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“The first time I heard Kareem sing,” says Roger Meltzer, CEO and A&R Director for Capsicum Records, “I fell in love with his voice. He immediately took me back to the days when I was coming up in the business and great R&B artists like Smokey Robinson, Curtis Mayfield, Marvin Gaye and Al Green could glide effortlessly back and forth between their tenor and falsetto octaves — and yet still sing lyrics — not notes — to remain soulful. This guy was put on earth to sing and entertain.
“I also knew from his original songs like ‘No Pain, No Gain’ and ‘Dirty Dancin’ — which I had put into instant rotation on my radio show — that Kareem was a terrific songwriter in his own right; but I had a rub-a-dub/lover’s rock song I just knew he would smoke. I sent him a demo. To my delight, he agreed the song was made for him and to voice it for Capsicum, so I got together with Reality Weekes to remix the instrumental track to ‘Life’s Too Short’ I had built with Ifield Joseph and sent it to him across the pond. He sent me back a couple of practice takes. They all had the magic and I said let’s get it done for real.
“Though he comes to the label without the benefit of any formal musical training, Kareem clearly has what it takes – the vocal and writing talents, style, looks, charisma, eager and open mind, commitment and drive – in short, everything he needs to blow up globally. His music is forward looking, socially conscious, street smart, the perfect fusion of reggae, soul, house and dance to fit in at Capsicum which is now known globally for its unique reggae-in-fusion sound — what deejays have called “roots on the bottom, and pop on the top.” When it comes to music, he’s as serious as a heart attack. He knows instinctively how to hone his song-craft.”
Kareem‘s pedigree now speaks for itself, working with Nu Vizion, Mike Patto, and renowned DJ/Producer Mauro Ferrucci of Airplane Records, a US/Italian dance label. He and Ferrucci linked up and enjoyed underground dance successes with ‘Free at Last’ and with DJ Producer Andrea T. Mendoza and S. Tibet on ‘Seven Seconds’, then went on to feature on Tommy Vee and Mendoza’s 2007 smash hit ‘Lovely’.
Kareem joined up with Danny Losito of Double Dee fame and went on to create a writing partnership with jazz Impresario Gianluca Mosole ‘Train to Nowhere’ leading to the fusion that became the D’Other band and producing spectacular tracks such as ‘Reaching for the Stars’, ‘In My Life’ and ‘Men Cry Too’, considered by some to be a timeless soul classic. Kareem and Losito went on to form Bad Connection with their first single ‘Just Be Thankful’ picked up by music entrepreneur Jamie Lewis of the prestigious Purple Music label. Kareem has also worked with Alfred Azzetto at Rule Five, writing and voicing dance collaborations ‘I Love Mukiz’ with Walterino, ‘Watching You’ with DJ Bee, Masterics’ ‘Where’s The Party?’ with DJ Fopp, ‘Can’t Hide From Love and Music’ with Dyami and Its ‘All About You’ with the Fever Brothers and The Soul Creative.
This year Danny and Kareem released ‘Life Goes On’ with Italian celebrity/TV presenter DJ Tommy Vee with Time Records featuring Kareem and Danny Losito of Double Dee fame, and already has over 260,000 hits on Youtube and reaching number 5 on the MTV European chart. Their latest collaboration is with maverick Producer Andy Tee on GrooveJet Records and ‘Spend Some Time’ has been in the top ten of the Soulful House Charts for two weeks already.
Kareem was recharging his batteries back home in Jamaica when Lego Douglas was in Kingston at his renowned studio so the two linked up and began an incredible journey. The planets must have been aligned because that day musicians such as Leroy ‘Horsemouth’ Wallace, Flabba Holt and Chinna Smith were all available. They made an old school recording with all the studio musicians playing in real time and cut an album there and then and the Ryddim Kings was formed. ‘So Much Love in the World’ was the first song released from the Ryddim Kings’ first album with the second song ‘Smile’ soon to be released.
