Roots-reggae warrior Micah Shemaiah teaches old school the new way

A roots-reggae warrior with deep admiration for the genre’s elders, Micah Shemaiah makes no secret of his old school approach to recording and marketing his music. That’s what he did this year with Jamaica, Jamaica, his sixth album.

The self-produced set, driven by the title song, was released in March by his We Generation Music label, and the Geneva, Switzerland-based Evidence Music. He stepped up promotion for it during the summer by touring Europe; in November, Shemaiah made his maiden tour of Japan.

The European tour, from July 27 to September 9, included the Roots Revival Reggae Festival in Montenegro, Reggae Geel (Belgium), Boomtown and Hootananny in the United Kingdom, Rototom Sunsplash in Spain, Rastaplas In The City (The Netherlands), Him Dub Festival in Portugal and Basement Sessions in Frankfurt, Germany.

Two months later, Shemaiah headed for Japan where he did eight shows in 12 days. He performed in cities including Tokyo, Shibuya, Osaka, Saitama, Okayama and Miyazaki.

Micah Shemaiah at Rastaplas Festival
Micah Shemaiah at Rastaplas Festival The Netherlands

Like many of his heroes such as Bob Marley and Burning Spear, Shemaiah believes reaching out to fans through live shows, is critical.
“The shows as always are a big part of how my music gets around the world and the sales of it. Especially when it comes to vinyl, I have a very sound base of people internationally that buy my music on wax. And in recent times,  I have seen my music now streaming in the millions, so me and my team give thanks for all the strength of the people,” he said.

Pioneer roots-reggae acts, led by Marley, Spear, Peter Tosh and Culture, made their names by constantly touring Europe, long before that region had a festival circuit. The Japanese market emerged during the 1980s, and although it is no longer as vibrant, retains a strong following for Jamaican culture.
“It was my first time in Japan, and it was a blessing, all the shows were great and the people really came out,” Shemaiah reported, adding that both tours “were basically above expectations.”

Jamaica, Jamaica is dominated by hard-hitting message songs. The title track and Why You Killing dem So, bemoan rampant violence throughout Jamaica.

Micah Shemaiah plans to tour again in early 2024, this time in an area he is keen to make inroads.
For the first quarter, we are working on some shows to come in the US and all the processes that need to be met. I am also working on a couple albums,” he said.

By Howard Campbell for