By Howard Campbell
After leading the way to the control room of his recently completed St Andrew recording studio, singjay Bugle (real name Roy Thompson) settles into a seat and plays songs from Be Yourself, his new album.
The 15-song set was released January 29 (his birthday) by Empire Records, the California label that distributed Strictly Roots, Morgan Heritage’s Grammy-winning album.
Released three years after Anointed, his debut album, Be Yourself was recorded at the new studio. Professionally and personally, Bugle believes he has grown.
“If yuh listen to dis album an’ Anointed yuh can hear di growth…di production level is totally different. Anointed was limited, it never have a world sound,” he said.
Anointed was released by Zojak International, 14 years after the slightly built artist began recording. It was widely hailed by critics with Move Dem, a collaboration with Julian Marley, earning him an appearance on the hip cable show, MTV Jams.
Bugle produced or co-produced eight songs on Be Yourself which has a hard-driving roots feel compared to the dancehall beats of Anointed.
While the title song, Devalue and Endurance have the militant, stripped-down sound that has endeared Bugle to European fans, it is the weed-jamming Ganja which is its lead single.
Shaggy, one of dancehall’s most successful crossover acts, adds his patented touch to the song. Getting the Grammy-winning toaster on board, Bugle noted, was strategic.
“Everybody wants to cross over, so having Shaggy on the album is a great plus. It can help me get to that level,” he said.
Another eye-catching track is the remix of Rasta Party with Sizzla and Tarrus Riley. The original, produced by Seanizzle, was a big hit in 2016. According to Bugle, it expanded his base in Europe where he performs regularly.
Though Rasta Party did well, 2016 was low-keyed for the Portland-born Bugle who spent much of the year completing his studio.
For him, investing in a recording facility shows he is committed to making progressive music and helping like-minded artistes like Rockaz Element, a vocal trio from Spanish Town, who appear with him on Sophisticated Sufferers.
“Mi coulda go out an’ buy a Benz but building a studio show sey wi serious. My music is not the type dat going come out today an’ hot tomorrow, so wi haffi have a space wey wi can tek time an’ do things proper,” he said.