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King Genius

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Christopher Ellis bares soul

Written by on November 26, 2019

Lovers’ rock was at its most popular during the early 1980s, an era that saw the emergence of British singers like Maxi Priest, Vivian Jones and Peter Hunnigale. The sound they helped make famous is no longer a force, but don’t tell that to Christopher Ellis.

The rocksteady beat that inspired lovers’ rock can be heard on Only Want You Naked, Ellis’s latest effort that is being released today by Ghetto Youth International. The song is produced by Matthieu Bost.

Ellis, who is in his late 30s, was born in London. He was a child when lovers’ rock began making an impact in Jamaica through artistes such as Priest, but the sound still resonates with him.

“The lovers’ rock scene is very much alive in the UK although I feel like it’s in danger of being left behind. I feel like I might be an ambassador for this sound,” he joked in an interview with the Jamaica Observer. “I think it’s the sound I gravitate to most.”

Damian “Junior Gong” Marley, one of Ghetto Youth International’s principals, sent the uptempo track to Ellis. It is similar to other projects he has worked on with the Marleys, including the singles Better Than Love, You Baby and Here We Are.

Better Than Love and You Baby are from Ellis’s 2017 EP, Better Than Love, which hears him pitching like Alton Ellis, an early exponent of lovers’ rock. That should come as no surprise; Alton Ellis, who died in 2008, is his father.

His old man, arguably reggae’s most influential vocalist, remains his biggest inspiration.

“My father taught me so much, just like anyone who had a great upbringing. The normal things we should all teach our children; manners, obedience, etc,” he said. “What was added for me was music!”

Ellis has been recording since he was 11 years old, but said he never took music seriously until his father’s death. Several of his early works were fresh takes on Alton’s songs, but in recent years, he has written to beats provided by Marley with whom he has toured.

“Gong always says that when he sends me a rhythm that is like this, I always find something quick as opposed to when he sends me a different-sounding rhythm, but I love all sounds at the end of the day,” he said.

Only Want You Naked is one of the songs from an album by Christopher Ellis, expected to be released in 2020.


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