The reggae community continues to mourn the loss of producer Joe Gibbs (born Joel A. Gibson). The legendary reggae producer died February 21 of an apparent heart attack. He was 65. Gibbs was responsible for dozens of hits by Culture, Dennis Brown, Jacob Miller, and Althea & Donna.

Reggae historian and author Roger Steffens has again defended his role on the committee that facilitates the reggae Grammy Awards. Since Stephen Marley’s win February 7, at the 50th annual Grammy ceremony, rumors have circulated that Steffens, a Bob Marley archivist, influences who wins. Wailers’ members and Marley children have won nearly half of all reggae Grammy awards since the events’ debut in 1984. Steffens told an audience at the Global Reggae Conference in Kingston, “I have been the chairman of the Grammy Screening Committee. We do not choose the nominees, we do not choose the winners. We screen to make sure that it is only reggae music that gets into the category. This is the four thousandth time I am saying this in Jamaica. I’m not responsible for you not winning the Grammy.”

Dancehall artist Deva Bratt will return to court on March 27 to answer to charges that he had sexually assaulted a 14-year old girl earlier in February. Bratt, one of Jamaica’s young, rising dancehall deejays, has been saddled with controversies for the past several months, but adamantly maintains his innocence. Meanwhile, he has several songs, including “Everybody Knows What Right From Wrong,” in the charts.

Big Youth’s son, the rapper Tafari’s new single with Junior Reid, “Ain’t No Stoppin,” is causing a buzz across the internet. “We’ve noticed a wave of requests coming in from DJs across the United States,” says Karamo Rowe, Chief Executive Officer of Hy-Grade Entertainment, Tafari’s management company.

YardFlex’s Passa Passa news section is reporting that Bounty Killer has parted ways with his publicist Julian, and that Tony Matterhorn has had a fall-out with his manager as well, reportedly over tax payments. “Tony a manage himself now,” writes the anonymous reporter.

Dub master Adrian Sherwood and drummer Style Scott will release Dub Syndicate Overdubbed, a collection of classics mixed by Bristol’s Rob Smith, on Collision end of April.

A major dancehall queen contest (pictured above) took place February 16 in Paris, France. Dancers clad in vibrant costumes, including military fatigues, plaid school uniforms, and Jamaican flag skirts competed head-to-head in three rounds, until finally Amazone was declared winner. See photos of all the contestants and dance moves at Rebel Radio.

A number of young, new Jamaican singing groups are looking to have breakthrough moments in 2008. Jamaica’s Star thinks three-man dance and vocal group Voicemail will be the ones to create a buzz. Member Craig says, “We’ve done a song called ‘Modeling A Gwaan,’ produced by Stephen McGregor, a next song called “I Need You,” produced by Don Corleon, plus a video for that is now in heavy rotation.” Also hyped and ready to breakout is Rootz Underground, whose album, Movement, drops March 4 on Riverstone. The band will tour the American south and Midwest throughout March.

A recent commentary in the Jamaica Gleaner newspaper decried the negative messages in current dancehall music. “What we have in the dancehall,” writes Ian Boyne, “is the glorification of the gun; the inciting of violence. And when we don’t have the vulgarity [that] is hailed as the expression of ‘female liberation’ and the gun talk, we have the promotion of bling bling and Western materialistic and hedonistic values–the values of Babylon.” Boyne laments dancehall’s betrayal of reggae’s core values; however his piece acknowledges the popularity of dancehall, and the violence expressed by militant reggae artists over the years.

Visit Reggae News UK to download their crucial, hour-long “Roots Garden” podcasts, which highlight some British reggae best roots and vintage artists.

Out-A-Road’s Top 20 Charts
1. Erup “Click My Finger” (Truck Back
2. Queen I-Frica “Daddy Don’t Touch Me There” (No Doubt)
3. Busy Signal – “Pon Di Edge” (Star Kutt)
4. Serani feat Bugle – “Doh” (Daseca)
5. Demarco “Fallen Soldiers” (Star Kutt)
6. Mykal Rose “Shoot Out” (John John)
7. Demarco “Duppy Know Who Fi Frighten” (John John)
8. Bugle “Journey” (Daseca)
9. Mavado “Gangsta Life” (John John)
10. Sean Paul “Pick It Up & Drop It” (Birchill)
11. D’Angel “Blaze” (Hot Shot)
12. Harry Toddler “Don’t Run In” (Truck Back)
13. Beenie Man “Buffer Zone” (Truck Back)
14. Busy Signal “Nah Go A Jail” (Jam 2)
15. Fantan Mojah “Stronger” (Maximum Sound)
16. Deva Bratt “Bagga Talking” (Truck Back)
17. Bugle “What I’m Gonna Do” (Daseca)
18. Jimmy Riley & Taurus Riley “Pull Up Selector” – (Taxi)
19. Beenie Man “Wine Gal” (TJ)
20. RDX “Everybody Dance” (Apt 19)

Top 5 New Joints
1. Junior Gong “Mission (Warfare)” (Baby G)
2. Mavado “On The Rock” (Baby G)
3. Busy Signal “Curfew” (Shane Brown)
4. Bugle “What have I done” (Daseca)
5. Serani “Everywhere I Go” (Firelinks)