Better must come - Following the disbandment of T.O.K., group member Bay-C says future as a solo star looks bright
There are only a handful of acts of artistes that can freely and confidently speak about being at the forefront of dancehall's new millennium movement. Jamaican quartet T.O.K. certainly proved its worth over a number of years, with a seamless four-part harmony and a host of hits - including Footprints and Gal You Ah Lead - which saw them rubbing shoulders with some of the biggest names in the genre.
T.O.K. are no longer together as an entity (more on that later), but one quarter of the band, Bay-C, has hit the market as a solo artiste, with his new EP, Better Must Come. On a recent trip to the UK, he explained his motivation behind the EP.
"Making the EP was a process of recording then eliminating tracks," said the singer, born Roshaun Clarke. "I knew it had to be a body of work that had a bit of the past but a lot of the future. It had to fully represent Bay-C - my style of music, my messages and my overall story."
It's easy to see that this is an artiste with a lot to get off his chest and a lot of music in his heart. He is positive about the Jamaican music scene, claiming that many of the new wave artistes are doing well internationally and feeling that the next wave is on the rise.
Being active around the world is nothing new to him as his work with T.O.K. regularly took them to Japan and Europe for sold-out shows.
So what exactly is the situation with the band?
"Currently, T.O.K. is in the past. Up until this point, we have honoured all dates and bookings, but only time will tell what the future holds for the collective."
It's clear to see that the band will always have prominence in his heart and mind, but Bay-C is adamant about looking forward, with his own creative path.
He is lining up his full-length album - Journey To Greatness - which will be in production.
Reflecting on the support he has received from European audiences, he says: "The reaction here has been pretty amazing. I featured on a computer game, Need For Speed, with UK artiste Doctor, and that felt like a cool way to kick off a solo career. That was followed with the lead single from the EP, which is called Eye for An Eye, which is on rotation across the continent, so I thought I would come to the UK to build on the momentum."
Revealing why he has a special affinity to Britain, he says: "Not many people know, this, but I was actually born here so I have always felt a connection to the place.
"The UK market is still one of the most important markets globally for music, and I love working with UK producers. I have been in the studio with UK artistes and producers like soca artiste Trini Boy Joocie and reggae producer Seani B, and I am keen for me and my music to be represented fully in this marketplace."
It doesn't seem like he will have a problem in that respect. The EP shows a maturity and range that backs up his development as an artiste, producer, and writer. The acoustic overtones of the title track, Better Must Come, shows his versatility and his efforts to ensure he isn't pigeonholed into a standard 'reggae and dancehall' box.
This isn't the last time he will be in the UK in 2016 either - he plans to return for Notting Hill Carnival.
"I came here a couple of years ago and walked the streets with my UK team and I want to feel that energy and buzz again," he said. We performed at a few sound systems and I plan to do a similar thing this summer."