Laza Morgan makes the kind of reggae jams you could almost take home to meet your mom. Almost. His tracks like “Crank It Out” have the gleaming surfaces and clean, thumping beats required to seduce American airwaves and mainstream dance floors. The Jamaican-American DJ-style vocalist and rapper draws on hip hop, R&B, and pop, but his tracks retain enough Jamaican flavor to be at home on the reggae charts. They also pack enough heat to raise a few questioning parental eyebrows, but with that high-beam smile and those puppy eyes it shouldn’t be too much of a problem.
His accessible sensibility earns him comparisons to Sean Kingston and lends itself to a broad spectrum of collaborations, such as his turn with Swedish producers Teddybears on “Get Fresh With You” or “One By One” with Jamaican dancehall titan Mavado. And a knack for pushing all the right mushy buttons made his song “This Girl,” off his forthcoming debut album, perfect for Disney’s Step Up 3D soundtrack. The video went viral in 2011, while the single chilled out at the top of US and Jamaican reggae charts all summer long.
Actually, your mom is probably into it. And if you can’t take “This Girl” to meet your mom, Morgan can still take it to the bank. And that’s not the only break-out track with the patented Laza Morgan charm on it. With featured vocals on Flo Rida’s “21″ and British singer Alexandra Burke’s “Start Without You,” he’s added his touch to hit singles on both sides of the pond.
Morgan might have been born in Springfield, Massachusetts and grown up in Brooklyn, but, as the son of reggae singer Denroy Morgan, his roots in the music of Jamaica are more than deep. The elder Morgan is proud of his son’s success, but he might not be surprised. Making singles that cross international lines and break boundaries is the family trade. Laza’s dad had an American radio hit in the ’80s with “I’ll Do Anything for You” and five of his 28 children form the successful reggae band Morgan Heritage. Laza himself formed the reggae/hip hop fusion group LMS with two more of his siblings after high school, touring with Morgan Heritage before starting a solo career.
He is only the latest wave of longstanding musical dynasty, but this could be a big one. Listen for him this year. We hear he’s got a single ready called “Gimme Little” and it’s pretty hot.
For now, here’s “One by One”: