Rootz Underground
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Rootz Underground

Bronx, New York, United States | INDIE

Bronx, New York, United States | INDIE
Band World Reggae


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"Global reforesters - Rootz Underground gives planting trees priority.."

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

IT'S easy and all too common for artistes and other public figures to voice their commitment or give monetary support to environmental causes.
It's less common — albeit growing — for artistes to enlist the support of their public in addressing those issues and more noteworthy that figures like international reggae band Rootz Underground are endeavouring, along with their fans, to be agents of change on an environmental issue.
The Rootz Underground band.

The issue of choice is reforestation. Through a band initiative known as Rootz Releaf, tree planting is taking place all over the globe.
Lead singer Steven Newland explained that the concept arose out of the need to go beyond conventional environmental initiatives and to maintain links with their globally expanding fan base.
"Our aim is to have at minimum 100,000 new tree plantings over the course of the next year or so," he said in a release to Environment Watch.
The band is currently touring multiple cities across western and central Europe and is spreading awareness of its reforestation efforts at the various stops on the way. It will replicate those efforts when it hits the US later in the year.
"We see the pragmatic necessities of something like this, but we also recognise the importance and the power of appealing to the hearts and minds (of people) to evoke spiritual connections," Newland noted.
A Google map has been added to the band's website that will contain the locations of all the trees that have been planted by followers over the course of the project and also has a photo gallery.
The group, which also comprises Jeffrey Moss-Solomon, Charles Lazarus, Colin Young, Leon Campbell, and Paul Smith, is asking its fans and well-wishers, whether live or online, to lend their support to the initiative. To help make this happen, the group is offering a further incentive. The first person to send a photo along with the GPS co-ordinates of a tree they have planted for each city on their tour will earn for themselves and a friend guest spots at the show of their choice.
Releaf supporters can send their information to or to

Read more: - Jamaica Observer

"Rootz Underground hits their stride with releases and starts tree-planting program"

By Brian F. Johnson

Up in the hills above Runaway Bay, on the northern coast of Jamaica, Charles Lazarus laughed as he started a recent phone conversation with The Marquee. “All of the telecom companies are battling down here, so it’s actually cheaper to call you there in the States, than it is to call my friend next door,” Lazarus said with his thick accent.

That’s a fact of life that’s got to sting for a man from a tight community who now lives in his childhood home, miles away from the tourist destinations over in?Ochos Rios. Lazarus is a founding member of Rootz Underground, but the band is more of an extended family than it is a group.

“We’ve all known each other since we were kids, but we all started playing music at different times within a couple years of each other,” Lazarus said. “But, Jeffrey Moss-Solomon, our rhythm guitar player, and Stephen Newland our vocalist, their mothers are best friends, so they grew up literally from the time they were in diapers.”

Long before Rootz Underground ever took shape, the members of the band were already making music together. “There used to be a time when there was really no live music in Kingston. It was all soundsystems and there wasn’t any place where you could see stuff live, so we would all get together on a Friday night and just play, you know? There was no underground scene at the time, so we made our own, and it sucked. It was terrible all the time, but we thought it was cool and we were having a good time. Friends would come over and have a smoke or a few drinks before going out. We were the pre-party. And eventually it got big. Really big,” Lazarus said.

The next logical step for the band was to begin playing proper gigs and a friend who had a local bar gave them their first show. From there, Lazarus said it was a series of small steps that now, when they look back on them, looked like giant leaps at the time — possibly the biggest of which was their 2008 album that a band member’s father bankrolled, under certain conditions. “His condition was that his good friend Wayne Armond would produce the album, and that was a real tug of war for us, because we were young and he was old and didn’t know shit, right?” Lazarus laughed.

It took two years for the album to be finished but in 2008, Rootz Underground released Movement. Each track on the 19-song set tells a vivid, nuanced story. The album carries a rich sound, full of careful layers, which incorporate serious rock sensibilities with breakdowns into hard hitting grooves, intense builds and smooth transitions back to the one-drop reggae rhythm. The album is also peppered with interesting vignettes which help to make listeners feel like they’ve entered the underground realm of the band.

