Jamaican Hip Hop commanding attention
Kingston, Jamaica: Hip Hop does not readily come to mind when one thinks of music in Jamaica despite the father of the culture being Jamaican-born Clive Campbell aka DJ Kool Herc – a Jamaican immigrant to the Bronx who took the local sound system culture to New York. Jamaicans and their children in the United States have contributed greatly to Hip Hop music as artistes and producers, making it a true product of our diaspora and ‘blood relative’ to Dancehall and Reggae.
While Jamaica has never been known to have its own home-grown Hip Hop artistes, that is slowly changing, and the island’s premier Hip Hop event, Pay Attention, is leading the way. Started in April 2012, Pay Attention has provided a regular party and showcase atmosphere for local Hip Hop practitioners and fans alike. Held almost monthly since its start as a free event, Pay Attention has brought hundreds to its past venues, and now, as a paid event, has a loyal following of scores of people. The event, currently held inside Club Indulge at South Beach Café, was started by a close-knit group of
like-minded individuals, who all wanted to see a space for the local Hip Hop community, which was previously scattered and fragmented. The event’s Public Relations Manager, Raquel Allen, says, “Pay Attention is where people may come and get familiar with what Jamaica has to offer in terms of genuine Hip Hop music. It is also about community-building for us as it serves as a hub for the scene.”
Pay Attention’s Musical Director and Resident DJ, Inztinkz – also one of the scene’s respected producers – points out that one may hear locally-produced Hip Hop in the mix with international Hip Hop, ranging from the ‘old school’ to the ‘underground’ to current hits. Host of the event and local artiste, The Sickest Drama, says “We definitely have seen some of Jamaica’s Hip Hop artistes getting more exposure over the past few years, although the movement has yet to penetrate the mainstream. People like Five Steez and Nomad Carlos have been releasing material and growing their audiences, particularly online and internationally, and they are also an integral part of this event and movement.”
Past performers include Sly Rankin; Hip Hop-fusion band, Acmatic; Reggae-fusion lyricist, Kabaka Pyramid; and upcoming dancehall diva, J Capri. While the event seeks to showcase local Hip Hop acts, it also embraces other local artistes who fuse elements of Hip Hop in their music.