Tough love: Veteran Flabba Holt says young acts won’t tour unless they sing something new

Flabba Holt has played on classics like Gregory Isaacs’ Night Nurse and Freddie McGregor’s Big Ship.

Veteran bass guitarist and founder of the Roots Radics band, Flabba Holt, says monotony is hindering new acts from touring more.

Speaking to BUZZ, the popular musician expressed disappointment in the sounds emanating the radio waves over the past few years. For Holt, it’s all recycled.

“I’m not fighting against them, but mi nuh see no artistes now weh mi can seh bad.”

— Flabba Holt

“Every song mi hear it’s like every man inna di same melody, di same change of key, di same style, nothing improve,” he started. “Back in the days, we had Joe Gibbs studio weh have a different sound, Channel One had a different sound, producers like Henry ‘Jungo’ Lawes, Jah Thomas and Linval Thompson also came with a sound that was different. Nowadays, every song sounds the same. I don’t like the Protools thing.”


Though some folks will argue that new wave artistes like Koffee and Chronixx are doing a decent job at taking Jamaican music to the world, Holt remains unimpressed and said he is yet to see a “wicked artiste” from this generation.

Despite his achievements and popularity, Chronixx does not impress Flabba Holt.

“Dem a try but some people a mek dem look like a dem a di artistes,” he said. “I’m not fighting against them, but mi nuh see no artistes now weh mi can seh bad. When Tenor Saw come with his style, him did bad enuh, he was creative and could light up any stage.

“When you’re on a label dem will spend money pon yuh fi try mek yuh big and get back dem money, but if dem try and yuh nah sell, yuh done. Inna dem days deh, nuff artistes got signed and where are they now? Dem drop off the ting cause dem nuh consistent.”

Powerful lyrics

Holt has played on some of reggae’s classics including Gregory Isaacs’ Night Nurse, Freddie McGregor’s Big Ship and Beres Hammond’s No Goodbye. He did a stint of shows in South America last year and said older artistes are still headlining events across the world. This, he said, will not change until younger artistes start “singing something new”.

Flabba Holt says he is an underdog bass player.

“A man like Congo and Max Romeo weh people don’t even remember in Jamaica, Lee Scratch Perry, and nuff older artistes a dweet in South America. I don’t see any of these new artistes,” he said. “It’s the same thing in Europe. It don’t mek sense as an artiste to just have two tunes and expect to make the billboard on big shows. Yuh haffi have a catalogue. Few of them may get a little show in Miami, and that’s it.”

He made it clear that his critique comes as he is getting older, and he only wants the new generation to make more money from their talent.

“Mi nah praise myself, mi consider myself an underdog bass player. Mi just waan see the youths write some powerful lyrics and tour because that is what will make you money. No record nah press a Jamaica, and CD mash up the business.”