The album gave the band enough of a boost that following some touring, they returned to the studio to work on another album, and earlier in 2010, the band released Gravity, which Lazarus said is a heavy album, hence the name. “Gravity is a very deep reggae album with some fierce lyrical content. It was an intense time recording it — spiritually with all the vibrations we feel traveling around. It’s a very serious time in the history of mankind, especially doing this type of work, and Gravity on a lyrical level, and an energy level, is a way to talk about some very serious shit,” Lazarus said.

While it took a long time for Rootz Underground to release their first album, the second one followed less than two years later, and Lazarus said that the band plans to continue on this prolific track for some time. “We’re already more than halfway finished with the next album,” he said proudly.

While he wouldn’t give details like the name of the album, he did say that some of the material pre-dates their Movement album. “The older material that we have from before Movements is stuff that we just never had the skill to pull off at the time. We couldn’t do some of these songs justice. They were more challenging songs, so now we’re going back to do them the way they should be played,” he said.

While they may spend a lot of time in the studio these days, the band is also involved in some good outdoor activities as well, focusing mostly on their Rootz Program. In more than 30 countries, more than 250 trees have been planted in the name of Rootz Underground. In a fun program where fans are given cards embedded with seeds, fans are asked to plant the card, take GPS coordinates of the site and send them off to the band, which tracks the growth and offers the participating fans free tickets to shows. “It’s really a metaphor for what we do when the band plays, and trees allow fans to be soldiers in the reforestation effort,” Lazarus said. -

"Rootz Underground included on Sumfest line-up"

Rootz Underground has been added to the Red
Stripe Reggae Sumfest line-up for Saturday, July
21, 2007. Saturday night, aptly named Zenith,
will see Rootz performing on the same stage as
musical greats Beres Hammond, Tanya Stephens
and Mary J Blige.
"Our goal is to establish Rootz Underground as the
next great band to break out of Jamaica onto the
international scene. Performing at an event with the
great tradition of Sumfest is critical to our achieving
that goal," Neil Robertson (Rootz's Management)
Though Rootz Underground has only just begun
digging their 'rootz' in the industry, the band's old
soul has already effortlessly enlisted a core of
followers. Their first single Victims Of The System has
had heavy rotation locally and internationally, and the
video has peaked at #2 on both RE-TV and Hype TV.
Rootz also has maintained their #1 spot on MTV
Tempo's Cross-Caribbean countdown for five weeks.
Last updated: Tuesday, June 5, 2007, 7:22 PM EST
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Rootz Underground included on Sumfest line-up - JAMAICAOBSERV...
2 of 2 05/06/2007 07:28 PM
"We are honoured to be a part of the Sumfest line-up
for 2007. We plan to give our dedicated fans and
future fans our best performance yet," Newland said
Since their humble start in 2000, performing at live
jam sessions at Harry's bar, to RE Unplugged at
Weekendz and then going on to being the main act at
Mystic Urchin's Tuesday Nite Live at Village, Rootz are
best known for their live performances (Rootz played
live for five years before recording in studio). Rootz
has also had the opportunity to perform at festivals
such as the Air Jamaica Jazz & Blues and Flashpoint
Film Festival.
The six-member group unites Stevie G Newland (lead
singer), Charles Lazarus (lead guitar), Jeffrey
Moss-Solomon (rhythm guitar), Colin Young (bass
guitar), Paul Smith (keyboard) and Leon Campbell
(drummer) to form the revolutionary roots, rock,
reggae band.
Rootz Underground will perform at the 15th staging of
Red Stripe Reggae Sumfest on Saturday, July 21,
2007 at Catherine Hall in Montego Bay. - Jamaica Observer


