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Dancehall Maestro Spragga Benz Bounces Back After 10 Years




Jamaican dancehall deejay Carlton Errington Grant, 51, better known as Spragga Benz is set to release his latest album this week, local Jamaican newspapers reported over the weekend.

Titled the Journey Chosen, the album is expected to re-launch the veteran artist.

It has been exactly one year since the Franklin Town-born megastar set an almost stratospherically high bar for veteran artistes looking for an entrance into the fast-paced decade of dancehall music, with the Chiliagon which debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard Reggae Album charts.

The internationally renowned dancehall artiste waited 10 years to release that compilation, but says he’s, “not wasting any time, not on the next one either,”. Understandably it only took so long because some of that time was for personal healing.

“Time waits on no man; so, I’m putting in the work for another project as we speak. My generation of musicians, as well as the fans, we nah really get so much of that. The ‘90s gone from the ‘90s, but we can recapture aspects of the atmosphere, be it through the writing, the topics, delivery and style, tempo of the beats, and still maintain /ill that gap for my era,” Spragga Benz said on Sunday.

The dancehall artiste emerges with one of his most powerful albums yet, an endless expression of gratitude and complex meditation on the goings-on of the world. Spragga Benz, born Carlton Errington Grant, also opened up about coping with loss, not only the loss of his son Carlton ‘Carlyle’ Grant Jr who suffered an untimely death in 2008, but also losing touch with the world.

He isn’t trapped in sorrow or consumed by it. As a father of 10 children, he has discovered solace after despair, he shared, “Family is the essence of the production, from working with Lamar [Reynolds] who we were connected to through my son, not in no big studio, most of the work was at his home. So from there it had a whole family feel to it. They are influential in the lyrics in some way, shape or form.”

Lamar Reynolds, producer and owner of LMR Pro, expressed wanting to put out a tribute rhythm for his friend. It took them approximately one year and six months to complete the memorial track titled Never Leave, but other ideas were born which matured into the 11-track album fusing talents of the likes of Ky-Mani Marley and Wayne Wonder, longtime friends of Spragga Benz.

Minus the tear-jerking Never Leave, which intros with the sounds of Carlyle speaking and laughing and also features popular musician and producer Salaam Remi playing bass guitar, the album has a song, a style and emotions that represent for a wide scope of music lovers, but to its core targets the foundation reggae and dancehall fans.

“The process of creating this album was natural. While working on Never Leave, I got to hear other rhythms. So it was like, let me hear this and that, until we start create ideas together which turn into nine tracks from him and two tracks from Red Square Productions. The increase in tempo of the music nowadays, like life, is natural. People want to move with the new age but I nah leave out the roots, I am trying to introduce them to consistency,” he said.

“LMR Pro understood that and I am proud of him, the work he is doing as a young producer and his approach to the business.”

Speaking of the current state of the entertainment business, which for the most part is dependent on the virtual marketplace, Spragga Benz had this to say. “We just trying to adjust to the new changes, be more independent. Still there are restrictions but we must start look into what an artiste doing for themselves without a big label behind them. It weighs totally on the digital platform.”

Virtual Connection 

Spragga Benz’s exploration of the film industry, first with his 1999 debut in Brooklyn Babylon, where he played himself ,then again in the 2002-Jamerican crime movie Shottas, connected him to a whole other side of entertainment and propelled his career. He said, “I learned that acting is an extended music video which you do it one time this way, then do it again from another angle and then another angle.” He hasn’t played any roles recently, but says he’s received scripts and is just waiting on one to strike that feeling to make him want to be part of the production.

As for the music, he admitted it to being more challenging to connect with the audience from a virtual space.

“We just can’t connect [with the people], they’re not there. While I can stand on my own foot, with a live audience it’s much better because of the energy we feed off each other. Some songs don’t come across with the right emotion on a TV or phone screen. Me and the band was just having this conversation. So who knows? We might do a live stream, invite all the artistes and perform the album.”

Hinting a possible Grammy submission, Spragga Benz said, “Why not? I want the people them to know I am thankful for their continuing support and I am consistently trying to satisfy them. It all comes down to the committee … it’s out in the atmosphere.”

The Gleaner

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US Honours Victims of ‘September 11’ Terror Attacks



Memorial events are being held this saturday across the United States in honour of victims of the September 11 terror attacks on its territory 20 years ago.

According to White House, President Joe Biden and first lady Jill Biden plan to visit all three sites where the attacks unfolded: The World Trade Center in New York City, the Pentagon outside Washington, D.C., and the field near Shanksville, Pennsylvania, where United Airlines Flight 93 crashed.

