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Foreign acts find success in repackaging Jamaican music

Published:Thursday | April 13, 2017 | 12:00 AMCurtis Campbell
Chaka Demus
Chris Brown

The year 2016 saw several overseas-based recording artistes dabbling with Jamaican rhythms. In some cases, artistes have gone as far as remaking popular classic Jamaican songs in an attempt to produce an easy hit, banking on the previous success and popularity of these records.

Chaka Demus and Pliers' Murder She Wrote was remade by Omarion and Chris Brown and renamed, Post to Be. The record ended up climbing the Billboard chart and has assisted with Omarion's comeback. Then there was the remake of Who Am I by England-based rappers, Krept & Konan's remake or Beenie Man's, which received over 40 million views on YouTube and also featured American singer Jeremih.

However, the most obvious and successful remake was Everyone Falls in Love, by Tanto Metro and Devonte. The remake was done by Canadian singer Tory Lanez and renamed Luv, it also peaked on the Billboard Hot 100 No. 19.

As the trend to copy the Jamaican sound continues to spill over into 2017 with artistes like Ed Sheeran releasing a chart-topping Jamaican-inspired track, local artistes who are still uncertain how to achieve similar levels of success to the foreign copycats have seemingly opted to follow suit, and as such, a handful of contemporary locally based artistes have been redoing hit records previously released by other Jamaican acts.

So far, reggae artiste Gyptian, who has not seen Billboard success since Hold Yuh, has re-recorded Bounty Killer's classic hit Anytime; Konshens, who narrowly missed the Billboard chart with his Bruck Off Yuh Back record, has reworked Beenie Man's Girls Dem Sugar, and medical doctor/artiste Shaka Pow, has revisited the work of Sir Coxone Dodd to produce a new version of Shabba Ranks and Johnny Osborne's Ice Cream Love, and features Festival Winner Song Abby Dallas.

None of the songs have yet to achieve Billboard success. However, Ice Cream Love, was recently added to the playlist of US, hip hop stations Hot 97, 99 Jamms and Power 105.

Speaking with The Sunday Gleaner recently, Shaka Pow explained that the overseas market prefers authentic Jamaican music. He also noted that he has researched the graph representing the success of Jamaican music; and as such, he is simply drawing inspiration from the greats who have managed to break musical barriers.

"These types of records are the basic fibre of Jamaican music because they are original beats. The artistes have had major success on these types of rhythms, and those catalogue can never die, so we go for timeless music that will last more than two weeks," he said.

The artiste, who is yet to get clearance to sell his version of Ice Cream Love, revealed that he has been in dialogue with Sir Coxone Dodd's daughter. He also noted that he has been working with icons Sly and Robbie to perfect the art or creating classic Jamaican music.

"American artistes have been doing this to our music, so we are repackaging it and selling it back. This is something that I have been doing long time, and when people check my catalogue, they will realise. If anybody should benefit from Jamaican music, it should be us," he said.

Platinum-selling recording artiste Chaka Demus, who had his song Murder She Wrote, remade by Chris Brown and Omarion, told The Sunday Gleaner that he is not opposed to the practice. He also pointed out that while he respects the effort being made by Jamaican artistes to sing over classic material from their own culture, the fact is that they still will not achieve the level of success as foreign artistes.

"We still not going to climb the charts because we don't have the labels backing us. Those foreign artiste have people investing millions promoting their songs. Our music is also limited to certain overseas stations, so we are not able to reach the masses effectively," he said.