Watch+ Listen: The Late U-Roy Collabs w/ Santigold on New Single/Video ‘Man Next Door’

Perhaps reggae legend U-Roy had an early premonition of his death – because his upcoming and final record Solid Gold U-Roy has the feeling of being the grandest of grand finale statements. Indeed, for it, he assembled such a head-spinning cast of equally legendary collaborators, it’s almost hard to imagine him ever outdoing it.

The “Godfather of Dancehall” suffered from diabetes, hypertension and kidney problems in his later life, though he intended to put the album out in 2020, and even planned to tour for it. COVID, of course, had other plans. But with a new release date set for later this year (now July 16 via Trojan Jamaica / BMG), he tragically left this mortal world at 11:10pm on February 17, after undergoing surgery on his kidneys at University Hospital of the West Indies in Kingston. He was 78 years old.

Guesting on the album are Ziggy Marley, Big Youth, Shaggy, Sly & Robbie and Mick Jones of The Clash. But the first single, a cover of the Paragons’ 1968 classic ‘Man Next Door,’ is a collab with that fiery young songstress Santigold, who can be heard fervently intoning, “I’ve got to get away from here / This is not a place for me to stay / I’ve got to take my family / We’ll find a quiet place.” The “man” of the title is the one causing the problems.

U-Roy sounds as vital as he ever has, and the pair’s vocal chemistry is nothing short of electric. The accompanying video, directed by Nick Franco/1185 Films, cuts between a 2018 clip of U-Roy at Trojan Jamaica Studios, and Santigold at Sunset Sound Studio in Los Angeles.

“It was such an honor to get to work on this project with U-Roy, “enthuses Santigold. “He was a major pioneer in a genre that influenced me so deeply. And it just so happened that the song I was asked to sing has been a favorite of mine since I was a little girl. To hear his voice cutting through, driving the rhythm, drawing us all into his world…what a gift that I got a chance to sing on this track with him. He was a true creator.”

Rest in peace, Mr. Beckford.

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