Alkaline's Album Success No Surprise - Producers
Perhaps when dancehall artiste Alkaline was coming up with a title for his debut album and decided to settle with New Level Unlocked he was foretelling the success the compilation would bring him. The artiste made headlines both locally and internationally recently when his album hit the number-one spot on the Billboard Reggae Album Chart, a feat not accomplished by any other dancehall artiste since 2011.
Released by DJ Frass Records, the compilation sold over 700 copies in its first week. When The Gleaner spoke to DJ Frass, who also worked on the Grammy-winning album for reggae group Morgan Heritage, he explained that the album's accomplishments came as no surprise to him.
"Honestly, when I heard that it was number one, I wasn't surprised," he said. "When we looked at the pre-order sales we knew it was going to do well. It's a great production, and I am proud of what it has accomplished." He then went on to reveal that one of the main reasons behind the album's success is the level of maturity Alkaline now possesses. "The artiste is mature and focused. He knows what he wants and he works hard to make sure he gets it. He understands that what you put in is what you get out, and he wants a lot out of the business."
The accomplished producer told The Gleaner that with this accomplishment, he hopes that dancehall music will start to resurface in the international market and that artistes will again take their rightful place at the top of international music charts.
"This album made history because no dancehall artiste has hit the top spot on that particular chart in five years," he said. "The last person to do that was Shaggy, and so I hope with this, dancehall music can bounce back to take its place at the top."
Popular publicist Keona Williams agreed that the accomplishment was a step in the right direction for dancehall music and had this advice for other artistes in the industry.
"It (Alkaline's achievements) shows growth for hard-core dancehall as reggae artistes have continuously dominated this chart over the years. I encourage more dancehall acts to invest in albums, as opposed to being singles focused," she said. "The first thing others need to do is concentrate on creating a body of work. There seems to be a rush to release song after song, and although producers, labels, and ad distributors do benefit, it does not work out in favour of the artiste. Working with an experienced and informed team will steer them in the right direction."
Crediting the promotional work pumped into the project as part of its success, Frass encouraged artistes to promote their albums as much as possible.
"We did a lot of promotional work for this album both here and overseas and it paid off in the long run. People craved the music and we let them know exactly when it was coming out so they could go out and get it."
He also explained that while promotion is good, artistes should know where to put in most of the work as the sales ultimately come from one market.
"Everybody knows Jamaicans nuh buy music, so when you a promote yuh ting, you affi be smart about it. You affi target the people you know will buy the music because at the end of the day, success is also based on sales."
DJ Sunshine, who also worked on the album, agreed.
"You have to strike a balance between promotion locally and promotion overseas, and Alkaline managed to do that," she said. "The people who actually buy the album when it comes out are mostly from overseas, and he understood that very well. He has been in the US a lot. He has not done any local show, and that was good promotion for him because that left the market over there craving his work."
put in the work
She also urged other dancehall artistes to analyse the way Alkaline went about things and encouraged them to put in the work if they want to see the benefits.
"Dancehall is at the stage now where no dunce can just come and run things. A lot of youths think that it is easy, but Alkaline didn't just get to the number one-spot overnight," she explained.
"He wanted this and he worked hard to get it. If you know who Alkaline is, you would see that there is a mystery that surrounds him. He has stayed out of the public eye. He has not done much in terms of interviews, so when a song comes out from him, you want to hear it. Kartel pushed the envelope, and now Alkaline is here pushing the envelope, and they're both very bright."
New Level Unlocked is a 15-track compilation consisting of tracks such as Champion Boy, ATM, Direction, Conquer the World, and Side Chick.