Record Label Spotlight: Issachar Musik

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Issachar Productions was founded by Lloyd “Jah Lloyd” Shaw in Kingston 11, Jamaica. As a member of the Rastafarian movement, the 12 Tribes of Israel, Jah Lloyd determined he wanted to release some music that reflected the orthodox values and livity of the movement.

Jah Lloyd married American singer Wendy Shaw, and encouraged her to write music that was oriented toward cultural roots reggae. With Wendy Shaw as its first artist, they started the label Issachar Muzik, whose name originates from one of the 12 Tribes that Jah Lloyd is a part of based on his birth month. The first single was released in 1992 entitled ”Reggae Music is the Music of the King.”

The label released cassettes, vinyl and eventually CD’s, partnering with many of Jamaica’s greatest studio musicians including those from the Firehouse Crew, the original Roots Radics band, City Heat band (Supercat’s band) & Tony Greene from Lloyd Parkes and We the People band.

Jah Lloyd has continuously worked with live music and sound system culture, so once the label was established, his time was often devoted to production and logistics for tours and reggae events. He emigrated to the United States and began to work with the Los Angeles Bob Marley Day event, serving for 14 years as talent liaison with the numerous Jamaican artists that made the trip for the annual music festival that celebrated the life of Bob Marley.

Building his network, he also worked with other promoters as a logistics and production team member including a decade of work with the annual Sea Breeze Festival.

In 1996, Jah Lloyd produced a tour with Wendy Shaw and the Fully Fullwood band that reached 28 cities across the US, exposing the singer and the backing band to a wider audience, and providing venues for the music to sell to concert goers.

Jah Lloyd also released 2 full length albums on CD from Jamaican singer Sugar Black. Black Attack & Souljah Story with songs by Lenbahculah This led to several live performance opportunities that utilized the network established by the Issachar Muzik label founder.

In 2007 Issachar teamed up with Chris Frater of Chris Records who is based in Jamaica and has worked as a co-executive producer on songs with with American artist Irie Love facilitating relationships with studios and producers who helped launch the singer’s career by creating songs that exposed her to a wider audience outside of her native Hawaii. Under the management of Jah Lloyd, the artist was able to secure a spot and became a finalist on a singing competition in Jamaica that launched her career and exposed her to a wide array of producers that recorded some of her greatest work.

Issachar Muzik and Chris Records teamed up to release the first-ever single digitally with Empress Akua in July of 2017 entitled “Its Cold Outside”. The follow up single “Gwan” by Empress Akua is planned for release in early 2018.

Chris Records has also worked with Jah Lloyd and Issachar Muzik on unreleased recordings with Jamaican veterans Capleton, Mad Cobra, Fred Locks, Lukie D, Elijah Prophet, and Robby Valentine out of England.

In 2017, Issachar Muzik inked a distribution deal with Tuff Gong, the iconic label and distribution company founded by the late Bob Marley in Jamaica. This offers Jah Lloyd the opportunity to release material that has never before been available digitally including unreleased tracks and surprises. Doing the majority of the ground work in the past on his own, the partnership with Tuff Gong allows him the opportunity to gain wider exposure for the Issachar Muzik catalog.

Jah Lloyd has also established the label’s own publishing company, Issachar Muzik Production Worldwide, (BMI) that will retain master rights ownership for past, present and future offerings on the label.

Lloyd “Jah Lloyd” Shaw hails from the Waterhouse area of Kingston, the heart of reggae’s genesis. He was on the local mobile soundsystem “Sounds of Music” getting his start as a “box boy” building speaker boxes for the tube amps used to broadcast the music.

He became familiar with the music industry early on, getting to know people like The Jays, King Tubby’s, Jammys, U-Roy, The Termites who were all around in this area. In 1981 he migrated to the US and married vocalist Wendy Shaw, and the two established the label. As Jah Lloyd recalls, “In Jamaica it was just love, I just grew up around it, but never really have any money to really kick anything off but I was in the whole music scene in the 70’s.”

The 12 Tribes of Israel membership house in Kingston was the place where artists like Dennis Brown, Freddie McGregor, U Roy, Sister Carol, and Bob Marley had a platform to work from and served as a support system for those getting their start.

This lifetime affiliation with the 12 Tribes inspired Jah Lloyd to further his passion for music as he explains “My goal when I started the label, it was the hope that I could voice (record in studio) up and coming members. I had what I called a willingness to work to contribute to the music as it was growing before our eyes.”

The Issachar Muzik label was able to attain wholesale customers, gaining distribution through partnerships with Sonic Sounds in Jamaica and VP Records, RAS Records and Ernie B’s in the US. In the early 90’s, the label sold a great deal of cassettes and then when CD’s came in, the distributors would handle new titles.

Partnering with Chris Records, Issachar Muzik would press vinyl at the Kingston based Tuff Gong pressing plant that Chris would take to New York and England to sell.

Issachar Muzik has always been a label that has promoted and sold reggae music, now with the catalog offerings being remastered for release digitally for the first time ever, and several unreleased tracks set to be available worldwide as well as songs by new up and coming artists like Empress Akua, the music will be available to a new audience and wider group of listeners and reggae music lovers.


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