Spragga Benz promises ‘shellingz’ for Sumfest
“Welcome back Spragga. You were missed.” That’s the message posted by a fan, who identified herself as Khadija, in the comments section of the video for the remix of Spragga Benz’s song, Differ. Done originally with British DJ Toddler T, the remix features a few friends of the legendary dancehall star, namely, Sean Paul, Agent Sasco and Chi Ching Ching. And, clearly, they had a crocus bag of fun while shooting the video.
“Of course we did,” a very relaxed Spragga Benz told The Gleaner. But, beyond the laughter, there’s a deeper message that the Red Square artiste wants to share – love and unity in the dancehall. “We need to bring back that vibe in the music where we as artistes can come together in unity and do power collabs and have real fun,” he said emphatically.
Spragga (born Carlton Grant) says he is focused on music and has always been. According to him, his mandate has been to keep his eye on the musical prize, performing on shows, many of them outside of Jamaica, putting out new music, and mostly living his off-stage life under the radar. “And keeping the order as best as me can, no man nuh perfect,” the Born Good Looking Rastafarian artiste said.
Currently shaking up the dancehall space a tad bit with Differ, and Differ (Remix), Spragga told The Gleaner that the Toddler T original had climbed to number one on the UK iTunes charts between February and March. The Could A Deal artiste is also working on a 15-track album, titled Chiligon, which is due out in September. This album, which is quite eclectic, features garage, jungle, drum and bass and dancehall. “Hopefully dem don’t beat me down and say me stray too much from my genre,” he said “Dancehall has no limits. Music is intended to open your mind. I love what everybody do, but at the same time, everybody can’t do the same thing,” he stated.
Having sought to establish that he wasn’t really gone anywhere, he shared with The Gleaner that he has an important event on July 16. He will be honoured with a proclamation from the City of Brooklyn at the advertised Wingate concert series at Wingate Park. “Thanks for the honour, and we will keep giving you great music,” was the message he posted on IG.
Spragga Benz has evolved, and he has matured quite a bit from his frolicking Jack It Up days, One of his teachers, he said, was Stephen Marley. “Me and Ky-mani made the link through Shottas (the movie) and then, through going to the studio, me and Stephen create a bond. I then opened on tours for him and he showed me the importance of good work ethics. I am thankful for that connection,” Spragga said.
He added, “I’ve matured a lot, learnt a lot over time. I had a lot of experiences that led me to be appreciative. The passing of Carlyle (his son) make me see that life is really more precious. And the soldiers who drop out along the way, I have to move with fi dem strength and carry the banner.”
Of Red Square, his home base, he says it is now a brand. “We are living the vision. Red Square LLC is now a corporate organization running out of a corner. Red Square was never about gangster business,” he said, sounding really earnest. “Red Square was always Red Square Monsters; we were working youths. Most of the youths that me start out with, dem show that. Remember that’s how Roundhead dem come up with the name Monster Shack,” he said.
He added, “Red Square artistes like Xyclone and Unlock are quietly making their noise in all different areas of the music business.”
Scheduled to perform on Reggae Sumfest on Friday, July 19, he said quite nonchalantly that his absence from the line-up of this authentic dancehall and reggae festival was simply because he “wasn’t invited.” And why now? “Maybe dem come to dem senses,” he said sotto voce.
On a more serious note, he explained,“The organisers reached out to my management from last year and we had to iron out the agreement, and here we are. Perhaps they saw the relevance of have an old-school dancehall artiste with a current flavour on the line-up,” Spragga theorised.
But whatever the reason for his inclusion, Spragga Benz is “proud that they invited me to be a part of Reggae Sumfest this year” and promises to do “all the songs that my fans have made hits, and perhaps one or two new tunes”. He summed up his intended performance in one word, “Shellingz.”
As for his Reggae Sumfest garb, the entertainer, who is known for his ultra-relaxed on-stage image, gave an answer that was totally in character when asked if he would be wearing a three-piece suit to the festival.
“A suit!!! Come on, everybody supposed to know that I am the type who will run out on the Sumfest stage in a merino, grab a mic and perform,” he said. “But, I’ll think about it,” he added.