May 20, 2012
from 5 (excellent) to 1 (poor)|
|Vocals : 5||Backing : 5||Production : 5||Sound quality : 5||Sleeve : 4/5|
Romain Virgo, born on January 24, 1990, grew up in the small Stepney District in the parish of St. Ann, about a mile from Bob Marley's Nine Mile birthplace. He was raised in a Christian household, was the lead singer for his church choir and by his mid-teens became the leader of the Aabuthnott high school choir as well. In 2007, at age 17, he made history becoming the youngest person to win Jamaica's annual Digicel Rising Stars competition. With the release of his self-titled debut album for VP Records in June 2010, the majority of the tracks produced by Donovan Germain, critics and fans alike were duly awed by Romain Virgo's expansive vocal range and his ability to convey romantic longings with the same sincerity heard in his powerful breakthrough hit 'Can't Sleep'.
In September 2011 Romain made history again as the first Jamaican artist to perform at the Academy of Country Music Awards, held in Nashville, Tennessee. His version of veteran country stars The Gatlin Brothers' 1979 hit 'All The Gold In California' was featured on the VP Records compilation 'Reggae's Gone Country', with Larry Gatlin singing back up. Undoubtedly 2012 will be the biggest year so far of Romain Virgo's short but already stellar career. He was named Artist of the Year by JaRIA (Jamaica Reggae Industry Association) at their February awards ceremony held in Kingston; a big winner at the Linkage (Reggae) Awards, held in Mount Vernon, New York in March, Romain was honored as Recording Artist of the Year, Best Male Vocalist and Most Consistent Artist.
His second album for VP Records is called 'The System'. The production credits on this set go to Donovan Germain of Penthouse Records, Dawin and Omar Brown of Vikings Productions, Nicholas 'Niko' Browne of Lifeline Music and Shane C. Brown of Juke Boxx Productions. This 15 track album proves that Romain Virgo is going from strength to strength. From start to finish we are treated to quality tunes, backed by Jamaica's best musicians. The title track is an awesome ballad, an universal cry for humanity and social justice: "When you work and till the soil, still can't find no food to boil, what do you tell a hungry child? When the system no create no job, weh yuh expect ghetto youths fi have? Them will kill people and rob/ When innocent life get burn, government nuh show concern, to who do the people turn?"
The next six songs all deal with social matters and we even get to hear Romain inna deejay fashion on Dem A Coward, actually the deejay version of Food Fi The Plate, both key songs of this album as he's urging the youths to "sweat for your bread, don’t bus (fire) your gun and dead." The anti-violence sentiment is underscored on the first single, the gritty I Know Better, as Romain Virgo's personalized set of lyrics cautions ghetto youths to refrain from picking up the gun, despite their desperate circumstances. Equally compelling are Another Day Another Dollar and Minimum Wage.
Mama's Song, is a rightful tribute to his mother. Romain says: "I knew it would reach a point to write a 'mama' song and I wanted mine to be special. I come from a very poor family and this song talks about some of things that we have gone through but through it all they encouraged me to continue." Romain’s rendition of Adele's Don’t You Remember makes a fine impression. The original ballad is transformed into a smooth one drop riddim, the perfect backdrop for the artist's aching vocal delivery. Broken Heart, another heartfelt lovers tune, sees him in combination with another Reggae superstar, singjay/deejay Busy Signal. The album closes with an excellent reality tune called Press On, coming across a pounding and intense riddim laid down by Nike Browne and Danny Brownie.
In 2010 we wrote: "Best album of 2010? Time will tell, but it's obvious that Romain Virgo is a unique and precious talent." With his album 'The System' he has taken his successful career several steps further, he sounds more mature, both lyrically as well as musically. Do not ignore this album!