SO, YOU go up Old Stony Hill Road, St. Andrew, to a listening party for music from singers Rik Rok and Prince Mydas.
You park and walk towards the building, half expecting pounding basslines and thumping drums. Rik Rok and Prince Mydas are, after all, part of the Big Yard outfit, associated with the high energy music of Shaggy, with whom Rik Rok did It Wasn’t Me. The third member of the new outfit Music Owned By Artists (MOBA), which is hosting the listening party where there is an opportunity to get a ear or two close to new music, is keyboard player, Nigel Staff, who marshalls the Ruff Kut Band as they provide the soundtrack for deejay Beenie Man, so dancehall is definitely in the offing, right?
Maybe not, if the music that gets louder as you approach is really what you have been invited to listen to. Definitely not, in fact, as you get a better listen to Rik Rok’s Laughter In The Rain and Prince Mydas’ Let Me, among the 11 or so tracks in constant rotation, where there is definitely reggae, but a lot of other genres in the mix as well.
ONLY ONE REGGAE SONG
In fact, there is only one outright reggae song – and the three old hands in the music industry, who are now new hands on the steering of their own outfit are quite happy with that.
"It’s just another aspect of the Jamaican music," said Staff, who labelled the sound ‘island urban soul’. "Nothing is wrong with being a Jamaican and doing this with a hip-hop, pop melody, dancehall groove. Still Jamaican," he said.
"We are not knocking reggae, we are not knocking dancehall, we are just saying that Jamaicans who make reggae and dancehall make other kinds of music.
"We used to hear variety, so there is no reason why we should not create it too," said Rik Rok.
MOBA was formalised last year, but it has been much longer in the making. "We have been friends from high school, since we started in the industry," Rik Rok said, Mydas adding that they have been collaborating for "close to 20 years".
"We have been working on musical ideas since the late 1980s. Now we have the know how and the means to do it," Staff said. As Mydas put it, "This is a baby that we definitely had to bring forth … We had a concept and a dream that we had to bring to reality."
And, although they are just starting on their project, which they will focus on even as they maintain their links with the outfits they now work with, they are already looking towards those who will come after. Staff said that Shabba Ranks opened the door for Patra and Cobra, and before Shabba there was Yellowman. "It has been done, but only in spurts. We want to make it consistent," he said.
That thrust towards consistency starts formally this summer with the release of the tracks by Rik Rok and Mydas which are the focus of the listening party. Among the other songs that will make the album are If You Let Me and Rather Sleep Alone by Mydas, and Still Believe and Now She’s Gone by Rik Rok.
And, they are ready for the long haul. "We are living on the ground floor and the top floor is going up," Rik Rok said. "It is going to take a while, a couple of years, but we have to start properly," asserted Prince Mydas.