Elite Features

  • June 25, 2022
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Dre Island

The most refreshing voices in reggae right now

ith Dre’s gravelly vocals and calm demeanor, he evokes a mystery and edge that gravitates reggae and dancehall fans alike. Complex calls him “one of the most refreshing voices in reggae right now.” Born Andre Johnson on May 2, 1988, Dre Island hails from the Red Hills Road section of Kingston, a part of town where gunshots and crime are in abundance. At the age of three, his father asked him what he wanted to do when he grew up, his answer was one word “piano!” To avoid Dre turning to the streets, his grandmother nurtured his interest in music. She brought Dre to church to sing in the choir and take piano lessons. Once introduced to the studio, young Dre observed keenly the ins and outs of every facet of the recording process, while developing a talent for production using his classical piano training.

Dre’s superb musicianship and revolutionary vocals have been shaking sound system speakers for several years now. Dre has become associated with the “reggae revival,” a term used to describe a new wave of conscious, spiritually awakened artistes evoking the golden era when foundation reggae artists sang of oppression. Despite heavily embracing the spirit of reggae and Rastafari, Dre tries to remain genre-agnostic. Dre turned heads outside of the reggae sphere in 2016, when he teamed up with UK sensation Jorja Smith on the Cadenza-produced track “People”, which was voted Hottest Record  in the World by BBC’s Radio 1 host Annie Mac and more recently in 2020 with Wylcef Jean on “Justice,” a rallying cry and ode to Ahmaud Arbery. In 2020, Dre Island solidified his role as one of the top artists in Jamaica with the release of his debut album “Now I Rise” in a partnership with DubShot Records.

The album was received with critical and fan praise alike, with hits like “We Pray” feat Popcaan receiving over 42 million YouTube views. Dre’s follow-up album “High Times” will take him to heights in 2022.

The multi-talented Jamaican artiste Dre Island sets course to elevate mind, body, and soul on his upcoming sophomore album “High Times”. Dre’s album drops on June 3, 2022, via DubShot Records. Following his 2020 debut Now I Rise, the eight-track LP is a steady burn through life’s most precious moments. Today the singer, songwriter, and producer unleash the album’s new carefree bop “All Night” feat. Carlio. In its accompanying video directed by 300k, Dre and Carlio reach euphoric heights with their love interests as they gallivant through a magical forest ride. Dre Island continues to enhance his high, whether it is through love or cannabis, in this nuanced song collection.

The album’s title track featuring dancehall prodigy Skillibeng is a straightforward celebration of simple pleasures—papers and good kush—paired with the sounds of swirling key chords and a thick trap bassline produced by Jafrass. As the album progresses, Dre Island shifts to the upbeat tempo of contemporary tropical dance music on “High With You,” a classic tongue-in-cheek weed anthem alluding that the plant is a close friend. A video for “High With You” is set to be released with the album. “Take Me High” is a slower, more contemplative ode to ganja that reworks Louis Armstrong’s lyrics about “trees of green” into a more smokeable type.

Roots reggae legend Richie Spice links up with Dre Island on “High-Grade Smoke,” produced by Jamie Roberts. “With a vision so clear, meditation pure, so don’t partake if you’re not really sure,” flows Dre Island as he extols the virtues of the herb, capping it off with a warning label for responsible use only. Other producers on High Times include Kushface, Green Lion Crew, Che Big 12, Zimi, TJ Records, and Tac Dem.

Watch “All Night” video: https://youtu.be/cCmEBQzpbSk

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