Producers clash over quality of J'can music

June 26, 2018
Jamaican producer Jon FX
Kurt Riley

Producer John 'Jon FX' Crawford was recently appointed a governor for the Florida Chapter Board of the Recording Academy. He believes he caught the eyes of the standard-bearing institution after Sizzla's 'I'm Yours' album hit the charts in the highest spot the deejay ever claimed.

After achieving that feat, Crawford says the meagre presence of Jamaicans on international charts and in nomination pools is because of the quality of local music productions.

Crawford claims albums will hit the charts because of skilful mixing and mastering of the record, as well as keen attention to potentially profitable streaming platforms. However, he thinks Jamaicans are lacking in this area.

"Many albums are not mixed properly. When songs play on the sound system, often the midrange is too loud, because it's not mixed properly. The sounds are not equalised. I'm just guessing, but maybe the producers don't know frequencies," Crawford said.

As a result of the loud midrange in the dancehall space, Crawford said that it might be necessary to mix the songs another time before sending them to Jamaican airwaves.

However, Kurt Riley, the producer of Charly Black's global hit Party Animal, has different views.

"Properly is relative, I guess. Jeremy Harding, who produced and mixed Who Am I by Beenie Man, will tell you that that song isn't mixed properly. See how big that record is? Billboard, crossed-over, still being played and sampled over and over again. Bam Bam by Sister Nancy, produced by my dad, Winston Riley, is sampled over 400 times. How big is that song? If songs like these and many more that made it across cultures aren't mixed properly, then what?" Riley retorted.

"Dancehall and reggae have always been about the feeling, the vibe, the energy. We now, somehow, have lost that edge and are currently being influenced by outside. Strange that outside is taking what we have and making millions, but most of us wanna sound like outside," Riley added.

By Riley's observations, contemporary recording artistes and musicians are keen on mixing music to sound older, versus producing content for the streaming, Internet age. "I see people trying to get back that analog vibe, like sound system.

"Who Knows? Maybe we need to head to Spanish Town, Prison Oval Rock and reminisce on Jamrock, if you feel it's Time To Say Goodbye to Ragamuffin music," he said.

"All those songs, Who Knows by Protoje, Spanish Town Prison Oval with Barrington Levy, Jamrock by Damian Marley, Time to Say Goodbye by Beres Hammond, and Ragamuffin by Koffee, produced by Frankie Music; all have that old vibe," Riley told THE STAR.

But rather than focusing on the frequencies of a production, Riley would prefer if attention were focused elsewhere. "We lack support for our product. We lack marketing. We lack business sense in and with music. We lack teamwork," the producer said.

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