Stalawa in East Africa [Heavyweight 12", RSD19 Special]
Cat: SCOB 069EP
Released: 10th May 2019
Reggae's African connection meets the global ethos of Glasgow's Scotch Bonnet Records for their historic new EP. French-born, Glasgow-based producer Stalawa has voiced a talented selection of East African vocalists to thrilling effect, over his heftiest roots rub-a-dub rhythms. This project is the culmination of multiple fruitful visits to Kenya and Uganda by Scotch Bonnet proprietors, Mungo’s Hi Fi sound system. It has been fine-tuned between Glasgow and Kampala over the last three years.
The A side features the wailing voice of Ugandan singer and emcee Blessed San. Showcasing a vocal style not unlike legendary Jamaican reggae veteran Michael Prophet (despite never actually having heard him before), Traitor is a mournful rebuke to all who violate his trust. Stalawa has mixed a haunting accompanying dub: all crashing drums and biting horns.
The B side hosts a Kenyan-Caribbean collaboration on a vintage classic. Connoisseurs’ Jamaican singer Delroy Melody has recut his 1979 local hit Ease Up The Pressure, adding verses from Luganda Rasta lyricist C Wyne Nalukalala (meaning “the troublemaker”). The remade backing, based on Dennis Brown’s Easy Take It Easy, was built in Jamaica by renowned drummer Sly Dunbar and keyboardist Dennis ‘Jah D’ Fearon. Also on the flip is Kenya's “first lady” of hip hop and reggae Nazizi. Her song Ukiangalia (“when you see” in Swahili) rides a dubby update of King Tubby’s famous Tempo rhythm.
All vocals bar Mr Melody’s were recorded in Kampala, Uganda by David Cecil and Wana Benjamin of East Africa Records, with brass parts dubbed by Stalawa in Glasgow. The guitar on Traitor is the work of popular Scottish vocalist Tom Spirals. Hornplay comes courtesy of Tim Quick, Liam Shorthall and Matieusz Sobieski.