Dancehall veteran deejay Red Rat has lamented the fragmentation of the once clearly delineated creative process involved in composing and producing Dancehall songs, a situation he says regularly stifles the genre.
Red Rat spoke about the controversial issue of Dancehall music production on the DJ Kash Podcast recently. Kash, a US-based music selector, had raised the issue, noting that not only was music made differently in the 1990s, but the creative process was very structured and the roles of artists and producers were different. clearly defined.
“Yeah, because everyone had a role to play. I was the artist. I come and I write the songs and I come to you as a producer. As a producer, you know what the song should sound like; you created the rhythm and you know how…because there is a formula. Many artists don’t know that there is a formula for creating a hit song. These artists don’t know because they’re performing themselves,” Red Rat explained.
“We let the producers tell us what to do. These artists tell the producer they want to hear and how it sounds. Thus, the process of creation is quite irrelevant. And that’s why all di songs sound one way as opposed to when we did, even if you have 10 songs on a riddim, all 10 songs sound different. To me, that’s what di yute dem lacks. Because many are very creative and brilliant. An a di man dem calligraphy is excellent. But, they don’t get any production. A man sends them a riddim and yuh voice waheva yuh like that,” he explained.
Red Rat referenced his own hit song produced by Danny Browne Shelly Annwhich he said was a prime example of producer-artist synergy.
“Like for me, in Shelly-ann, there was a line all the way through the song, after they finished recording it, they called me back to change that line. You can call an artist now and say: “Dawg, yuh know mi neva like dah one line deh. Yuh can change it? Him not gwine change it”, the Tight skirt says the artist.
“You can say it again is that he feels like you’re raping and disrespecting the man. No, it’s fabrication. We want the best of it. I want the best of it. best; you should make the most of it and if a line is going to ruin the song then change it. But too much ego in the game now,” he continued.
DJ Kash also praised the music of the 1990s era and asked Red Rat for his thoughts, on why the music of the era has remained timeless and the artists of this period still guarantee a show to ticket offices closed.
Red Rat’s response was that it should be attributed to the camaraderie the artists who ruled that era had with each other.
“The camaraderie we had back when like everyday you saw me, Buccaneer and Goofy guh check Bounty Killer and Ghost and Roundhead and we’d all be at the car wash reasoning everyday as bredrins. And then a man gets a call and she “you know Steelie has a riddim?” An Everybaddy would go from there and drive to Steelie and Cleevie and yuh take care of a Lexxus and another artist,” he recounted.
“So everyone was friends and comrades, even though you might not be friends with someone, you show them some respect,” Red Rat added.
Red Rat also pointed out that unlike nowadays, in terms of stage performances, there is no downside to performing on any stage, regardless of which artists are also booked.
“And as a promoter I call and her: ‘yow, I want you on a show and yuh seh this man and this man is on the show and wi seh ‘yeh man of course’ boom! Now if you call, a man a guh seh ‘if you book me, don’t book this man on the show and don’t book this man’… back then you’d see us all on a flyer,” the St. Ann.
He said that as long as conflicted artists continue not to put their egos aside in the name of Dancehall, the genre will continue to be stunted.
“You’re not gonna see Alkaline and Popcaan on a bill – I’m just calling out names – and those are the two poppin names in Dancehall so it makes no sense. You’re killing the genre… All the names that fight each other, it kills the mood of the industry,” he said.
“Because yeah, maybe I’m an Alkaline fan and I go watch Alkaline, then Popcaan comes along and I even remember seh ‘you know she likes the song deh – Family’. And I’m gonna sing the song because all the bad guys fell in the Dancehall, listen everybody, but us artists think we should part ways and not realize the fans are always gonna listen. Alkaline fans listen to Popcaan no matter what anyone thinks. They’re going to listen, so it’s just the segregation that’s going on that ruins everything,” Red Rat continued.
He added: “It’s simple; teak yuh ego and push yuh ego aside. Di music bigga dan all a wi. We come if di music and wi a guh dead lef it. Suh nuh I feel like the music surrounds you.