Tue | Sep 24, 2019

Runkus gets cultural with ‘How to Make Money’

Published:Friday | August 16, 2019 | 12:20 AMKimberley Small/Staff Reporter
Runkus
Runkus

Rising reggae star Runkus, has a new song out, and for this project, he goes back to the drawing board. Titled 99%, it is Runkus’ first solo release this year, and it was driven by some self-evaluation which took him back to his roots.

“My last project was very American-driven. It was rap, trap, R&B, pop – but still Jamaican. But I wanted to be more cultural, so I went to the roots, then sprinkled all those other things on top.”

99% samples Fade Away (1976) performed by Junior Byles, written and produced by ‘Chinna’ Smith. “At first, it was a hardcore trap song, and I listened back to it and thought, I can’t have this. So I went digging for songs about money,” he explained.

After landing on Fade Away, “we tried off the sample and Jah bless, we coulda clear it.”

Although the single is all about money, it is not the typical approach of a millennial performer, many of whom seem preoccupied with being branded and covered in diamonds. Runkus hopes that when fans take in this new song and music video, they will come away with ideas of how to make money, to build their own wealth.

99%, directed by Yannick Reid, puts a filtered gaze over a casual Runkus, who opens his message by hopping off a BMW in front of a bus stop. Appearing throughout the clip are messages – blinking across the screen – with tips on how to save, or how to passively increase earning. “Don’t rent, own homes” is one such ­message. There was even an advisory for Jamaican musicians to sign up for the Jamaica Association of Composers Authors and Publishers (JACAP). “Me ah tell you how fi make money and preserve it,” Runkus told The Gleaner.

Runkus and The Skints

For August, Runkus has been in the United Kingdom (UK). He went to perform on a show with reggae punk rock band, The Skints. “I did a song on their last album, Swimming Lessons, and it debuted at number one on the Billboard charts. It was number one for like a week,” Runkus said.

The performance took place in Exeter, a rural town in Britain. “It was a punk rock show, so I could count the black people. But as I came out on the stage, I could see the crowd loved it!”

Runkus has a heavy lyric style, supported by speedy but structured, rhythmic rap-flow, and the same was presented in his feature with The Skints, Armageddon, which excited the punk rock fans. “I was fast-chopping and vibing, I don’t think they expected that. The band called me out to perform on the same set and it was crazy! It’s like they just know and follow the energy.”

That is the lesson Runkus is taking away from this UK experience – that energy can be successfully shared across cultures. “They love music, no matter what it sounds like, but by what it feels like.”

kimberley.small@gleanerjm.com