One of the biggest reggae acts in the world are back with their new album Mission In Progress. MC Mojo explains…
With an amazing legacy of nine successful albums worldwide, Morgan Heritage are true reggae royalty.
Dropping albums between 1994 and 2005, the quintet have spawned hits (sure to become classics) such as Don’t Haffi Dread, Down by the River, Your Best Friend and Tell Me How Come. Although the Morgan siblings hail from a musical family (their father is famed reggae artist Denroy Morgan), it was their own passion that led them to come together.
With the release of their tenth album this year, aptly named Mission In Progress, the band are re-asserting their position among reggae’s elite. ‘Mission In Progress means we are getting our message to the masses by any means necessary,’ says Mojo, MC cum-vocalist-cum-percussionist and a fifth of the band.
The remainder is made up of Una (vocalist/keyboardist), Peter (vocalist), Roy (keyboardist/vocalist) and Nakhamya (rhythm guitar). Combining their American and Jamaican roots with philosophies of Rastafarianism, the siblings bring to us a sound they have dubbed Rockaz. ‘Rockaz is reggae music that rocks,’ Mojo explains.
While the UK may be lagging behind on the Heritage schooling, the rest of Europe and indeed the world have already begun taking lessons. ‘Jamaica has the most impact on the spreading of the music, but when it comes to the fans and where our fanbase is, Europe has the most impact.
Next to that it would be the African continent – they really spread the message of our music.’ This makes Morgan Heritage one of the biggest reggae acts in the world.
But despite the frequency of love and support from fans, a lot less is received from radio stations. ‘Reggae artists tour more than any other genre of music, except for maybe rockers – they tour just as much. Yet reggae doesn’t get mainstream attention on radio and it limits the true capability of the music,’ says Mojo. This issue is explored in Raid Rootz Dance, the single from Mission in Progress.
Keeping the balance
For many multifaceted artists, maintaining the balance between good vibes music and music with
a message can be challenging.
Some never make the grade while others, like Morgan Heritage, excel at it. Capable of compassionately relaying the hardships in Jamaica rarely seen by tourists on the track Nothing to Smile About, they exude the same amount of energy on songs about love. ‘We just try to be who we are,’ says Mojo. ‘We grow, thus our music will grow with our views. I could give you a deeper answer but we stay true to who we are, that’s the truth.’
Acknowledging and embracing growth is why you will never hear Morgan Heritage limit themselves to only one sound. ‘Reggae is the foundation, but we have a little hip hop influence, rnb and rock – we grew up listening to Top 40 radio,’ explains Mojo. ‘Like a book, it’s hard to just say chapter three. We’re at chapter ten now, and chapter ten really makes you appreciate how significant and important the other nine were.’
Throughout their music, what is a constant is their dedication to Rastafarianism. MC Mojo explains. ‘We call our music ‘life music’ because of the inspiration and understanding we take from our spiritual background. We’re influenced by Haile Selassie and the great people spoken about in the Bible, like Solomon and David.’
By maintaining their success and staying grounded through their deep-rooted faith, these prophets of music are set to fulfil their current mission in progress.
Words by Rachelle Hull