No smooth sailing for Di Blueprint after band competition win
Curtis Campbell, Gleaner Writer
After winning the Global Battle of the Bands competition in 2012, Di Blueprint band immediately joined the reggae revival, which saw several new roots-reggae artistes and bands breaking into the mainstream music industry. However, after being sidelined by local radio, lead singer A-Game has decided to test the waters as a soloist.
The singer recently returned from tour with Konshens and has been promoting new solo singles. However, he maintains that Di Blueprint band "hasn't split, but it is not the same unit as before, because we lost three members. So it's just three of us left and we are in a rebuilding process".
A-Game confirmed that he has been doing solo projects, but was adamant that he did not abandon the band. The singer says, after winning the competition, many thought that the road to commercial success would have been easy. However, this perception could not have been further from the truth, a testimony to the band's current state of uncertainty.
"People will judge us saying we won the competition and never did anything with it, but they are on the outside looking in. We knew winning the competition was a medium that could launch us, but it's not about that. It's the work that you put in after that will push you in a positive direction.
"My single, A-Game Everyday, is produced by Vern Hill, who is also a member of the band, and my decision to do solo projects was also influenced by fellow band member Elly D. Even on the tour with Konshens, the other band members were there, so we are still a unit … just rebuilding," he said.
Despite his stance that the band was still intact, he highlighted that reggae bands were difficult to maintain. He also said that, due to the rebuilding process, the band was not accepting bookings currently.
NOT A BACKUP BAND
The lead singer also clarified misconceptions that the band was now acting as backup band for Sub Konshus Records. "We go on tour with Konshens, but we are not a backing band. It was a collective effort," he told The Gleaner.
The singer says while the entire reggae revival movement was a dream come true for many musicians and reggae enthusiasts, bands always faced greater difficulties than solo artistes because of size and sustainability issues. A-Game says solo artistes like Kabaka Pyramid, Chronixx, Droop Lion, and Jesse Royal, among others, who are regarded as protagonists of the reggae revival regime, are easier to market and maintain economically.
He also blamed bands for not being proactive in pushing their own careers and defending themselves against radio marginalisation, unlike solo artistes, who are constantly finding creative means of getting attention from the necessary media outlets.
"Marketing is the key and that is why the solo artistes are more successful, because things are done more aggressively. Reggae bands tend to be more relaxed and rely on the quality of the music to speak for itself. But how can it speak when you are not being played? A lot of DJs are fans of the band music, but I don't know why they don't play it," he said. "Maybe it is because of my earlier point: If a DJ sees you in the streets at nights campaigning and promoting your work, he will remember you and perhaps support it. Bands need to get out there like the solo artistes. Who are you going to feed? The man who approaches you and stretches out his hand? Or the man who is equally hungry but stays behind closed doors so you can't see him?" he questioned.
The artiste says another set of reggae bands are gearing up to join the music world from the Edna Manley College and the underground creative industry. He advises up-and-coming bands to focus on marketing themselves properly, citing that perfecting the sound is not all that matters in the business of music.
A-Game is promoting his debut mix-tape called A-Game Everyday and his single with the same title. Di Blueprint band hosted a live EDM concert in collaboration with Red Bull and Arif Cooper earlier this year, and that concert was well attended.