SEPTEMBER 16, 2011 AT 11:13 AM

Article By: Marco Alvarez | Photos By: 613 Photography

Reggae sensation Rootz Underground continues its mission of inspiring listeners and providing you some much needed “releaf” with their deep-minded euphony!
Let your head absorb all their elements: classic and modern reggae sounds, intelligent lyrics, powerful live performances, and their Releaf Project, a noble plan to replenish the world’s forests.
The members of Rootz Underground are: Stephen Newland (Lead Vocals), Charles Lazarus (Lead Guitar), Colin Young (Bass), Jeffrey Moss-Solomon (Rhythm Guitar/Vocals), Paul “Scubi” Smith (Keyboards/Vocals), and Leon Campbell (Drums).
In 2008, Rootz Underground toured North America, Hawaii, and the Caribbean; and in March of that year, they released their debut album titled “Movement.” They performed with other notable acts such as Dean Fraser, Anthony B, Tarrus Riley, Gregory Isaacs, Israel Vibration, and the Wailing Souls. After their debut album, they released their live album appropriately entitled “Alive,” which was recorded during their Reggae Train Tour and is available on their website’s store. In 2009, they released their next studio album, “Gravity,” and toured Europe and South America. Their latest and second live album is “Live in France.”
As part of their Releaf Tour this year, they’ve played 17 shows all along the west coast throughout California, Oregon, and Washington. On June 10th, they jammed at the Harmony Festival in Santa Rosa alongside other names like Primus and The Flaming Lips. Rootz Underground also recently appeared in a few major reggae festivals: L.A.’s Reggae on the Mountain in Topanga on July 9th; and the 27th annual Reggae on the River on July 17th in Garberville, Ca.
“Secret that my momma used to hide from me. I man must have been born in a herb field.” Rootz Underground’s lyrics, such as these in the song “Herb Fields” off the Movement album, often incorporate a connection with nature, with cannabis, with one’s origin and consciousness, and with others. The vivid lyrical compositions and thoughtful arrangements of songs are of the kind that one finds in poetry. Their song “Unknown Soldier” honors all the soldiers in history who have given their lives for rights and freedom without any recognition. It is a recognition of the soldiers who we overlook, and every line seeks to empower people through awareness and love. The video for this song stylishly greets you when you visit the website.
The blog section on the Rootz Underground website reveals some disheartening statistics on the world’s depleting forests, but then follows with a useful tip for planting a tree: line the hole you’ve dug out with potatoes to provide moisture and nutrients as they decompose. This aspect of the band’s activism distinguishes them from all the other bands in the business just trying to make a name and some money for themselves. Their Releaf Project demonstrates not only environmental activism, but social and economic activism as well. By being actively involved in several communities, they add another layer of significance to the messages in their music because a materialization of the words and concepts makes it more real.
A short documentary film, “The Rootz Reggaementary,” can be watched on the website and reveals quite a lot about the band, ideologically and musically. To a similar effect, I hoped to capture a direct and personal glimpse of the band by asking some questions that had popped into my mind:
Where did each of you grow up?
We all grew up in Jamaica – it’s small enough that we won’t differentiate areas, but diverse enough that we all experienced the full range of city-country life.
As for the beginnings, when and how did the band come together?
We basically grew up together and came to play music together over this time, but we collectively decided that we’d be a band in the summer of 2000.
So how did you guys decide on the name ‘Rootz Underground’?
A friend (Shana) gave it to us. She said we’re ‘rootsy’ yet still new and edgy enough to be considered ‘underground.’
How did you guys go about finding your sound? And how has your sound evolved since the band first started playing?
We didn’t find our sound. It grew, as we grew as friends and musicians. It continues to grow and evolve in that same way, like a tree with a good, healthy root system.
Did any of you ever take formal playing lessons?
All of us at various times and levels.
How do you guys handle the writing of the lyrics? Does Stephen write all the lyrics?
Stephen has been the most prolific writer among us to date. All of us do write, however.
What’s the band’s recording process like?
More or less academic – record first with drums and bass as the primary goals, then move onto overdubs then vocals – mix & master.
What albums have you guys released?
Our first was Movement, then we followed that wi -

"Rootz Underground - Gravity"

By Karl Pearson on Friday, July 9, 2010 - 2 comments
The first truly 21st century reggae and forward thinking album I have heard.

Rootz Underground - Unknown Soldier

Rootz Underground - Rastaman Experience

For me the year got off rather slowly as far as quality new releases go but now over the past month or so things seem to be improving greatly, and keeping this trend going is the new album from Rootz Underground 'Gravity'.

