Jamaican Artist Displays Dazzling Masterpieces in New York

Artist Extraordinaire Mr. Paul Blackwood thanks longtime friend Mrs. Coleen Robinson-Cobblah for hosting a successful exhibition of his work in her home.

By Carmen Glover

Art usually evokes a myriad of emotions, ranging from awe to excitement and joy. The works created by self-taught Jamaican artist Paul Blackwood explode with vibrant colors and sceneries, often fueling lengthy discussions and intense concentration as patrons carefully study the pieces, trying to decipher subliminal themes. Recently, while exhibiting his artwork in Westchester County, New York and Alpharetta, Georgia, Blackwood joined his family, friends and patrons to discuss his hectic exhibition schedule and the range of emotions that his masterpieces elicit.

Some of Paul Blackwood’s breathtaking pieces of art.

“Since the year started I’ve been doing a lot of exhibitions across Jamaica and the United States,” Blackwood said during a lull in the Westchester County event, while explaining that he loved the Westchester location because “It has a nice vibe.”  But while art lovers were deep in thought trying to figure out multiple meanings and themes in his work, Blackwood laughed when he stated, “I don’t have a set theme for my art. I paint the way I feel. You can see abstract, semi-abstract or realism but I put my all into my work so when people purchase my work they are buying a piece of me.”

Onpointpress.net Editorial Director Carmen Glover, M.S.Ed. enjoys the exhibition with Coleen Robinson-Cobblah, MSN, and her sister Dionne Robinson.

Blackwood says his work has wide appeal. “My paintings are for everyone. People will say that they see a lot of houses and cottages in my work. That’s because I try to bring out a lot of my upbringing in my work,” he said. “I grew up in a little board house in Long Hill, Westmoreland, where you get the best bammy and fried fish in the world,” he said, laughing. Blackwood said that he caters to every taste and budget. “I do coasters, prints and originals so that there is something for everyone. My dream is to let as many persons as possible have a piece of my work,” he said. “If everyone across the globe could have a Blackwood painting, that would be nice.”

Happy patron shows off her outfit next to the artistic display.

Coleen Robinson-Cobblah, who hosted the Westchester event, said she is committed to showcasing his work as much as possible.

“I met Paul about five years ago, selling his work at Golden Krust in White Plains,” she said. “I loved his work and bought a few pieces. I found them inspirational. We ended our conversation like we knew each other for a long time.” She said that she and Blackwood’s friendship grew. “I see him as a big brother. I don’t see him as a friend. He’s family. When I go to Jamaica he treats my family well and I want to expose his work as much as I can. Last year, he hosted a show at my mother’s and this year I decided to host the exhibition here and invite my friends.”

Robinson-Cobblah was pleased with her guests’ feedback at the exhibition she hosted in her home. “The guests all love his work. They bought coasters and paintings. Some took his card to visit his website and purchase more of his work,” she said.

To view and purchase his work, visit www.paulblackwoodart.com.

‘Southside With You,’ captivatingly depicts the Obamas’ first date

Tika Sumpter and Parker Sawyers depict the Obamas in 'Southside With You.'

Tika Sumpter and Parker Sawyers depict the Obamas in ‘Southside With You.’

By Carmen Glover

With the paucity of movies depicting black love, ‘Southside With You,” an independent film which beautifully brings to life the first date of Michelle and Barack Obama, is as timely as it is inspirational. Parker Saywers resonates as Barack through spot-on mannerisms and Tika Sumpter, who is one of the producers shines as Michelle.

Set in Chicago’s south side, where the couple has roots, the film is written and directed by Richard Tanne, with singer John Legend serving as one of the executive producers.

In a scene from the movie, the first couple takes a walk on their first date.

In a scene from the movie, the eventual  first couple takes a walk on their first date.

In a running time of one hour and twenty-four minutes, the film captures the nuances of the couple’s different backgrounds, education, family and work lives as well as what pushes them to excel. The move fills in images from the first couples’ various recounting of several aspects of their first date. However, the dialogue is developed from the screenwriter’s imagination, since he obviously was not on the date with the couple.

Nonetheless, the film is a satisfying, charming portrayal of two attractive, educated, driven black professionals who took a chance and eventually re-wrote history. Treat yourself to this movie, you won’t regret it!--OnPointPress.net–

Christmas in Jamaica equals heaven on earth

Blue Lagoon, Port Antonio, Jamaica.

Blue Lagoon, Port Antonio, Jamaica is a breathtaking oasis of sapphire water, nestled between lush, verdant plants. Actress Brooke Shields starred in a movie of the same name, which was filmed in this exotic locale.

By Carmen Glover

You can call be biased, but in my view, experiencing Christmas on the idyllic island of Jamaica is nothing short of tasting a slice of heaven on earth.

The rich Christmas tradition starts with extensive cleaning of the home, wiping the walls or painting them if it is deemed necessary, applying whitewash to the stones and trees in the yard, hanging new curtains and adorning the beds with new linen. The cleaning is done over a period of days so that no stone is left unturned and every crevice and cranny is spotless.

In the weeks leading up to Christmas, singers from the Salvation Army visit homes and sing various carols, while eager residents listen intently, enjoying the performance. Once that special treat is finished, a modest donation is given to the carolers. Most homes have Christmas decorations of some kind, with Christmas lights twinkling in trees or in the beautifully trimmed hedges, especially the hibiscus tinged borders often called ‘shoe-block.’

