Genre-bending Jamaican artist Tessellated has released his highly anticipated debut EP Tropics Vol. 1 (via Independent). The multi-talented singer-songwriter-producer delivers a 7-song set that draws on a range of influences from Hip Hop to Afrobeats, Latin Jazz, and, of course, his island’s native Dancehall. Tropics Vol. 1 features guest appearances by progressive reggae star Protoje and emerging Nigerian artist Crayon.
Produced by Tessellated himself, alongside a United Nations of young talents from around the globe like Los Angeles-based Alexander Storm, UK-based producers Footsteps and Bayoz Muzik, Sydney-based maestros ANH and Swindail, Rotterdam-based Curaçaoan Tera Kòrá, and fellow Jamaicans Circa 11, the project is an audio documentation of the artist exploring and experimenting — functioning as a cohesive, yet sprawling assortment of sounds.
“I have many influences and when you blend a lot of different styles together, it’s easy to be all over the place. What I’ve been trying to figure out over the years is how to draw from many places, but still be in one. Tropics Vol. 1 is a total blend of my influences across the board that I think will give the listeners a solid picture of who Tessellated is as an artist and producer,” says Tess of his debut body of work.
Tessellated simultaneously dropped the official visuals for the EP title track via his YouTube channel. Co-directed by Tessellated and Jesse Suchomel, the “Tropics” video was shot on location in Kingston, and features cameos from some of Jamaica’s hottest young musical talents like Walshy Fire, Naomi Cowan, Sevana, Zac Jone$, and Circa 11, as well as creatives like Rebecca Jones (film director), Joshua Solas (visual artist), and Anna-Lisa Guthrie (designer-artist-model). It’s all pink everything as we follow Tess on his tropical adventures, traveling by plane, jet ski, and ATV to the secret island party of our dreams.
“For the video, I really just wanted to capture the raw energy of life in the Tropics and present it in a unique way. Things came together perfectly and it was honestly amazing for Jesse and I to create almost exactly what we had envisioned on paper. In addition, everyone in the video is my real friend, some for 15+ years, so it felt good to be able to have them in the shoot. I think those genuine connections helped to make the video look and feel authentic, as it should,” offered Tess on the video vibes.
“TROPICS” OFFICIAL VIDEO
Kicking off the Tropics Vol. 1 proceedings with a laid-back guitar refrain, courtesy of Jamaican axe-slinger Almando “Mundo Don” Douglas, the opening notes of “Rendezvous” are complemented by the effortless melodic chattings of Tessellated, which truly set the tone for the cool Afro-Latin-Caribbean breeze of the ensuing tracks to follow. Up next is the EP’s first single, “No Ansa (ft. Crayon),” which was released earlier in the year to rave reviews. The equally smooth guitar-driven “Santeria” features a vocal sample from Aamir Khan and Karisma Kapoor’s Bollywood hit song “Pardesi Pardesi Jana Nahi” that has been beautifully repurposed here for Tessellated’s tune about an addiction to the otherworldly pleasures of a woman who has completely captured his attention.
The fourth track, “Sweeter,” features reggae star and In.Digg.Nation Collective chief, Protoje. A lush horn arrangement accompanies the spitfire deejays as they trade verses over an unexpected Latin rhythm that crescendos with a Santana-esque guitar solo, served up by Phillip Myers of Circa 11. Renowned UK DJ Seani B world premiered the collaboration on his BBC Radio 1xtra program Thursday evening before the EP was released to all digital services at midnight.
Track five, the previously released “Me and My Lady,” is an ode to modern-day 21st Century love. On the rhythmically hypnotizing music bed, Tessellated lives up to his name as he weaves a mesmerizing tapestry of distinctively Caribbean beats and Latin jazz horns that take center stage for a raucous solo midway through the song.
On the title track, Tess flexes his lyrical prowess over a head-nodding Trap beat built by Australian producers ANH and Swindail. The 23-year old artist paints a picture of how he gets down in the Tropics:
At risk, man pree dollar sign like asterisk
Dem all on di line with the acting, stop dis madness
Inna Kingston we nuh rock dis
Inna di tropics,
man a knock it
Tropics Vol. 1 rounds out with the piano-driven “I Learnt Some Jazz Today,” which topped the Billboard Jazz charts and earned Tess an Emmy nomination for its inclusion in an Apple commercial.
With influences that span from Jazz to R&B to Hip Hop, and a foundation in his island’s native Reggae and Dancehall, Tessellated’s artistry reaches far beyond his Jamaican roots. His ear for music lends itself to experimentation with different soundscapes, and his releases so far attest to his worldwide appeal. He first made major waves in 2018 with “Pine and Ginger,” drumming up over 22 million total streams to date and landing on the pages of major media outlets like Pitchfork, The FADER, and High Snobiety, among others.
Tropics Vol. 1 tracks have received early support from DJs like King Waggy Tee on Miami’s 99 JAMZ, DJ Buck on Hartford’s HOT 93.7, and Massive B on NYC’s HOT 97. Already making fans of industry heavyweights such as Camila Cabello, Lily Allen, Diplo, Major Lazer, and Jorja Smith, this universal appeal speaks to the gravitas Tessellated commands, while he still has yet to reach the peak of his powers. It is clear why the SXSW festival organizers recently dubbed Tess the “Modern Reggae Intrigue.”
Tropics Vol. 1 track list:
- No Ansa (ft. Crayon)
- Sweeter (ft. Protoje)
- Me and My Lady
- I Learnt Some Jazz Today
Download Tropics Vol. 1 EP here
Watch “Tropics” official video on YouTube