There is a tale of Alberto D’Ascola, born and raised in the home of Mafia in Sicily in Italy. At 23 he left Italy for a journey to the home of reggae music in Jamaica his flirting with the genre back when he was just 15 having spurred him to trek to the Caribbean.
At that age back in Italy and named Stena, D’Ascola who has now adopted stage name Alborosie, which was never given to him in good faith in his early days in Jamaica, started his musical career in an Italian reggae band called Reggae National Tickets, from Bergamo city in that European country.
Kingston, Jamaica is a place where plenty talented native Jamaicans have failed to break through with their music career. It is therefore unimaginable that a white Italian man would survive in such a black dominated space, pursuing a music genre that promotes the black race in the face of white domination.
What is more, from a country that Pope, who makes huge folder for Jamaican reggae music, comes from.
However Alborosie as a multi-instrumentalist – being one who is adept in guitar, bass, drums and keyboard – took the challenge head on. Here he did not only try solo music career – pursuing roots reggae – but also embraced Rastafari culture and learnt Jamaican Patois.
Knowing that it won’t be easy to land in Kingston gun blazing and as they say there ‘mash up the place’, Alborosie started life as a sound engineer and producer.
Funny enough he worked with another of his ilk, this one from Germany called Tilmann Otto, stage name Gentleman who has been travelling to and fro Jamaica since he was 18 years old. He also worked with one of BOB Marley’s sons Ky-Mani leading to his first solo album called Soul Pirate, subsequently followed in 2009 by a second one called Escape from Babylon.
Now with hit singles like ‘Rastafari Anthem’, ‘Kingston Town’, ‘Call Up Jah’, and ‘Rock the Dancehall’ Alborosie who has since started his own record label, Forward Recordings has gone against the odds to be counted. Now he is conquering the world with reggae concerts.
And to cap it all in 2011, he became the first white artist to win the M.O.B.O. (Music of Black Origin) Awards in the Best Reggae Act category.
When one listens to Alborosie’s reggae tunes from his nine albums, 54 singles and extended plays (EPs) you are left with admiration for the inborn reggae talent that he puts on display.
Just to show that he has indeed mustered the reggae art he can play roots reggae with the all revered one drop, go the rub-a-dub route, he can do massive dancehall tunes. As if that is not even enough, he has some productions done in old reggae beat at that time called ska which fits into the present state of things. In the album called Escape from Babylon to the Kingdom of Zion, Alborosie has a lead single titled Mama SheDon’t like You which is a humorous up-tempo ska track.
It is for this unique artist that I decided this week to dedicate this space as part of my reverence to a reggae performer who defied the odds and is now living beyond anybody’s expectation as an accomplished reggae emissary who is not fully honoured because of his origins and his skin colour.
Regardless of not accepting him, in full or otherwise, Alborosie has served the reggae genre well and he stands to even achieve great, regardless of the struggle within the reggae industry. He is unlike Gentleman for example, who tilts more towards commercial reggae while Alborosie has been a conscious root reggae man who – despite his Italian roots – has even sang against the Pope as most reggae artists of Rastafarian culture do.