Dancehall like alot of genres suffers from alot of myths and misconceptions. Most of these are centred around the idea that somehow, people don’t know what they like and it is up to the radio and disc jockeys to tell them. This myth has been around as long as vinyl records and is still lingering around like a bad smell. Alkaline is the latest artiste to blow this out of the water, but he isn’t the first and won’t be the last.
this isn’t the 1970s
Selectors and radio disc jockeys became very powerful back in the day because they played the role of the gatekeeper to music. If you wanted to hear a song, the two main ways were to turn on your radio or walk into a party. The Sony Walkman was not invented until 1979 and it was too expensive for most people, especially poor people who were the main consumers of Dancehall/Reggae music.
people love music more than they do any selector
This made selectors(called DJs in other countries) become very powerful and delusional. Instead of playing songs that deserved to get played, they ended getting consumed with the “eat a food” mentality. Payola ran rampant and a lot of good talent got sidelined. This is mostly how the “me buss artiste” phenomenon came about as some of them could help to make or break a career.
those days are over
With the birth of social media, the way in which music goes from the studio to the consumer has changed completely. The former gatekeepers are now just bystanders, they often hear a song the same time as everybody else. Before you had to physically take your song to the selector and beg/bribe them to play your song. Any artiste who still does this still needs a dutch pot across the head.
Alkaline is one of the most unpopular artistes in Jamaica, not only because of his often x-rated lyrics but also the manner in which he came on the scene. Here are some interesting points about the former Ardenne High student.
* No other artiste “buss” him. Most artiste usually has a more senior star who took them under their wing and help push them out as a star to the people. Bounty Killer is the most famous for this in Dancehall; Vybz Kartel, Mavado, Busy Signal all came up under his wing. He even has a say in the younger generation as him “buss” Vybz Kartel and Kartel “buss” Popcaan, Jah Vinci, Vanessa Bling etc.
* Alkaline doesn’t “crush road” as hard as other artistes, a matter of fact he is barely seen. This is the same guy who left Jamaica completely, stopped performing on home soil and just chose to work abroad. That would have been career suicide just 10 years ago. The “Suave” deejay just kept on dropping hit songs and let the fans do the rest. Things like this annoy selectors as they really think they can still make or break someone in 2017. They see artistes like Alkaline as a slap in the face, they have predicted his downfall many times and they are always wrong.
* Alkaline understands the current music perfectly. He can drop a song on Youtube either completely out the blue or with a prior warning from his Instagram account. This direct relationship bypasses the traditional gatekeepers and places the music right on the screens of his fans.
no selector can stop alkaline
No selector can “bench” Alkaline, fact. I dare any of them to try. Music is like any other product or service, once the market is open, it is the consumers who will determine if you live or die. Selectors are now having to go to Youtube and download songs to get access to it. This is a good thing for Dancehall/Reggae music, now we the people can hear a song and either go get it or throw it in the trash can. We all remember a time when selectors and radio jocks would play the same lame song all day, every day trying to convince us that it was hot.
talent and hard work are needed, never forget that
In order to do what Alkaline does, you need to actually be making hot songs that people like. The easy access to the listener means you are also more open to criticism. A lot of artistes you hear crying about not getting any airplay are just lazy and or lame. This is the easiest time in history to be a celebrity, an Instagram page and a YouTube channel can carry you a far way. The only downside to this is that we are seeing a lot of “attention wh*res” popping up all over the place.
the fans are what matters the most
The fans are now in control, they know which songs are out and even when they were dropped. Now when they walk into a party or turn on their radio they want to hear those songs. The selectors have no choice but to play those songs or risk losing the crowd. Foota Hype and Alkaline are like oil and water but he must play the “Vendetta” songs. The fans demand it and what the fans want, they get.