L-R: Dunn's River Falls, Christmas morning breakfast consists of Jamaica's national dish: ackee and salfish, roast breadfruit, fried plantains; Jamaican fruit 'rum' cake and the refreshing sorrel drink.

L-R: Dunn’s River Falls, Christmas morning breakfast consists of Jamaica’s national dish: ackee and salt-fish, roast breadfruit, Johnny cakes (fried dumplings), fried plantains, served with tea, coffee, cocoa or chocolate; Jamaican fruit ‘rum’ cake and the refreshing sorrel drink.

The next phase involves the food preparation, which includes some steps that begin long before Christmas, such as soaking dried fruits in wine to make the fruit/rum cake, boiling the sorrel and setting it aside so that the flavor can deepen, preparing fish, jerk and curry chicken, oxtail, roast beef and an assortment of fruit and vegetable salads. The food supply is purchased at ‘Christmas Market,’ a special marketplace where farmers show off their most impressive harvest, just in time for the holidays.

On Christmas Eve, most children and young adults flock to the malls to shop and spend time with friends, squeezing out the last minutes of social time before the big day. Early Christmas morning, some folks go to a brief Christmas service at church before returning home as the day of feasting begins with what is termed a ‘big or heavy’ breakfast, consisting of the national dish: Ackee and salt-fish, served with roast bread fruit and/or fried dumplings, which we call Johnny cakes. After break-fast the presents are opened with large measures of excitement and squeals. Throughout the day, as the strains of Christmas carols fill Jamaican homes, cake, fruits, sorrel and rum punch are consumed until it’s time for the tasty Christmas dinner.

A trip to Jamaica is incomplete without a visit to the famous Dunn's River Falls, a national treasure.

A trip to Jamaica is incomplete without a visit to the famous Dunn’s River Falls, a national treasure.

If a relative or friend is visiting from overseas, which we call ‘foreign,’ those from the USA typically come bearing red apples, in addition to an item of clothing. The apples were always viewed with a great deal of interest and to ensure that no one is left out, the apples, usually no more than two per household because of strict customs agents, is carefully sliced and each person gets to savor one slice at a minimum. The Jamaican apple is red, juicy and totally different in taste and texture from the American apple.

On Boxing Day, the day after Christmas, people visit each other and spend the rest of the weekend going to the beach, traipsing from Dunn’s River Falls in Ocho Rios to public beaches in Negril and Montego Bay or basking in the healing waters of Milk River Bath in St. Thomas. Ah!! Christmas in Jamaica, lovingly called ‘Jamdown,’ heaven on earth! There is nothing like it!–OnPointPress.net–


Caribbean films showcased in annual ADIFF festival


The African Diaspora International Film Festival, ADIFF 2015 is being held from November 27 through December 13 in three venues in Manhattan: Chelsea Bow Tie Cinemas, MIST Harlem and Teachers College, Columbia University. The selection of films include many featuring the Caribbean. The Caribbean is a reservoir of talent in many areas and, as time goes by, the Caribbean presence in films is more and more remarkable. The 23rd African Diaspora International Film Festival will showcase, as is its tradition, a selection of good films coming from the Caribbean and about its people.

The Black British Film Program has a selection of four films about the presence of Black people in the UK with a very strong Caribbean flavor in front and behind the camera.  Let The Music Talk by Yvonne Deutchmann is a 1981 musical documentary never screened in the USA before. It tells the story of black music in Britain, from the calypso of Lord Kitchener arriving on the SS Windrush in 1948, gospel choirs, griots from Grenada, steel pans in schools and at the Notting Hill Carnival, jazz, Afro-rock, soul-funk with the Real Thing, reggae with Misty in Roots and Eddy Grant.

The Story of Lovers Rock by Menelik Shabazz, a favorite of ADIFF, tells the story of Lovers Rock as a musical genre and gives a voice to the Caribbean descendant people who created that music and culture in the UK. Honeytrap by Rebecca Johnson plays out as a tragedy. It tells a story of fifteen-year-old Layla (Jessica Sula – Skins), a beautiful and naive Trinidadian girl who, freshly arrived from her native land, quickly embarks on a journey of love, sex, hip hop and violence.

Second Coming by Debbie Tucker Green is an emotional and intimate drama about a woman in a London family who faces a dilemma with her husband (Idris Elba) and the tensions and communication issues associated with her situation. Other films in the festival have a Caribbean flavor including NY premiere and festival centerpiece “Cu-Bop: Cuba – New York Music Documentary” by Japanese filmmaker Shinishi Takahashi. Separated by an ocean, two Cuban jazz musicians continue to perform in spite of the difficulties they face. César López is recognized as Cuba’s premier saxophonist, having founded his landmark jazz band, the Havana Ensemble, in his native country.

The gifted young pianist Axel Tosca lives in New York City, the leader of (U)NITY, a band which fuses Afro-Cuban culture with modern jazz and hip-hop. With this documentary for all music lovers, first-time filmmaker Shinichi Takahashi explores the African roots of Cuban jazz and documents what happens when expats return to the source of their inspiration. The screening will be followed by a concert with Axel Tosca and his band. Shot in Haiti and Bangladesh, A Journey of a Thousand Miles tells us a story of two countries that are embarked in a mutual discovery of sorts. A contingent of Muslim, Bangladeshi police women is deployed in Haiti to serve as UN Peacekeepers to maintain peace after the 2010 earthquake. We then learn, as the camera follows three of these Muslims women, about life in Haiti and Bangladesh and the challenges faced by the population in both countries.

