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'Di business mash up' - Decreasing sound clashes, scammers, economy damage dubplate industry

Published:Sunday | April 21, 2013 | 12:00 AM
Elephant Man
Ninja Man

Davina Henry, Staff Reporter

DUBPLATES HAVE long been a staple of Jamaican music. Indeed, sound systems and disc jockeys throw down much money for top artistes to customise the lyrics to hit songs.

But what has this sluggish economy meant for artistes, since a dubplate can cost anywhere from US$100 ($9,909.75) to US$1,000 ($99,098.07)?

According to veteran artiste Ninja Man, whose dubplates once dominated the sound clash arena, the decline in sound clashes could be the cause of the demise of the dubplate business.

"Nuh dub nah duh like one time because no sound clash nah really gwaan like back in the days. Plus, you have whole heap a man whe a hustle the business. Just like how you have lotto scamming, you have dubplate scammers. Dem friend up the artistes and beg dem dubplates, and den sell it back fi likkle an' nutten," Ninja Man said.

He added that because of what he describes as 'dub pimpers', he has now taken a break from recording dubs.

"Mi memba when you cudda get good money fi dubs. Mi use to can do seven dub and buy a car, nowadays dat nah gwaan. Mi lock off dubplate fi the next three to four months. Di business mash up. A bere scamming a gwaan inna the dubplate industry," Ninja Man said.

This sentiment was also echoed by Elephant Man. According to him, although there is still a demand for dubplates, the prices that were once demanded by artistes have been significantly reduced.

"Sound man usually come to you, an you and him come to an agreement bout the price of a dub.

Nowadays, a bere middleman a hustle out di ting. Di money whe wi cudda make back in the days cyaah make now. People a bawl seh di economy wicked. A only the die-hearted sound man dem a request dubs now. Dub still a run, but no money nuh deh pon it like one time," Elephant Man said.

Sound system selector Ricky Trooper told The Sunday Gleaner that the economic downturn is affecting the earning power of the artistes. He notes that while some selectors still request dubplates, it is 'clash' sound systems that are fuelling this demand.

"A only the clash market want artiste voice dubs. The younger generation of selectors nah buy no dub. Tings change. One time, the sound system arena was competitive, but it's not as vibrant as before, so di selector dem nuh really need dubs again," he said.

While agreeing with the others, producer Shane Brown stated that the dubplate business was still a viable one.

"There is still money to be made from dubplates, but it's not as viable as before."

Brown also noted that artiste impersonators have also affected the viability of the business.

"Auto-tune makes some artistes easy to impersonate. An auto-tuned artiste is easy to mimic but if you have an artiste with an authentic voice like Bounty Killer, it is much harder to rip off his sound and make dubs. Persons need to create their original sound to try an' stop impersonators even though there is no reassurance that imitators won't try to mimic their sound," Brown said.