BY RICHARD JOHNSON —-
Over the years Jamaican artists have benefited from increased exposure from the remix of an existing tune which received new life thanks to collaboration with an international act.
Among the popular tracks is the Chant Down Babylon album released by the Marley family in 1999. The project featured the music of the late reggae king, Bob Marley reworked and featuring contemporary American hip hop artistes. The lead single, Turn Your Lights Down Low features Lauryn Hill. The Marleys explained that by putting the iconic words and music of their late father into the mouths of young, contemporary acts, the music would reach a new demographic. Among the acts on the album were Erykah Badu, Busta Rhymes, MC Lyte, and Rakim.
Just this week came word that local deejay Konshens has collaborated with R&B act Chris Brown on the remix of his club banger Bruk Off Yuh Back, which was originally released last year. The deejay is said to be excited about the latest move which he projects will give the popular track a few new ears.
Senior lecturer in cultural studies at The University of the West Indies Dr Donna Hope noted that there are great benefits to be had from remixes, but warns artistes to be wary of the pitfalls.
“The collaborations are great mechanisms to enhance the spread and crossover appeal of dancehall,” she told the Jamaica Observer.
Is there any potential drawback?
“Yes, of course. Authentic Jamaican dancehall has to make concessions in order to facilitate acceptance by a wider audience,” she told Splash.
Hope advises Jamaican artists to maintain their core.
“Keep your indigenous roots close, even while seeking global and crossover appeal. If we end up sounding like everyone else, what will make us unique?” she charges.
In 2010, singer Gyptian was given a shot in the arm with his single Hold You after then rising hip hop star Nicki Minaj commandeered a remix on his tune. The track not only introduced Minaj to a wider reggae market, but helped promote Gyptian’s album of the same name. He would later win international awards including a a Soul Train Award and a Music of Black Origin (MOBO) award.
In 2015, deejay Alkaline collaborated with Jamaica-born, USA-based Sean Kingston for the remix on his Ride on Me.
Beenie Man has reaped benefits on at least two occasions with remixes. His first remix success came in 2000 with Girls Dem Sugar which featured R&B princess Mya. The track was produced by The Neptunes for Beenie Man’s album Art and Life and was inspired by his single Who Am I (Sim Simma) which was released in 1997. He hit the motherload once again in 2004 when rapper Shawnna was brought on board his local hit Dude which featured local singer Miss Thing.
She is now a gospel act, but in her secular days Lady Saw benefited from a remix. She released Heels On in 2014. Following a performance at Reggae Sumfest, the sultry hit caught the ears of hip hop act Flo Rida, who was also part of the line-up for the festival. The American artist promptly ordered a remix.
Ty Dolla $ign’s remix of Kranium’s Nobody Has To Know, gave the popular breakout track by the Jamaican artist an increased push back in 2015.
Baby Cham was a staple on the local dancehall scene back in the late 1990’s. The artiste would take some personal time following a move to the United States, but made his presence felt with the release of Ghetto Story. So big was this impact that the track got to the ears of R&B act Alicia Keys with whom he recorded a remix back in 2006. Keys would fly to Jamaica to film the music video in Baby Cham’s Sherlock Crescent community.