Black / Nowa, a “Hood” film set in Montreal, Canada that chronicles the lives of four people – including several youths of Haitian descent – living in a neighborhood plagued by poverty and violence, aspiring to freedom and happiness. Sand Dollars by Laura Amelia Guzman and Israel Cardenas is a film from the Dominican Republic submitted to the Oscar competition in the foreign film category. Sand Dollars is the story of Noeli (Yanet Mojica) whose love affair with Anne (Geraldine Chaplin) a woman double her age, is a rare subject in films.

For more information about the 23rd Annual African Diaspora International Film Festival e-mail pr@nyadiff.org. Festival web site: www.nyadiff.org–OnPointPress.net–



Jamaican roots group Raging Fyah tours USA on Dub Rockers label

Roots group Raging Fyah is currently on tour in the USA.

Roots group Raging Fyah is currently on tour in the USA.

By Tiffany Mea

Raging Fyah, one of Jamaica’s emerging roots rock bands, is currently on tour in the USA after signing to Dub Rockers, the newest imprint from the world’s largest reggae distributor VP Records.

The five-member group, hailing from Kingston, Jamaica, will release multiple albums on Dub Rockers, which will include publishing and merchandise rights. Their first studio album with label is slated for 2016.  Throughout November, Raging Fyah will tour California – performing in Santa Cruz, San Francisco, Oakland and Los Angeles. Then, they head east for their New York City showcase on the 24th.  Billboard announced the full details on their signing, resulting in the band releasing an official statement about the news:.

Members of the roots group Raging Fyah.

Members of the roots group Raging Fyah.

“Many have compared our sound to the feel good reggae in the 1970s when it was all about the groove of the music, so signing with Dub Rockers/VP Records is like a match made in heaven being that they are known to be ‘miles ahead in reggae.’ With their experience in promoting reggae music from that time until now, we feel we are good hands.” the band’s statement read.

Chris Chin, president of VP Records added “Raging Fyah breeds a progressive sound while staying true to real roots reggae. You know it is made from the heart and can feel the positive energy they bring. It’s undeniable. This type of authenticity is rare and we are excited to help spread the word worldwide.”

This summer, prior to Raging Fyah’s signing, VP Records’ distribution arm VPAL reissued their first two albums Judgement Day (2011) and Destiny (2014) to get music enthusiasts acquainted with their soul-filled sound that has been making waves in the latest reggae renaissance.  Raging Fyah consists of Kumar Bent (lead singer), Courtland White (guitarist) Anthony Watson (drummer), Demar Gayle (keyboardist) and Delroy Hamilton (bassist).

Some of the members met at Edna Manley College of Visual & Performing Arts in Kingston, but the band itself didn’t form until 2006. Inspired by the likes The Wailers, Third World, Steel Pulse and Aswad, Raging Fyah tackles similar topics of socio-economics and politics with an underlying message of hope and inspiration. Fueled by passion, purpose and life experiences, their lyrics touch and motivate people from all walks of life and their lush lively instrumentation soothes the soul. Their vintage sound coupled with a fresh contemporary flare gives them a particular edge over their predecessors.

Members of the roots group Raging Fyah.

Members of the roots group Raging Fyah.

Since their debut, their infectious vibes have been spreading like wildfire. The band has already made a name for themselves in their native country playing large stage shows such as Reggae Sumfest, Rebel Salute and Jamaica Jazz and Blues Festival. They have also developed a devoted following internationally, after performing on South American stages as well as headlining major European reggae festivals (Summerjam, Rototom Sunsplash and Garance).

This spring and summer, Raging Fyah has been touring Europe non-stop – performing at both intimate venues and large-scale festivals throughout France, Switzerland, The Netherlands, Germany Poland, Austria, Belgium, New Caledonia and more. They are steadily capturing the hearts of North American listeners too, earning highly-coveted performances at annual concerts like Sierra Nevada Reggae Festival in 2014. More U.S. dates will be announced for the rest of the year and 2016.  Watch Raging Fyah’s “Irie Vibe” off their latest album, Destiny.

Raging Fyah will be on tour in the US on Nov. 19 in San Francisco, CA at San Francisco State University; Nov. 20 in Los Angeles, CA, at The Mint;  Nov. 22 in Oakland, CA at The New Parish and Nov. 24 in New York, NY @ Milk River–OnPointPress.net–

Jamaica wins big at South Africa’s annual diplomatic fair

Left to right: Mr. John Clarke, Minister Counsellor in JHC Pretoria, High Commissioner Spencer, Mrs. Refilwe Nyathi, Specialist, International Relations Unit of the City of Tshwane

Left to right: Mr. John Clarke, Minister Counsellor in JHC Pretoria, High Commissioner Cheryl Spencer, Mrs. Refilwe Nyathi, Specialist, International Relations Unit of the City of Tshwane

The Jamaican High Commission in Pretoria walked away with the top prize for the Most Authentic Stall at the Annual Diplomatic Fair held at the grounds of the Union Buildings in Pretoria, South Africa, on Saturday 31 October 2015. This award is the second highest of those granted by the organisers – the Department of International Relations and Cooperation (DIRCO) and the City of Tshwane (Pretoria) and is the award sponsored by the Mayor of the City of Tshwane.

A patron expressing appreciation for Bob Marley

A patron expressing appreciation for Bob Marley

The Diplomatic Fair is one of the key events on South Africa’s calendar and is held every year to allow the 134 Embassies and High Commissions, as well as International Organizations, based in South Africa, to showcase their history, culture, food and provide information on trade, investment and other opportunities in their countries. As it is also intended to educate the ordinary South African citizen about the diversity of countries, it is a free event, open to the public. Along with the most Authentic, Stalls are judged on, inter alia, the most Informative, the most flavourful, the most interactive and the most entertaining.

