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Dancehall rises again - Young artistes begin to open doors

Published:Thursday | June 5, 2014 | 12:00 AM
Samantha J

With Samantha J and OMI getting record deals abroad and songs from Jamaican acts being sampled internationally, it seems reggae and dancehall are poised to rise again on the world market.

Earlier this year, Samantha J signed a record deal with Colombia Records, while OMI inked a deal with Ultra Music that will see him working with international label Sony Music Entertainment.

Aidonia and Bounty Killer were recently featured on's It's My Birthday. Last year, Jamaican acts like Popcaan and Capleton were sampled on Kanye West's Yeezus album, while Assassin was featured in a song on the album. Christopher Martin, Jimmy Cliff and Terror Fabulous were recently sampled by Jim Jones, B.O.B and Ace Hood, respectively.

These are just some of the numerous features that Jamaican acts have received on the world stage recently.

This, former Zip Jock Nikki Z, believes, might be a signal of what is to come.

"I think it is set to take a different stride internationally. It's a great thing that is happening, we just have to sit and watch which ones rise to the occasion," said Nikki Z, who is a host on Connecticut's Hot 93.7 FM and her syndicated show Nikki Hot 20.


She said she believes these younger artistes are better able to understand the concept of business and what it means to get a record deal. She stressed that getting a deal does not mean doing less work.

Instead, "it means you go harder now to prove you can get as many numbers as before," she said.

Nikki Z continued, "Things can happen if our artistes remember to try to stick to the formula ... being truly you, be dancehall."

For Clifton 'Specialist' Dillon, manager of OMI and former manager of Patra and Shabba, reggae and dancehall have always had a presence internationally, but the business knowledge was lacking.

"A lot of good things are happening in reggae and dancehall. I don't think it has ever gone anywhere; it is how we deal with the product that we have. If we are not marketing our product, someone else will," he said, noting that he expects to see a rise of the genre.

The poor business practices of Jamaican acts were also a concern for Washroom Entertainment's Conroy Forte, who produced Samantha J's Tight Up Skirt.

"We have a far way to go in terms of the business aspect. Hip-hop artistes are very structured in how they do their business, but dancehall is yet to get there. With proper management and structure, I hope our young dancehall artistes can achieve that level of greatness," Forte told The Gleaner.

He added that younger listeners are being influenced by new music and Jamaican artistes seem to be capitalising on that.

"There is a sound that is emerging and dancehall is adapting to this eclectic blend. I hope dancehall becomes mainstream. I would like to think that it is on the rise again," Forte said.