The band first broke through two years ago with the acclaimed 'Movement', an album that subtly blended reggae rock and jazz. This album again sees this fusion plus some other new tricks picked up after spending a lot of time on the road touring America and Europe. Musicianship on here is impeccable and lead vocalist Stefen Newland's voice has an engaging gravely, soulful tone to it. Unfortunately though at times it can be a bit strained and croaky which makes it a bit uncomfortable to listen to, especially at points on Jah Love Is The Solution, which is a shame as this is a very melodic number that starts with a gentle piano, muted trumpet and strings before breaking into an easy sway.

The beginning of the album is in true roots reggae style with a brief spoken piece from his Majesty Ras Tafari then Power to the People kicks in. This song the band has livicated to the people of Haiti after the terrible earthquake that hit there in January and as you can imagine from the title it's about the struggle to break free of the slavery of capitalism. It starts off with radiating horns before there is a transition from brass to strings as a fiddle takes over and the vocal becomes more broken in an almost version style. This is then followed by the fantastic Unknown Soldier, a deep brooding piece of Rasta, rebel, consciousness. Another strong roots number is Raging Bull, that has a very strong feel of Marley's So Much Trouble In The World.

Modern Day Jericho is the first track on the album to break away from a reggae format and musically has that American MOR soft rock sound. Lyrically though the song contains plenty of Rasta sentiments. This for me is what is most intriguing about the album that even though they are not always using a typical reggae blue print musically to impart their message the lyrical content is always immediately recognizable has having a Rastafarian slant. Take Rastaman Experience a song of spreading Jah love but on top of a very rock, blues, dubby canvas, while Enlighten Me a damning song about Babylonian lies is minimalist electronica.

This band may not be for the reggae purists but I like what I've heard and admire the fact that they are not afraid to mix it up and break free from the confines of sticking religiously to a musical genre. Make no mistake though this is still a reggae album and for me the first truly 21st century reggae and forward thinking album I have heard. -

"Rootz Underground’s debut album Movement reviewed"

4 May 2008 by Karin in Music,Music,Rootz Underground:

YardEdge welcomes a guest post by Irie Hatuey who reviews Rootz Underground’s new album, Movement.

Movement introduces Rootz Underground, a six-man group that has come onto the Reggae scene like a storm. The band has a
genuine desire to move listeners to a higher consciousness and to revolutionize Reggae music. Yes, these guys
breathe new life into a sector of the genre that is sometimes relegated to oldies and vintage festivals.
Rootz Underground members include Steve Newland, (lead vocals and lyricist), Charles Lazarus, (lead guitar),
Jeffrey Moss Solomon, (rhythm guitar, backup vocals and lyricist), Colin Young, (bass guitar), Paul Smith,
(keyboard) and Leon Campbell (drummer).
Newland recently called Movement
a “musical hammer,” but at the same time he described it “like Ital stew, because sometimes it takes long to cook.”
Indeed, it took the band five years before they entered the studio. Live shows perfected their sound leaving no
question that the band’s mission is to elevate Roots Rock Reggae. Movement is intended to be heard front-to-back,
like listening to a storyteller. The opening salvo is a blazing DJ-intro by ‘Rory Stonelove’ Gilligan followed by
“Time is an Illusion”. Produced by Gilligan, it is hopeful and reflective. The song’s strength lies in the spiritual depth
of the lyric, as well as Smith’s harmonies.
The album rolls right into “Victims of the System”. This is the proverbial “big tune” that sets the tone for the rest of
the album. Resembling a rebel war chant, it’s infectious and driven by Newland’s voice. The sticky tag line will have
you singing “enemies of robber Babylonian” all day long. The tune has a message, but it is delivered so well that you
don’t even realize you are getting an education. Don’t exhale Rasta the lessons continue with “Herb Fields” and
“Hammer”. “Herb Fields” takes you to an idyllic field of “trees” where lyricist Stevie G confronts Babylon’s reality.
This track has a simple guitar-lead melody with a dash of Dancehall rhyme midway through. This one is sure to
become a staple ganja song. Regrettably, the song is cut short by the producers. The current single is “Hammer,”
produced by Bobby Digital. The song proclaims “hammer dem down.” A horn opens the song, blending into guitar
‘fyah’ telling the rebel warrior to defend the helpless with his song and love.
“Rain,” “When I Go,” and “Riverstone” are an oasis from the band’s lessons. The most popular song on
is “In the Jungle,” probably because of it’s playful upbeat sound.
is a decidedly modern Roots Reggae album, fusing elements of Jazz, Ska, Dub, R&B, Dancehall, and Rock. It is a
‘must have’ to add to your collection.
Movement was produced by Wayne Armond, leader of Jamaica’s legendary band, Chalice.


