I have to be honest, if I ever hear about another “tropical house” record or listen to another “dancehall-inspired” production on a song again, I may lose it. In the midst of artists like Toronto’s very own Drake attempting to attach their name to a genre they have little claim to, quite frankly, I’ve grown tired of dragging people in countless amounts of threaded tweets regarding appropriation and co-opting. Here’s a little, unknown fact: Jamaica has contributed more to music than just reggae and dancehall. Members of its diaspora—shoutout to Kool Herc—were the founders of Hip Hop, but the country itself is the birthplace of Ska, Mento, Rocksteady, Dub, Niyabinghi drumming and the culture around sound system gave way to what is now EDM.
So here it is: a primer to emerging Jamaican artists. From the lyrical stylings of Alkaline and Rudegerms, to the versatility of artists like Runkus, a new wave of talented folks that either live on the island or in the diaspora and are adding to Jamaica’s ever growing contribution to the world of music. Though some of the artists here are reggae or dancehall artists, they’re inspired by the country’s diverse music history and dabble in different genres of music, so try not to box them in.
I know what you’re thinking and, yes, she does come from the great line of Jamaica’s Marley’s, but Zuri is crafting a space of her own in the music industry. A recent graduate of New York University’s Clive Davis Institute, the artist is stepping into herself (and her career) with aspirational levels of self-confidence — in a recent interview with i-D, she described her approach to music as the following: “I’m not gonna beg for shit. I’m not begging for dick, I’m not begging for a premiere, I’m not begging for my freedom. Anything.” She continues her quest for personal validation on “Beg For It,” her only publicly released single to date.
2017 was a good year for Shenseea (Chinsea Lee). She was recruited as a brand ambassador for Pepsi (Jamaica), the alcoholic beverage Campari, telecommunications company Flow and even ended off the year with a feature on Sean Paul’s “Rollin.’” Though she has yet to release her debut project, all eyes are on the dancehall starlet.
Tessellated possess all the musical range creating his own sound through categorizing some of his records as jazzhall, reggae-hop, future reggae and traphouse jazz. The artist had a major hit last year alongside fellow artists Amindi K. Fro$t and Valleyz with their single “Pine and Ginger.” Though the artist hasn’t released any projects yet, we’re looking forward to seeing his jazz-infused, Patois underscored, genre-bending music.
Amindi K. Fro$t
She captivated our hearts this summer with her mesmerizing vocals alongside Tessellated and producer Valleyz on their collaborative track, “Pine and Ginger.” Amindi Fro$t’s sound is unique, drawing from an inventory of genres and classic films to craft her unique sound. Now, the LA-based artist is hibernating, preparing for her next project, and while fans wait anxiously, she can be found doing live shows.
Immerse yourself in the chords of vocal powerhouse Sevana Siren (Anna-Sharè Blake). The artist, part of Protoje’s In.Digg.Nation collective—an independent creative label—has released a collection of singles and a self-titled EP in 2016. As a woman of many talents, she played the lead role in the Jamaica-based web series, Losing Patience as Renee Patience. We love a queen of duality and Sevana is just that; A champion for the marginalized, Sevana often uses her platform to give back through initiatives like #ShirtForAShow.
Though Alkaline (Earlan Bartley) is not a newcomer to game, he’s been steadily recording riddim after riddim and spent a lot of 2017 doing international shows. From his music videos and style to his bars and music, Alkaline is a bad boy at its peak.
Runkus (Romario Sebastian Anthony Bennett)is a Jamaica-based artist hailing from the streets of Portmore. Born into the industry (his father is artist, Determine, and his mother is talent booker, Paula Francis), with this much experience to at his disposable, he approaches music just like the veterans he surrounds himself with. Refusing to confine himself to one genre, he performs alongside his nine-piece band Old Skl, and often works alongside Jamaican producer collective and record label Film Noir Sound (krs and BNJMN) to further demarcate his style.
Rudejerms is a Kingston-based rapper whose smooth bars and upbeat wordplay is to be admired, as he infuses Patois throughout his lyrics. He’s mastered the technique of crafting the infectious hooks and though he has a slew of single under his belt, has yet to release a project. We’ll be looking forward to what he has in store for 2018.