If you’re unfamiliar with Freddie McGregor, allow me to temporarily redirect you to a post that Son Raw wrote five years ago when he was operating under his serf name, Sach O. To call McGregor an O.G. does him a bit of a disservice. He has been doing it since he was 7 years old, boasting the nickname Little Freddie, and railing against oppression and ruthlessness. He’s lesser known among Americans who rarely go past the Marley, Lee Perry, Congos opening round of reggae classics, but if you dig a little deeper you get to Bobby Bobylon.
At one point, McGregor was touted as “the next Bob Marley,” by those searching for the next international reggae star. That never happened, but he was part of the last gasp of great Studio One Records that pumped out of Kingston during the late 70s and early 80s. You may never have heard his name, but he was a Sound System hero, a certified reggae music legend operating at the nexus between roots, dub, and early dancehall. What’s most impressive about McGregor might not be his history, but the fact that he’s still making great music after 50 years as a professional. His latest album, Di Captain, combines covers and originals with the sadness and beatific sense of uplift that’s always existed in his music. It’s trite to say they don’t make music like this any more, but they don’t. The style might be anachronistic, but the rhythms, vocals, themes are timeless. Just watch the video for “Bag a Hype,” the one-time prodigy turned growling wise older god, trying to stop violence with the eyes of someone who has seen too much of it. It has the power that can only come from age, authority, and acres of well cured grass.