Whether hyping the party crowd with a high energy hybrid dancehall and urban-pop set or serenading the ladies with his brand of soulful lovers rock and sultry R&B, Nando Griffiths, or simply “Nando” to friends and fans, exudes a quiet confidence that suggests that he is not just dabbling in multiple genres but that he has truly devoted himself to excelling as both a reggae singer and an urban-pop singer.
His versatility is the type not typically seen from reggae recording artistes, but then again Nando is not your typical reggae singer.
Given Nando’s Jamaican roots and that his first Jamaican number one song, Get Better, is a traditional one-drop reggae song, one may naturally assume that he is a one-dimensional reggae singer; however, a good listen to his debut album, Yaad and Abroad, will quickly dispel that notion.
That Nando is among the leading voices in the emerging wave of contemporary reggae singers such as Chris Martin and Romaine Virgo is not in doubt, especially after one listens to his lovers rock songs such as My Everything and Some Other Guy; however, what one may find surprising is that Nando is equally at home on urban beats - whether such beats have more dancehall and soca elements or more R&B and urban-pop ingredients. Indeed, his performance on R&B-flavored songs such as Feel Like and Talk to Me has elicited comparisons to Trey Songz and NeYo. Closer to home, his delivery of dancehall and soca-influenced tracks such as Ride All Night and Rude has had listeners likening him to Wayne Wonder and Kevin Lyttle.
It is precisely Nando’s ability to cross genres without missing a beat that prompted popular dancehall diva and media personality Tifa to tag him with the label “international artiste,” even though at the time of writing he is not yet a household name in the local market. The “international” tag may lead one to believe that Nando is trying to be everything to everybody; but nothing is further from the truth. Nando is just embracing his two worlds. Nando spent the formative years of his youth in Jamaica, the land of his birth, where he got grounded in classic foundation reggae listening to artistes such as Bob Marley and Beres Hammond. During that time, he also developed a love for an eclectic array of music, including R&B, pop, and jazz.
After graduating from Jamaica College, he journeyed to New York City, the global melting pot, to attend Baruch College of the City University of New York. While earning his undergraduate degree in Economics with a minor in Music Theory, he found time to sing in the school choir and in a band of extremely talented urban-pop musicians, some of whom went on to tour with renowned artistes such as John Legend and Beyonce, which enabled him to gain a deeper appreciation for the urban music scene.
It is this migrant journey that allows Nando to serve up Yaad and Abroad, a pioneering double-disc set, which is groundbreaking in the sense that, unlike early commercial albums from Shaggy and Sean Kingston that veered strongly towards the urban-pop side, Yaad and Abroad is the first album we know of that devotes equal attention to both traditional Jamaican lovers rock and urban-pop genres and excels at both. In this context, Yaad and Abroad represents the voice of a migrant Jamaican youth who remains true to his roots while embracing the cultures of his home away from home.
Nando recognizes that he is in the early phases of his musical journey as a performer and that over time he may well find a singular niche; however, for now he is comfortable just making great music in the reggae and urban-pop genres. So while it has been argued that no man can serve two masters without loving one and hating the other, Yaad and Abroad, with its blend of potential lovers rock classics such as My Everything and urban-pop hits such as Look at All These Girls, provides evidence that Nando is arguably well on his way to doing just that.
Fast-rising Jamaican singer Nando Griffiths, son of legendary Jamaican jockey Winston "Fanna" Griffiths, started to attract attention in 2010 with his first chartbuster, the single "Look At All These Girls", which was followed by more hit tunes including "Ride All Night", "My Everything" and "Get Better", his first number one song in Jamaica.
And now there's the release of his debut album aptly entitled "Yaad & Abroad", as it represents the voice of a migrant Jamaican youth who remains true to his roots while embracing the cultures of his home away from home.
Nando Griffiths spent the formative years of his youth in Jamaica, the land of his birth, where he got grounded in classic foundation reggae listening to artists such as Bob Marley and Beres Hammond. During that time, he also developed a love for an eclectic array of music, including R&B, pop, and jazz. After graduating from Jamaica College, he journeyed to New York City, the global melting pot, to attend Baruch College of the City University of New York where he earned a BBA degree in Finance and Economics. Additionally, he sang in the school choir and in a band of extremely talented urban-pop musicians, and formalized his musical training by also completing a Minor in Music Theory. Nando Griffiths is a trained singer and songwriter who has performed extensively for diverse audiences.
The "Yaad & Abroad" album can be roughly divided into three parts. First the listener is treated to a dancehall oriented part, which is followed by contemporary reggae songs and then urban-pop oriented tracks. The collaboration with Oxxygen an Paashot, "Ride All Night", a recent number one hit in the Jamaican dancehall chart, is an infectious dancehall tune with strong soca elements. "Rude", actually a soca-reggaeton hybrid done in combination with Michie One & Paashot, keeps the vibes flowing throughout. More or less the same goes for "Look At All these Girls". All three songs are real club bangers, strongly reminiscent of tunes known from Kevin Lyttle, while "Her Body" is delivered in the same vein as most of Wayne Wonder's dancehall efforts. Not a bad comparison we would say.
Then it's time for 'one-drop reggae' to drop in, with one of our personal favourites, the lovers lament "Say What You Wanna", getting things going in fine style. With the reality tune "Getting Better" he bigs up single mothers who struggle to provide for their kids and still maintain their dignity. A big conscious tune truly worth hearing. Then it's again time for a bunch of solid songs that deal with affairs of the heart including "Hard To Say", "Your Love", "Some Other Guy", the recent hit song "My Everything", and the wonderful "These Words".
"Feel Like", featuring the production work from Deewaan, a hot young producer from the UK who also produced the first 4 tracks of this album, goes into urban-pop territory. He's also the producer of the R&B-flavored "In The Workplace" and the poppy "Like A Song".
Although these are the kind of tunes that might not appeal to the real dancehall and/or reggae fan, it's obvious that Nando Griffiths has the ability to seemingly effortless cross genres. This is also showcased on the gospel tingled reggae tune "Hear My Voice" and the pompous sounding bonus track "Team Jamaica", which refers to the Jamaican athletes who took part in the 2012 Olympic Games.
Nando Griffiths not only delivers a convincing debut album, he also shows that he can handle multiple genres to full effect.