Trojan Jamaica Honors U-Roy With New Remix And Video for Small Axe with Jesse Royal
11/05/2021 by Press Release
Trojan Jamaica/BMG is proud to share a new remix of U-Roy feat. Jesse Royal’s Small Axe, originally found on the late reggae icon’s acclaimed new album, SOLID GOLD U-ROY. Remixed by Trojan Jamaica co-founders Zak Starkey and Sharna “Sshh” Liguz, Small Axe (Jamaica Soundsystem Remix) is available now. The official music video premiered on the official Trojan Jamaica YouTube channel. Watch the video HERE or scroll down.
A dub-powered new take on Bob Marley’s classic early hit, sees the late, great Daddy U-Roy trading big vocals with Kingston, Jamaica-based singer-songwriter Jesse Royal over an indelible riddim that is rich with instrumentation and reverb, yet leaves enough space as to highlight the contrasting deliveries of the singer and deejay, as well as the fresh backing vocal arrangements, courtesy of Robbie Shakespeare, Tony Chin, and Trojan Jamaica co-founder Sharna “Sshh” Liguz. Additional guitar and piano parts were contributed by Trojan Jamaica co-founder Zak Starkey.
Affectionately known by his fans as the “Small Axe,” Jesse Royal was a natural fit for this latest interpretation of the beloved reggae standard.
“We are all from the same bloodline. Products of one of the greatest places on Earth! Walking talking blessings,” exclaimed Jesse. He added, “The session for me was a school, as whoever knows me knows that I’m an avid studier when it comes to the ones who set it! The vibrations are always high, as the respect is mutual, and for me the level of gratitude was undeniable! Incredible concept that the team came up with, and brilliant execution by the musical team. Truly honored to be a part of such an amazing project!”
“Small Axe,” initially recorded by The Wailers for legendary producer Lee “Scratch” Perry in 1970, was written by Bob Marley as a song of underdog resistance against an oppressive Babylon System, and more specifically, Jamaica’s “Big T’ree” dictatorial record label triumvirate – Dynamic, Federal, and Studio One – who seemingly controlled all aspects of the island’s music industry at the time. The young firebrand warned on the song’s chorus:
If you are the big tree
We are the small axe
Sharpened to cut you down
Ready to cut you down
The brand new Small Axe (Jamaica Soundsystem Remix) release is complimented by an official video that includes exclusive footage of U-Roy and Jesse Royal in the vocal booth during the SOLID GOLD U-ROY recording sessions. Directed by Daryl Higgins, and Executive Produced by Gabriel Jagger for whynow, alongside Trojan Jamaica co-chiefs Zak Starkey and Sharna “Sshh” Liguz, the new visuals also feature cutaways to scenes from the iconic 1978 Jamaican film Rockers (courtesy of Blue Sun Film Co) -- another tale of David defeating Goliath. Fans of the vintage film will recognize cameos from some of their favorite reggae stars like Big Youth, Gregory Isaacs, Kiddus I, Ras Michael and The Sons of Negus, bassist Robbie Shakespeare, drummer Leroy “Horsemouth” Wallace, percussionist Bongo Herman, engineer Sylvan Morris, guitarist Earl “Chinna” Smith, and horn players Bobby Ellis, Cedric “Im” Brooks, David Madden, Tommy McCook, and Richard “Dirty Harry” Hall.
“I absolutely loved working with Zak and Sshh to create the video,” offered Jagger. He went on, “it is such a privilege to work on this amazing track from U-Roy and Jesse Royal that breathes new life into Bob Marley's iconic song.”
Zak and Sshh added “Rockers is one of our favorite movies, and we are blessed to have worked with Kiddus I, Big Youth, Horsemouth, Bongo Herman, Robbie Shakespeare and other musical giants featured in the film, and we recently mixed a Gregory Isaacs tune. All of these guys represent the Small Axe’that is going to chop down ‘the big tree’”
Starkey and Liguz, whose fledgling Trojan Jamaica record label launched only a few short years ago, but has already taken home the 2021 Grammy Award for Best Reggae Album with Toots and The Maytals’ Got To Be Tough, explained the significance of the remix and video:
“It was and always will be an honor and a pleasure to work on U-Roy’s recordings. We miss him dearly, but our mission is to keep his legacy strong with the music that lives on. Jesse Royal gives a stand-out performance on Small Axe with passion and talent. Maximum Respect!”