PerZpective: Jamaica’s Hip Hop Movement

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With American Hip Hop heads starving for fresh beats and rhymes…

…can Jamaican artists make the most of a promising 2013?

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While Jamaica birthed Dancehall music from the seeds of Reggae and Hip Hop, the island has never fully embraced or encouraged its own Hip Hop scene. Most aspiring rappers and DJs struggle until the pressure of success forces a switch to Dancehall. A few migrate in hopes of getting signed in the States.

Past acts like Vybz Kartel, Aidonia, Assassin, and Masicka, used Hip Hop style and flows to stand out in the crowded Dancehall industry. But with each year, Jamaica seems to grow hungrier for a Hip Hop scene of its own.

2012 saw an increase in Hip Hop talent coming from Jamaica and opened some promising avenues for Jamaican artists and entrepreneurs hoping to break into the music industry.

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All past toiling is beginning to pay off for rappers like Five Steez, who expanded his local and international fan bases with a number of stunning performances and the release of his debut “War for Peace” last year.

Kingston-born MC Nomad Carlos made his name known with the release of his “Live From Yard” mixtape and “Me Against The Grain” street album. Carlos is expected by many to do even bigger things in the new year. Collaborations with established producers like Inztinkz, Moredecai and France’s DJ King Flow from France helped them master their sound in 2012 and will be solid ground to build on in 2013. With the help of music videos, vlogs and mixtapes, Manchester-based group Blu Rok made their name know digitally.

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While Jamaican Hip Hop hasn’t reached the level of dominating radio, it has slowly gained support from all aspects of Jamaican popular culture. Jamaica’s Zip 103 FM, known for having Hip Hop themed mixes and remixes, gave Five Steez and other up-and-comers much needed exposure last year, offering mainstream support both on airwaves and at local events.

Hip Hop shows were never a regular occurrence in Jamaica, but 2012 saw a number of performances popping up to satisfy the peoples’ new thirst for rap. While Hip Hop is usually designated for specific segments of larger shows, Manifesto Jamaica has been hosting a yearly festival since 2009 to give Jamaican rappers a true shot at display their talents via their “Festival of Art’Cal Empowerment” series.

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Since launching in April 2012, Pay Attention JA has showcased Hip Hop talent with their free monthly concert series in Kingston. Pay Attention also laid the blueprint for #TheTakeover, which was held in early December and reeled in fans by the boatloads.

International DJs like DJ Ill Will have also given a hand to the movement, hosting mixtapes and offering their production skills to hungry artists across Jamaica. But when those in power dropped the ball, Jamaican artists used social media as a powerful tool for connecting with and generating fans as well as bringing awareness to the various musical movements brewing across the island.

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With all of this progress, it’s exciting to imagine what Jamaica’s Hip Hop scene will cook up in 2013. Keep following #TheMovement and see what the island’s best MCs and DJs are able to create.

 

Words by W. Haye

Read more here.

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