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THAT'S A WRAP! - Local rap artistes struggle for recognition

By Teino Evans, Staff Reporter

Left: Snow Cone producer/songwriter.   Right: Beast... member of Colony - File

When one thinks of rap music, it is usually American artistes who come to mind, not Jamaicans.

However, local artistes have been trying their hand at the art, but the style is not readily welcomed as persons say it sounds like Jamaicans were either trying to talk or sound like Americans, in other words, twang.

A couple local artistes have, however, decided to hold firm to the cause and have maintained the presence of the genre in their music.

Jamaican rap group, 'Colony', formerly known as 'Holocaust', is virtually unknown to much of the public, as they blame the lack of opportunity for their limited success on the mainstream market.

"Most of the people out here nuh really exposed to it, suh when wi guh a studio, dem nuh willing fi hear it. More time yuh would expect a man fi come off di streets an seh him a deejay. A whole heap a studio wi guh an dem seh 'No, wi nuh deal wid dem ting deh, dat nah guh buss out yah,' but yet still when a DMX come out yah, dem gone deh gone jump up," said one member, Germaine Ranglin a.k.a. Beast.

Beast says for them as Jamaican rappers to convince producers and promoters would mean an appearance on major American music networks such as BET and MTV. The group said opening for Cash Money Millionaires at Cinema II in New Kingston in 2002 has been one of the highlights of their career.

Producer Rohan 'Sno Cone' Fuller says he doesn't think a Jamaican can make it big as a rapper.

"Jamaican artiste cyan rap, no man out a Jamaica cyan rap. Yuh haffi grow abroad 'mongst di yankee dem. Mi nah seh a man nuh fi try, but in my vision, mi nuh si a Jamaican rapper a mek it. Any Jamaican rapper come to mi fi mi voice him, me an dem a guh fight," Sno Cone said.

Yardman ting

Beast says, however, that he is better able to express himself through rap than dancehall.

"You have a lot of people who want to do it but don't know how to do it, and a whole heap a people not even know seh we a Jamaican till wi drop in some patois inna it an wi a try cultivate seh yow, a yardman ting, but a still hip hop an rap," he said.

Another local act, Macho Kid (Courtney Brown), says his latest single, Computerized Strip Mi, "is like a dancehall rap to how dah style yah flow."

"People dem tek on to it very much because the style that it is done in is very simple to understand because it is still done in a dancehall style, part is rap and part is a deejay style. As a matter of fact, some people don't even recognise it as rap, dem jus see it as a new style," Macho Kid added.

One sound selector says, "if you notice, any time wi a play hip hop an rap music inna di dance di people dem wi move to it, but yuh find seh di majority only waan hear di dancehall fi bruck out an gwaan bad, a jus it dat. A Jamaica wi deh an nutt'n nah guh overcome di reggae."

As for the vast crowd that flocks venues when international rappers come to Jamaica, as in the case of Fifty Cent and other big names, one patron, Allison says: "Wi jus waan fi actually si dem in person, cause these are people wi si on BET and MTV all di while an wi really jus want to meet them in person yea, an wi like the music to."

September 6, 2006

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