(Back Row, L-R) J Boog, Common Kings, Damian "Jr. Gong" Marley, (Front Row, L-R) Chronixx, Morgan Heritage
2018 GRAMMY Nominations: Best Reggae Album Roundup
For over three decades, the Best Reggae Album category at the GRAMMY Awards has honored excellence in the genre, recognizing the artistic achievements of reggae artists such as Jimmy Cliff, Bunny Wailer, Peter Tosh, Shabba Ranks, and Ziggy Marley.
Covering both vocal and purely instrumental albums of newly recorded music from the interconnected subgenres of roots reggae, dancehall, and ska, the category draws its considerations each year from a particularly diverse catalogue of music offerings. And with a field of GRAMMY hopefuls including two first-time nominees, two well-established and previously nominated acts, and one multi-GRAMMY winning descendant of reggae royalty all vying for GRAMMY gold this year, the category competition is lining up for an intriguing race.
Take a closer look at the five acts who are nominated for Best Reggae Album at the 60th GRAMMY Awards and how each of their disparate paths intertwined to set them up for this moment.
First-time GRAMMY nominee Jamar McNaughton, aka Chronixx, takes his stage moniker in part from his childhood nickname of "Little Chronicle," a reference to his father, a Jamaican singer who recorded under the title Chronicle. The 25-year-old McNaughton has built a name for himself as one of the rising stars of the reggae revival movement, crediting his father with introducing him to a wide variety of music and enrolling him in music education at a very early age. Widespread acclaim for his 2014 EP, Dread & Terrible, brought Chronixx his first brush with major international success when it charted No. 1 on the Billboard Top Reggae Albums chart, a wave he was able to ride through to 2017 when his debut LP, Chronology, gave Chronixx his second career trip to the No. 1 slot on the Top Reggae Albums Chart and nabbed him his first GRAMMY nomination.
Lost In Paradise, Common Kings
The majority of the members of the sonically omnivorous musical collective Common Kings hails from disparate birthplaces across the South Pacific. The group was brought together geographically by their shared experience of growing up in Southern California's Orange County, and they cite influences as diverse as Van Morrison, Stevie Wonder, the Who, Gypsy Kings, Earth, Wind & Fire, and Michael Jackson. The Kings' resulting musical concoction is expressed as an emotive amalgam of rock, reggae, and island folk sounds. Following a series of three strong EPs in 2013 and 2015, all of which charted Top 10 (with the 2013's Summer Anthem EP and 2015's Hits & Mrs. EP peaking at No. 4 and No. 2, respectively), Common Kings' debut studio album, Lost In Paradise, reached No. 1 on the Billboard Top Reggae Albums chart in early 2017 and earned the group their first career GRAMMY nomination.
Wash House Ting, J Boog
With his latest studio album, Wash House Ting, earning the Hawaii-based J Boog his second Best Reggae Album GRAMMY nomination in as many years (he was nominated for his 2016 Rose Petals EP at the 59th GRAMMY Awards), there is little question as to why he has risen to be one the most internationally well-known Hawaiian reggae artists recording today. Since 2011, five of J Boog's album or EP releases have charted Top 5 on Billboard's Top Reggae Albums chart, with Rose Petals and his currently nominated Wash House Ting each taking No. 1, making his latest nomination another notable in an ongoing series of major accomplishments for the Samoan singer.
Stony Hill, Damian "Jr. Gong" Marley
Three-time GRAMMY winner, and youngest son of renowned reggae legend Bob Marley, Damian "Jr. Gong" Marley's Stony Hill is his first solo studio album since 2005's Best Reggae Album-winning Welcome To Jamrock. That's not to say the prolific reggae artist has kept quiet in the 12 years since; rather, the time between LP releases saw Marley take part in the creation of secretive reggae-fusion supergroup SuperHeavy with Mick Jagger and Joss Stone, and even collaborate with Skrillex, lending his vocals to the GRAMMY-winning multifaceted electronic producer's 2012 single "Make It Bun Dem." Stony Hill is Marley's second consecutive Billboard Top Reggae Albums No. 1 release, while all four of his solo LP releases have charted No. 2 or higher.
Avrakedabra, Morgan Heritage
GRAMMY-winning Jamaica-based reggae band Morgan Heritage comprises siblings Peter "Peetah" Morgan, Una Morgan, Roy "Gramps" Morgan, Nakhamyah "Lukes" Morgan, and Memmalatel "Mr. Mojo" Morgan, who are all children of influential solo artist Denroy Morgan, who also founded the 1970s New York City-based reggae outfit Black Eagles. The group's output has been extremely prolific throughout their career, with nearly 20 studio, live or collaborative albums released since their formation in 1994, yielding seven trips to the Top 10 of Billboard's Top Reggae Albums chart and nine total albums ranked No. 15 or higher. Avrakedabra marks the group's second GRAMMY nomination — their first studio release, Strictly Roots, took Best Reggae Album at the 58th GRAMMY Awards.
The 60th GRAMMY Awards will take place at Madison Square Garden in New York on Jan. 28, 2018, airing live on CBS from 7:30–11 p.m. ET/4:30–8 p.m. PT.