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Ras MacBean – A Modern Roots Reggae Artist

WOW! I originally wrote this piece on October 15th (2019) but I have to add that I have received a few records in the mail already (er… a lot, actually, haha!)! Most notably, I received Ras Mac Bean with Soulcraft‘s “Reggae on a Mission’ LP!

The album is amazing. It is a classic, but somehow the world hasn’t caught on and nobody knows it yet.

The vinyl pressing that I have is clean and quiet (it sounds great!!) but it is also available on CD and digitally for those of you who suffer from vinyl deficiency.

After listening to this album, and the three 7″ singles that arrived in the mail with it today… here is what I’d like to know: How is Ras McBean (AKA Ras Mac Bean) not better known? He does his own thing and does it really well, but it also feels like he is channeling the spirit of reggae artists that have gone before (in a very good way). With a little luck and right place/right time, he could be the next Reggae superstar. His music touches soul deep and has the most delicious irie vibe. This record needs to be heard by a *LOT* more people. Has anyone sent Chris Blackwell (of Island Records fame) a copy of this album yet?

There are some wonderful pure reggae tracks (“Warriors“) and some that are very spiritual and beautiful, such as “Give Thanks for Life” and “Hail Jah“, but there are also some songs that feel like Soulcraft are channeling some heavy elements of Black Sabbath (tempo changes in “Tomorrow’s Future” and “Miss My Yard” and the Sabbath-esque guitar riff in “Be Respected“) all while maintaining a gorgeous Roots Reggae and dubby vibe. You gotta hear it to believe it.

This is an album not to be missed. If you like reggae music (even if you only like Bob Marley‘s “Legend” album), then you ought to get yourself a copy of this record.

It isn’t available to stream on Spotify or I would have added some tracks to a playlist for you, however, it is available digitally and physically from Ammonite Records on Bandcamp (I have posted the link at the bottom of the page, you can preview the full album and buy it directly).

Here is a video they released in late 2019:

It is a strong 5/5 stars. There was no hesitation in about giving this album that fifth star.

So back to my original post… how the hell did I even *find* this Ras Mac Bean fellow?…………..

Have you ever fallen down the rabbit hole that is the internet? It happens to me sometimes when I am just chilling and browsing Discogs.com or YouTube.com late at night. Usually I click on YouTube to check out something specific and get intrigued by the suggestions that appear in the right hand column. Sound familiar?

Honestly, I could get lost for hours if it wasn’t for the advertisements. I *HATE* the advertisements, and yet I am grateful for them as well… because once an advertisement interrupts me, I am usually able to break the spell and turn off the web site. Not their intended purpose I know, but it is a welcome side effect for me! I do the same thing on Facebook, too! As soon as a Facebook video gets interrupted with “ad starting soon” I just click away. (Seriously y’all: nothing on Facebook is worth watching ads, LOL!)

Where was I?

Oh yeah… RAS MAC BEAN!!!

I love this guy’s name. Before I even knew who he was or had heard a single note of his music his name made me smile. For whatever reason, his name makes me happy.

I am a fan of Roots Reggae as you might have figured out by my previous reggae post (Summer Reggae: May 28th, 2019). I like reggae in general, but I have a particularly soft spot for roots reggae, which is really my absolute favourite style (think Bob Marley, Black Uhuru, Steel Pulse).

This week, I was looking at buying a single by Michael Rose (AKA Mykal Roze), previously the lead singer of Black Uhuru, called “Never Run Away” and it turns out that is was a split single (meaning one side was the song by Mykal Roze, but the other side was a song by a different singer).

In this case, the B-side was a song by Ras Mac Bean called “They Fall“.

As I said, his name made me smile, so I was curious to see if I could find this song on Spotify.

Short answer: NO.

