Veteran Jamaican Roots-Reggae Singer Jahmark Tafari Gets a Boost from Hip-Hop fans

Veteran Jamaican Roots-Reggae Singer Jahmark Tafari Gets a Boost from Hip-Hop fans
Jahmark Tafari

by Howard Campbell

KINGSTON, Jamaica – Admittedly, Jahmark Tafari is not a big hip hop fan. But in February, the veteran Jamaican roots-reggae singer got some love from an unlikely audience.

Happiness, a song he recorded with his band The Soul Shakers, topped the RapAttackLives.com chart in April. Happiness was released in traditional One Drop reggae form last April but a remix with American rapper Targyt found favor with hip hop college fans.

Operated by veteran journalist Nes Rodriquez, RapAttackLives.com is a leading college table. It tracks underground hip hop songs which are on the verge of making the mainstream.

“I like conscious hip hop artists like Nas, (and) also like listening to a Peruvian underground rapper based in New York by the name of Immortal Technique because his lyrics are so deep that mainstream radio keep him deep underground. He’s not into the ‘ho’s and bitches up in the club’ and ‘bus’ a cap in a nigga ass’ kind of hip hop,” said Jahmark Tafari.

Happiness is Jahmark Tafari and The Soul Shakers’ most successful song to date. He has led different versions of the group since the 1980s when it formed in Kingston, Jamaica’s capital; they also had a stint in Japan before settling in Southern California during the early 1990s.

The lead song from their album of the same name, Happiness was remixed at the suggestion of Rodriguez who has been involved with hip hop since the early 1980s. He worked as a Disc Jockey in Washington State for many years before relocating to Southern California and launching RapAttackLives.com in 2002.

After more than 30 years in the music business, Jahmark Tafari welcomes his new, younger fans.

“For a pure roots-reggae song to make it this far up the scale on a strictly hip-hop platform is nothing to take lightly because it means big things still a gwaan for the music, the music that I love, the music that form the soundtrack of I life, the music of I ‘n I heart and soul,” he said.

Jahmark Tafari hopes the single’s breakthrough will also mean greater acceptance of its parent album, his and the group’s fifth studio effort.

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