One on One with SAMA26 Nominee – Skeleton Blazer
South African Music Awards Best Reggae Album category is back for the second year after failing to make the cut as a stand alone category in the past years. Good news for the industry as it shows that our artists are now working really hard to keep the genre afloat despite still not being recognised by our mainstream media.
This years category include last year’s nominees Bongo Riot Di Dancehall Wakanda and Botanist Sniper From Afar who are back to try their luck after Black Dillinger won the award last year; first time nominees Fruity Star, Skeleton Blazer and Jeremiah Fyah Ises. Due to lockdown restrictions in the country which have been brought about by the corona virus pandemic currently ravaging the world, the Award ceremony will be held virtually and broadcast on TV broken into 5 episodes from the 3rd to the 7th of August 2020 at 21:30. The first four episodes will be 30 minutes long, while the fifth one will be a 45-minute grand finale. The Best Reggae Album category will be announced on the 4th of August.We reached out to the SAMA26 Best Reggae Album nominees to find out how they feel about their nominations.
Skeleton Blazer – Man of Battle
Tell us about the nominated album and what it means for you to be nominated
The album nominated for the SAMAs is called From The Low Land it is the untold stories of my life and music journey. It is a time-traveling experience through my life’s memories in Eastern Cape as a young herd boy looking after flock to moving from emakhaya to eGauteng where I was introduced to the Rastafari livity and reggae music, absorbing all sorts of inspiration from my experiences and illustrating them through reggae music with a flavor of traditional African sounds and dancehall. It is a timeless album that is relatable, that caters to the youth today and the more mature older generation. It has a hard-hitting sincere message of hope, African History, love and confronts social issues affecting us collectively.
To be nominated for this award is a great honor and humbling experience for me, everyone nominated has been thoroughly critiqued and analysed according to a specific criterion so for me to be one of the few selected is a great achievement. It is a beacon of hope for the youths around me in the ghetto that with persistence and passion anyone can make their dreams a reality.
In brief, what were the challenges you faced in putting this album together and how did you overcome them?
The only challenges I faced were after having recorded the album, I had plans of touring around Africa to promote the album and also recording a short documentary on the road as the Covid-19 Pandemic cancelled all plans to travel from country to country, but I participated in many online live performances because distance is not a barrier as long as we have the internet and social media platforms to keep the audience engaged and entertained regardless of the national lockdown restrictions.
Who was important to the process?
My team: Frontline Productions (General Liberty and Reign Afrika who is also my backing vocalist), Cure Massive, Gangalee Studios, House of Riddim (Austria), Wailing Brothers Band (Malawi), NatureVybz, Kakyard Records, Raw-yal Records, Chanty Natural and many more.
Your Favourite track(s) from the album and why?
My favorite track is Emgidini because of its homage to my Xhosa culture as I grew up listening to men from where I was born and raised, sing xhosa chants around a fire with great enthusiasm and power hence I sampled one of the old chants I appreciated in my youth. It is a great merger of international reggae music and ‘mbaqanga’, Xhosa chants and sesotho instrumentals with the main sound being roots/reggae.
Why should artists participate in the SAMAs, how can it benefit their careers?
It is crucial for artists to participate in the SAMA to showcase their records, gain recognition from the South African music industry, expose themselves to a larger audience expanding their following and opening channels for intentional awards, events and collaborations.
How can we make sure that the category stays relevant?
Artists should focus on perfecting their craft, maintaining a good quality production standard, releasing projects on all online stores, utilising social media platforms to market their music.
Why should you win this award?
I should win because after more than 17 years in the reggae business i have remained authentic, consistent and true to my sound and my message. My album is a strictly roots/reggae album it is versitile, relatable, and caters to all people of all walks of life and the quality of the record is of an exceptional internationally approved standard.
Which is your personal favourite amongst the other four albums that are nominated?
Reggae is my favourite so I can’t really pick one from the others as they are all talented individuals.
Any plans for future releases?
A second album is on its way as well as visuals for this album. As well as introducing new acts to the industry and getting back into live stage performance mode.
Listen to the SAMA26 Nominated Album From The Low Land