Music

Setting the record Str8

By Howard Campbell
Observer senior writer

Tuesday, August 13, 2019

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While recording at Anchor studios in Kingston last summer, roots-dub duo Str8wyz had the good fortune to work with house engineer Delroy “Fatta” Pottinger whose extensive industry links landed them a session with reggae's most famous production team.

“I wanted the best of the best on our latest track, so I asked Fatta if he could get Sly and Robbie. He could, and it led to probably the best session we've ever had,” said Str8 Up of Str8wyz. “Sly was in the studio and Robbie sent his bass line over from Miami. Seeing and hearing Sly record up close and personal was a revelation and also a dream come true to be recording with one of my all-time greatest reggae heroes.”

That dream session between the Riddim Twins and Str8wyz (which also includes Wiser Dhon) yielded the song Natty Ras, which features veteran singjay Icient-Cy Mau. It was released in July by their Straight Up Records and distributed by Tuff Gong International Records.

Natty Ras hears the raw, stripped-down roots sound Str8 Up and Wiser Dhon grew up listening to in England and Jamaica. Once they got Sly and Robbie to play on the song, Icient-Cy Mau was brought in.

“We knew Icient-Cy Mau from Tuff Gong where we'd started recording the previous January. We got to talking, he gave me one of his albums and I finally listened to it when I was driving around California in a rental pickup truck with a great sound system,” Str8 Up recalled. “I especially liked his song We Are From Trench Town. I told him I'd like to record with him, maybe even rerecord that tune. In the end, I figured he had the perfect voice for Natty Ras, an original composition by me and Wiser Dhon.”

Str8wyz formed in 2017 after London-born Str8 Up and Jamaican Wiser Dhon met in Portland and discovered they had similar musical tastes — cutting-edge reggae from The Wailers, Lee “Scratch” Perry, Augustus Pablo.

In fact, their first song was a cover of Jacob Miller's A Girl Named Pat, produced in the early 1970s by Pablo. Str8 Up said he and Wiser Dhon look to emulate their heroes with horn-driven arrangements on songs like Out and Running, another collaboration with Sly and Robbie.

“Probably my favourite reggae album of all time is African Herbsman by Bob Marley and The Wailers, produced by Lee “Scratch” Perry. My next favourite album would be Who Say Jah No Dread by Jacob Miller and Augustus Pablo. I'm a huge fan of Augustus Pablo and King Tubby — can't get enough of dem,” said Str8 Up. “Most of the Studio One back catalogue from the late '60s to mid '70s rocks my world on a daily basis. I can't speak for Wiser Dhon, but I know he holds these veterans of reggae in very high regard.”

Since officially becoming a duo, Str8 Up says he and Wiser Dhon have recorded 15 songs. They have released a handful of singles and plan to compile some of their recordings for an album.


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