Collaborations among artists have often been seen as a challenging endeavor. However, the ‘Keele Street Riddim’ project, a monumental effort featuring eleven talented reggae artists from Canada, has not only defied the odds but emerged as a testament to unity and creativity within the Canadian reggae scene.
The brainchild of Reggae North Music, a subsidiary of Reggae North Canada Inc, the ‘Keele Street Riddim’ compilation has been in the making for over a year, and its culmination is set to hit the global reggae stage on November 24th, 2023.
Produced by Reggae North Music through the skilled hands of Osborne “Ifield” Joseph, this riddim-driven collection features a stellar lineup, including Juno winners Kirk Diamond and Mikey Dangerous, JUNO nominees Ammoye, Tony Anthony, and Chester Miller, alongside rising talents like The Jempress, Tréson, Mel C, Onique, Skillman, and Richie C.
The album opens with the soul-stirring ‘Rastafari Calling’ by two-time JUNO winner Kirk Diamond. With sweet melodies and poignant lyrics, Diamond shares his personal journey of growth and maturity in his new home, Canada. This track sets the tone for the entire compilation, captivating listeners from the first note.
The hidden gem of the Canadian reggae scene, The Jempress, follows with the sensual ‘F.L.Y (For Loving You)’. Her lyrically potent and stylistically driven performance leaves an indelible mark, leaving listeners yearning for more from this talented songstress.
Tréson, the lead singer of The Human Right, showcases his vocal prowess with the powerful track ‘Stronger’. His inspirational delivery does justice to his credential. With this solid track he demonstrates that he is not only a frontman for a band but also a force to be reckoned with as a solo artist.
Veteran Chester Miller, a true stalwart in the Canadian reggae music scene, graces the compilation with the original track ‘Tribulation’. Miller’s well-written and soulful rendition aligns seamlessly with the ‘Keele Street Riddim’, reminiscent of his solid remake of the Doobie Brothers classic ‘Listen to the Music’.
‘Through the Fire’, is written by Osborne “Ifield” Joseph, it is a lover’s rock anthem flawlessly executed by Richie C. The track showcases C’s velvety voice and Joseph’s songwriting prowess, creating a captivating experience for female reggae enthusiasts.
Six-time JUNO nominee Ammoye brings her signature style to the compilation with the beautiful track ‘I Surrender’. Her sweet lead vocals and harmonies gracefully complement the Keele Street riddim, leaving listeners surrendering to the magic of her musicality.
JUNO winner Mikey Dangerous, known for his compelling cultural lyrics, imparts wisdom with ‘Let It Go’. Addressing the negative impact of holding onto the past in a present relationship, Dangerous showcases his creativity and lyrical depth on this compilation.
Representing the next generation on the ‘Keele Street Riddim’, Onique, a multifaceted talent, delivers ‘You’. His contemporary approach and potent lyrics make him a standout artist on the album, offering a glimpse into the future of Canadian reggae.
Mel C interprets ‘New Day’, a song written by Tony Anthony, Caswell McLaughlin, and Osborne ‘Ifield’ Joseph. Her heartfelt delivery suggests a personal connection to the lyrics, allowing listeners to feel the joy she experienced while creating this reggae gem.
Reggae crooner Tony Anthony follows with ‘Never Knew You’, a deeply personal track addressing betrayal, love, infidelity, and the strength to move on. Anthony’s emotive delivery adds a layer of authenticity to the compilation, resonating with listeners on a profound level.
Montreal-based Skillman, a chance addition to the album, surprises with ‘Right Now’. He heard the riddim track during Mikey Dangerous’ studio session and recorded a song with the hope it would be chosen by the producers. Skillman’s compelling lyrics and delivery earn him a well-deserved spot on the compilation, showcasing the serendipity that can occur in the creative process.
Listening to the ‘Keele Street Riddim’ compilation multiple times, it becomes a formidable challenge to pick a favorite among the eleven tracks. Each song stands as a testament to the artists’ individual talents and the collaborative synergy that defines this project. The compilation offers a cohesive listening experience, with each track contributing its unique flavor to the rich tapestry of Canadian reggae.
A notable aspect of the ‘Keele Street Riddim’ project is its commitment to homegrown talent. Apart from Dean Fraser’s magical horns and Kirk Bennett on drums, all other instrumentation was skillfully handled by Canadian musicians. Isax Injah’s saxophone contributions add a distinct flavor, and Osborne ‘Ifield’ Joseph’s mastery on various instruments weaves the sonic threads of the album.
Recorded, mixed, and mastered by Osborne ‘Ifield’ Joseph, with consultation by Tony Anthony, the album’s production is a testament to the meticulous attention to detail. Background vocals by Trish Campbell and Ammoye add depth and harmony, creating a lush sonic landscape that complements the diverse voices featured on the compilation. The recording took place at Rockstone Records studio in Toronto, further emphasizing the album’s Canadian roots.
In a music industry often marred by discord, the ‘Keele Street Riddim’ compilation serves as a refreshing counter-narrative. At a time when social media is rife with stories of tensions among local reggae artists, this project stands out as a beacon of unity and collaboration. It not only highlights the incredible talent within the Canadian reggae scene but also exemplifies how collective efforts can contribute to the healing of a wounded industry.