Streets to the Hill
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Streets to the Hill

Oakland, California, United States | INDIE

Oakland, California, United States | INDIE
Band R&B Reggae

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ALTHOUGH TRADITIONAL calypso and soca are the sounds of choice in his native Barbados, Ryan Daisley said reggae was the beat he tuned in to as a boy.

Last year, the multi-instru-mentalist finally got the oppor-tunity to pay homage to some of his heroes by recording The Soul of Kingston, a compilation of 12 of his favourite reggae songs.

The album was recorded at his Shaolin Studios in Oakland, California, and features the vocals of American singer Nasambu Barasa, his partner in the group Streets To The Hill.

Daisley, 29, who has lived on the United States West Coast for the past eight years, told The Gleaner last week that because he has not pitched it to any distributor, The Soul of Kingston remains largely unknown.

"We have not shopped to any companies, simply because we don't know anyone at the companies, and very often people don't listen to your CD unless you know someone inside," he explained. "I have no doubt that if the right people heard it they would love it ... But for now we just need some luck."

Roots-reggae classics like Bob Marley's We and Them, The Abysinnians' Declaration of Rights and Chant A Psalm by Steel Pulse are on The Soul of Kingston. Other popular songs include Anthony B's Raid The Barn, Norris Man's Persistence, Hills And Valleys by Buju Banton and Good Ways, originally done by Sizzla.

Great combination

Each got a neo-soul workover by Daisley and the 24-year-old Barasa, an Oakland-based performer whose parents are from Kenya. He said he first met her two years ago.

"We have performed with various groups together, she as a backup singer and me as a keyboard player," said Daisley. "She started doing all my studio sessions but then I realised that she was better than most of the artistes that I was recording."

Daisley and Barasa completed work on The Soul of Kingston last April, with the former playing all instruments in addition to his role as producer.

For promotion, he said he has given away many copies of the CD to artistes and radio stations. He even played it for Sizzla who gave it the thumbs-up.

Daisley moved to Oakland in 1999 after working on a cruise ship. Apart from a one-year stint at the University of the West Indies' Cave Hill campus as a management major, music occupied most of his time.

Inspiration in Oakland

He was bass player in the band, Coalition, which also included the singer Rupie. He performed on Reggae Sunsplash in 1996 with saxophonist Arturo Tappin and played bass on Barbadian reggae singer David Kirton's excellent Stranger CD in 1998.

Daisley left the Caribbean scene behind in 1999, settling in Oakland, a city known for its links to the militant Black Panther Party during the 1960s and 1970s.

That's where Daisley discovered a new groove in neo-soul, a throwback to 1970s jazz/rhythm and blues led by Tony, Tone Toni, D'Angelo and Eryka Badu.

He said it was exciting to record classic reggae songs with a beat that is still creating a buzz in the United States.

"Most Americans listening to R&B may not understand what Sizzla is saying, but they just know that it is tight," Daisley said. "I wanted to break it down in a way that they wouldn't lose the message, and then force them to go back and listen to the original recording and have a new appreciation for it." - Jamaica Gleaner Newspaper


Discography

Singles include: El Shaddai, Raid the Barn

Album in rotation on KPFA in Berkeley, KPOO in San Francisco, Irie FM in Jamaica.

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Bio

Streetstothehill is comprised of vocalist, Nasambu Barasa, and producer, Shaolin. The two worked together on various musical projects for almost two years before they decided to form the group Streetstothehill.

The classic grooves of neo-soul rhythms accompany the conscious lyrics of well-known Jamaican artists such as Anthony B, Sizzla, Abyssinians, and Bob Marley, giving birth to a new interpretation of powerful reggae hits in their debut album, The Soul of Kingston.

Nasambu Barasa, of Kenyan descent, has spent most of her life in California. Her african-soul-jazz style is influenced by vocalists from all over the African diaspora including Miriam Makeba, Sade, Zap Mama, and Erykah Badu to name a few. As a member of the hip hop generation, Nasambu Barasa understands the barrage of issues that are facing the youth of today, and she chooses to use music as a force to fight against oppression, injustice, and cultural domination.

Shaolin, CEO of Shaolin Studios, has worked with many Bay Area and international reggae and soul artists, including Junior Reid, Don Carlos, Rupee, President Brown, Goapele and Jahmali.