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The Black Youth of Harar
Iba MaHr, the young sensation for authentic Jamaican reggae/ lover’s rock genre. Born January 21, he was given the name Mario Greaves at birth but has emerged with strong African culture, thus granted the name by friends, Iba MaHr, ‘Iba’ an African name, meaning Humble and Calm while ‘MaHr’ is really an acronym, meaning Mario of Harar, Harar which is a small province in Ethiopia.
As a toddler, Iba MaHr was nurtured by his grandparents, in the community of Cheesefield, every Sunday evening Iba MaHr would dance to his grandfather’s stereogram, playing hits from the 70’s, while singing to each song as if they were of his era. After being successful in his Common Entrance Exam to go on to Charlemont High School he moved to reside with his mother in Linstead, a small town in the parish of St. Catherine, that is most popular for the famous “Linstaed Market” and the song titled “Carry Mi Ackee Go A Linstead Market”. Being the only child for Ms. Roselin, Iba was the main priority, with morality and education as her advocacy, leaving very little things undone if any.
Even though Iba Mahr had the ability to write songs since going to high school, it was only while in University that his peers pushed him to perform his own words.
In 2008, Max ‘Romeo’ Smith of CHARMAX MUSIC released his first song, “HAD IT & LOST IT”, for a various artiste album titled, “DEVIL ON DI RUN”. Later, Phillip ‘Fatis’ Burrell of XTERMINATOR PRODUCTIONS released his second single, “WHERE YOU ARE”. The young sound has also worked with great producers and record labels such as, UIM Records, Marlon McCubbin, Bizzarri Records, Jermaine “Lenky” Edwards and more recent Roland “Rollie” McDermot of Born Rollin’s Production. He has scored a big hit with the single “WILL I WAIT’ on the Born Rollins Production Label. “WILL I WAIT” went number one on Richie B’s chart and Stampede Street Chart. The hit single also got recognition on V.P. Records Reggae Gold 2012, Also A next single ‘Sound A Alarm’ made V.P.’s Strickly The Best Volume 46”, In 2014 Stamp his mark with hit single Diamond Sox for Notis Records .
Iba Mahr has graced the stages of Reggae Sumfest, Rebel Salute, Sting, Western Consciousness, Air Jamaica’s Jazz and Blues Festival among others. The talented artiste has placed his stamp overseas, performing in the Island of Barbados 2012. Iba Mahr has completed a 2013 & 2014 Europeon Summer Tour where he performed in countries such as Germany and Belgium. He also completed a U.S.A.tour titled ‘Let Jah Lead The Way’ in November 2013.
“I take pleasure in doing love songs. Essentially, I am inspired to sing about real life occurrences, but in reality as artistes, we create melodies then connect words to them to craft stories that reflect other people’s lives. The energy, mood and my emotion at times may affect how a song might turn out. Feelings, be it sombre, joyful or sorrow, also play a part. People need redemption songs, especially in these times of division and world crisis. I can only say that Reggae music is a medium through which we connect and touch people in any situation, so I work to preserve its legacy”, said Iba MaHr.
The artiste was able to survive the many dangers and harm of his volatile community through advocating love, peace, righteousness and spiritual consciousness. As his name represents, he is quite humble, and does not let anything or anyone trouble his innate calm. With Rastafari as his inspiration, roots and culture is always what he promotes, along with social commentary and soulful-reggae love songs that speaks out to the hearts of people, those in love or out of love. Iba MaHr’s music ranges from reggae, lovers rock and soulful roots genre.
Give heed to the voice, message, and what reggae music has to offer in the future.
Be sure to catch Iba MaHr in 2016 as he gears up for a March/April and Summer tour in Europe!
By Maliika Walker
Iba MaHr is blazing a trail of his own within reggae music. He was given the name Mario Greaves at birth but bestowed the name Iba MaHr by friends due to his strong belief in African culture. He started his career in music as a song writer but eventually transitioned to performing his own material. He started appearing on riddims and releasing singles in 2008, eventually emerging as a top artist in his own right. Today Iba is considered on of the leaders of the reggae revival movement that has been making waves, along with such artists as Chronixx, Protoje, Kabaka Pyramid and Jah9.
Iba released his debut album, Diamond Sox, November 2015. The album is distributed by VP Records distribution arm, VPAL and is produced by Roland McDermot and Jermaine Edwards. Iba also worked with producers, Michael Howell, Oneness Records, Conquering Lion Sound and Conrad Scarlett on the album. The album includes 15 tracks and features legendary saxophonist Dean Fraser, Capleton, Tarrus Riley, Jah Mali, Notis and Jah9. Iba refers to this album as a good book, with interesting chapters to read. Diamond Sox is now available for download on all online outlets and stores.
