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Protoje in town

By Samuel Getachew

Oje Ken Ollivierre, the Jamaican reggae star widely known as Protoje is set to rock Addis on July 29th at Laphto Mall. The son of Caribbean artists, his mother was a one-hit wonder of the “Breakfast in Bed” song from four decades ago and his father was a calypso artist with some success within the Caribbean region. The young artist has been gaining an international audience in the last decade with unique sounds and daring songs.

His concert in Ethiopia is to follow an expected sold out performance in Barcelona, Spain followed by concerts in Belgium, France and Germany. In the midst of a well-attended tour, his Ethiopian stop is to be his first, a month after his contemporary reggae artist; Damian Marley wowed a sold-out audience of thousands of fans at Ghion Hotel.

The young artist came to prominence after releasing his halfhearted mixtapes – Lyrical Overdose Volume 1 – and performing in small smoke filled venues. The album featured mostly hip hop-influenced songs. With a guest appearance by Busy Signal, however, his future career was leveled as reggae and dancehall artist.It had a lukewarm reception at best. It would be yet another five years, before he attempted to revive his career, this time with a full-length album – his first ever.

In 2010, Protoje began working with Don Corleon Records, run by his cousin and popular Jamaican producer Don Corleon. After releasing "Dread", "JA" and "Roll" in 2010, Protoje's debut album, entitled The Seven Year Itch, was released on 25 January 2011. The first single off the album, dubbed "Arguments" (2009), was responsible for his early popularity in Jamaica. In 2011, he released another single off the album entitled "Rasta Love" featuring Ky-Mani Marley.

This gave him, small belated success and encouraged him to release yet another full album in just two years - The 8 Year Affair. This was a milestone album as it gave him some overdue recognition outside of Jamaica.

"Who Dem a Program" was the first single released from the album in January 2012, with "This Is Not a Marijuana Song" following mid-year. "Kingston Be Wise" was heavily promoted via traditional and social media.

The remake song of Ini Kamoze – Kingston Be Wise was YouTube hit. In 2015, he released yet another full album – Ancient Future. It had catchy and smart songs such as “Who Knows”. It was a hit. This would top Billboards Top Reggae Albums chart.

Like the late Lucky Dube of South Africa and Bob Marley of Jamaica, he is known to tweak the conscious of power and institutions to be the voice of better ideals. In particular, his song Blood Money has been used as a protest song against the government of Jamaica to advocate for the poor and the victimized.

His newest single is 'Who Knows' featuring Chronixx. The organizers have yet to announce the price of tickets and when they might be available for sale.