In fact, he has very few songs on Spotify… less than a dozen…

I did find it on You Tube, and I sat there with my jaw hanging open. It completely blew me away. I love his voice! It is strong and natural. He sings with absolute conviction and sincerity. It sounds like singing brings him joy, and it is infectious. After listening to “They Fall” a couple of times, I was curious to check out his other work to see how it measured up. …which is how the YouTube Rabbit Hole happened! 🙂

What I discovered was an artist who produces some of the most wonderful modern roots reggae. He occasionally falls a bit off-key (See “Lambsbread” in the attached playlist), but I think this adds to the charm. Although he has been around for at least 15 years, I have never heard of him. He and his record labels were not even on my radar. I feel blessed to have discovered him.

There is not a lot of information about him on-line, though he does have an active facebook page, which you can check out if you’re interested!

What I can tell you is that he is originally from Guyana, and seems to be based in Le Mans, France. He has traveled and performed in South America, the Caribbean and the USA . Most recently, he has been touring in Europe, and his most recent stop was Serbia! He has performed at France’s Jamaican Sunrise festival, and he has collaborated with many other reggae musicians and producers, such as Morgan Heritage, Lorenzo, Tricia Collymore, Mafia & Fluxy, Addis, Disciples, Bush Chemists, and Jonah Dan. If none of these names mean anything to you, then you are in for a delightful trip down another rabbit hole of your own, but that’s a journey you’ll have to take by yourself. Tonight I am focused on Ras Mac Bean.

He has appeared on numerous compilation albums and has released a handful of singles on various labels. He has also released two albums, the first of which, “Pack Up and Leave“, was issued in 2004 on a small independent French record label called Irie Ites Records. All of the songs on this album are available on YouTube via the record label’s YouTube channel, and after listening to them I knew it was an album that I had to have in my collection. It collects tracks that he has released on various compilations and singles, so although it is not an actual “album” it is pretty damn good!

His second album is the one I mentioned at the top of this post, “Reggae On A Mission“, a collaboration with a Slavic outfit called Soulcraft! This is some very international, intriguing reggae.

It has been a very long time since a new artist has excited me this much! I couldn’t wait to get my hands on the wax! THIS is reggae for the 21st century and I am so excited to share it with you!

There is precious little of his music available on Spotify, but I have added a couple of songs to my original summer reggae mix playlist from May 2018. Despite the fact that he has less so few tracks available on Spotify, they are almost all of them gems, and I have created a 19-song playlist.

He seems to be involved in a type of recording movement that I find really interesting in Reggae. I’ll be honest, I have yet to find out if this is a modern thing or something that has always been done, but it’s really cool. Essentially, a rhythm track is recorded by an outfit (a band or a DJ or whoever…) and various different artists try their hand at it. Each artist creates and records their own lyrics over the “riddim” track. (Think: professional karaoke, but everyone is making up their own lyrics, haha!) All the different tracks are then released together on a collection (often titled after the name of the original instrumental track that formed the basis of each individual artist’s creation).

Some of the collections featuring Ras Mac Bean that are available on Spotify are: Dubland Riddim (2016), Dub Pipe Riddim (2016), Shango Riddim (2013), Speaker Riddim (2011), Crisis Riddim (2011), Conqueror Riddim Selection (2011) and Street Riddim Sampler (2007). As I said, each of these CDs feature different tracks by different artists, but each has one thing in common; they all take the exact same backing instrumental track as their starting point. It’s insane and awesome.

The Spotify Ras Mac Bean Playlist is here:

Do yourself a favor. Check this guy out. If you are already starting to feel some winter blues, bring some reggae sunshine into your life. You won’t be disappointed! Here are a few gems from Bandcamp…

Enjoy!! #reggae #RasMacBean #IrieItesRecords #soulcraft #music #vinyl #vinylcollection #myvinylcollection #riddim #recordcollection #myrecordcollection #birdienumnumsmusic #musicboxtw #Taiwan #Chiayi #台灣 #嘉義 #黑膠唱片 #音樂

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