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Reggae Rajahs’ General Zooz Channels ‘Roots Rock Reggae’ for UB40’s New Album

The U.K. legends call in friends from around the globe for their latest LP ‘Bigga Baggariddim’

Anurag Tagat Jul 07, 2021

British reggae group UB40 (top) and Reggae Rajahs' vocalist General Zooz aka Zorawar Shukla in a still from the video for 'Roots Rock Reggae.'

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Staying true to their DIY ethics, Reggae Rajahs wrangled themselves a spot as opening act on British group UB40’s India tour in 2017. MC General Zooz aka Zorawar Shukla recounts the “chance connection” just days prior to their Mumbai show, with a promoter who didn’t even know about the New Delhi/Goa party-starting trio. They didn’t get to hang with the hitmakers after the show, but in turn, UB40 asked (through the promoter) that the Rajahs get in touch a couple of months later.

Shukla says once they reached out, it led to “the biggest collaboration of my career.” He’s referring to his appearance as vocalist on the unifying, feel-good tune “Roots Rock Reggae” off UB40’s latest album Bigga Baggariddim. A wholly collaboration-heavy effort featuring musicians from around the world, General Zooz and Reggae Rajahs represent India on the record.

The MC says he was supplied with a “tight” instrumental track from the veteran band, which was more than enough to get going. “They’ve changed lineups over the years, but the sheer musical skill is extremely impressive,” Shukla says about the track he received. He appears alongside heavy-hitters like Tippa Irie (a friend of the Rajahs), Inner Circle and Winston Francis from Jamaica, plus seasoned Birmingham artists Gilly G, Pablo Rider and Slinger. “They have a couple of rising and established Jamaican artists that we’ve been following in India as well. It’s a very interesting lineup,” Shukla says of the collaborators he shares space with.

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For “Roots Rock Reggae,” the vocalist-DJ counts Tippa Irie as a major influence, as well as Jamaican artist Johnny Osbourne. Shukla adds, “They sent us five or six instrumentals and I picked this one, I liked it the best. Diggy Dang [Reggae Rajahs bandmate] was supposed to be on the song but he wasn’t feeling it and let me do it myself. Everything just flowed very quickly and easily. It didn’t take me much time.” The track also features backing vocals by producer-singer Gowri Jayakumar aka Pulpy Shilpy.

Supplied with a cheeky, celebratory music video which intersperses shots of Shukla and his posse partying down in India (including a cameo from New Delhi producer Su Real) with UB40 performing the track in a studio, “Roots Reggae Rock” has arguably put Reggae Rajahs on the map. “Hopefully this opens up a world of possibilities. That would be ideal,” Shukla says. He’s got a few collaborations coming up with Su Real, plus Australian producer Astro Black. The MC adds, “Definitely up for more collaborations, because my goal for this year was to collaborate much more. We’ve been doing our thing a lot, but it would be nice to find some more people to collaborate with. Hopefully this is the first of many.”

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Watch the video for “Roots Rock Reggae” below. Stream ‘Bigga Baggariddim’ here.

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