Editorial: Turning Off the Hype Machine

Monday, February 7, 2011

By Sherman Escoffery
Editorial view by writer. to voice your opinion email author or leave a comment.

At what point are we going to turn off the hype machine and face the reality that a lot of this crap that we are hyping up is not going anywhere? The biggest reggae song for 2010, “Hold You” by Gyptian, was produced by Brooklyn born multi hit producer Ricky Blaze. Back in Jamaica, the musical production of our current multi platinum Reggae act was placed in the hands of a talented but immature and overrated so called genius producer. He crashed that project into the side of a hill like a careless minibus driver. There was neither outrage nor a re-examination of the so called Genius’s failure by his elders, his peers or his supporters. Instead he was encouraged to drive even faster, picking up the Gully Gad along the way in his damaged bus to nowhere but over a cliff.

I might have finished my formal education over 15 years ago but if my math serves me correctly, taking someone that was selling several million records and carrying them down to less than 100 thousand does not just spell failure, it spells really utter disaster. I don’t see anyone calling Steven "Lenky" Marsden a genius and he hit number one, two and eleven spots with Sean Paul- Get Busy, Lumidee- Never Leave You and Wayne Wonder-No letting Go on the billboard top 100 chart. Tony Kelly, Don Corleon, Delly Ranks all worked on a multi million selling album and I don’t hear anyone calling them geniuses. Last time I checked most of those producers are still making music that is actually selling and getting recognized outside of Quad and Fiction.

Is there good dancehall songs coming out of Jamaica? Yes there is, but can they breath long enough to make an impact is another story. When a good song does make some kind of impact, what kind of support is the artist, the producer and their record company really putting behind the song? Vybz Kartel’s Ramping Shop and Clarks, two really popular songs, should have easily sold at least 100,000 each if not gold. There was no organization or plan behind these songs and all the people that Vybz Kartel keeps focusing on DO NOT BUY RECORDS. So why stay focus on the non spending converts?

We see Seanizzle’s Rum & Red Bull crack the Billboard REGGAE chart and I hope he continues along the same path and hopefully get to the top 100 chart but an artist of Beenieman’s stature should not be celebrating a #30 entry on the Billboard REGGAE chart. Anything less than #10 entry by Beeniman, Movado, and Vybz Kartel or selling less than a thousand units a week in the initial stages is a shame and shows how far the music has fallen.

Given the dismal figures that are reflected on the billboard reggae charts, I am beginning to wonder about its purpose as we keep flooding the market with all these overhype garbage that ends up choking most of the decent music out there and preventing them from breathing. Shaggy’s Angel is still outselling 99 percent of all the songs that is shatting, shelling dung and maading the place. If the aspiration of the Jamaican artists is to be a community superstar, do a few dub plate and get a local phone company endorsement contract, then they are doing perfectly fine, but we should not be upset when foreigners do our music and actually sell some record. We should not be upset when we see Skerrit Boy on CNN representing for the dancehall because they know how to make, promote and sell our product that they treat it like a business instead of a bad mind, overhype, and hustle.

Can the Artist’s stop with the outside conspiracy theory and the bad mind conversations, the blame the VP records conversation, and the “I’m managing myself!” conversations? Jamaica has only seen two multiplatinum selling dancehall artists in the past decade, Sean Paul, and Shaggy. Guess what? They have real managers and a business structure around them, they don’t harp on bad mind and conspiracy theories, and VP never held their careers back as they positioned themselves for a global market. If anyone is going to bring up the brown skin argument, there is Kartel’s cake soap and he seems to be doing even much better since he got brown.

Producers need to start focusing on putting out solid material that they are planning to market and groom into a hit songs instead of flooding the market and hoping for a hit or a forward at Quad and Fiction, because if the song can’t get a visa out of Jamaica, all they are doing is fondling their own ego’s.

Sherman Escoffery is a frustrated lover of Dancehall Music and would love to buy a CD in 2011that has at least 13 good dancehall songs that he can play without skipping a track


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