Local artistes are being urged to put more thought into the music they produce if they want to establish themselves on the international scene.
Industry insiders with whom The Gleaner spoke, said while Jamaica possesses a plethora of talented entertainers, too many of them are focused on making music for the local market while neglecting their potential overseas pull.
Julian Jones Griffith, manager for Diamond-selling artiste, Charly Black, says that while there isn’t one singular thing that limits an artiste’s potential to break on the international scene, he believes a song that is too localised will automatically work against that artiste.
“You have to have the right songs, they have to be structured properly and the beat has to be right, too. If the content of your song is too localised, then the artiste is automatically limiting the song’s potential reach,” he said. “Keep true to the culture, but something about the song has to be translatable. Songwriting is an art and making hit records is a formula and maybe we need to study it a bit more.”
With that said, Griffith pointed out that local artistes do not have a level playing field in the world of music. He explained that despite the progress that dancehall music has made, it is still placed in a box.
“It’s always been hard to get
our music on commercial radio, and we are facing the same battle with streaming in terms of getting records on playlists that introduce your song to a wider audience,” he said. “It rough out deh, but at least give yourself a fighting chance by making the right songs.”
Shelly-Ann Curran, manager for Grammy-nominated dancehall/reggae artiste Devin Di Dakta, agrees. She believes the main reason behind local artistes being unable to tap into the international market is their inability to see the music as a business.
“I definitely think some artistes lack vision, but mostly they lack guidance. They don’t look at the music market as a world market, they are busy making songs for Jamaica , speaking on issues only relatable to Jamaica and Jamaicans,” she said.
Curran says she had to adjust her client’s image and sound to fit the international market and believes those adjustments were what landed him a Grammy nomination.
“The first six months (as Devin’s manager) I entered without a strategy, just to learn the business. I quickly understood that most of his music was really being made for the Jamaican audience, so we decided to go for an international appeal. We slowed down his style so he could be more audible; we used better lyrical content and made songs with a world appeal. Now, apart from the Grammy nomination, Devin has had three international collaborations, and we are definitely seeing progress.”
Curran also believes that there are too many artistes who have the wrong team around them, pointing out that having people around you who know the best moves to make regarding one’s career is what determines success or failure.
“Once an artiste sets a goal, he or she should pick a team that will help them meet that goal. Having a good management team is important because they can make the necessary moves to get you where you want to go.”
– Shereita Grizzle
Check out the video clip for Victory – from Pop Style Music’s rising Reggae star Keznamdi, featuring the unstoppable Chronixx. Victory is getting heavy rotation on Jamaican airwaves and sound systems.
Under the management of Pop Style’s Julian Jones-Griffith Charly Black continues to make strides on the international scene. Watch his recent critically-acclaimed performance on the Wendy Williams show. Charly is also slated to perform on Wendy’s All White Block Party Sunday July 23 at the Ford Amphitheater in Coney Island, Brooklyn, alongside Fat Joe, Remy Ma and more.
Pop Style Music CEO Julian Jones-Griffith was pivotal in the recent signing of Vincentian superstar Soca artist Kevin Lyttle in a deal with Sony Music subsidiary Ultra Records. The partnership will see Sony/Ultra and Lyttle’s Tarakon Records releasing four full-length projects, including the singer’s fourth album Slow Motion, with a single of the same name dropping first.
Still celebrating the success of his collaboration with Latin artist & songwriter, Nengo Flow, which peaked at no.1 on the Billboard Tropical chart in October 2016 as well as the charting of the Turn Me On remixes from the Turn Me On anniversary album, Kevin Lyttle is once again making headlines due to his independent label, Tarakon Records’, new partnership with major heavy hitter Sony Ultra.
“A mutual friend of ours sent me the Slow Motion single and I knew it was a hit and could benefit from being on a label to give it that wider exposure,” explained Jones-Griffith. “Sony/Ultra was the first place that came to mind so I hit them up and Patrick Moxey loved the record and the deal was done very quickly. We’re looking forward to making this an international smash in the near future.”
This is the second major label deal for Lyttle, who signed with Atlantic Records in 2004 following the success of his platinum single, Turn Me On, featuring Spragga Benz. Kevin and his team traveled to Cuba recently to shoot the video for “Turn Me On” which will be premiered in the coming weeks.
Congrats to Pop Style Music Publishing’s Charly Black on his incredible achievement; ‘Gyal You A Party Animal’ is officially the first Dancehall record to break 100 MILLION streams on Spotify, with only BoB Marley’s ‘Three Little Birds’ and Shaggy’s ‘It Wasn’t Me’ the only other two records by a Jamaican recording artist with (slightly!) more views.
Adding in the Daddy Yankee remix (now at 52 MILLION streams) + other streaming platforms + the Youtube views Universal informed us today that the total digital streams for Party Animal has surpassed 300 MILLION. And counting. Look out for Charly’s album coming later in the year and more history to be made.
