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Reggae served with hot chutney

Rikki Jai adds real Trini flavour to the Jamaican beat

By Essiba Small

Multiple Chutney Soca Monarch Rikki Jai is quite amused at the reaction he’s getting from his chutney reggae song “I’m Sorry”
In the first place people didn’t take the singer seriously when he initially talked about making the song.
“Indian, you could sing reggae?” one of his friends dared ask. It’s okay though, Jai had a good laugh about it.
When he started fusing chutney with soca back in 1988 with Sumintra, Jai got similar comments; ditto with his entry into the calypso and soca field.
“I grew up listening to reggae Jai, born Samraj Jaimungal , said. “It’s just that my music took me along a certain path.”
The track “I’m Sorry” which tells of a playboy’s regret after losing the best woman he ever had, was written by Jai and produced by Grammy award-winning Jason Farmer aka J-Vibe. Farmer is also the keyboardist for Ky-mani Marley, son of the late reggae legend Bob Marley.
The inclusion of the sitar by Sharda Patasar and the tabla playing of Prashant Patasar to the Maxi Priest-esque laid back vibe makes for an intoxicating and palatable musical hybrid.
Jai met J-Vibe through Zack Esau of Studio Express, he told us.
“I did a track for Spine, one of the loal reggae producers here in Trinidad but I did not release it.”
Jai said he sent the track he recorded with Spine to Esau, to get his opinion on it.
“Zack told me that he will also let a guy he knew (Farmer) listen to it.”
Farmer, whose wife is a Trinidadian, told Jai that he liked the track; that he heard about him before and would love to work with him.
“Right when he said that I pulled out my phone and let him listen to some voicenotes I had with me singing reggae. He liked the lovers rock approach to “I’m sorry” and so we went with it.
The response to the song has also been good, Jai said.
The track was released two months ago and although airplay locally has been moderate, Irie Jam Radio of New York has picked it up and it can now be heard on the station.
Jai is now planning a full reggae album - along with writing his chutney soca and calypso music for Carnival 2015.
On May 26 Jai will be among some reggae heavyweights at the Oracbessa Reggae Festival at Roy Wilkins Park, Queen’s, New York. Jai is expected to share the stage with Beenie Man, Konshens, Assassin and last season’s The Voice winner Tessanne Chin.
“This is the first time I will be performing at a reggae concert,” Jai said.
“I have performed at reggae festivals before but not a concert; so this is a big deal for me.”
He added that he is very comfortable in his own skin and is not at all intimated to perform his reggae
“I’m going to do some of my soca and chutney songs as well; and my performance comes in the middle of the programme.”
Jai is also expected to put out his first reggae album but he is currently trying to secure some collaborations before he heads to the studio.
“A lot of people have been asking me what I am coming with next year . I just want to make music that I can drop any time of the year - not just Carnival. That’s how the international performers do it anyway.”
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