Released January 2011

Released July 2010

Released September 2008

Released March 2008

Movement 'The Mixtape'

Lightning Theory



Kick down the walls, burn the paper the rules are written on and mash down the box that limits a sound to a single genre! Rootz Underground is here to channel the musical vibration that rings true in the heart and soul of all the conscious Rebel Rockers, Late Night Revelers & Soul Seekers! Many influences have borne their 'rootz', including their homeland Jamaica - birthplace of Rastafari and other radical movements, JAH - creator of all things, family, the earth in all its glory, the revolutionary 70's, Dub and Roots Reggae music.

Synergy is a beautiful thing to witness and when delivered onstage with a raw energy live and direct its even more captivating. Its this synergy that has brought Rootz Underground forward across the last nine years of the bands journey from small underground club shows in Kingston at venues such as The Village Caf and Red Bones all the way to the largest stages in Jamaica including Sunsplash, Rebel Salute, Welcome to Jamrock, Reggaelution, Sumfest and Air Jamaica Jazz & Blues repeatedly. The band consists of six core members that have been placed together through fate and friendship along the road of life in Jamaica with music as the common ground. Its here with the mix of these personalities and varied interests that the intricate recipe for the diverse sound comes together and gets expressed in this modern twist on roots reggae. Rootz Underground is Stephen Newland (lead vocals), Jeffrey Moss-Solomon (rhythm guitar, vocals), Colin Young (bass), Leon Campbell (drums), Paul Smith (keyboards, vocals) and Charles Lazarus (lead guitar).

Rootz Underground has been blessed to be able to be amongst the return and rise of the band format coming out of Jamaica, at a time when dancehall and hip-hop are in the forefront they found themselves as a group performing lyrically conscious original roots reggae music. Over the last decade they have won their fans and the respect of their contempories one explosive show at a time showcasing and projecting a collective energy that captivates audiences with its pure intention. It is with this ability to engage and hypnotize that Rootz Underground has set out on the tour trail, traveling through the Caribbean, North America and Hawaii in an effort to carry the message of upliftment, positivity and oneness. The year 2008 saw them touring America extensively on joint bills with foundation powerhouses such as Gregory Isaacs, Israel Vibration, The Wailing Souls, Dean Fraser as well as acts such as Anthony B and Tarrus Riley. They have played both the Raggamuffins Festival as well as The Sierra Nevada World Music Festival in California and most notably they also released their debut album MOVEMENT in early March.

MOVEMENT has benefited from a sophisticated team, crafting some of the greatest recordings in reggae today. Each track of this 19-song set tells a vivid, nuanced story with moody - Jazz influenced guitar solos, nimble keyboards, ethereal segues, delay effects, traditional African/Jamaican hand drums, razor sharp mixing and call and response chorus vocals that find members harmonizing in agreement with the lyrical message. A rich sound, full of careful layers, serves as a comfortable bed for some of the most universal and honest lyrics to rest in a reggae mix. This sound also has a serious rock music sensibility with breakdowns into hard-hitting grooves, intense builds and smooth transitions back to the one-drop reggae rhythm. The albums use of interesting vignettes takes us into the realm of the underground and beyond to position ourselves in the movement for a closer listen.

The future is wide open with a heavy load of goals that have been set by the band who are constantly looking forward, 2009 will see the release of the second studio album entitled GRAVITY as well as touring focus on Europe and South America. Also in an effort to get the live vibration on stage out there faster than they can even travel the band is offering a full length live CD for free which can be downloaded from the E-store of their website, the album is titled ALIVE and was recorded on the Reggae Train Tour Fall 08 across America. This along with other unorthodox web strategies shows the trend that Rootz Underground has set and plans on maintaining for the future.

Passionate work, joy in the blessing and humility along the journey sums up the attitude with which each musician moves forward and through the power of the Most High and with his Grace they shall continue to reap the positive fruit of their labour.

And the revolution continues...