Jamaica’s 1970s roots reggae revolution gave a platform to a particularly uncommercial, otherworldly type of Rastaman who would never have cut through otherwise. Rob Symeonn out of New York is an inheritor of that tradition.
Rob has been recording since the late 90s and has most frequently associated with Easy Star Records – now widely known for their series of crossover cover albums. He’s also done a lot of work with Easy Star associate Victor Ticklah Axelrod and was the voice of their popular dietary tune Pork Eater. His third long-player, Indigenous, is released by Hawaii’s Jah Youth Productions and mostly produced by Sweden’s Jonahgold Goldheart. Goldheart learned studio-craft from late legend Internal Dread, who in turn studied under Dennis Bovell.
Jonahgold specialises in deep singers – past collaborations have included Daweh Congo and Sheyah Mission. He was drawn to Symeonn when he heard him voicing for Jah Youth on his own Indo Riddim and asked for an introduction. This tightly consistent 15 track set is the result.
Symeonn’s soft, delicate singing style comes out of the Pablo Moses, Barry Isaac, Harrison Stafford stable of strange yet compelling cultural voices. While he is not a poetic lyricist like Daweh, he has a very honest, stoical tone that lends credence to his timeless messages of repatriation and anti-materialism while bolstering some of the more pedestrian avenues of the romantic material. There are moments that may trouble the reggae criticism pitch police (but, hey, it’s roots reggae not an audition for The Voice).Read more…