A photo of Nkula.
Credit: Rui Barros Photography

Zion Rock

Nkula,a D.C.-based band, plays reggae in the tradition of the greats. Their music hits with a Bob Marley-ish bombast (for comparison, think “Get Up, Stand Up”) and grooves with the cool genius of Toots and the Maytals (see “In The Dark.”) The band’s eclectic sound draws from many influences, including zouk, a Caribbean genre popularized in the ’80s, and soukous, Congolese dance music. The title song from Zion Rock, their new EP, even starts with an electric snarl reminiscent of classic rock. The group has members with roots in Central America, Africa and the United States. Lead singer “Ras Abel” Mekonnen originally came to the U.S. from Ethiopia as a teenager, fleeing war. Listening to Zion Rock as a whole, it is clear that the band’s greatest strength comes from their love of roots reggae, and of the legendary songwriters who spread Jamaican music across the globe. The EP is available on Spotify, Apple Music, and other streaming services. Free.