The 62nd Grammy Awards will unfold on Sunday at the Los Angeles’ Staples Center, and this year’s nominees in the Best Reggae Album category are all the buzz.
Koffee makes her Grammy debut as the youngest nominee in the category with the genre-bending project, Rapture, and reggae fusion group, Third World, contends with the Damian ‘Jr. Gong’ Marley-produced album, More Work to be Done.
Other nominees are British-based group Steel Pulse with Mass Manipulation, Julian Marley with As I Am and production-duo Sly and Robbie and Roots Radics with The Final Battle: Sly & Robbie vs Roots Radics.
For music consultant, Clyde McKenzie, trying to predict the outcome of a Grammy is almost a fool’s errand. He did, however, highlight that Koffee and Third World are the sentimental favourites.
“They are obviously the leaders for slightly different reasons,” McKenzie told BUZZ. “Third World has been a seasoned campaigner and they are always around and people love them. A lot of people think they have paid their dues and therefore should have been rewarded already.”
Third World has earned eight other Grammy nominations throughout its career but has never won the prestigious industry award.
Only four Jamaican-born female artistes have ever been nominated for the award, (Etana being the last in 2018), and a Koffee-win would “be a scoring one for gender parity”.
“There is the feeling that Koffee is fresh, she is really the new wave of where the music is going and she’s not only young but she is female and we haven’t had a female winner in reggae,” McKenzie said. “A lot of people are rooting for her, she definitely has quite a presence internationally when you see something like the Chinese military playing Toast when the Jamaican prime minister visited China. It would seem that she stands a very good chance.”
“Whenever a Marley is in the mix it is always interesting because the Marley name is powerful and projects associated with the Marleys tend to fair well.”— Clyde McKenzie
But McKenzie said one should not count out the other nominees, some of whom have history with winning the award.
“Steel Pulse and Sly and Robbie have won in the past, and though Julian has never won, whenever a Marley is in the mix it is always interesting because the Marley name is powerful and projects associated with the Marleys tend to fair well,” he said. “The Third World album was produced by Damian so he’s there in the mix and has a familiar name so we don’t know what kind of impact that has.”
Renowned producer Mikie Bennett said while he has not listened to all of the albums, he believes the patterns of the voting process will favour Third World.
“If I was to pick one based on just name and branding, it would be the one with the two most well-known individuals – Third World produced by Jr Gong,” Bennett told BUZZ. “I have an idea of how the American system works in terms of people not listening to most of these albums. A friend might call a friend and say, ‘who you think?’ and they may say, ‘well, Third World and oh yeah I know Jr Gong’ so it’s not a situation where most people take time out to go and check out the album so unless there was some significant promotion by record companies over the past couple months, that would be my choice after observing how the Grammys have gone over the last couple years.”
Regardless of who takes home the award, McKenzie said Jamaicans should feel consoled by just having all Jamaicans in the category this year.
“Jamaicans have complained from time to time about people being nominated who have no direct link to Jamaica,” he said. “Though Steel Pulse is British-based, they are really Jamaicans in the Diaspora so that is encouraging.”