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Jamaican hip hop commanding attention - Monthly event gives local artistes exposure

Published:Sunday | August 11, 2013 | 12:00 AM

Hip hop does not readily come to mind when one thinks of music in Jamaica, despite the father of the culture being Jamaica-born Clive Campbell, aka DJ Kool Herc - a Jamaican immigrant to the Bronx who took the local sound-system culture to New York.

Jamaicans and their children in the United States have contributed greatly to hip hop music as artistes and producers, making it a true product of the diaspora and 'blood relative' to dancehall and reggae.

While Jamaica has never been known to have its own home-grown hip hop artistes, that is slowly changing, and the island's premier hip hop event, Pay Attention, is leading the way.

Started in April 2012, Pay Attention has provided a regular party and showcase atmosphere for local hip hop practitioners and fans alike.

Held almost monthly since its start as a free event, Pay Attention has brought hundreds to its past venues, and now, as a paid event, has a loyal following of scores.

The event, currently held inside Club Indulge at South Beach Café, was started by a close-knit group of like-minded individuals, who all wanted to see a space for the local hip hop community, which was previously scattered and fragmented.

"Pay Attention is where people may come and get familiar with what Jamaica has to offer in terms of genuine hip hop music. It is also about community-building for us, as it serves as a hub for the scene," said Raquel Allen, Pay Attention's public relations manager.

Musical director and resident DJ, Inztinkz - also one of the scene's respected producers - points out that one may hear locally produced hip hop in the mix with international ones, ranging from old school to underground to current hits.

"We definitely have seen some of Jamaica's hip hop artistes getting more exposure over the past few years, although the movement has yet to penetrate the mainstream. People like Five Steez and Nomad Carlos have been releasing material and growing their audiences, particularly online and internationally, and they are also an integral part of this event and movement," said The Sickest Drama, host of the event and local artiste.

Past performers include Sly Rankin; hip hop fusion band Acmatic; Reggae-fusion lyricist Kabaka Pyramid; and up-and-coming dancehall diva J Capri.

While the event seeks to showcase local hip hop acts, it also embraces other local artistes who fuse elements of hip hop in their music.

The next staging of Pay Attention will be held on Saturday, August 17, inside Club Indulge at South Beach Café, 2 Brompton Road.

Music will be provided by Inztinkz and Fatalic. Five Steez, Nomad Carlos, Sons of Liberty and Shermon Dadz are slated to perform.

Admission is $600 at the gate and two-for-one ladies before showtime at 10:30 p.m.

Presold tickets for $500 are available on at Nanook Enterprises, 20 Burlington Avenue, and at Gambling House Recording Studio, 21 Haining Road.

Follow @PayAttentionJA on Twitter and visit for more information and regular event updates.