Is Vybz Kartel The Reigning King Of The Dancehall?

Monday, June 27, 2011

By Orlando

Caribbean Lifestyle Media: Vybz Kartel told the Observer, "the only thing you can expect from Vybz Kartel is the unexpected"; those word are ringing true as a few of the top United States media companies took notice.  In one of his more provocative statements, Kartel said, “Remember now, people are like sheep, and I am the shepherd. They’re easy to be lead. It’s so easy it’s hilarious.”

Could it be that Rolling Stones Magazine, Fader, New York Times and Billboard are all sheep?   I am going to take the next few lines to lay out the brillance of how Kartel decided to lead his sheep.  In today's landscape, getting attention for your craft is one thing; having talent is another. Kartel has access to both. Very few artists, much less, Dancehall acts can garner as much attention as Vybz Kartel. Despite the antics (read as bleaching, sex photos, and alleged beating of former Empire members), Kartel is on to something.  He connected with Dre Skull to create what might be one of the best Dancehall albums of the last 5 years.

Kartel was recently challenged by the legend Shabba Ranks in a tune called "none a dem". I like the tune but lets break down the amount of energy it takes Mr. Vegas, Shabba, and Bounty to take on Kartel because they disagree with his lifestyle and off stage antics.  For every diss song one of these legends created counteracting Kartel, he gets another major headline.  Unfortunately, the same is not happening with any of the artists previously mentioned. In other words, they prove his statements that he is the Dancehall hero.

Kartel is currently a storm that not even the naysayers can ignore.  In a recent New York Times article Kartel summed up his success in a rather brilliant and introspective approach which displays his uncanny ability to tap into the current hate being targeted towards him .  He stated, "It's fun for me to watch people hate me, and it's flattering to watch people love me," he said. "But 10 years from now the public is going to love somebody else. Vybz Kartel is going to become irrelevant, and I can accept that. That's why a lot of artists are bitter, 'cause they can't accept that. Get over it. Stop trying to be Kartel. You can't. It's all about making that money while I'm in the limelight."

I always say, give credit where credit is due. However, I checked Itunes recently and while I was searching for Kingston Story to be somewhere on the top 10 Reggae album or top 10 Reggae singles charts, it was nowhere to be found.  Does this mean Kartel is not the King of the Dancehall?  In my opinion, Kartel's brand of Dancehall can bring him revenue in other creative ways.  However, if you are the reigning king of the Dancehall and the reign on the charts is short like Leprechaun (Jay-Z pun intended), what have you achieved?

Kartel, I believe you are keenly aware of how this all impacts your bottom line. Remember, when an artist is bigger than life, their ability to earn income expands exponentially (thus the comparison to Lady Gaga, Jay-Z and others).  Kartel has the right idea in mind; I like to call it the psychological game.  For example, Shabba dissed him, instead of doing what Dancehall artists are known for (feuding and taking each others girls, just laugh nuh!); Kartel told Fader Magazine: "What Shabba had was what Bob had over his peers: cocky, confident, charismatic, outspoken and ahead of his time."  I am not sure if you have read the book, "How To Win Friends and Influence People" but I will be willing to bet Vybz Kartel is manifesting the same principles.  He has an ability to utilize what is being used against him to his favor and that takes guts and know how. 

Being the King of Dancehall is not about album sales as it once was, it is about building a loyal fan base (who at times don't buy your music, but they will pay to see you perform, which is good). The album sales will hopefully arrive, but with loyal fans you can tour forever (ask the grateful dead), lets hope he gets the US visa as soon as possible. All artists have the potential to have a fan base they can engage, and they will in turn be your TRIBE (passive income like what Bob Marley generates).   With that said, the game has changed, as a matter of fact, the rules have changed.  Kartel compared himself to Jay-Z, I can think of so many ways this rings' true. Regardless if you believe the comparison or not, Roc-A-Fella records business partnership broke up, so did the Empire (Corey Todd, the yardy from foreign).  Jay-Z branded himself as a mogul, Kartel is branding himself as a mogul.  Jay-Z is light skinned, Kartel is now light skinned (Pun intended with a ROFL).  

Excerpt from Vybz Kartel's upcoming book: I start the song, by repeating "hustle the money" "me a hustle the money" almost to make the message subliminal. Careful. Read again. Haters, critics, read again and listen carefully - its hustle the money - not steal the money, not take a gun and rob the money, not start a ponzi and con the money- just hustle the money. I stress the point repeatedly because there is a sector of society that believes when ghetto youths acquire ambition for financial success it means that we are going to begin to embark on some unscrupulous or illegal behaviour to rob people money. What makes Kartel different from any other artists on the Dancehall scene is his intentions and ability to tap into the void. 

Whether or not Kartel is the reigning king of the Danceahall can be argued until pigs fly. The point is, we are all talking about him.  Tell those other artists if they want to become the king of the Dancehall they should learn how to market themselves, and a little ignoring of Kartel in their songs might help.  Diss songs only make Kartel stronger, he has the momentum now.  As Kartel prepares to release his upcoming book I am more keenly aware that there are some wolves around watching out for Kartel's sheep's. Wait, did this entire article just make me a Kartel sheep?  :) 

Check out Vybz Kartel Kingston Story on:
Kingston Story - Vybz Kartel


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