King Jammy Eyes Grammy With Gregory Isaacs Album, 'Rebirth Of The Cool Ruler'

Grammy aspirations hang high for legendary Dancehall and Reggae producer, King Jammy, whose latest compilation album, Rebirth of the Cool Ruler­ – featuring Shaggy, Sean Paul and Bounty Killer, among others – offers a new age take on a host of tunes from Gregory Isaac’s digital catalog.

Describing the VP Records-produced project as “exciting”, King Jammy told DancehallMag that the journey of putting the album together was not only a process of validation for him, but a path that proved especially rewarding.

“To tell you the honest truth, when I suggested this to the younger artist dem – di ones dem weh collaborate wid Gregory – once dem hear di caliber a song dem, dem seh dem affi deh pon it. Obviously, mi have dem Gregory tunes ya long time, but dem ya a classic – mi record dem over 20 years ago. So, fi hear seh di riddim still sound good and Gregory voice still sound fresh, and di young artist dem excited fi guh pon it, dat really send mi ova di moon. Dat, to me, was really rewarding,” King Jammy shared.

As testament to his and the talents of Gregory Isaacs, the 75-year-old further explained: “Di fact dat some a dem young artist ya really nuh do dem kind a songs ya, yet dem go so well wid Gregory – well, dat simply mean seh mi must did a do something right, and it jus’ show how great Gregory was.”

Rebirth of the Cool Ruler fuses the contemporary sound of modern artists with Isaacs’ timeless lyrics and delivery, and serves as a thrilling yet grounding intersection in which past, present and future collide.

Rebirth of the Cool Ruler

The project is a compilation of 15 of Isaacs’ classic tracks, among them, It Go So (feat. Shaggy), Another Warning (feat. Bounty Killer), Another Try (feat. Sean Paul) and Never Give Your Love (feat. Junior Reid)Younger acts, such as Aza Lineage, Ras Shiloh and Projexx – the grandson of King Jammy, also feature on the album, respectively appearing on First Class Lover, Counterfeit Lover and You Can Have The Bits.

Revealing that Rebirth of the Cool Ruler is the third in a series of similar undertakings, King Jammy explained that it all began with Black Uhuru’s New Sound of Freedom. 

“Mi start it wid Black Uhuru,” King Jammy shared, “and then later wid Dennis Brown (King Jammy Presents Dennis Brown Tracks of Life). So, Gregory Isaacs a actually di third one, and mi intend fi do more. As a matter of fact, another one is already in the works but mi cyaa seh much ‘bout it.”

Aside from honoring the rich legacy of Isaacs, with whom he first recorded in 1986, King Jammy took a moment to reflect on his own desires for the project, telling DancehallMag that as far as music goes, there is only one thing missing from his resumé – a Grammy Award.

“Di only ting I haven’t gotten in this music business is a Grammy. Mi get every other award and mi a seh to mi self, ‘Yuh know seh mi nuh really affi mek a new song fi get a Grammy. Mi can jus use some a di old tings dem wa mi have and get it. Mi went near it wid di Dennis Brown, and at the rate this Gregory Isaac project is going, it look like it might go near deh so to,” the star musician shared.

Though he admits getting a Grammy would be beyond exciting, King Jammy’s focus is more on what such an award might say about the kind of music he believes in.

“It’s not only the Grammy I’m going for innuh, but the point of it really is to teach the younger producers and artists that this is the music people gravitate to, this is the music people actually love,” King Jammy, whose real name is Lloyd James, added.

Rebirth of the Cool Ruler, released as a CD on September 15, and on vinyl and via digital outlets on October 15, will be eligible for entry in the 2025 Grammy Awards.

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