Vice President Kamala Harris will travel to Shanksville with second gentleman Doug Emhoff before they join the Bidens at the Pentagon.

The 20th anniversary comes amid the backdrop of the United States’ chaotic withdrawal from its war in Afghanistan, which was started in response to the attacks.

Biden last week also directed the declassification of certain documents related to the attacks, which the families of some victims have sought in hopes of implicating the Saudi government.

Nearly 3,000 people were killed in the attacks when 19 al-Qaida attackers hijacked four commercial airplanes in a plot orchestrated by Osama bin Laden.

Two planes, American Airlines Flight 11 and United Airlines Flight 175, crashed into the north and south towers of the World Trade Center before American Airlines Flight 77 crashed into the Pentagon.

The passengers of United Airlines Flight 93 fought back against the hijackers before the plane crashed into the filed, missing its intended target in Washington.

The anniversary marks a transitional moment as awareness of the attacks moves from memory to history, said Alice Greenwald, president and CEO of the National September 11 Memorial and Museum.

“The 20th anniversary, in my view, … is the first of the next generation of remembrances,” said Dan Murphy, who is on the team designing the planned visitor education center at the Pentagon’s 9/11 memorial site.

“There’s been 19 times we’ve read the names, we’ve talked about that moment, we’ve somberly looked back. That will never, ever go away. But … on the 20th anniversary, I think this is the first time we talk about 9/11 into the future.”

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Trump Acquitted For Second Time Following Historic Senate Impeachment trial




The USA Senate acquitted former President Donald Trump in his second impeachment trial Saturday, voting that Trump was not guilty of inciting the deadly January 6 riot at the US Capitol — but the verdict amounted to a bipartisan rebuke of the former President with seven Republicans finding him guilty.The final vote was 57 guilty to 43 not guilty, short of the 67 guilty votes needed to convict.

Held exactly one month after the House impeached Trump, the number of Republican senators who voted against Trump ended up higher than even what Trump’s legal team had anticipated, marking a stark departure from the first impeachment trial last year when only one Republican senator, Mitt Romney of Utah, found Trump guilty.

This time, Republicans Sens. Richard Burr of North Carolina, Bill Cassidy of Louisiana, Susan Collins of Maine, Lisa Murkowksi of Alaska, Ben Sasse of Nebraska, Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania and Romney voted to convict Trump.

Perhaps the biggest surprise was Burr, the former Senate Intelligence Committee chairman who led the Senate’s Russia investigation, after he voted earlier in the week that the trial was unconstitutional.

Both Burr and Toomey are retiring from the Senate at the end of 2022.

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Obama Presidential Center Groundbreaking For August



On Wednesday, the US federal review process concluded and effectively paving the way for Obama Presidential Center that had stalled for four years.

“Today, after a comprehensive federal regulatory review process, I’m proud to announce the Obama Presidential Center will break ground in 2021,” Former US President Barak Obama said on Wednesday.

“Michelle and I couldn’t be more excited to bring this new center of energy, connection, and growth to the South Side of Chicago. Along with the thousands of jobs it will create, our hope is that the Obama Presidential Center can serve as a catalyst for long-overdue investment in and around historic Jackson Park. That’s why we’re working with local partners to create a new destination to help inspire visitors from hope to action, breathe new life into the park, and deliver real benefits to the community we love,” Obama added.

He explained that getting to this point would not have been possible without the many Chicagoans who have been a part of this process. “So I want to thank each and every person out there who helped us reach this milestone—and for their continued partnership in the years to come.”

Federal agencies closed the final review into the project after determining the Obama center’s construction and nearby roadway fixes would not pose a “significant impact” on the environment, according to city and Obama Foundation officials.

With other federal reviews looking into factors such as the project’s effects on historic properties also recently ending, that means preliminary work can start in April and groundbreaking can likely begin as early as August. The Obama Foundation estimates construction will take about four years.

In 2016, Obama announced that Jackson Park, sandwiched between Lake Michigan and Woodlawn, would be the destination of his future presidential center, at the time scheduled to open in 2021.

His choice was heralded by supporters who hoped the project would help revitalize neighboring communities and become a source of pride for South Side locals and visitors alike.

The groundbreaking of the $500 million campus will include a museum, Obama Foundation offices, a public library branch, an athletic center and an outdoor recreation space.

Its opening initially had been set for this year, but four years of obstacles have stood in the project’s way, at times leaving supporters with dashed hopes as groundbreaking repeatedly was delayed.

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