What happens when a natural born music whiz begins making beats from the cradle? He may start his own band as a teenager, pen consecutive hip-knocking tunes and have his life turn a sharp 180 midstream. Blame it on an elixir of fate, talent, technology and determination, but such is the genesis of Sicilian-born Alberto D’Ascola, a.k.a Alborosie. After forming his own band, The Reggae National Tickets in 1993, (signed to BMG Italia), performing on sold-out tours, selling over 200,000 units and solidifying his international reputation at memorable performances at Sunsplash in 1999 and Sumfest in 2000, the Italian artist with a Reggae pedigree decided to make a move to Jamaica. “I get tired and seh the world is big and my country small, so I decide to come to Jamaica,” he said. Having worked in Europe since the age of seventeen, Alborosie crossed over to the Reggae capital and didn’t look back.
It was thanks to a chance meeting with studio owner and international record executive Jon Baker at Port Antonio’s Geejam in 1999 that led to the next phase of his career. After signing on as an in-house producer and engineer for Geejam Studios, he co-launched Forward Recordings with Baker and continued to collaborate with local and international artists. To date, Alborosie has worked with Mario, Angie Stone, Jewel, Sisqo, No Doubt, Wyclef and Les Nubians. He has also collaborated with All-stars Dean Frazer, Beenie Man, Lutan Fya and a number of other Jamaican artists. Further, he has performed with and produced music for the transglobal soul movement Adelante in 2005, and produced The Singerz album in 2006 – a project that featured up-and-coming Jamaica talent and was released on Universal Japan. Most recently, Alborosie was featured on Reggae songbird Etana’s track “Blessings,” as well as Gentleman’s much hyped “Celebration.”
At heart he remains the wily kid protégé whose early initiation to fame laid the foundation for his signature Reggae sound. His latest solo project “Soul Pirate,” an album released in 2008, provides a kind of sonic montage of his personal journey through his adopted Jamaican homeland. “After five years of production I decided to go back to the original roots which is artiste and I made my album,” Alborosie said. The album is an assembly of conscious reflections on life in Jamaica, a life he views as pirated, hence the name. “Jamaica has a tradition with pirates, to me being in Jamaica you have to be a pirate as a European. I play like six different instruments, I’m a engineer and I mix, so basically the ‘Soul Pirate’ is me, it’s my dairy of Reggae mixed with hip hop and soul.” Featuring tracks like “Call Up Jah” and “Ganja,” the album speaks to both spirit and soul. On “Kingston Town,” the artist’s edgy ode to his second birthright, his voice slides from a rough-hewn croon to a razor-sharp, quick time chat. “Callin,” featuring Black Uhuru veteran Michael Rose, is nothing if not a sweeping culture anthem. The album also features Morgan Heritage, Jimmy Cozier, Luciano, and Ky-Mani Marley.
His European roots are still strong though. “Back home, I’m still a big man, any time I going back I mash up the place,” Alborosie admitted. “Like MTV mainstream, last show was 35,000 people just for me. When you catch the people’s brains you live wid dem after life. That’s the beauty of music. People remember you not because you have a big house and big cars.”