Tuesday, January 17, 2023
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ArtThe new sound of Reggae

The new sound of Reggae

The late Emperor Haile Selassie I inspired a group of Jamaicans into a religion, a movement, and what would be later called Rastafari inspired Reggae music that spread across the world. The movement became more acceptable after the emperor’s visit to Jamaica. The movement then went on to inspire musicians to curate reggae.

Reggae music came to the fore with a bang in a resistance movement against imperialism in the 60s. It started in Kingston, Jamaica, and conquered the world, acquiring an emblematic Rastafarian character—a culture that started in one country with an Ethiopian undertone has now evolved beyond what most thought was possible.

More and more artists across the world, including Ethiopian artists, dabble, try to perfect and transform the genre. Amongst these artists is Dagmawi Zelalem, known as Dagy, who recently released his second EP on the emperor’s 130th birthday, an integral part of the subculture.

“I have released my second EP titled “Alat.The project has a style of reggae and afro beats, with a positive outlook on life, self, love and more,” Dagmawi said.

The relatively underrated musician has a following that guards his music like a secret treasure. Kidist Abebaw is one of those fans that became an avid follower of his music. She says his works are underappreciated as an experimental sound between reggae, afro-beat and popular music.

“I recently found out about his music from TikTok and then I had the chance to witness his live performance. And he was incredible. His live shows were even better than his records. I then started listening to his covers, “said Kidist, enthused.

Kidst believes his music has an authentic reggae vibewhile incorporating modern sounds that stray from the traditional reggae base.

“I really recommend it to any reggae or Afrobeats fans,” Kidist added.

Dagmawi grew up in a household where music was a big aspect of life. Constantly being introduced to new sounds, instruments and new genres allowed him to explore the bounds of his creativity.

“It didn’t take me long to pick up an instrument. I first started off with a guitar and then moved to keyboards, slowly progressing, trying everything and learning on my own. Right around the final years of high school, I started getting drawn to singing and rapping. That lit a dream in me of becoming an artist,” Dagmawi said reminiscing on how from then on he invested a lot of his time and energy into making his dream a reality.

His freedom to explore genres gave his fans an array of sounds within a single EP. The artist’s mellow voice coupled with the instruments makes for a unique sound, jumping between genres.

“I think most of his music is made for the love of it instead of following trends and putting out whatever is popular. No two songs of his are similar. You can tell he poured every ounce of himself into each one of his tunes,” added Kidist.

Dagmawi, who does not like the idea of being boxed into genres or artistic subcultures, makes all of his music himself, from writing to producing his tracks. “It’s very interesting and such a fun experience to explore and dig deep into various cultures and styles. I’ve been doing a lot of contemporary afro beats, reggae and a bit of hip hop.”

He says he has been listening to new and exciting things to be able to create diverse, unique and beautiful art that can make some kind of impact.

Inspiration for music is drawn from a multitude of sources and people. The music goes on to inspire others to crave more and mold a view that isn’t limited by the practicality of “reality.” Dagmawi’s music, whether it is talking about oneness or love, makes sure to leave enough to inspire listeners and lovers of art.

When asked what inspires him to create and serve as a point of inspiration for others, Dagmawi believes anyone with an elevated drive for life can inspire, adding that people who aren’t afraid to dream big, strive as hard as they can, and fail in the process if need be.

“Musically, I tend to draw inspiration from the likes of Burna Boy, Fela Kuti, Chronixx, J. Cole, Kendrick and Teddy Afro,” Dagmawi said.

With a dedicated fan base and a sound of his own with two EPs, the artist is looking forward to what his next steps will be, while he is grateful for the journey so far.

“My projects so far were produced, written, arranged and performed by myself. Of course, I would like to thank everyone else involved in making it what it is. The reception was nice, it’s empowering for the next one,” Dagmawi said.

Dagmawi says they will be organizing a show over at Villa Verde on August 27, 2022, with a different lineup of artists. “It’s going to be an experience. Look out for my album coming out on November 1. It’s going to be a collection of really interesting, deep concepts and some next-level production as well.”

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