Wed | Dec 8, 2021

‘Tropical House Cruises to Jamaica’ could set sail - Producer, artistes look to expanding album project into a tour

Published:Friday | May 15, 2020 | 12:11 AMStephanie Lyew/Gleaner Writer
Veteran recording artiste Don Yute sets sights on African market with his involvement in the third instalment of Tropical House Cruises to Jamaica album.
Veteran recording artiste Don Yute sets sights on African market with his involvement in the third instalment of Tropical House Cruises to Jamaica album.

The likes of Ed Sheeran, Damian ‘Jr Gong’ Marley, Wyclef Jean, Sean Paul and, most recently, Ghana’s megastar Shatta Wale never let the opportunity pass to lend their lyrical and vocal expertise to the production of the compilation series, Tropical House Cruises to Jamaica. The latest and third outfit, The Reggae Collector’s Edition, is already making waves in a time when, according to the album’s executive producer Sean ‘Contractor’ Edwards, “sales in reggae are down worldwide”.

The director of Contractor Music Group said the compilation has proven to be a successful vessel in creating networks between recording artistes and producers globally, and this year’s edition, distributed online by UnitedMasters, is proving the potential to tap into more markets. Selector duo Alrick and Boyd and ZJ Dymond, to name a few, have flexed their producer muscles for the project.

“We, as the industry stakeholders, have to find new markets, so the attempt with The Reggae Collector’s Edition is to open the African market,” Contractor told The Gleaner. “The concept of the compilation has always focused on merging the talents of high-profile artistes and introducing a few new faces; Shatta Wale is the face of the album this year and, so far, the supporters in Ghana are giving great reviews.”

Tropical Ho use Cruises to Jamaica (2018), a 15-track project, and Tropical House Cruises to Jamaica Reloaded (2019), a 12-track project, were prominent on the Billboard Reggae Album Charts with the first of the two spending 19 weeks in the top 10 and four weeks at the No. 1 position. It was awarded the No. 7 top reggae album in sales in the US for 2018. The 2019 project spent five weeks on the chart.

“We’re hoping to sell a lot of units,” shared Contractor about the latest and largest in the series, with a total of 25 tracks.

It has been said that it is the first time an African artiste has been portrayed this way on a reggae-dancehall project of this nature; then again, Shatta Wale has been proclaimed the African King of Dancehall and he is not the only crown-wearing figure featured on The Reggae Collector’s Edition, noting Jamaica’s King of Dancehall Beenie Man and Elephant Man, once named the King of the Refix, as well as other reggae/dancehall heavyweights such as Tommy Lee Sparta, Wayne Wonder, Sizzla, Capleton and Don Yute are part of the compilation.

“There are close to 30 million people residing in Ghana alone, and its neighbour Nigeria has more than quadruple the population,” notes Contractor, “and what breaks in Ghana usually filters through to the neighbouring countries. With it being potentially far-reaching, we may consider expanding the project to include a tour that will set sail when this pandemic has passed.”

In addition to the online distribution and streams on the Spotify and Apple Music platforms, Contractor says placement of physical copies in major outlets like Walmart will expand their reach further.

“Connecting the motherland energy with our authentic reggae and dancehall music is a merger that works and it will make the compilation a big sell,” said Don Yute.

He said with all that is happening with the outbreak of COVID-19, there is a lot more work to be done, and anticipates a tour this time next year.

“I never took a break, instead always delved deeper into the music business to learn about all the sides, and even more now during COVID-19, I am working a lot harder to keep relevant as it concerns building an online presence,” he told The Gleaner.

He emerged in the 1990s with a sound that cusps on the local genres, R&B, hip-hop and alternative music that caught the attention of major international players like Trina, Ying Yang Twins and Trick Daddy and has explored an even wider scope of genres since then. His most popular tracks locally are collaborations with long-time friend Wayne Wonder, Sensi Ride and Loving Excess on the Pepperseed riddim. Don Yute’s track Funkin With Me, on Tropical House Cruises to Jamaica, is exactly as the title suggests – a play on dancehall, pop and funk music with a modern doo-wop fusion of genres.

“The sound is more of a world music charted album what I like to call ‘World Hop’ – another side to Don Yute I am experimenting with a lot more, not just classic but modern sounds and this is one of those tracks that demonstrates the growth,” he expressed.