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Barrington Levy offers advice to young artistes

Published:Tuesday | March 11, 2014 | 12:00 AM
Alkaline - File photos
Barrington Levy - File
J Amsterdam

Shereita Grizzle, Gleaner Writer

At least one dancehall veteran is speaking out against the raunchy trends now enveloping dancehall.

In a recent interview with veteran superstar Barrington Levy, the entertainer sought to weigh in on the issue that has gained much attention in recent weeks.

Levy told The Gleaner entertainers of this generation lack guidance.

"They are surrounded by a lot of hotheads that cannot steer them in the right direction," said Levy.

He believes that artistes are role models and, as such, they should lead by example.

Artistes such as Alkaline, Demarco, Ricky Carty, and J Amsterdam have bought into the belief that outrageous behaviour is a great marketing tool in today's music landscape.

The approach may evoke feelings of disgust in some, but will peak interest in others.

In an interview with The Gleaner in January, publicist at Prism Marketing, Raymond Small, said the marketing strategy has been a part of the international market for years, and is slowly making its way into the local sphere.

"Artistes are realising that there is more to the business than singing songs, people want a celebrity that sparks interest."

shock-value entertainment

Small also pointed out that the good that may come from shock-value entertainment does not last and is potentially damaging if an artiste is not fully prepared to handle the accompanying backlash.

This was recently manifested in J Amsterdam's career.

The young entertainer released the song Come Wine Inna Mi Face and proclaimed himself the 'Messiah of Freaks'.

Seemingly unaware of the backlash such a statement would cause, the artiste embraced the idea of being the first male artiste to confess to liking oral sex.

Not soon after making the bold statement in a STAR interview, the artiste returned to say disc jockeys are refusing to play his songs, and bookings for shows were few in coming.

Though it seems this new emergence has been fast-growing within the dancehall fraternity, Levy doesn't believe that 'shock-value entertainment' is the best approach for emerging artistes.

"People are talking about them and their songs, but not in a good way. As entertainers, we need to always set a good example for the future of music."

He believes that the attention these artistes will get from their extreme behaviour will not lead to a long, sustained career.

"If you just want to be a local artiste, then that is the way to go, but if you're looking to go international, then you need to rethink your approach," Levy said.

In a recent media release, international female dancehall star Macka Diamond, came to the defence of artistes that thrive on shock value.

She specifically defended Alkaline, labelling him an artiste to look out for. While stating that she may not agree with everything he says, she believes that he has the right to free speech and expression.

"He is a very talented artiste, one to watch out for, and I feel that as veterans in the music business, we should, perhaps, take him aside and offer advice to him, rather than just get up and criticise him and try to tear him down. Maybe he just needs some mentoring and good career advice," she said.

Levy agreed, saying young entertainers should seek out persons in the industry who can foster their holistic development and cement their future in the dancehall space.

"Surround yourself with good people, people who will lead you in the right direction, people that will help you make good career choices that will ensure longevity and international success."