Going International

The decision to make reggae/dancehall artistes into international stars and to make them profitable is nothing new, and the results are usually the same. From Bob Marley to Elephant Man, we’ve seen this time and time again. This habitually happens after a star has bloomed, not one that is cultivated. The music which makes an artiste a star in the dancehall community is from such artiste’s experience but when the attempt to duplicate such success after an artiste is signed to a commercial/international label the prospects of continued success dwindles.

Why? Because the authenticity is no longer present, the music now becomes formulated; meant to be commercialized, not for those who appreciate the underground and exclusiveness of the music and culture but for the wider audience. It is no longer by us so we tend to think it is not for us, therefore, without our endorsement the popular audience ignores it.

Music made by people looking for overwhelming success through record sales is researched and precise; it is intentional, not spontaneous. Because dancehall artistes usually depend on performing rather than record sales, transforming the music to achieve the opposite becomes very difficult. The occasional crossover of an artiste (and a song) first depends on that artiste success within the original community, “crossover” occurs after this accomplishment. Consider the success of Sean Paul, Beenie Man, Elephant Man, and Junior Gong or even Shaggy, their successful crossovers required the initial approval of the dancehall community. Their songs usually filter through the channels from bottom to top, not the other way around.


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