July 16, 2015

Photos by Justin Pallack

After a month on the road traveling across the USA, Jamaica’s Kabaka Pyramid and Iba Mahr wrapped up their Young Lions tour in fine style with a packed performance at New York City’s SOBs Sunday night.

The show, presented by LargeUp in association with Destine Media, Aurora Innovations, Roots Organics, Bebble Rock Music and Born Rollin Music, represented the New York City debut of both artists. Though each had made cameo appearances in New York before, this was their first full performance, and the consensus among attendees was that these two rising forces in reggae truly delivered on the hype and anticipation that preceded their arrival.

The Bebble Rockers bandโ€”consisting of Shane Greensword (keys), Christophe Smith (drums), Craig Higgins (bass), Shackair McQueen (guitar), Richard Nelson (guitar), Robert Malcolm (percussion) and Jodian Blake (background vocals)โ€”backed both artists, performing with the tightness of a unit that has played two sets a night for the last month. Following a warm up set of roots and culture from DJ Max Glazer, the band took the stage to perform on its own for a few minutes, including a cover of “Trenchtown Rock.” The stage set, Iba Mahr brought an instant jolt of energy with his arrival, running through tunes like “Great is H.I.M.” Iba’s big hit “Diamond Sox” brought an opportunity to stretch out, as the band interpolated the Showtime riddim, and Iba led the audience in a singalong of Pliers/Toots’ “What a Bam Bam.”

Following an hour-long performance from Iba, it was Kabaka Pyramid’s turn to take the stage. In addition to original tracks like “I’m a Rebel,’ “Worldwide Love” and “Warrior,” Kabaka paid tribute to his influences, namely Sizzla (“Get To The Point,” among others) Bob Marley (“Get Up Stand Up”) and Ini Kamoze (“World A Reggae”), as well as classic New York hip-hop. “I had to do it cause I’m in New York,” he said, after dropping a sequence of hip-hop verses in an American accent during his performance of “Warrior.”

Iba Mahr then joined Kabaka for the latter part of the show, as the two bounced lyrics and songs off one another, proving that a little chemistry and some conscious lyrics goes a long way. Offstage, the artists connected with fans as well as visual artist Mista Martin, who presented each with custom paintings of themselves.

With the tour now over, both acts head back to Jamaica, where Iba MaHr is prepping the release of his debut album, and Kabaka is set to perform tomorrow night at Reggae Sumfest, and launch several new singles as well as the video for his hit “Well Done.”

We spent some time behind the scenes with Kabaka, Iba and the crew before the show, looking at NYC through their eyes. Scrolll through Justin Pallack’s pics for a look inside the Young Lions’ visit to NYC.