Hip-hop culture is directly based in Jamaican DJ culture and Los Angeles' THE LIONS formed with both the roots and the branches in mind. The guys have done their homework too...collectively THE LIONS have backed up or sung with Dennis Alcapone, De La Soul, The Ethiopians, Big Daddy Kane, Alton Ellis, The Heptones, Brand Nubian, Hollie Cook, Barrington Levy, Macy Gray, Hepcat, The Maytones, The Pharcyde, Wailing Souls, Stranger Cole, Ziggy Marley and more. Again, roots and branches, digging deep.
Jamaican musicians and sound system DJ's were inspired and influenced by American Soul music and then years later early hip-hop pioneers like Kool Herc and Bambaataa couldn't have done what they did without the JA model. These days most all the music coming from Jamaica is grounded in hip-hop. Back and forth, forth and back. When the people are dancing and the the groove is tight though, call it what you want, it's really all just soul music.
Since their inception in 2007 THE LIONS have pulled funky ideas from Jamaica, North and South America and Africa and Brazil to create their unique sound all the while thinking like hip-hop producers sampling records for a track. Bits from here, bits from there but all sewn together under strict quality control. The hooks are strong, the instruments are real and the singers can actually sing.
THE LIONS are not a retro act though, don't get that twisted. THE LIONS are part of a long, proud lineage of musicians exploring their roots and then branching out to create their own sound.
"With this new LP, The Lions really all came into the studio with something to prove and collectively blended our soul and reggae influences seamlessly while remaining truly original. The rhythm section was on fire, every horn line and solo sticks in your head and Alex, Malik, Deston and Shakespeare all put every ounce of blood, sweat and tears (pun intended) they had into all their vocal performances, ping-ponging back and forth the way Sly & The Family Stone or The Temptations used to. Plus we also lucked out and got Myron Glasper (Myron & E) on one track and it's just beautiful, part Motown, part Treasure Isle." - Dan Ubick (producer/guitarist)
The Lions' "This Generation" album gets the dub treatment by Dub Club. 8 heavy tracks dubbed straight to tape by Tom Chasteen. Describing the process, Chasteen says, "The mixing was done rapid fire, bringing up each track on the mixing board, dialing in the sounds and then dubbing it live in real time while it's fresh. This record is not 'remixed' in the modern sense, but 'dubbed' in the classic Jamaican manner: adding some percussion and vocals, but basically leaving the tracks as they are and deconstructing them with echo and reverb."
"All the guys in The Lions grew up on classic Jamaican records so since we began we have wanted to give our records that same edge and roughness that we grew up hearing on LPs by The Upsetters, Soul Syndicate, The Rockers Band and Roots Radics. The rhythm section was all recorded to tape, the Hammond buzzed a little, fuses blew and good mistakes were left in. We basically made the dusty reggae soul LP WE have been wanting to hear for years." - Dan Ubick (producer)
The Lions is a unique Jamaican-inspired outfit, the result of an impromptu recording session by members of Breakestra, Connie Price and the Keystones, Rhythm Roots All-Stars, Orgone, Sound Directions, Plant Life, Poetics and Macy Gray (to name a few). Gathering at Orgone's Killion Studios, in Los Angeles during the Fall of 2006, they created grooves that went beyond the Reggae spectrum by combining new and traditional rhythms, and dub mixing mastery with the global sounds of Ethiopia, Colombia and Africa. The Lions also added a healthy dose of American-style soul, jazz, and funk to create an album that's both a nod to the funky exploits of reggae acts like Byron Lee and the Dragonaires and Boris Gardner, and a mash of contemporary sound stylings.
Blowing in like a cool breeze on a sultry Caribbean evening, LA reggae veterans the Lions drop by Names You Can Trust with a perfectly timed sentimental summer blast. Lovingly taken for another dance by the west coast crew, the Derrick Harriott 1967 rock steady classic "The Loser" is canon, a masterpiece of Jamaican sweet soul instantly identifiable from its first chiming piano notes. In a nod to the "disco mix" DJ versions pioneered by Harriott, the Lions mic man Black Shakespeare provides a period-perfect chat backdrop to the Impressions-istic harmonies of the band, giving the tune an au courant spin while staying wide of heavy-handed faux ragga. All said, we wouldn't have felt right about releasing this without running things by the family, so we consulted Duane Harriott who approvingly called it "a brilliant take on one of the best rock steady songs of all time! Not an easy one to cover well and the Lions smash it out the park."
Nance Arte Productions