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FAO JA music: Don't go chasing Cheerleader

So what I'm saying is, I know the success of "Cheerleader" by Omi is a major deal, but please, please, please, learn the right lessons from it. I noticed people only started cheering it on when it first touched the US charts despite it topping charts in 17 countries before. Typical, but very problematic issue that's happening in Jamaican media and filters to Jamaican music makers.

Nobody seems to care even a little bit about the Jamaican music success outside of Billboard chart. I seriously have to ask "If a song is a hit outside of US, was it actually a hit?" We live in a digital age, information is easier to access than ever before, yet I get the impression that some are only slightly more knowledgable than when foreign distributors only communicated with producers they licensed from and the artists had no idea a big hit sold a single copy.

Problem is, they only know a hit when it's in US (reggae or main Billboard on the rare occasion) or think it's something to take more seriously than a fad when they perform on American TV in Chronixx's case. The crowds the music draws in Europe or that a song's success beginning outside the US means nothing.

All of that is good and well if people are making regular hits and trips to US but majority aren't. There are those tailoring their music to an audience that isn't as receptive to it and they can't get a visa to perform in. I totally understand that there's a glitz and glamour attached to it, most of us grew up admiring at some point, however, I don't think it makes sense to keep knocking on a door everyone else is trying and failing to open with me. There would come a time to me when I think, "Maybe this isn't working. Let me try a different route."

And this is what I'm asking of dancehall; try a different route. What's been happening in recent years is a song like "Rude" by Magic! comes out of Canada, rises through the world to become a big smash hit in US then everybody complains they've been slighted. But nobody seems to learn the lessons of how it got there apart from "Oh, its cos they're white and have money. What we need is major label support and to make a relatable song like that." All of those are factors, but a black Jamaican will never be white.

To me, the key thing is they sold their music to people that wanted it, initially. They made a song which sounded like people in the Oceanic region and Polynesian people would appreciate. Who got it first? Them. Started the record heavy in that region for their summer and what happened, happened.

The original Omi "Cheerleader" was well-received in Hawaii. Ultra signed it almost a year and a half later, got remixes, including the Felix Jaehn version which is the hit, rose through Europe. The hit then travelled, claiming #1 in all over the world including Australia, UK then USA is the last place in the world to get it.

(I'm pretty sure Shaggy "It Wasn't Me" also started in Hawaii and wasn't meant to be a single.)

Notice the common theme? Neither started in the USA. The place where Jamaican media noticed it was growing. So with all that said, I think it's about time Jamaicans start looking away from America to see where Jamaican music does well because by the time it's hit America, it's old news. Everyone is aware of it. If you can't hook up with a European producer to make a natural hit, forget it. Don't go chasing it. It's not by force you do your own "Cheerleader". It's dead now.

I was floating around couple lists the other day and saw Charly Black has a hit song in Chile, Israel and Costa Rica with a song I've never heard from Jamaicans nor has any Jamaican media or music person mentioned it. Like most hits before it, it's breaking outside of Jamaica and urban America.

Recently, UK rap duo Krept & Konan scored a hit in UK with a relick of the Playgroud riddim produced by America's hottest producer, DJ Mustard. Remix features Beenie Man and Popcaan. I'm not sure Jamaica is even aware. All will change if the newest signing to Def Jam get a hit with it in America next year though. And you know what will happen, Jamaican music people will claim they've been slighted and they aren't making the most of their music.

Cheerleader will probably follow the same thing as Major Lazer "Bumaye", where all of a sudden people start mixing EDM with dancehall instead of seeing that was the movement happening. Or jumping on dubstep when it turns to shit instead of when it had a strong reggae influence in UK where it was created.

And big up Shaggy who clocked the world loves dancehall so hooked up with nuff people from different places (Lebanon, Australian and Romanian) and got what looks to become a worldwide hit in "Habibi (I Need Your Love)". Even poked its head on the Billboard chart. Enrique Iglesias got a big Latin hit ("Bailando") last year, so did Sean Paul with Farruko ("Passion Wine").

I say all of that to say this: Look outside of the box. Go where you're appreciated. The world is bigger than urban America. Just know that the right song with the right push can reach places. Focus on making the right song, not chasing the last hit to make it for the sake of it.

Little old me mentioned it in my round up of last year. I had a feeling it was onto things last year. Why didn't the Jamaican industry?

p.s. let's not forget Major Lazer "Lean On" is running the world too. And USA is the last place to catch on. Most played song on Spotify in the world for 6 weeks and counting. Dancehall chord pattern and drums in the chorus.


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