Looking out while staying home - Aspiring artistes work to make mark overseas
Many of the newer Jamaican music talents are focused on crossing over' (getting recognition in major, mostly English-speaking markets) to advance their music careers beyond the local scene. Hence the market is flooded with songs or collaborations sounding like a fusion of reggae and dancehall with R&B, electronic, pop and Afrobeats, some songs including the use of other languages.
Artistes like Charly Black, Alkaline and Shenseea have become popular or received international bookings and record deals by experimenting with other genres in singles Gyal Yuh a Party Animal, Formula and Rolling respectively, giving up and coming artistes an example to possibly follow.
"There's nothing wrong with aiming for international attention from day one, because local music has always been getting that buzz overseas before even Jamaicans living here draw to it. And it is about money at the end of the day, because funds are coming from overseas, from persons that buy music or invest in our culture," Shawn Antoine, a Jamaican singer/songwriter.
Changes in an artiste's style do not guarantee success. Dancehall singjay, Mink Jo appears to be one of the most underrated artistes but producer/deejay Leftside gave her due respect in a recent Instagram story during his visit to Colombia. Vacationers at a Colombian hotel were seen dancing to and requesting the singjay's No Friend Zone and True Lies tracks.
Mink Jo said "based on my experience so far in my musical journey, I do get more support from my international fan base than I do from my local fan base when a crossover track is released. So what I do is give all my fans around the world multiple tracks or pieces of me to select from, while staying true to who I am and where I am from,"
Another emerging local artiste, Kim Nain said "digitally, international groups are more receptive and it is evident based on social media results or the amount of listeners or views."
"Jamaicans on a whole do come off less supportive of our kind of music or pay attention to the hype. At the end of the day, as emerging artistes it may be easy to get sidetracked because of external influences and critique from all angles, whether negative or positive. But it's really about just knowing what your final goal is in this music industry," Shawn Antoine added.
Mink Jo said "breaking out locally can be hard, but doing so internationally is neither easier. However, that's a part of the process in music. It's either they like it or they don't. Music is universal and, again, I believe once you have a good track(s) all if not most will like it and support it, no matter where in the world they are from."
Kim Nain's Up N Down, Mink Jo's True Lies and Shawn Antoine's Missing You and 'Up for Grabs' (featuring Christopher Martin) were released in 2017.