H.E. Cheryl Spencer, Jamaican High Commissioner to the Republic of South Africa receiving the award on behalf of the High Commission from Ms. Nomthandazo Maseko of the City of Tshwane. Looking on from left to right are the Acting Mayor of Tshwane, Ms. Nozipho Tyobeka-Makeke and the Acting Speaker of the City of Tshwane, Ms. Refilwe Kekana

H.E. Cheryl Spencer, Jamaican High Commissioner to the Republic of South Africa receiving the award on behalf of the High Commission from Ms. Nomthandazo Maseko of the City of Tshwane. Looking on from left to right are the Acting Mayor of Tshwane, Ms. Nozipho Tyobeka-Makeke and the Acting Speaker of the City of Tshwane, Ms. Refilwe Kekana

Jamaica’s Stall featured product samples, wide ranging information on Jamaican cuisine, complete with photographs of prepared Jamaican dishes as well as on Jamaica’s economy, with emphasis on agriculture production (including references to marijuana and the amendment to the Dangerous Drugs Act). The latter which was intended to debunk the myths in South Africa surrounding the role of marijuana in Jamaica, achieved the desired result and sparked much interest and debate among those who visited the Stall.

In addition, patrons who flocked to the stall were able to sample the “Jerk Chicken Special” – a meal of Jerk chicken, festival, a slice of rum cake and rum punch–OnPointPress.net–

Baltimore wedding inspires hope that others will find love too

The happy couple, after exchanging vows, walk down the aisle, basking in the glow of love.

The radiant couple, Mr. and Mrs. Antonio Johnson, walk down the aisle basking in the glow of love, after exchanging wedding vows in a lovely gazebo, a fitting setting for the memorable event.

By Kimberly Brown

I recently attended a wedding in Baltimore, Maryland, and I was overjoyed to witness the union of two beautiful spirits: Ms. Brittany Scott and Mr. Antonio Johnson.The event filled my heart with a range of emotions, inspiring me to share my thoughts about love, not only the type of love that is shared between a husband and wife, but also self-love, and love for mankind.

It truly saddens my heart that we are living in a world where society is increasingly losing souls and lives due to a lack of love. It’s extremely difficult to turn on the television without being overwhelmed with headlines that represent volatile acts, stemming from emotions of hurt, anger and hate. The acts come from negative energy instead of love, an emotion that is not acknowledged as much as it should be.


Groom Mr. Antonio Johnson, center, poses with his groomsmen (L-R): Mr. Kristina Adams, Mr. Richard Holmes, Mr. Diamond Chism, Mr.Tristan Johnson, Mr. Best Man Mr. Shannon Butler, Mr. Antoine Diggs and Mr. Shawn Johnson.

What if those destructive emotions were outweighed by love? I believe that love can change people’s hearts, minds and behavior. Love is a feeling, not just a thought, and it flows from the heart and shows itself in actions.

Social media plays a huge role in creating a false sense of love and acceptance through “Likes” and the number of followers people have on sites such as Facebook and Instagram. I’ve overheard discussions where individuals have expressed how unimportant they feel, simply because they lack a strong social media following. Prior to the advent of social media, what was the foundation of our self-confidence and self- love?

Grammy-award winning singers including icons Dionne Warwick and Diana Ross is a favorite among confirmed romantics. The lyrics were written by Hal David and the music was composed by Burt Bacharach. It was first recorded by Jackie DeShannon, and released on April 15, 1965, climbing to No.7 on the US Hot 100 charts in July 1965.

Grammy Award-winning singers including icons Dionne Warwick and Diana Ross have sung versions of the ballad “What The World Needs Now, Is Love,” a favorite among confirmed romantics. The lyrics were written by Hal David and the music was composed by Burt Bacharach. It was first recorded by Jackie DeShannon and released on April 15, 1965, climbing to No.7 on the US Hot 100 charts in July 1965.

I was brought up in a household where I was told daily how much I was loved. I was blessed. I was valued. I was cherished. That cocoon of love and validation caused me to blossom into a confident adult, oozing with self-confidence and self-love.

Unfortunately, not everyone had that same experience growing up so as adults some of us tend to seek love and acceptance in the world, which causes us to become susceptible to people who have ulterior motives. Yet, the reality is that the most essential form of love comes from the home. Self-love comes from within and should be encouraged by loved ones. However, we should all take time to love ourselves and not always seek it from others. True love can best be described as a vibrant ripple effect: first loving oneself, then allowing the love we have in our hearts to pour out to others in the world. Here is the video of the wedding.


Breathtaking bride Brittany Scott (center), poses with her bridesmaids (L-R): Ms. Angela Oauli, Ms. Jade Thomas, Matron of Honor Mrs. Lakeisha Scott-Skrine, sister of the bride; Maid of Honor Ms. Eboni Ross, Ms. Shantear Meredith, and Ms. Monique Madison.

There are millions of youth who flood social media every single day confusing love with followers who are trolling their profiles. But that is not love. Feeling sad because of the perception that you have an inadequate number of social media followers or a low re-post count is alarming. The damage that is caused to the self-esteem of the young, and adults alike, because they value social media numbers instead of quality relationships, is a shocking and potentially harmful trend.


