Yaksta full of ‘Ambition’
‘May not be the favourite ... but still favoured’
Gratitude is at the base of Yaksta’s reaction to receiving the award for Song of the Year at the recently held Jamaica Reggae Industry Association (JaRIA) Honour Awards.
The public-vote category included his 2021 hit Ambition; Koffee’s West Indies; Shenseea’s Run; Laa Lee’s Dirt Bounce; Jah Vinci’s Virgin and Go Down Deh by Spice, Shaggy and Sean Paul.
“Dem bigger than me; I’d be the only runner-up there as all of them are more established with a bigger fan base and more hits songs than me,” Yaksta told The Gleaner. “But I’m just grateful that people can actually see the work and appreciate it. But to me, I wasn’t even looking for nothing at all. I’m not looking for an award.”
Yet, he has been attracting accolades, copping the New Artiste of the Year and Singjay of the Year awards at the Reggae Month Irie FM Music Awards last month.
Since making his music debut in 2016, the St Mary-based artiste has been building his ‘Bush Movement’ lifestyle which paid off with Ambition, produced by Afro Boi Entertainment and WussMuzikk. The track promotes financial management, generational wealth, and principles which were long overlooked by trap dancehall’s Mark X standard of success. When asked what he would attribute to the song’s continued success, Yaksta posited:
“Ambition is a hybrid and a reality,” he started. “Ambition is what we are not. Ambition is what I want to be. These are ideologies that were conceived mentally from my downfall and another individual and as a protagonist and a writer, sometimes we try to make a narration that actually impacts a nation but sometimes we’re not looking for such a massive impact. Nonetheless, it did and it’s doing, and the reason why Ambition is still growing is because people want message and when message comes across individuals, it impacts you in a spiritual way.”
He continued, “Personally, I just expressed how I felt in the booth that day and I just think that’s what the people gravitate towards to this day… Ambition is the actual truth of what was not said in dancehall over the years as we oftentimes sing about ‘gyallism’, killing, buying this, bunning out that, chopping this, but nobody sing a song about a fowl coop, buying some cows, goats, donkey, and I did it in such a way where it’s palatable. It’s not just a conscious song but also party-appealing.”
Its impact has transformed his reality in many ways, from connecting with big names in the business to mentoring at-risk youth as part of the Dragon Be the One campaign. His increased visibility has accompanied some negatives too.
“Many people who once was friends become foes. A lot of individuals don’t really view me as the same individual; all dem see is a dollar sign and sometimes it’s overwhelming but I’m still grateful.”
But the biggest thing he has found challenging with fame is navigating boxes and unfair pedestals. Should he decide to sing about a girl looking sexy in shorts, “it’s like dem find it taboo because in fi dem mind, you might be Jesus, but I’m not Jesus, I’m Yaksta – an individual who expresses himself in accordance with what I feel”.
He added, “Though I may not make it vulgar, it is still suggestive because Ambition is a very feisty song. Yaksta will go to a party and dance with somebody and dem will say I’m out of context. They’ll forget I’m actually a human being … So people just always trying to put you in a box of how they perceive us to be as entertainers, depending on where you actually buss. If you buss as a gunman, dem accept anything from you. If you buss conscious, dem expect yuh fi sing Mary Had a Little Lamb all the time but you have to enjoy yourself with the music…”
He’s doing the latter on his upcoming 2022 (pronounced ‘two o two two’) EP, which will also capture untold life experiences “but still have its commercial value but a little reality and tups of sexiness for the ladies”.
A bevvy of producers are featured, including himself (through his WussMuzikk and Bush Music labels), Afro Boii Entertainment, Runabeat Music, Anju Blaxx, Marlon Easy and Pheelz.
The EP 2022 comes following last year’s promotion of the 12-track Late Bloomer album, which Yaksta said did not actualise because of various conflicts.
“There was so much chaos and sometimes where there’s too much chaos, I just tend to walk away so I did that and just recreated some tracks. 2022 was always there as it would have been a follow-up EP to that album.”
Among other things happening behind the scenes was his YouTube channel being intentionally flagged three times, forcing a bit of rebuilding and restrategising.
“Sometimes I think we need that pushback to see how we can push forward … I may not be the people’s favourite but I know I’m favoured.”