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Party payday - Big bucks for recordings, performances, Nesbeth turns down both

Published:Friday | February 26, 2016 | 4:09 AMDavina Henry
JLP supporters get close in Junction, St Elizabeth, earler this month.
Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) supporters in a party mood during a rally in Junction, St Elizabeth, earlier this month.

Although there have been calls by some entertainers for politicians to desist from using dancehall songs on the campaign trail, as reported in The Gleaner last week Tuesday, others are benefiting handsomely from the election season.

Nesbeth's My Dream and Alkaline's Champion Boy are among the songs which have had supporters rocking at mass rallies held by the Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) and People's National Party (PNP). However, in addition to the commercially released songs, there is a huge demand for specialised recordings, or dub plates, literally singing a particular party's praises, as well as performances at meetings.

Secular and gospel artistes, including Beenie Man, Twin of Twins and Sandra Brooks, are among the brightest in the constellation of stars who have lit up political stages in the 2016 general election campaign.

Dancehall artiste Demarco, who voiced the dub plate PNP A Win Today, a tailor-made version of his popular song Love My Life, has benefited from the election windfall. "A big food that. They paid me for a service and I delivered," declared Demarco.

It is a matter of providing his services as required. "If JLP (Jamaica Labour Party) come wid dem money tomorrow, me woulda do a dub fi dem too," he added.

Demarco disclosed that it is more lucrative to be 'voted in' by political functionaries, as political dubs fetched a higher price. "Oh yes, of course I charge more, It can be double or even triple the original cost," he gushed. "Politics is big money."

Gospel artiste Omari said he too has benefited financially from the election season. He was among the performers at the JLP Christmas Gospel Concert in Old Harbour, St. Catherine, last December. However, he opted not to increase his price for the performance.


Omari believes that persons who bash politicians for using dancehall songs in their campaigns are misguided. "At the end of the day politicians aren't the only ones who bash the music and then turn around and use it," argued Omari.

"If those are the grounds on which some people are not doing dubs or performances during the political season, then it's not a good stance," he added. He said that even some producers "bash the music and then turn around and produce a rhythm and voice artistes."

Foota Hype, an avid supporter of the PNP, has offered his services not for the monetary gain but more so for exposure. "When you go to a party you have about 10,000 to 20,000 patrons," he said. This, he said, pales in comparison to the estimated 150,000 to 200,000 persons who attend political rallies.

"The mileage you get from it is much more," asserted Foota Hype. "The promotion is bigger."

He sees the exposure from being showcased on the political platform as more important in the long-term than receiving an immediate payment. "I play at these rallies because, in most cases, no dance, no stage show whe keep nuh ram so," Foota Hype said.

Still, there is at least one popular performer who has turned down a big political payday. Nesbeth's My Dream is already being touted as one of the most popular songs of 2016 and there have been dub plate requests from both major political parties. They have been turned down. "Because of Nesbeth's beliefs, he declined both offers," said the deejay's publicist, Raymond 'Shadow' Small.

"He would prefer to focus on music and stay away from politics," said Small. "They also requested that he perform at the rallies, but that was also turned down."