The world most definitely needs more love, however, self-love is essential for a healthy life. Self-love provides growth in areas of our lives that we rarely think it could affect. We should all give self-love a try in its more authentic form. Love has no color, boundaries or preferences. Love needs to be boldly expressed, carefully nurtured and forever cherished.

The happy couple, Mr. and Mrs. Antonio Johnson, tie the knot in the presence of loved ones.

The happy couple, Mr. and Mrs. Antonio Johnson, tie the knot in the presence of loved ones.

Based on all that I thought that I knew about love, attending the nuptials of Mr. and Mrs. Antonio Johnson allowed me to see that love, when displayed in its purest form as theirs was, is an expression of self-acceptance and appreciation for another person.

Congratulations Mr. and Mrs. Antonio Johnson on your union. The wedding was a testament to a love that warms the heart, soothes the soul and inspires hope that more people will dedicate their lives to valuing and honoring love–OnPointPress.net–

Kimberly Brown is a journalist, producer, public speaker and media relations executive whose work has appeared in XXL magazine, BET, NBC and National Geographic Channel. Follow her on twitter@kbbrown80.

Street Roc: Exciting, versatile entertainers who thrill fans, showcase talents

The Street Roc Label has a cadre of diverse, talented musicians who bring individualism to the label.

The Street Roc Label has a cadre of diverse, talented musicians who bring individualism to the label.

By Carmen Glover

An enterprising group of youthful entertainers who cemented a strong bond of friendship while growing up in the Bronx, New York, the birthplace of hip hop, is poised to storm the music scene from their dual base of operations in Atlanta, Georgia and New York City with a plethora of musical offerings under their music umbrella, The Street Roc Label LLC.

Inspired by genres that span reggae, hip hop, R&B and Rock & Roll, the ambitious musicians are passionate about their craft and determined to make an indelible mark in the music industry. Despite having their own unique styles, they are also following in the footsteps of other memorable groups such as Ruff Ryders, which was helmed by DMX and the Fugees, which paved the way for explosive careers for its members Lauryn Hill, Wyclef Jean and Pras Michel.

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With NWA’s biographical film, “Straight Outta Compton,” dominating the movie theaters this past summer and industry buzz building about upcoming releases chronicling the career of Snopp Dogg, sometimes known as Snoop Lion, the Street Roc roster mates see a viable path to carving out a competitive niche for themselves in the industry and solidifying their reputations as serious, conscious, hard-working, savvy musicians and budding entrepreneurs.

But, just like the 1985 blockbuster movie “Krush Groove” told the story of hip hop trendsetters Russell Simmons, Run-DMC and LL Cool J, and enigmatic musician Prince set the stage for independent producing when he left Warner Brothers after a public spat, the Street Roc team members are determined to have ownership of their work and shape the trajectory of their careers, a lesson many musicians fail to learn until they have lost all their earnings to extravagance and flash.

Kristoph Francis developed the name for the record label and takes great interest in the success of all the artists.

Kristoph Francis developed the name for the record label and takes great interest in the success of all the artists. His demo, “Critique Me,” was released in 2014.

Kristoph Francis, 23, one of the label’s co-founders, created the name for the company based on reactions to his childhood musical performances and because the name, Street Roc,”has a nice ring to it.”

“I came up with the name when I was in high school because everywhere we went we had the streets rocking,” he recalled. Francis, who played the Congo drums in church at age 11, describes the drums as instruments that infuse all of his musical repertoire. “When I’m making my beats, I think of the drums because they give me my music sense,” he said, explaining that his cousin plays the bass drums for reggae singer Capleton, who is known for introducing the element of fire to his extraordinarily spectacular shows.


The Street Roc Label is poised for takeoff after releasing mixed tapes “Divine Adolescence,” in 2012 and “Too Geek’d For The Streets,” in 2013.

Francis said he was influenced to pursue a career in music by Michael Jackson, Jay-Z, his stepfather and a host of artists, including reggae crooner Sanchez, who came around the family often during Francis’ childhood. Meeting Young Jeezy and M.E.M.P.H.I.S. Bleek, who signed Francis’ book of raps, piqued his interest and fueled his drive to hone his musical skills.

As he puts the finishing touches on a mixed tape, which features singles such as “Back Home” and “It’s All Yours,” Francis reminisces about the day he showed his grandmother his homework, which posed the question: What do you want to be when you grow up? Francis wrote “a rapper,” which elicited much consternation and the response: “You can’t be a rapper,” which caused him to internalize his dreams until his adult mind was capable of developing a plan of action to aggressively respond to the tugging of his heart-strings and live his musical truth.

Kristoph Francis is focused on creating beats and taking the label to the fans.

Kristoph Francis is focused on creating beats and taking the label to the fans.

While also having an interest in music, the experience has been somewhat different for Francis’ brother, Malcolm ‘Dolo Pierre’ Jackson, 25, a co-founder of The Street Roc Label. Jackson combines his experience as an actor, songwriter, producer and musical artist to create a career path that is boundless in scope and richly textured with layers of possibilities.

“A lot of my musical and acting experiences come from the church because my mom was heavy in the church and I used to try to join her on the choir and they would let me sing,” he said, a thespian in his own right.

Malcolm "Dolo Pierre" Jackson delivers range as a multi-talented songwriter, producer, actor, musician and performer.

Malcolm “Dolo Pierre” Jackson delivers range as a multi-talented songwriter, producer, actor, musician and performer.

Citing reggae legend Robert Nesta “Bob” Marley and iconic entertainer Michael Jackson as his two greatest influences musically, Jackson strives for range in his music.