Picked up by Universal Music Group, the Trelawny General’s viral hit is now hitting mainstreet. Already up around 250 spins a week on mainstream US radio and growing at an impressive clip, “Party Animal” may fill the Dancehall void with some authenticity that the likes of Major Lazr, Rihanna and Bieber have been occupying with their version of the genre.
The phenomenal streaming, views and Shazam data has Universal salivating over the prospects for the party anthem, making it a priority at several of its imprints. This record was largely ignored in Jamaica, breaking in South and Central America before it started its current run in the US. Charly Black has also been ignored by Sumfest, despite promises of turning up the show’s international appeal. Not having the only Jamaican artist with a current record on commercial radio in the US and #1 in many South American countries on the flagship Jamaican stage show is just another symptom of the local industry focusing on the local hype. You are more likely to hear about Gully Bop’s love life in the Jamaican media than Charly Black’s bubbling crossover success.
As Summer opens across the US, hopefully Party Animal will be able to bring back the genuine sound of Jamaican music there and re-open the doors for others to follow through.
For over 100 years Venezuela has tried to claim that a vast swathe of Guyana, an area west of the Essequibo River that is home to indigenous villages and mining camps, abundant with deposits of gold, diamonds, bauxite and other minerals, belongs within its borders. Last year tensions escalated once again after Exxon Mobil, conducting work on behalf of the Guyanese government, discovered oil off the shores of the disputed land; Venezuela tried to stake a claim to the oil.
During another border dispute flare up in the 1970s one of Guyana’s favourite musical sons – Dave Martins, was inspired by a Native American Chief’s speech refusing to bow to the white man’s invasion of their land and wrote a resistance song for his countrymen. It instantly connected with his people and became part of Guyanese folklore.
“The Chief spoke about his people’s love for their land,” recalls Dave Martins, leader of the legendary Tradewinds. “That they would not give up one river, not one buffalo, not one valley, not even one blade of grass. In a flash, it hit me; that was the way to write the border song – it should talk about Guyanese love for Guyana and not mention Venezuela at all.”
The lyrics are simply incredible. Beautifully crafted, defiant and relevant today to Guyana and just about anyone else who ain’t into backing down. Guyana has also produced another musical son – Juke Ross, who possesses a voice that God took special time to pour out when he was depositing the gold, diamond and oil in the depths of Guyana. The universe will undoubtedly be hearing a lot more from Juke Ross in the future, but until such time he has, with Dave Martins’ blessing, recorded a cover of Not A Blade Of Grass. The 2016 iteration sees Serani commanding the production and is being released in time for Guyana’s 50th Independence Anniversary. Fulljoy.
Zhu feat Keznamdi from the Genesis Series, world premiered by ZJ Liquid on Jamaican radio ZIP FM 9/23. Interview with Kshema Francis on IRIE FM.
Reggae artiste Keznamdi has scored his first international collaboration, teaming with Grammy-nominated EDM artiste-producer Zhu, who is signed to Sony Columbia Records.
The song, As Crazy As It Is, is the next single from Zhu’s highly anticipated Generation Series project. It will be premiered on Jamaican radio today, with an international release on iTunes and other media outlets on Friday.
Zhu’s rapid rise to fame came last year with his Grammy-nominated hit single, Faded, which peaked at No. three on the United Kingdom pop charts and was a smash worldwide.
Keznamdi was drafted for the Genesis Series project after Zhu attended a scintillating performance by the young Jamaican in Los Angeles on Chronixx’s Dread and Terrible West Coast Tour earlier this year.
A month after the show, Sony flew Keznamdi and his team to Los Angeles, where he recorded songs with Zhu. As Crazy As It Is, featuring Keznamdi, is the second release from the Genesis Series project, following last week’s release of Zhu’s Automatic, featuring UK powerhouse act AlunaGeorge. It had the EDM blogosphere in a frenzy and racked up nearly 200,000 Soundcloud plays in 24 hours.
“It was an honour to work with Zhu and Sony Columbia Records on this track,” said Keznamdi.
“The synergy and chemistry working with a musical genius like Zhu felt natural. I am all about fusing reggae with other genres and am looking forward to this track doing big things and opening more doors for myself and the reggae genre in general.”
Keznamdi made his debut in 2013 with his critically acclaimed Bridging the Gap EP, which held top positions on the Billboard and iTunes reggae-album charts. The artiste has had a breakout year with performances on the Dread and Terrible West Coast Tour, UCLA Jazz and Reggae Festival, Best of the Best, and Reggae Sumfest 2015.
Keznamdi will be promoting the track with Zhu, while gearing up for the release of his next single, Champion, co-written by Justin Beiber’s writing partner and multi-platinum Grammy award-winning songwriter Poo Bear.