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Mathew Nya - Humble Lion

Mathew Nya - Humble Lion

Mathew Nya - Humble Lion

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Humble Lion more mature than the preceding.


Mathew Nya - Humble LionWhile outstanding musical skills can give you an edge in the music business, it always takes more than just them to succeed. Mathew Nya can tell you a thing or two about it. This drummer and percussionist hails from Val-de-Marne, France, a banlieue of Paris. He got in touch with music and learned about Rastafari at school, thanks to two classmates. 

Like many other aspiring French reggae musicians, he soon travelled to London for music lessons. Back in France, he signed up for vocational training to become a sound engineer, and subsequently worked as such in Studio Davout, Paris, where he met Dennis Bovell, and as an assistant sound engineer at Élysée Montmartre, the legendary Parisian venue that burned down in 2011.

Mathew Nya developed a special interest in nyahbinghi music and travelled to Burkina Faso to practice the akete (repeater drum) with a jèly (griot) family. Very soon, bands like Third World, The Mystic Revelation of Rastafari, or the Solar System of Alpha Blondy invite him to play percussion with them on stage. And Mathew Nya loves performing live more than studio work.

That doesn’t stop him from pursuing ambitious studio projects. In 2010, he works with Jamaican singer Oba Simba. One year later, Mathew releases what is now known as the first official album of the Mathew Nya Dub Band, “Tu Sais Ce Que T’As À Faire” (“You know what you have to do”). An encounter with Burning Spear Mathew supported him on percussions at a SUMMERJAM gig – motivates him further and deepens his spirituality. The Spear nicknamed him Humble Lion, thus the title of the album.

Again, Nya is responsible for the compositions and arrangements himself. He recorded “Humble Lion” together with his Dub Band, but invited guest musicians also. Diversity is something Nya undeniably loves. Born to French-Vietnamese parents, he travelled the world from childhood days on. “My two cultures got me in touch with two different visions of life,” he told the French reggae magazine Reggae Vibes in 2013. “With my music, I want to unite musicians, for that there shall be no frontiers nor barriers.”

While dub, nyahbinghi and roots reggae build the firm foundation of Mathew Nya’s sound, he audibly draws inspiration from Mandé music, (Malian) blues, soul, and more. His shy eclecticism and the use of French lyrics (English prevails) are almost the only indicators that this album has not been recorded in the late 1970s or early 80s, that traditional is Nya’s approach to recording music.

"Humble Lion” sounds more mature than the preceding “Tu Sais Ce Que T’As À Faire”, and more spiritual. Gone are the sounds derived from South-East-Asian musics, and fewer are the echoes. The new album leans more towards dub poetry. Nya promotes spiritual awareness and a righteous way of life.

Two of the album’s twelve tracks are combinations with Jamaican singer Oba Simba. “Rockers” and “Djiguiya” (“Hope”) are among the strongest tunes on “Humble Lion”. They profit from the additional depth added by the kora. “Humble Lion” is an edgy album of high musical quality, and a must for dub lovers.

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