Band Member, Peetah Morgan discusses the inspiration behind the new album as well as the legacy they hope to leave behind in music, and what did he have to say about the competition between dancehall and afrobeats?
From Jamaica to Africa, Morgan Heritage
Grammy Award-winning Group Morgan Heritage has been released their newest album 'The Homeland' on April 21st. The 21-track project has been years in the making and is packed with sounds that perfectly bring together Africa and Jamaica. Speaking with Kaboom Magazine, group member Peter ‘Peetah’ Morgan discusses the inspiration behind this release as well as the legacy they hope to leave behind in music.
The group began working on the project circa 2018 after spending time in the 'Motherland' and picking up on how people from the African continent are just extensions of those in Jamaica.
"Since we went to do our show in 2015 in Kenya, we started to spend a lot of time there. We then did a song with an artiste from Tanzania named Diamond Platnumzand that song did very well. Then we started to spend a lot more time in Africa- Ghana and Kenya to be precise," he said.
"Then eventually we did a song called Jamaica which features Diamond Platnumz and Stone Bwoy. Then we started linking with a producer from Zimbabwe named Jusa and they started working on music back and forth until he said Petaah, I have some tracks and I think you should try some of them. This was before the pandemic," Peetah furthered on the inception of the project.
Throughout their time traveling and exploring the continent he expressed that it felt just like home and it became evident to them that the places are more connected than one could fathom without spending time there. It is exactly this line of reasoning that influenced the making of The Homeland.
"It has been a long time in the making and when we totally decided we wanted to do an album that paid tribute to our homeland of Africa and our ancestors from our homeland of Jamaica. So, when we say 'homeland' we are talking about Jamaica and Africa because our parents are from Jamaica and after you go back couple generations, you end up back in Africa to our ancestors," he explained.
"Every time we got a new vocal it was just another piece of the puzzle being added to the project", Peetah Morgan (Rickayal Mcneil)
Over the years, the group has released a number of projects but according to Peetah there has hardly even been other acts outside of the group on their projects. But now, having just about one song that is featureless, this album is extra special.
"The highlight was either when we would go to the studio and work with a featured artiste or when the featured artiste would send through their vocals to us. Every time we got a new vocal it was just another piece of the puzzle being added and another part being completed it was exciting like even being in Jamaica recently and linking up with Papi (Popcaan) and we spent a few days with him and got the vocals. It was just exciting and it was new for us because most times when Morgan Heritage a do an album it’s just us. We don’t really do a lot of features. But this album probably on has one song on it that is solely Morgan Heritage and that track is 'Just a Number'," he revealed to Kaboom Magazine.
The album also has a number of Jamaican and African artistes featured and the group also worked with producers across the continent. Nevertheless, not ignoring the recent debates about the rise of Afrobeats and the comparison between it and Jamaican genres, Peetah explained that being able to showcase the beauty of both coming together is one of the albums greatest elements.
"We hear the chatter and see the article and the posts on the internet and this constant conversation about Afro beats relacing Dancehall on the Global scene and it is nothing like that. We know that Jamaican music- African music if it is not American black music then it is outside of the mainstream scope. So to us, there is no competition, and a lot of the African artistes who you are seeing today they are influenced a lot by Jamaican artistes, especially our dancehall artistes. For a long time, Jamaican Reggae music gave Africans hope back home," he reasoned.
The group originally began with five members including, Una Morgan, Roy "Gramps" Morgan, Nakhamyah "Lukes" Morgan, and Memmalatel "Mr. Mojo" Morgan but now comprises of brothers Gramps, Mr, Mojo and Peetah. Over the years they have given hits such as "Still Loving Me", "Down By The River", and "Nothing To Smile About". As they aim to constantly improve the delivery of their music, Peetah says the aim is to be remembered even when they are gone.
"The body of work, the catalog - you want to be remembered as some of the best music that ever was created throughout the years and you want to be on the names that will be mentioned another 20 years from now and have the music inspire generations to come," he said.
"There is no competition, and a lot of the African artistes who you are seeing today they are influenced a lot by Jamaican artistes, especially our dancehall artistes. For a long time, Jamaican Reggae music gave Africans hope back home"
This is the first project being released since the passing of their father, Denroy Morgan.