Talent triumphs over stunts
Sadeke Brooks, Staff Reporter
Despite the stunts and outlandish behaviour of some new acts wanting to break into the dancehall and reggae market, industry insiders believe talent is still very important.
The biggest stunt of the lot came recently with Ikon D Link threatening to commit suicide if ZJ Liquid did not play his song. There have also been new acts like Ricky Carty having sexual intercourse in his music video, while J Amsterdam sang about performing cunnilingus.
But Charles Campbell, executive director of the Jamaica Reggae Industry Association (JaRIA), says the dancehall space has been reduced to a "local phenomenon where the artistes are focusing on how they can grab some attention to get a booking for the next dance. The more outlandish, the more crude, the more brutish you are, the more attention you grab. That's why the content of our songs has become so vulgar and crude."
He, however, noted that some older dancehall artistes have stepped away from only trying to make the headlines to doing more palatable songs.
"We are seeing a turnaround, because many of the dancehall acts have come to realise that the vulgar lyrics are not getting them international favours," he told The Sunday Gleaner.
But there are other issues, Campbell says. He says numerous young acts are coming to the fore because of the state of the economy.
"The music industry saves a lot of people from taking up the gun," he said.
But Campbell says there is still a need for radio stations to utilise their libraries so that persons do not give CDs directly to disc jocks. This, he believes, would help in reducing payola.
He said JaRIA is also campaigning for radio stations to give local productions a bigger proportion of airplay.
But music promoter Boswell 'Stampede' Lammie says it is not much of an economic issue that causes persons to want to turn to music, as many persons want to get into music because of the glitz and glamour associated with being a musician.
"Mi go to a mechanic and him a seh him have a CD weh him waan mi listen; him a artiste. Mi go cookshop and di man a seh him a artiste. The man dem weh have dem professional trade a give it up fi music. Everybody want to get in, based on the lifestyle weh dem see artiste have," he said, noting that he is approached daily by new acts wanting him to promote their music.
"Him see a man a walk today and tomorrow him see him wid a Benz, pretty girls, nice house and a bag a man behind him. Dem nuh have no real talent, but dem waan be artiste," Stampede said.
He even made reference to Ikon D Link, as he believes real talent is needed, not just stunts.
"Him climb the pole and get the highlight and still caan find two good song fi back it up," he told The Sunday Gleaner. "A radio man nuh play dem song and dem seh radio man a fight 'gainst dem and the song nuh good."
He added that, in many cases, some young acts have some level of financial backing that gets them promotion for some time, but soon afterwards, they tend to fade.
Selector Boom Boom also agreed that many artistes get ahead because of money that is being spent on them. However, "when the money done, yuh nuh hear nutten," he said.
Still, he believes there is more than enough space in the music industry for new acts, as long as they are talented. He even went a step further to compare the crop of artistes that emerged in the '90s - like Bounty Killer, Beenie Man and Spragga Benz - to those hoping to get their 'buss' now.
"Inna di '90s when you hear a song play pon the radio, you know seh da song deh buss. The difference now is that you have a lot of artistes weh a rise now and a get a lot of promotion," Boom Boom told The Sunday Gleaner.
He added that some of these issues stem from the availability of new technologies and the ease with which one can create a song.
"The new technology kinda mek the business look a way 'cause every man a turn producer, you have pure artistes and you have nuff selectors. You have man wid big studio and equipment and nah get no work, while you have man a record artiste inna dem car," he said.
Campbell also complained about the same issue.
"Our producers have become reducers. There was a time when producers had knowledge of the music. Now they just have a beat and get some people to record. Our music has been reduced to a series of beats. The producers themselves have not gone through a process of training to understand the structure of music, so they can't guide the artistes," he told The Sunday Gleaner.