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Wednesday, January 16, 2013

How Snoop Dogg and Pharrell Williams Will Change Dancehall Music

In a January 8th article, the Jamaica Observer reported abysmal SoundScan data on Dancehall music sales in 2012.

"UNLESS the Dancehall producers and artistes bring something new to the table and let go of the Hip-Hop style that they are readily embracing, the music will continue to be in the gutter," admonished veteran Jamaican music producer/manager Donovan Germain

Coincidentally, today I came across “Noisey Jamaica: Dancehall!” a new series, featured on famed Hip-Hop artist and producer Pharrell Williams’ I AM OTHER channel on YouTube, also the home of Issa Rae's wildly successful web series The Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl

Notably Noisey Jamaica: Dancehall! is executive produced by Snoop Dogg as known as Snoop Lion (the new Jamaican persona of long-time west coast rapper Snoop Dogg).

Noisey Jamaica: Dancehall! states: "We went to Jamaica to explore the culture and the people behind one of the most misunderstood music scenes of all time, Dancehall. In this new original series, executive produced by Snoop Lion, we'll meet we'll meet Dancehall regulars, and Dancehall legends. Featuring Vybz Kartel, Popcaan, Tommy Lee, I-Octane, Spice, Tifa, Konshens, Lady Saw, Gaza Slim."

Strategic alliances between Dancehall and Reggae artists and mainstream R&B and Hip-Hop artists will result in improved record sales for the struggling genre.

Typically, as Donovan Germain alluded to in the Gleaner article, Dancehall artists emulate Hip-Hop artists to a fault, so much so that they tend to alienate some listeners. Consider that a mimic very rarely reaches the market share of the originator.

I tend to agree with Germain’s opinion, so I am not suggesting that these strategic alliances be arrangements where Dancehall artists are groomed to be mini-Hip-Hop artists. What I am suggesting is that if Dancehall is presented to those who appreciate Hip-Hop, essentially Hip-Hop aficionados and early adapters, in a manner that resonates with them, the genre would see an increase in not only records sales, but also stage show ticket sales.

Authentic grassroots projects such as Noisey Jamaica: Dancehall! backed by highly recognizable Hip-Hop figures such as Snoop Dogg aka Snoop Lion and Pharrell Williams will shine a brighter light on the music scene, thus positively affecting music sales, endorsement deals and album collaborations - the bread and butter of the current music industry.

Not to be overlooked, a much better understanding of the business side of the music industry must go hand-in-hand with these strategic alliances. Instead of demonizing the relationship between Hip-Hop and Dancehall, I suggest Germain groom Jamaican artists in the hardcore business strategy involved with the mass marketing and selling of  records in and out of the Caribbean.

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