Kareem has also collaborated with Derek Demondo of Twinkle Brothers fame, imposing the first tune ‘Live It Again’ on the British reggae scene in May, 2013, followed by ‘Wasting Time’. Both appearing on the Nu Lovers 2 Damsels and Crooners Volume 2 album. Kareem has also written and collaborated with the producer Neville Noyan to create ‘Dirty Dancing’ – an old school ‘rub off the wallpaper’ style song receiving strong reviews, and with Philip Gadd at Gadd59 Studios riding on a Marley rhythm, ‘No Pain, No Gain’ also receiving widespread acclaim.
RJR Radio DJ Mikey Notch has reviewed it:
“No Pain No Gain…. this track – the minute that drum licks you recognize exactly what the tune is, and if you are a music connoisseur, you will be shocked out of your skin to hear that sweet, sweet flavour of Kareem Shabazz’s voice filtering through. (“I thought it was Bob Marley!”) Now you have got the audience captured. The sheer pleasure of an old school riddim balances nicely with the new blood artist. The topic of this song is exactly what people want to hear about in music, and believe me, if it’s not love they wanna hear about, it’s certainly a song with a message, more so something they can relate to and given them a bonus – there is also a catchy melody!!!!
“WOW is all I can say, and personally we are half way through 2014 already, and its gonna take one serious song to topple this off my verdict…. this is my song of 2014….full marks…5 out of 5, 10 out of 10…whichever suits you best….”
The follow up tune ‘It’s Kinda Groovy’ is yet another show stopper and one that will get you grooving for sure!!
Kareem has proven he’s multi-dimensional, working with a succession of producers including Gary DigiTec Lewis with ‘Not My War’ released as a tribute to the late John Holt classic ‘Never Never’, as well as the highly acclaimed duet with Paulette Tajah “Let’s Do It Again”. Kareem has also been delighted to work on a number of other writing projects for Stingray Productions ‘Rise Up’ and ‘This Evening’ taken from Stingray Showcase Vol 8.
He was also honoured to be asked to be a judge for the first two seasons on the Reggae Star Factor, the first talent competition of its kind in the UK to provide a platform where aspiring reggae artists can showcase their talents. For season one Carroll Thompson, Clifton ‘Bigga’ Morrison, Sylvia Tella, and Andrew Clunis served with Kareem on the esteemed judging panel and for season two with Carol Thompson, Paulette Tajah, Judith Jacobs, Richie Davis, Mandingo and Bobo El Numero Uno as Master Of Ceremonies for two seasons and joined this year by DJ Elayne.
2014 has been a tremendous year for Kareem and has given him much success in two music genres. 2015 promises so much more and started off with a bang for the New Year performing a gig on New Year’s Eve for a night of ‘Caribbean Splendour’ performing with the UK’s finest Carroll Thompson, the comedian Felicity Ethnic, Aysha Loren, Tradition, Mike Anthony and Wayne Marshall.
Continuing to work in both house and reggae Kareem has a nomination for Best House Track in Italy 2015 with ‘Life Goes On’ and making a big splash both sides of the Pond with ‘Woman’ another of Danny and Kareem’s amazing collaborations with Micky More and Andy Tee Acapella. He is also currently finishing work on his reggae album Projects with Stingray Productions & Digi Tec Productions.
The ultimate accolade was writing a song which was Grammy nominated – Ming’s remix of ‘Falling Out’ a collaboration with Crossfire featuring Danny Losito.
This September will find Kareem performing in France supporting Junior Reed at the beautiful venue Chateau de Jallanges, Vouvray to a crowd of 9,000 reggae lovers. He will be heading straight home to play at Gary DigiTec Lewis’s Showcase featuring Paulette Tajah and Mike Anthony amongst others.
So Much Love in the World -http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jRt5_TXVmqo
Live It Again – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LrU9TeCwyKw
Life Goes On – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qbwBgxMFZoM
Check out more tracks from Kareem:
Smile can be heard on –https://soundcloud.com/terrabilal/smile-snippet
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Stop Press: Kareem Shabazz & The Ryddim Kings playing CATCH A FIRE, Upstairs At The Ritzy, Brixton SW2 1JG on Sunday May 7th. Free at the door. Broadcast live on soundfusionradio.net
Catch A Fire: your monthly reggae show on Sound Fusion Radio!