Big names back I-Octane's summer effort
Leighton Levy, Sunday Gleaner Writer
Just when the world was beginning to cry out for some authentic sounding reggae music, some of Jamaica's most renowned producers are responding to the call by coming together to create what is expected to be a special studio album for rising reggae act I-Octane. The album to be called Crying to the Nation, the same name as his recently released single, is due out by late summer.
The entertainer, born Byiome Muir, has been seen by many as the next great reggae act. He began honing his talents in the mid- to late 1990s, while a student at Palmer's Cross All-Age School in Clarendon and later at Knox Community College.
He would go on to record his first singles Oh Jah and Stepp A Seed on the Penthouse label in 2000. He would later record Substance and What's Going On for Arrows and War No More for H20.
More recently, his career has gained greater traction thanks to hits like My Life, Puff It, No Love Inna Dem and Who A Fool Dem for Cashflow records that has thrust him firmly and permanently into the limelight, even prompting the international hip-hop magazine Vibe to publish a feature on him in their April-May issue.
So it was not a stretch for veteran producer Robert Livingston to throw his support behind I-Octane for the Crying to the Nation project. "Octane is one of those artistes who have the potential to become a real superstar out of Jamaica," Livingston said.
"He has shown all the good things about being an artiste, writing, performing. He has the look, he has a nice personality. As a person he loves people, and he loves what he does. From working with him I see the energy that he has. We need people like him to keep the movement going."
With this in mind, Livingston the CEO of the Scikron Entertainment/Big Yard label, who was instrumental in the success of artistes like Super Cat and Shaggy, assembled a list of producers that reads like a who's who in the entertainment industry.
In addition to I-Octane's producers DJ Frass, Steve Lock, Seanizzle and Tryton, the producers who have been assembled for the project includes Dean Frazer, Bobby Digital, Jeremy Harding and Nigel Staff, Don Corleon, Christopher Birch and, of course, Livingston.
"It's a blessing for me that Robert was at the right place and at the right time," I-Octane said in response to the team that Livingston has assembled.
"I, alone, would not have been able to pull this off, getting so many big-name producers working on the same album but, Livingston has so many links and commands so much respect in the business he could formulate that and determine that this is the right team for I-Octane."
Fourteen tracks are being prepared for the album which will be a blend of authentic reggae sound and the sound that made the artiste popular.
Reflection of himself
I-Octane also wants the music to be true to who he is and what he stands for.
"First and foremost I want to keep it positive so that people can relate to it across the globe. I want to keep it positive and spiritual so that people can feel the songs in the hearts," he said.
"When I tour, people are saying that the authentic music is not really coming out of Jamaica anymore, so I want to keep that side of it going too."
What is not clear yet is whether or not some of I-Octane's hits including Puff It, Lose a Friend, My Life, and No Love Inna Dem will be on the album/ or whether or not all the material will be new.
"I don't know yet," the entertainer said, conceding that that debate is ongoing.
He says, though, that it would not be a bad idea to have some of his more familiar songs among the 14 tracks. "People still want to hear some of my songs that they are familiar with. Most of my songs are big in Jamaica but they have not reached their full potential in other markets all across the world. They are good songs and we can capitalise on that."
The album, Livingston revealed, is about 60 per cent complete and is on schedule to be released by August. "For summer Octane will be coming strong with this album," Livingston said.