“I’ve done reggae, hip-hop, R&B,” he said, while explaining that all of the artists represented by the label “take pride in writing our own lyrics.”

Malcolm "Dolo Pierre" is looking forward to releasing a full album early in 2016.

Malcolm “Dolo Pierre” is looking forward to releasing a full album early in 2016.

Jackson, whose musical talents gained an audience when he participated in the chorus in elementary school and the band in middle school, said that being raised in a household with ‘musically inclined’ parents made a huge impact on his sensibilities.

“Music developed naturally and soon I wanted to record,” he said.  As he continues to follow his heart, Jackson said that he plans to release an EP of “all original music early in 2016,” and strives to achieve the taste of success, which, for him, is “the look on everybody’s faces telling me that nobody has any question about my talents.”

Kristine "Phresh" Walker is the lone female on the label and she cherishes her role as a deep thinker.

Kristene “Phresh” Walker is the lone female on the label and she cherishes her role as a deep thinker.

Kristene “Phresh” Walker, 26, spent the first seven years of her life in the Bronx before relocating to Atlanta, Georgia, where the other members of the label gradually transitioned.

“Once we all came down to Atlanta, it solidified what we were trying to do,” Walker said, describing herself as a thinker.  “I think a lot and I want to bring a lot of thought back into music because back in the day it was more about lyrics and I’m trying to bring it back to that and integrate the message back into music and the rhythm,” she said.


Walker, whose musical interest was awakened at age 13, also performed in church as a child. A solid artist, who sees her role as akin to Lauryn Hill with the Fugees, is striving to awaken “a more conscious and cultured element to the current crop of music, like Erykah Badu and Missy Elliott.”  For her, being a member of the Street Roc family is comforting.

“The team plays a big part because us being together pushes me to create something that never existed before,” she said. As she continues to promote her mixed tape, “Loud Silence,” which debuted in April 2015, she is also busy working on new music. “Being able to influence others and have a say, gives me a high and pushes me forward,” she said.

Lavar "Stiff Tha Godz" Stiff, is creative and entrepreneurial, a solid combination for success.

Lavar “Stiff Tha Godz” Stiff, is creative and entrepreneurial, a solid combination for success. As he promotes his mixed tape “High Times,” he utilizes concepts he learned while completing all but one semester in undergraduate studies in Business Administration. He hopes to complete his studies soon.

Lavar “Stiff Tha Godz” Stiff, 28, another of the label’s co-founders, was enthralled when he first saw Tupac Shakur having a merry time on MTV in his classic Dr Dre-produced hit “California Love,” followed by a video by the Red Hot Chilli Peppers.

“When I saw Tupac in ‘California Love’ I knew I wanted to be a rapper. He inspired me and MTV opened up a new gateway for me,” said Stiff, who was 8 years old at the time. “I started acting like I was on stage, like I was performing.”

Once the music bug hit, Stiff began to formulate a plan to make his dream become a reality. But he realized that he was also interested in the business side of the music industry so he enrolled in college and completed three and a half years of a degree in business administration.

"High Time" is an ode to marijuana and its impact on society.

“High Times” is an ode to marijuana and its impact on society.

“As far as entrepreneurship, I was influenced by Master P because he came from nothing to become one of the first Black millionaires just from doing rap. I’m an artist. I write music, I rap and I helped put the label together by forming the foundation,” Stiff said, while explaining that he has a lot of different things that he would like to accomplish, including learning to play the guitar. “For the future, I’m interested in film, movies and incorporating them into the musical aspect, like Michael Jackson and his long-form videos,” he said.

For a fledgling musical entrepreneur who did not grow up around much musical influence, Stiff nonetheless developed an eclectic taste for music and an admiration for genres including reggae, hip-hop, old school R&B, Rock & Roll and Blues by the incomparable B.B. King and Muddy Waters. Yet, Stiff celebrates marijuana each chance he gets and lauds the herb on his recent EP, “High Times,” which was released on September 23 2015, at https://soundcloud.com/stiff-tha-godz/sets/high-times.

Devon "D.O.C" Riley, the youngest member of the label, is eager to make his mark in the industry.

Devon “D.O.C” Riley, the youngest member of the label, is eager to make his mark in the industry.

The youngest member of the group, Devon “D.O.C” Riley, 21, looked no further than two hip hop legends as a template for inspiration.

“Nas and Jay-Z influenced me because they are able to express themselves and the way they deliver their lyrics, they have something to say,” he explained. Riley developed an ear for music from his father, who is a DJ. “I was exposed to music at a young age. I felt the music. I used to be more on the reggae side but as I grew I dabbled into different types of music because I don’t want to be put in a box. My focus is to get people to understand both types of music—-reggae and hip hop,” he said, pondering the musical landscape.


Gotham City is DOC's take on the nuances and mysteries of New York City lifestyles.

“Gotham City” is D.O.C’s take on the nuances and mysteries of New York City lifestyles.

Riley, who is very interested in scary movies and hopes to find ways to integrate that interest into his music, is currently savoring success with his new song “Gotham City,” which is available on iTunes.

“People have different views looking out on the world. Music is the way people express themselves and I’m working on a project on duality, to use music to explain everything,” he said.

Alexander “Spazz’ Momon, 26, rounds out the crop of label mates, who function like family by nurturing each other’s independent projects while collectively investing in the success of the label as an entity.

Alexander "Spazz" Momon, is refining his compilations so that he can release his full album on November 1, 2015.

Alexander “Spazz” Momon, is refining his compilations so that he can release his full album on November 1, 2015. His single, “Bon Jour Mary” appears on the “High Times” EP.

