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Steel Pulse ready to make some Grammy noise - Lead singer believes reggae music has lost flavour

Published:Sunday | January 12, 2020 | 12:00 AMKimberley Small - Staff Reporter

Since the Best Reggae Album category became included in the Recording Academy’s annual Grammy Awards ceremony about 35 years ago, the handover of the golden gramophone from announcer to winner has never been televised. Being kept off-screen has been a turn-off for reggae musicians, who often opt out of attending the star-studded, red Carpet event. But this year, Steel Pulse, nominated for their album, Mass Manipulation, is opting in – with the intent to make some noise – win or lose.

Lead singer David Hinds told The Gleaner that the decision to attend the ceremony was ‘touch-and-go’. Ultimately, close friends and supporters’ voices rose high and resounded, ‘Go!’ So Hinds tucked away some long-held reservations, which he was kind enough to explain.

He lamented the concern of many reggae music fans that the awards are not an accurate reflection of the community’s consumption or preferences. “Over the years, the playing field has never been level for many acts that have been out there, putting their efforts out only to know that it’s been one-sided for the most part,” he said.

Additionally, Hinds believes that modern reggae music has become insipid, losing flavour that was steeped in political and spiritual awareness. He said: “We honestly believe the music is in a dire situation right now. The music at this moment in time, I don’t believe it’s being represented in the way it should be. When it came to it being recognised, or introduced to the world in the first place, it was based on a lot of political and spiritual awareness.” Such principles guided the production of Mass Manipulation. As such, Hinds hopes that the nomination indicates that audiences are receptive to their message music.

Noting his band’s steadfast dedication to real roots reggae, with respect to fellow nominees, Hinds stated plainly: “It’s very important to me, Jamaica, and everybody involved that Steel Pulse wins this. We’d like to know that we can continue to let the world know that those kinds of ingredients are still in the music,” he continued.

Mass Manipulation will contend for the Best Reggae Album Grammy award along with Koffee’s Rapture, Julian Marley’s As I Am, Third World’s More Work To Be Done, and Sly and Robbie’s The Final Battle: Sly & Robbie vs Roots Radics. “Once I get there, I’m gonna be making a whole lot of noise, whether we win or not,” Hinds said.

Before they make some noise at the ceremony in California, reggae music fans can catch Steel Pulse right here in Jamaica on the Rebel Salute stage at Grizzly’s Plantation, on Friday, January 17.