Yami Bolo—

IT has been 13 years since roots singer Yami Bolo appeared on Damian ‘Junior Gong’ Marley’s Halfway Tree album. It seemed he was set for mainstream acceptance in the United States.

He collaborated on two songs with Marley, Still Searchin’ and She Needs my Love. Halfway Tree, considered by many music pundits as the best reggae album of 2001, won a Grammy the next year and made ‘Gong’ a star.


Interestingly, not much has been heard of Yami Bolo since. He is presently in Jamaica recording songs for various producers and preparing to release a new album, Yami Bolo The Singer.

“Wi still si wiself as Yami Bolo, the international minister of national security for the poor and the have nots. There was a likkle break but wi busy working on three projects,” he said.

‘The Singer’ is co-produced by Bolo and Noel Alphonso, son of famed Skatalites saxophonist Roland Alphonso. To date, it has yielded two singles: Cease Fire and a cover of the Sam Smith hit, Stay.

Bolo is also working on songs with neo-roots acts like Addis Pablo whose father Augustus Pablo was his mentor. He gave a thumbs-up to the current roots-reggae revival.

“All a the youths dem move mi. Is a new era, something wonderful is happening an’ wi want to be part of it,” he said.

From Greenwich Farm in Kingston, Yami Bolo (Rolando McLean) is familiar with change. His career started in the mid-1980s with the advent of digital beats in dancehall music.

Yami Bolo

Yami Bolo

He scored his first hit song as a teenager with When a Man in Love.

Working with dub visionary Augustus Pablo, he recorded a number of hard-hitting roots songs that earned him a following in Europe. Songs such as Put Down Your Weapons and Love my Woman kept him relevant with hardcore dancehall fans.

However, his biggest commercial success came in Japan. Love is Dangerous, Bolo’s 1994 album with Japanese singer Miya, sold over 500,000 units in that country.


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