If Jesse Royal comes across as a veteran of the reggae music industry, it’s because he’s been doing this a long time. His music has been critically praised and fans love his outspoken nature. “A God-fearing Rasta youth who a defend di truth, an a defend di youths,” is how he defines himself. He is part of the so-called ‘reggae revival,’ which also features Chronixx, Protoje and Kabaka Pyramid.
Get to know more about the royal one.
- His government name is Jesse David Leroi Grey. He is Jesse Royal because, as he explained in this Reggaeville interview: “So Jesse is God’s Gift and my middle name is David – so it is King David and Jesse. My third middle name is actually Leroi and if you know French Leroi means the King. The slave ship name was [Grey] but I and I don’t know who raped and looted my grandmother so my name is Jesse Royal. [Grey] – I think that is Scottish and I and I is not Scottish. I and I an African.”
- He has his roots in the rural farming community of Maroon Town in St James. The young Royal grew up singing in church, where his grandmother played the organ.
- Royal began his recording career at 15 years old. At the time, he was under the guidance of influential reggae producer, Phillip ‘Fattis’ Burrell, who died in 2011.
- He has yet to produce an official album, but has three critically acclaimed mixtapes to his credit: Misheni (Swahili for ‘mission’) released in 2012; In Comes the Small Axe (2013) and last year’s Royally Speaking, a collaboration with Walshy Fire of Major Lazer, which has been recognised by many in the reggae music industry as an inspirational masterpiece.
- He’s practically family with the Marleys. After his family relocated to Kingston in 1997 for his father’s job, he became friends with Daniel Bambata Marley (son of Ziggy). They would sing together, covering Melody Makers hits.
- You can add designer to his list of titles. Last year, Royal teamed up with street-wear brand Rockers NYC to produce a limited edition line of branded T-shirts and tank tops.