and made it on his own for quite some time.  He’s not Jamaican (he’s European in fact, the early oppressors of Jamaicans), is not black, but is so talented that none of that matters in one of the most dangerous countries in the world where you get killed for a lot less than what  he’s presenting.  He can self-produce an album and have international success with number one singles around the globe.  After the release of his first solo LP other Jamaicans (Specialist and the Shengen Band) couldn’t help but get on board with his production.  Alborosie has proven himself; the entire first album was his own, his heart, his Soul Piracy upon Jamaica.

           

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

References:

 

Š      Blogger. Alborosie’s Long Awaited Debut Album – Soul Pirate – Still At Sea…, Blogspot, 2008. http://reelupselector.blogspot.com/2008/07/alborosies-long-awaited-debut-album.html.

Š      Collins, Ian. Conversation, 2009. University of Vermont.

Š      Dancehall Reggae. Precious, 2009. http://www.dancehallreggae.com/lyricsview.aspx?songid=8217.

Š      Geejam Group. Alborosie, 2009. http://alborosiemusic.com/index.html.

Š      Greensleeve Records. Escape From Babylon, Greensleeve Records LTD, 2009. http://www.greensleeves.net/promos_press/albo.html.

Š      Lyricsmania. Herbalist, Lyricsmania.com, 2009. http://www.lyricsmania.com/lyrics/alborosie_lyrics_43328/other_lyrics_77074/herbalist_lyrics_764889.html.

Š      Lyricsmania II. Sound Killa, Lyricsmania.com, 2009. http://www.lyricsmania.com/lyrics/alborosie_lyrics_43328/soul_pirate_lyrics_88261/sound_killa_lyrics_866898.html.

Š      Peru, Yasmine. Alborosise – Reggae Music Chose Me, Jamaica Observer, 2009. http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/magazines/entertainment/html/20090512t220000-0500_151331_obs_alborosie reggae music_chose_me_.asp.

Š      Toppin, Danielle. Jamaican Health Officials Call for the Legalization of Prostitution, AlterNet, 2008. http://www.alternet.org/sex/90946/.

Š      Walters, Basil. Alborosie marks journey from Sicily to Kingston Town, Jamaica Observer, 2007. http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/lifestyle/html/20070609t170000-0500_124144_obs_alborosie_marks_journey_from_sicily_to_kingston_town.asp.

Š      Yardflex II. Alborosie promotes new single - 'Call Up Jah', Yardflex.com, 2006. http://www.yardflex.com/archives/000967.html.