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"We rise to the top," Dre Island sings on "We Pray," his massive collab with Popcaan, "cause we know what it takes."
Building on that theme of musical and spiritual elevation, the multi-talented musician—singer, deejay, songwriter, producer, and pianist—has just released his debut album Now I Rise. The project features the aforementioned "We Pray" as well as crucial collaborations with the likes of Jesse Royal and Chronixx. "Ah mi family dem deh," says Dre Island, who has toured Europe backed by Chronixx's band Zincfence Redemption. A graduate of Kingston’s Calabar high school—alma mater of both Jr. Gong and Vybz Kartel—Andre Johnson aka Dre Island is a living link between the vaunted “roots revival” movement and the sound of the Jamaican streets.
“The revival is really within the people," he says. "Reggae music never stop. Reggae artists always been touring. So it’s just the people’s awareness.” During a time when reggae and dancehall stand at a crossroads, Dre Island has emerged as one of the few artists capable of bringing together dancehall vibes and the ancient roots traditions—not to mention outernational connections like "People" his collaboration with UK talents Cadenza and Jorja Smith. “An island is a small land mass surrounded by water,” the artist told Boomshots correspondent Reshma B in their first interview. “But if you read further it’s also a place where you go to find yourself.”
Released through a joint-venture partnership with New York-based DubShot Records and the artist's own Kingston Hills Entertainment imprint, Now I Rise is a 13-track set that includes the hit single “We Pray” featuring Popcaan, “My City,” as well as the recently released “Be Okay” feat Jesse Royal. Never-before-heard tracks include “Days of Stone” featuring Chronixx and “Run to Me” featuring Alandon as well as tracks produced by the likes of Jam2, Anju Blaxx, Teetimus, Winta James, Dretegs Music and Barkley Productions. The artist is now managed by Sharon Burke, founder of the Solid Agency in Kingston, Jamaica. Earlier this month, Dre Island premiered the official music video (directed by Fernando Hevetia) for the last song on the album, “Still Remain.”
“This album speaks of arising, growth, new beginnings and emerging from the ashes," Dre Island states. "At this time, these are all the things we need based on what is happening right now. The truth is, since 2015 I have been advertising that the album is coming. It has been five years and the time is right. As an artist and person Dre Island move different. I embrace Rasta and this way of life, but I am not part of any group like Boboshanti or Twelve Tribes. Everything I do is inspired by the father. I am moved to drop this album at this time because I am divinely inspired to do so. When you look at a song like “We Pray” I can take no credit for a song like that. Yes I wrote the lyrics and built the rhythm and I voice the track, but it's a prayer, not just a song so how a man fi tek credit for something that come from above.”
Dre Island and Boomshots have been linking up from early in his musical journey. During a recent trip to New York City, he sat down with Reshma B to speak about the new project and his unstoppable rise. Check the reasoning:
Brandy is back! The Grammy-winning singer dropped her new single, “Baby Mama,” featuring Chance the Rapper on Friday (May 1).
The song is an ode her daughter, Sy’rai, and an anthem for all mothers. “The inspiration for 'Baby Mama' was of course my daughter and how she makes me a better person,” Brandy wrote on her YouTube page after the song was released.
“I wanted to do a song about her and speak to all baby mama's out there that may feel like they can't make it or they can't push through, you know, if you use your child as an inspiration you can do anything and I want to everybody to feel that. I have to give Chance The Rapper a huge shout out, he spit a really really dope verse on it and I’m so pleased with it.”
“Baby Mama” will presumably be featured on Brandy's long-awaited studio album. The multi-platinum selling singer opened up the project in an interview with TrueExclusives earlier this week.
“I’m super excited, like I can’t believe it,” she admitted. “I’m so nervous. How can I not be nervous? This is crazy! I haven’t felt like this in so long.”
The music video for “Baby Mama” drops on Monday (May 4). In the meantime, listen to the song below.
If you haven't already heard, Megan Thee Stallion and Beyonce have teamed up for a remix of Stallion's hit, "Savage." On the J. White Did It-produced track, Queen Bey flexes her rapping chops on two verses while talkin' her sh*t about being a bad b*tch and boss in her own right.
"Queen B, want no smoke with me, Then turn this motherfucker up eight hundred degree/ Team eat, chef's kiss, she's a treat, Oh, she so bougie, bougie, bon appetite," she opens with on the track. "I heard they askin' for the Queen to buy some cameras in here/ I'm a bad bi**h, she's a savage, no comparison here," she later rhymes in another verse.
What you may also know is that they've done it for a cause. Hot Girl Meg and Queen Bey have decided to donate proceeds from this song to their hometown of Houston by way of Bread of Life, Inc., a non-profit organization dedicated to feeding the homeless men and women in the sanctuary of St. John’s United Methodist Church.
Since the beginning of today's coronavirus pandemic, Bread of Life has delivered 14 tons of produce, shelf-stable food, and other supplies to 500 families each week. An average of 100 homebound seniors has received food while more high-risk individuals were assisted with gaining access to telehealth services and more.
Hear "Savage (Remix)" below and visit Bread of Life's official website for more information.