From Campaign to Champagne album launch is a milestone, that is set along the career path of neo-roots Reggae artiste Kashu. It is every artiste dream to drop a debut album although not much emphasis is placed on such achievement in Jamaica. The enthusiasm, anticipation and expectation of fans that comes with the release of albums in genres such as pop, country and hip-hop is engulfed by a numb, callous reaction from the most ardent Jamaican music fan. But such was not the case for Kashu last Saturday night; Mama Kashu was there to share the joy with her son as well as a strong following of Clarendonians, who has thrown their full support behind one of their stars, Kashu.
The parish of Clarendon, the third largest and located south of Jamaica, embodies a rich history that surrounds the foundation of Reggae music. Blue Beat, Ska and Reggae artiste Millie Small was the first artiste to emerge successfully from the parish and gain international status. In 1964, Millie Small hit the UK Singles and US Billboard Hot 100 charts as well as sold over 600,000 copies of her cover version of My Boy Lollipop. There were also the Clarendonians with members Ernest Wilson, Peter Austin and Freddie McGregor rocking genres ska, rocksteady, reggae and accredited for helping to define the ‘rude boy’ era of ska. Other artistes who hails from the parish includes, Internationally acclaimed Barrington Levy, Cocoa Tea and head of the musically inclined family, Derrick Morgan and his Morgan Heritage clan, I-Octane and Kashu formerly Cashew Man following their footsteps.
It could very well be a support system in Clarendon that moulded and shaped these artistes. The very same support system that stands one hundred percent solid behind their new found love Kashu when he launched his album. Moby’s May Pen complex was packed to capacity as the event, the launch of Kashu’s debut album and hosted by Reggae’s rocking radio Irie FM’s DJ Amber, began at 9:00pm. Performances from Dancehall’s money diva, Macka Diamond, reggae crooners Hezron and Noddy Virtue as well as Exco Levi, Ras Shiloh, Loyal Flames, Jemineye, Israel Yadalfi, Dezi Boyd and others set off the night’s proceeding and paved the way for the man of the moment.
When Kashu hit the stage he was met with all the love and appreciation of a super star, enough to muster a tiny drop of tear in the back of his eye. As he belted out lyrics from his 15 track album the crowd sang with him the ones they knew and listened intently to the new ones. Kashu was on point with each delivery and in good form working the stage as he delivered tracks such as ‘The System,’ Nutten Naw Gwaan,’ ‘Mama,’ Campaign to Champagne,’ ‘Mi Amor,’ ‘Have You Ever,’ ‘Somebody’s Child,’ ‘No Beaty Beaty’ and ‘Higher Levels’ to close the show. Patrons satisfied and still excited after his performance, rushed to purchase copies of the album after the show.
It was an historic moment not only for Kashu but also for Clarendon’s musical history. From Campaign to Champagne became the first album that wasofficially launched in the parish despite the many greats it has produced making a substantial contribution to it’s rich musical heritage. The effort must have left an indelible mark on those who witnessed, inspired many young aspiring reggae artistes and captured the essence of greater things to come in the future for the parish and another of it’s sons, KASHU.