This past New Year’s Eve saw Iba launch the first annual Sound Di Alarm Music Festival, which was held at Dinthill Technical High School in Linstead, St. Catherine, Jamaica. Iba performed alongside some of reggae’s top performers today. The event was hailed a success and featured performances by Iba Mahr, Chronixx, Kabaka Pyramid, Nesbeth, Jesse Royal, and Ikaya. Maliika Walker recently got a chance to speak with Iba about his new album, his life in the Cheesefield and Linstead communities, and his love for his mother. Here is there conversation.
IRIE. You recently released your debut album, Diamond Sox. What inspired the album title?
Iba MaHr: This album was long overdue ever since recording, Will I Wait In Vain. The album was almost completed but after the success of the Diamond Sox single, we connected with VP RECORDS & VPAL MUSIC to make this project available to the fans. Diamond Sox represents the timeline of my musical progress, my culture, and youthful upbringing being around my daddy and grandpa.
IRIE. Your birth name is Mario Greaves. Talk to us about the meaning of Iba MaHr.
Iba MaHr: I was born January 21st and given the name Mario Greaves at birth, but was submerged with strong African culture, thus granted the name (Iba MaHr) by friends. ‘Iba’ an African name, means humble and calm. ‘MaHr’ is really an acronym meaning Mario of Harar, Harar which is a province in Ethiopia.
IRIE. Cheesefield & Linstead. What would you like to tell your fans about the city you grew up?
Iba MaHr: As a toddler my grandparents nurtured me in the community of Cheesefield, and every Sunday evening I would dance to my grandfather’s stereogram. We played hits from the 70’s, while singing to each song as if they were of my era. After being successful in my Common Entrance Exams, I went on to attend The Charlemont High School. This was during a time when I moved in with my mother in Linstead, a small town in the parish of St. Catherine. Linstead is most popular for the famous “Linstead Market” and the song titled Carry Mi Ackee Go A Linstead Market. Being the only child for Mama Rosie at the time, I was the main priority, with morality and education as her advocacy, leaving very little things undone if any.
IRIE. You started performing while in college. Was there a particular person or event that encouraged to you to begin recording music?
Iba MaHr: Definitely, I established my talent through writing songs and it was while writing songs my friends encouraged me to start singing them. Of course I admired the older singers like Bob Marley, Peter Tosh, Bunny Wailer, Jacob Miller, Burning Spear, and Hugh Mundell just name a few. I was also hugely influenced by Sizzla, Capleton, Beres Hammond, Lutan Fyah, Anthony B, and Turbulence. Positive music and producers in general had great influences on my music.
In 2008, Max ‘Romeo’ Smith of Charmax Music released my first song, Had It & Lost It, for a various artiste album titled, Devil On Di Run. Later, Phillip ‘Fatis’ Burrell of Xterminator Productions released my second single, Where You Are. I also worked with great producers and record labels such as, UIM Records, Marlon McCubbin, Bizzarri Records, Jermaine “Lenky” Edwards and more recent Roland “Rollie” McDermot of Born Rollin’s Production. I was fortunate to score my first hit with the single Will I Wait on the Born Rollins Production Label. Will I Wait went number one on Richie B’s chart and Stampede Street Chart. The hit single also got recognition on VP Records Reggae Gold 2012. My next single, Sound a Alarm, made VP’s Strictly The Best Volume 46. In 2014 we stamped our mark in reggae music with the hit single Diamond Sox for Notis Records.
IRIE. Rastafari is?
Iba MaHr: My greatest inspiration, our levity, and life. It was through the inspiration of Haile Selassie, the teachings of Marcus Garvey and Rastafari we were able to minister to nations. We hold tight to these philosophies and opinions creating the pathway to our movement, our consciousness.
IRIE. Reggae has a global audience. What were your impressions performing your music outside of Jamaica?
Iba MaHr: I was excited yet humbled at the same time when I performed on the island of Barbados in 2012 alongside Anthony B for the first time outside of Jamaica. I completed a 2013 & 2014 European Summer Tour where I performed in countries such as Germany and Belgium. I also completed a US tour titled, Let Jah Lead The Way, in November 2013.
During this past summer I embarked on the Young Lions Tour with my brother Kabaka Pyramid and the Bebble Rockers Band. We played festivals and venues in California, Colorado, Texas, Louisiana, Florida, and all along the east coast ending with an amazing show at S.O.B.’s in New York City. I also performed for the first time in Canada at the 2015 Montreal International Reggae Festival this past August. Overall, the reception was tremendous and it was one of my greatest touring experiences. We were on the road for a month and we performed almost every single night. As two growing artistes our aim was to connect with our existing fans but also to introduce our music to a wider audience. We made history not only in the days or the month but also in the seconds and minutes of each moment so I hold tightly to the memories of sharing space with my brother Kabaka Pyramid & The Bebble Rockers Band.