“We all went to high school together and we have different styles. My musical style is more energetic and technical, like Busta Rhymes, Eminem and DMX,” he said. After careful thought, Momon, who also holds down a job so that he can pay his bills while building his musical career strategically, explained that he has “been influenced by pioneering rappers such as Kool Moe Dee and LL Cool J.”

“My dad put me on to them and Wu-Tang Clan and my mother used to work in the music industry,” he said, revealing that when he first heard Rhymes’ “Dangerous,” at age 11, he was so captivated by the animation and high-octane flow that he would sneak home early from school to listen to the song over and over. Like his label mates, Momon is hard at work compiling an EP.

“My mixed tape will be ready on November 1 but I recently released the single “Bon Jour Mary” on the “High Times” EP,” he said. As he charges full speed ahead with his musical career, Momon has one objective: “I want people to understand the struggle, the triumph and the love for music,” he said.

As the multi-talented entertainers on the Street Roc Label LLC pour their efforts into a distinctive musical repertoire, they create individual projects and bring new artists along the journey to prominence. While they contemplate organizing a Street Roc tour, the label mates expect to soon hear the sweet sounds of success reverberating from coast to coast and across the globe, as they finally get their career recognition and financial rewards.

Learn more about this prolific, dynamic group of musicians and what’s next in their careers at StreetRocMusic.comOnPointPress.net

Maxi Priest headlines VP Record’s 35th anniversary concert, 6/27, in Central Park

L-R Maxi Priest, Gyptian, Bunji Garlin, Faye Lyons.

L-R Maxi Priest, Gyptian, Bunji Garlin, Faye Lyons will perform at Central Park’s Summerstage today, June 27, 2015.

By Tiffany Mea

VP Records has teamed up with SummerStage to celebrate the label’s 35th year in business. From VP’s artist roster, reggae stars Maxi Priest and Gyptian as well as soca royalty Bunji Garlin and Fay Ann Lyons will take the stage in NYC’s Central Park for this momentous occasion. DJs Bobby Konders and Jabba of Massive B will also provide sounds throughout the day. The free concert kicks off on Saturday, June 27,  from 2:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m.

This year marks the 35th anniversary when VP Records’ founders Vincent and his wife Patricia Chin moved their headquarters from Kingston, Jamaica, to Jamaica, New York,  transforming their operations into the largest Caribbean music company worldwide. There will also be a special VP Records 35th anniversary pop-up exhibit entitled A Reggae Music Journey, which designed by acclaimed artist Michael Thompson. The display will be located outside of the event for all the patrons to enjoy.

Maxi Priest.

Maxi Priest.

“VP Records is proud to bring this all-star lineup into the heart of Manhattan. We’re all looking forward to celebrating the 35th anniversary with an historic day of reggae and soca music in the park,” said VP Records Senior Director of Marketing Brian Greenspoon. VP Records co-founder Patricia Chin said: “SummerStage’s 30th Anniversary and VP Records’ 35th Anniversary are significant milestones that we are honored to acknowledge together at the prestigious Central Park venue.”

After 35 years, Miss Pat, as her staff affectionately refers to her, is still very much involved with the day-to-day operations of VP Records.

Following several partnerships with VP Records, The Jamaica Tourist Board (JTB) joins the label again as an official sponsor for the event. They will give away travel and merchandise on site. JTB’s Business Development Manager Kris DaCosta says, “the VP Records and SummerStage collaboration is a great fit for us. Reggae music is a huge part of Jamaica’s storied history and this event gives us a great opportunity to share with New Yorkers the good vibes to be had on Island.”



SummerStage is also celebrating their 30th anniversary this year. SummerStage is a program of City Parks Foundation that presents performances of outstanding artistic quality, free of charge, to serve the diverse communities of New York City. To celebrate their 30th anniversary, they have extended the season from May to October, and added more than 20 free shows in Central Park and 15 neighborhood parks across the city.

Maxi Priest and Gyptian performed their latest singles and Patricia Chin appeared on FOX 5 Good Day NY morning show to preview the event on June 26. Patricia Chin also received the Lifetime Achievement Award on June 25 at the 2015 American Association of Independent Music (A2IM) Libera Awards. She is the first female recipient to be presented with this honor.

With over 15 million albums sold worldwide, multiple Grammy nominations and Top 10 Billboard hits (including the No. 1 smash “Close To You”) – the most successful solo act in British reggae history, Maxi Priest, continues to hit the road throughout 2015 in support of his first studio album in almost a decade, Easy To Love (VP Records). Easy To Love is a fine representation of pop, reggae and R&B blended together in one set. The title track was a No. 1 hit on reggae charts last summer, evidence that Maxi Priest has a gift for staying fresh.

Fay Ann Lyons

Fay Ann Lyons

“Hearts Across The World” is a song for our times and pleas for people of all races to love one another. The soulful “Without A Woman” features Jamaican legend Beres Hammond and even echoes the themes and intensity of James Brown’s “It’s A Man’s World.” Maxi continues to tug on women’s heartstrings with irresistible tributes of enduring affection on “Loving You Is Easy,” “Holiday” and his rendition of John Mayer’s “Gravity.
Jamaican reggae singer Gyptian broke into the reggae scene in 2005 with his string of hits like “Serious Times” “Beautiful Lady” and “Mama, Don’t Cry.” He hit international stardom in 2010 with his critically acclaimed album Hold You and its RIAA certified Gold title track (produced by Ricky Blaze), which featured a Nicki Minaj remix, and earned him a 2010 MOBO and Soul Train award.

