PREMIERE: Unified Highway (Eric Rachmany and Amp Live) “Stand Proud”
An unlikely collaboration from two California veterans, mixing reggae and hip hop production.
File under: unlikely collabs that succeed despite all odds. You might know Amp Live mastermind producer, formerly half of Bay Area alt-rap legends Zion I. Or, if you’re like me, for his creative reworks of bands like Why? and Radiohead, which blew my mind as a Teen Finding Music On The Internet. Eric Rachmany, on the other hand, is an artist who’s never been explicitly involved in hip-hop, but certainly not too far removed from it. As the lead singer of prolific reggae group Rebelution, he’s brought the SoCal-style riddims across the globe. Now, the two Californians have connected under the moniker Unified Highway.
Today, we’re premiering “Stand Proud,” the lead single off their eponymous deubt project. The track combines Rachmany’s soulful vocals with Amp Live’s unique unification of reggae basslines and dance-ready drum loops. Rebelution was notorious for being especially politically motivated on issues such as gun control and religion, and Rachmany brings this conscious viewpoint to “Stand Proud” as well, with the help of New Kingston’s Tahir Panton and dancehall singer Keznamdi. The lyrics go into the reality of being poor in America, hitting especially hard on the prison-industrial complex:
“Incarceration, all from a system
They should, they should know why we’re mad at them
How many more? Will they lock up the poor?
More money for investors to store, no more”
“As far as the subject matter goes, there’s a lot of injustice in the world,” says Rachmany. “Social media is so readily accessible that you can see injustice every day that much easier. I wanted to point out the corruption of the prison system in the U.S. It’s something you hear a lot about, but there’s no better way to educate than through music.”
Be on the lookout for the Unified Highway album, out March 4, 2016.