Dreggae, born Andre Ruddock, is a Jamaican Dancehall artist who currently resides in Atlanta, Georgia. He was born in Montego Bay, St. James, and is the grand nephew of the late King Tubby, the Jamaican electronics and sound engineer who was popular for influencing the development of Dub music—and cited as the inventor of the “Remix”. Dreggae started out in the duo T.E.F.L.O.N. with a friend from Georgia Southern, but felt being a solo artist would fare better. Dreggae achieved minor success as a contestant on The CW’s short-lived talent competition series, Before The Fame, and followed his appearance with the release of his first LP, The Unsigned Legend. The popularity of this release resulted in him collaborating with clothing brand REPJA, and Canadian rapper Kardinal Offishall on “We Rep JA”. Mechanical Dummy sat down with Dreggae to learn more about his sound, future goals and his “New Music Tuesday” series.
Words by W. Haye
Mechanical Dummy: For the people who are not yet familiar, who is Dreggae?
Dreggae: I am a recording artist, a songwriter and a developer of young talent, where I help in building their brand and further honing their skills.
MD: Describe your sound, who are your musical influences?
D: I’d say my sound is a fusion of Reggae with every genre. I can blend it with R&B, Hip-Hop, EDM; and I try to ensure that every project I’m a part of is accompanied with meaningful lyrics. I don’t keep myself in a box; I try to work with everything. My musical influences are not limited to one single genre. I look up to acts such as Desmond Dekker, The Chi-Lites, King Tubby, Bob Marley, Jay Z, Nas, Mos Def and Kanye West. I’m even listening to Lorde’s album. I respect lyricism so I tend to listen to very lyrical acts and I cross every border where genre is concerned.
MD: You are currently based in Atlanta, what’s the dancehall scene like over there? How different is it from Jamaica’s?
D: The Dancehall scene over here is developing. Atlanta has a melting pot of different Caribbean nationalities that happen to enjoy the older Reggae/Dancehall music more than the new releases. I blame the DJs for failing to get everyone hip to the new music and artists. I know Mavado, Vybz Kartel, Sean Paul, and whomever they hear and see on the local channels. The parties however feel just like home, It’s a work in progress with getting current music though.
MD: What challenges have you faced so far in your career?
D: As much as I have a favorable sized fan base, I’m still trying to be understood in Atlanta. They love Jamaica but have a hard time understanding our Patois (Creole) in the songs. I’m trying to balance the patios and Standard English in my songs and we’ll get there. My other challenge is not being able to be home in Jamaica often so that I can further promote my work at the street dances and concerts.
MD: You recently kicked off a “New Music Tuesday” series, what inspired that?
D:This series is really a collection of about 30 songs that I wrote over the course of two summers for two projects titled, 50 Shades of Dre and Rum Dayz, Vodka Nights, but things came up and the projects remained dormant. Being at a crossroad with these songs—I felt I outgrew—I decided to release a song every Tuesday to hold over listeners while working on new material to further develop my sound.
MD: What do you hope to achieve in the next few years?
D: To be honest, I want to be iconic, God willing. Iconic as an artist, and iconic as a songwriter—that also influenced a change in the music industry. It’s not just about the money with me, I’m thinking outside the box and doing this for the love of the music.
MD: Is there an artist you’d like to work with in the future?
D: I’d love to work with Damian Marley and Tarrus Riley artist wise, and on the production side I want to work with Stephen Marley and Kanye West.
MD: Any advice for the young artists who want to try their hand in the music business?
D: Stay humble, keep your family close, never give up and do it for the love—if it’s just about the money, you’ll never be satisfied. Humility brings longevity so stay true to your craft and be focused on being better every time.