A singer who fuses reggae with R&B, hip-hop, and rock, J Boog is the stage name of Jerry Afemata, who was born in Long Beach, California but primarily raised in Compton. Of Samoan ancestry (his father was a tribal chief in his neighborhood), Boog’s first influence was his sister, who sang and played piano. When she got a book of Bob Marley’s classic songs, Boog began singing along, and when he was nine, the two performed a cover of Whitney Houston’s “One Moment in Time” at a family reunion, in front of an audience of 200. Raised on an eclectic musical diet of classic reggae, West Coast hip-hop, vintage R&B, and a dash of hard rock, Boog gravitated to the laid-back attitude but taut grooves of reggae, and he began writing and recording his own tunes during downtime from his job at an oil refinery.
In 2005, Boog traveled to Hawaii, where he met one of his favorite singers, George “Fiji” Veikoso; Boog gave him a copy of one of his mixtapes, and Veikoso thought Boog showed promise. Veikoso helped produce Boog’s 2007 debut album, Hear Me Roar, which cracked the Top Ten of the American reggae charts; by this time, Boog was living in Hawaii. In 2008, Boog began working with veteran reggae artists Yami Bolo and Gramps Morgan (of the group Morgan Heritage), and launched a fruitful association with Hawaii’s Wash House Records label. After absorbing reggae’s history during a visit to Jamaica, Boog released a self-titled EP in June 2011, with his second full-length album, Backyard Boogie, appearing three months later. Featuring the singles “Let Me Know,” “Let’s Do It Again,” and “Sunshine Girl,” Backyard Boogie was a major success for J Boog, rising to the top of the U.S. reggae album charts in 2011, and claiming the top spot again in 2012 and 2013. A four-song EP, Live Up!, appeared in July 2013, and a collaborative single with Anuhea and SOJA, “Easier,” dropped in 2014. After making guest appearances on releases by Gappy Ranks, Morgan Heritage, and Raging Fyah, Boog released the Rose Petals EP in March 2016. The release was a warm-up for Boog’s third full-length album, Wash House Ting, which was released in November 2016. ~ Mark Deming