Thursday, 8 November 2012

My Problem(s) With Dancehall Artists

This post is an attempt to help dancehall artists build a better brand and hopefully become better entertainers. I will be writing as if speaking to the entertainers themselves up until the "P.S." section

Disclaimer: I will not be calling any names and singling any artists out as I do not wish to be attacked by any crazed or idle fans. Feel free to pass this on to some of your favourite dancehall artists.


-          Physical appearance- Females: Exercise. Regardless of your body shape or size, this will help you out in the long run. More is required of women in general when it comes to entertaining and having a toned body and increased stamina can only help. Dress for your size. Stop stuffing yourself into your younger and much smaller sister’s clothes. Those “love” handles hate you for what you try to do to them. I get that we all want to look or feel sexy but if you were really honest with yourselves or had a team around you who really cared about your image, you would realize that what the camera captures most often are failed attempts at a contrived view of sexy. I get that dancehall is about extremes and expressing yourself with a lot of flare but sometimes simplicity can be a good friend to you. Practice proper grooming and get decent stylists. There are just too many fashion blogs out there for the mistakes that so many of you make. Spend some money on your look or try to look like you did.

-          Males: Exercise- women like eye candy as well. You already have a really low standard set in terms of how attractive you have to be to be able to become popular; there is no requirement to be handsome, cute or even “not frightening to small children and anyone with eyes that work”. This does not mean that you should look like you collide with a wall or blunt object every day. Honestly, too many of you look like death warmed over or like you recently had a dramatic bout with a chemical peel (Yes, this is directed at the bleachers- putting that much energy into something whose end product is reminiscent of a zombie clown makes absolutely no sense). Dress like you were not surprised that you would have to venture into a public place. At one point I had two theories: Some entity or organization was going around and dragging the men of dancehall out of their beds and forcing them to perform or some gang was robbing them of their decent wardrobe pieces- so much so that they decided to stop trying to acquire any sensible clothes altogether. The sloppiness with which most of you carry yourselves is truly disgraceful considering the fact that you are paid to be public figures and your own fans dress up to see you perform. At least try to match the efforts your fans make. Geez!

-          General Note: Stop looking like everyone else in dancehall or the latest musical pop culture “icon”. Try to present yourself in a manner that is unique and true to who you are, not who you see is “selling big” or who you think is likely to sell big;
-         Stop being so lazy. It’s part of why your fans are lazy to support your work on a larger scale.


-          Songs-  Females: while it may still be a male-dominated industry, women in dancehall have a strong presence. Enough of you are out there that you can speak on different topics and diversify your discography. And I don’t mean one song for every twelve to twenty that speaks on some vague issue that you think will qualify as socially important and must, therefore, give you enough of a pass to go back to your usual antics. We have a voice now- try to use it for more than spreading the joys of being a “matey” (the other woman) or professing the effectiveness of your kegel regimen. I’m not saying don’t sing about these things at all. I’m just suggesting delving into other topics. Also, I get that it is a competitive industry and females are, by nurture (yes, I meant nurture) more competitive with each other but it is not a good look always trying to be the one and only at the top and doing your utmost to tear each other down. It's a large part of why none of you get very far.

-          Males: I suggest you all put together your finances and start having donation drives whose earnings go into finding a cure for “badmind”. Seriously, enough already with this damn topic. You all sound paranoid. I get it- it’s hard out here for a pi--- dancehall “star”. You never know who your “real friends” are and so you must now turn you your (I assume) previously lower-ranked “linkie dem” because they will surely not fail you. My suggestion would be to pick better friends preferably ones who do not wear sunglasses all the damn time! I can only imagine the frustration faced in forming friendships and alliances when you can only see a man’s face and not his eyes….or is it heart? I’ll have to research that one some more. While I’m looking into that, try looking into having less “friends”. An entourage or a crew is breeding ground for trouble and shallow pockets.
-          I’m sure I don’t need to highlight the fact that most of you promote daggering and very few encourage your fans to be safe especially the younger ones. I get that it is not your “responsibility” to tell people how to live their lives or to raise anyone’s child(ren) but I also know that most of you are smart enough to know that your music can be very influential and, as such, you don’t truly think that excuse will fly. Right? Right.

-          Videos- Do I even need to say it? For the most parts your videos are so basic in look and concept that I wonder why you bother to make them. They are the same formula- as much nudity as Broadcast Commission would allow, a lot of UNNECESSARY close-ups on the artists and their entourage, features of lavish lifestyles that most of you do not truly enjoy and all done in low quality graphics. You may not have all of these elements in one single video but most of you do and it’s time to step it up. And all the people who tell you that your latest generic video looks "amazing" either do not have your best intentions at heart or do not truly want to see you grow.

Public Relations

-         Social media. Get a publicist or a public relations consultant. Or avoid social media until you learn how to pretend that you have some sense. Want to air your dirty laundry? Put it in a song. Have someone help you write said song. I’m sure there are writers who would be willing to do it for free or cheap (even though no one should have to work for free) just to get a foot in the door. You may see nervous breakdowns work for foreign acts but surely you know your local fans well enough to know that such behavior will only receive mockery if you are doing it to seek attention. What I wonder is: when you get the attention, what do you hope to do with it? Direct us to your latest work which can only be described as unintentionally comedic. Be smart now. Or pay someone to be smart for you. Patois is lovely and feel free to post messages in your Jamaican creole or in English if you wish. Bear in mind, however, the fact that you have international fans who would also like to understand your message. Regardless of the language you choose, remember that being able to spell is a valuable skill. Get hooked on phonics, people. Maw beg unu (I am begging you all)

On a final note (for now) Don’t take your fans for granted or continue to insult their intelligence any longer. Jamaicans in this day and age are more exposed than Jamaicans of the past. Get with the times or get left behind. Jamaicans, among other groups, have the potential to make an artist/song extremely popular or even viral. Learn how to put out your best work so that they can have something the world at large would want to pick up and run with.

P.S. Let me know if there is/are any area(s) I did not mention that you deem worthy of mentioning. Somehow I think I may have to revisit this topic of branding.


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