Scene one, take 2023 – Ras Ajai eyes new year
Things are certainly looking bright for Ras Ajai. The St Catherine-born recording artiste and songwriter has already established himself as part of Dutty Rock Productions’ faces to watch and voices to listen to, with a memorable feature on Sean Paul’s 20th Anniversary of Dutty Rock at Webster Hall in New York, hosted in collaboration with the city’s popular Hot 97 radio station last November.
It was the artiste’s first-ever major performance in New York. As the only other act, he was honoured to be a part of it, he said, because some of his greatest lessons have come from Sean Paul, who is the principal of the record label Ras Ajai has called home for the past five years.
“I actually never even realised it. Jah know…January 2023 does mark a major milestone being signed to Dutty Rock Productions. Me just deh a road with Sean and seeing the impact he has outside of Jamaica, and observing his humility in all of this; and he is making me see the world. He taught me to make the work tell your story,” Ras Ajai told The Gleaner.
He has been working towards his goal over several years, with a glimpse of success, but he describes the past year in particular as “a grind year”. “I didn’t do as much shows; the year was mainly about seeking responses from other avenues and understanding the music business from the streaming perspective. I stayed low and put all the energy into promoting releases that were circulating, and realised where songs like Success and Vice Grip captured the mixtape community and took off outside of our territory,” Ras Ajai shared.
He said that while he knows the songs are receiving airplay, and expects that people are familiarising themselves with his name and catalogue, to hear persons singing the lyrics was validation that things were being done the right way.
“When is your season, is your season…I am a believer in that. I was surprised to see people in any audience singing my songs. Not to say you don’t expect people to, but it is a whole new ballgame. Other goals were scored, too. As I said, it was a business year and some ads were done. There is also the endorsement with a clothing line in Long Island called Numbers, and it’s only forward moves here on out,” the Smoking Loud artiste declared.
He said that with this year being a year of festivals, most countries are providing their entertainment sectors with permits to return to normal following a pandemic and music lovers, as well as artistes like himself, have a lot to look forward to. “The next big scene is the festivals on the calendar; there’s a show coming up this month, and after that the music takes us to England for about two weeks.”
Ras Ajai also revealed that he is looking to take his talents to the big screen – and will be taking on a role fans have never seen him in before.
“We’re taking 2023 by storm. Dutty Rock, for 2023, is going to be a force to reckon with. I can’t say too much, but I am making moves and movies...I’ll be away, shooting some scenes. Right after, it’s on to touring – Canada – as the producer for the A20 Riddim has lined up a couple of us on the juggling to hit those streets. By March end, I’ll be in Canada. I know we will be at the Caribbean Food Factor, East Kelowna Community Hall, among other places. Just keep watching,” Ras Ajai said.