Gyptian just released his new single “All On Me” and his latest fourth studio album Sex, Love and Reggae, which peaked at #1 on the Billboard Reggae Album chart, is a marked departure from his previous releases and unveils another layer of his artistry. The musically diverse set takes the listener from dancehall to soca to global pop and R&B sounds and features an eclectic mix of production from Jamaica – including Shane C. Brown. Justus Arison and Stanley “Rellee” Hayden, Russian and Linton “TJ” White – and is co-executive produced by Jerry “Wonda” Duplessis (Miguel, Mary J. Blige, Lupe Fiasco, the Fugees).

Bunji Garlin

Bunji Garlin

Born Ian Alvarez, the Trinidadian ragga soca star Bunji Garlin is known for blending of soca with dancehall. Hailed recently by Rolling Stone as “America’s first soca star,” Garlin has clearly taken his native country’s genre to new heights. His single “Differentology (Ready For The Road),” which was remixed by Major Lazer & Busta Rhymes, was a massive hit in North America more than a year after its release in the Caribbean.

In 2013, the single received a Soul Train Award win, was featured on ABC’s Grey’s Anatomy, won NYC’s HOT 97 FM’s Battle of The Beats competition and was chosen by NPR as one of the year’s favorite anthems as well as MTV Iggy’s Song of the Year. Garlin introduced soca to more mainstream music circuits by performing at last year’s SXSW, CMJ Music Festival, FADER Fort, Mad Decent Boat Party and alongside Jillionaire and Major Lazer during their 2014 tour stint.

Fay Ann Lyons is already a superstar in her native country of Trinidad and across the Caribbean. During Trinidad & Tobago’s Carnival season’s annual competitions, Fay Ann has set the record as the only female artist to score the Carnival Road March title three times, taking the crown in 2003, 2008 and 2009. In 2009, she also won International Soca Monarch in Groovy, People’s Choice and Power category and is the first soca artist ever to win that soca ‘triplet’ of titles.

In addition to these feats, she has taken home 17 awards between the COTT (Copyright Organization of Trinidad and Tobago), NACC (National Action Cultural Committee Trinidad and Tobago) and SAO (Soca Awards Organization). The Point Fortin native has soca in her DNA. Her father Superblue, a soca legend who has won the Carnival Road March title nine times and Trinidad Soca Monarch competition seven times, was instrumental in honing Fay Ann’s skills as a songwriter and performer. She became a front-liner for the band Invazion led by Naya George and today is an official member of the Asylum band (previously known as “Censation”), founded by her husband and soca royalty Bunji Garlin. Fay Ann continues to tour worldwide and is recording her first solo full-length album on VP Records.

Massive B was formed over 10 years ago with DJ Bobby Konders’ vision of starting his own sound system. At its start, the voice behind Massive B was none other than Jabba. There have been many additions to Massive B as it continues to grow. New members include Big Dawg, Chudney Shotta, D-Life and X-Man, among others. Massive B has toured all over the globe, playing major festivals and dances, and representing NYC along the way.

Locally, Massive B is a Brooklyn staple, performing annually at the borough’s West Indian Day Parade and weekly at the Buzz Nightclub for ‘Fire Sundays,’ where they spin the hottest reggae, dancehall, hip hop, R&B, and soca music. –OnPointPress.net.


Reggae Gold 2015, featuring a musical mix, is set for summer release


By Tiffany Mea

For over 20 years, the world’s #1 Caribbean music compilation Reggae Gold brings the genre’s top hits into one must-have collection for the masses. 2015’s installment, out July 17, 2015 on VP Records, is filled with the season’s freshest sounds in roots, dancehall, lover’s rock and pop-fused reggae from a diverse group of talent.

Busy Signal is featured on Reggae Gold 2015

Busy Signal is featured on Reggae Gold 2015

From the Canadian pop supergroup Magic’s #1 Billboard single “Rude” to comedian/actor/singer Eddie Murphy’s return to reggae on his latest single “Oh Jah Jah,” (following his 1993 Shabba Ranks collab “I Was A King”) – there is no shortage of crossover appeal on Reggae Gold 2015.

Chroniixx is featured on Reggae Gold 2015

Chroniixx is featured on Reggae Gold 2015

This year’s installation features a multitude female artists reigning in reggae today – from emerging stars like the Rastafarian singer Jah9 (“Avocado”), reggae pop princesses’ Toian (“Love It”) and Ikaya (“My Man”) to Jamaica’s leading ladies, like dancehall diva Spice (“Conjugal Visit” ft. Vybz Kartel), the soulful songstress Etana (“I Rise”) and roots reality lyricist Queen Ifrica (“I Can’t Breathe”). The latter song carries a strong message to stop police brutality and racial profiling worldwide.


Etana is featured on Reggae Gold 2015.

The set also delves into exclusive new music from Jamaica’s top male artists. Jah Cure reveals his latest single “Made In California” off his upcoming album The Cure and the legendary crooner Beres Hammond delivers his stellar new anthem “Jamaican International Dance.” Singer-songwriter Christopher Martin turns heads with the island’s chart climber “I’m A Big Deal,” while overnight sensation Gully Bop proves ground with his popular tracks ” My God Dem Nuh Bad Like We” and “Body Specialist.” Dancehall star Busy Signal drops lyrical fire on the flirtatious fun track “Text Message,” and Gyptian unveils his latest steamy single “All On Me.” Every song counts on this collection.–OnPointPress.net.