IRIE. Jermaine Edwards and Roland McDermot produced Diamond Sox. What was the experience like working with them this time around?
Iba MaHr: It’s always a great vibe working together; separate and apart from the music we share we are also idrins in real life thus making it so easy for us to maintain progress. They are wonderful producers and they do a perfect job being my managers, a lot of love and respect to the whole Born Rollin family including Norman ‘Bulpus’ Bryan.
IRIE. “I mentally physically caught, Inna di world of slackness mi say a whole of dem get lost. Fi Rome dutty dollar dem go bow to the boss.” Glory to the King. Talk to us about the message you desire to get across.
Iba MaHr: This is a very straightforward song, highlighting man’s craving for monetary greed and slackness, further noting what we represent in the chorus; The Glory Of The King, Haile Selassie I.
IRIE. You worked with the Fiyah Man on the track Clean and Pure. How did you get Capleton interested in recording the track? Did you learn any key lessons from working with him?
Iba MaHr: Capleton is another great inspiration to what we do, and in many ways represent a lot of what we stand for, which makes it somewhat easier for us to collaborate on one track. Marvin of Voiceful Records, the producer of the riddim, called me up and told me about the riddim and half way into recording the song he explained that Capleton would put his verse on the song. We all then connected in flesh to put the final touches to the Death in the Arena Riddim. Key lesson is; make good music and be positive in your doing.
IRIE. I love your song Mama Rosie. There is nothing like a mother’s love. Did you get a chance to sing the song to her yet? What was her response when she heard you recorded a song inspired by her?
Iba MaHr: I sung this Mama Rosie song so many times to her, Lol! When she heard it the first time she was in awwww…. I still haven’t gotten a response verbally, but I know she liked it looking at the facial expressions; it was emotional for her.
When I reflect on life as a child, I realize the many sacrifices my mother, Mama Rosie, made to secure a livelihood for my two siblings and me. Undoubtedly, there is a real way to show mommy appreciation for her sacrifices but as an artiste I found it natural and important to express my gratitude through music.
I must give nuff respect to Notis Records on another fine music production. A mother’s love and sacrifice transcends race, culture, everything so I give thanks to the Tyson Mayhew (Video Director), for capturing this sentiment with his creative ideas for the Mama Rosie video. I also want to say thank you to all the beautiful ladies that played roles in the video, but it is the beautiful lady I was sitting alone with on the couch near the end of the video that is my mother, Mama Rosie.
IRIE. It was a joy to hear your voice and Dean Fraser’s saxophone on the same track. How did it feel for you to work with the legendary musician?
Iba MaHr: Dean Fraser is being featured on the track, ‘Having Fun’, one of the first singles taken from the ‘Diamond Sox’ album and the last track on the list. Dean is a very good friend and teacher for many of us artistes in industry. Working with The Cannon is always a tremendous experience, both musically and otherwise. In my heart, still a favorite for many years playing the saxophone.
IRIE. Tarrus Riley is featured on the remix of your single, Diamond Sox. I love the video for the track. You feel the fun you all had making the video. Why was Tarrus your choice for the remix to this great song?
Iba MaHr: Tarrus Riley is a very free spirited individual, and of course I’m also a fan of his works, but more over respecting the man’s musical progress. Been listening to Tarrus for years and now that we share the same track is even more joy for me. Diamond Sox was playing everywhere and I was also on this Diamond Sox tour in Europe when, producer Wayne ‘Unga’ Thompson of Notis Records, Skype me about a remix. He called a couple names and when he said Tarrus Riley, I was like…. say no more! That’s the man! Then everything went into motion from there, another hit single Diamond Sox Remix.
IRIE. Herb is decriminalized in Jamaica? Is this acceptable progress in Jamaica towards full legalization?
Iba MaHr: In Jamaica! Not sure! Confused daily so lets us see what’s the progress….
IRIE. Would you like to say anything else about your new album, Diamond Sox?
Iba MaHr: I think the Diamond Sox album displays the many moods of Iba Mahr and shows that I have so much to say! Each song brings variety to the album, allowing me to express my spirituality, roots, culture, history, love and intimacy.
With the success of Diamond Sox and the Young Lions tour I was able to reconnect with fans and even make new ones. Building on this momentum and with the quality of songs on the album, I feel the Diamond Sox album will replicate if not surpass the level of success I experienced with the song. Throughout my career I have consistently delivered great singles but with the Diamond Sox album we aim high targeting the hearts, minds and souls of those who consume this music.
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