Is Dancehall Artist Skillibeng The Missing Piece Between Dancehall And Hip Hop?
So says Johny Wonder, who has been at the heart of Jamaica’s music development and digital distribution for quite some time. He was Executive Vice President of 21st Hapilos Digital Distribution for a few years until his departure in 2017.
He now runs Johnny Wonder Distribution and his latest project is Skillibeng’s Crocodile Teeth The Album which he executive produced.
He quickly reiterated via our text message conversation that he produced the album independently, and Skillibeng’s presence in the music industry is what has been missing.
He stated, “Skillibeng is a great artist that bridge the gap”.
Since the Brick Pon Brick artist came on the scene two years ago he has scored several international features with his catchy and slow rhymes including a remix with Nicki Minaj for his Crocodile Teeth single.
Bobby Shmurda and platinum selling British rapper Stefflon Don have used his slang and punchlines for their own songs. With the Minaj remix the Coke artist scored a billboard hot 100 chart hit peaking at 100.
With mostly gun touting hardcore lyrics and no traditional radio records Wonder says he believes Skillibeng is what the music has been missing.
“The gap”? I asked. He further elaborated, “between dancehall and hip hop”.
An ambitious statement for the fast rising “Not” Deejay, considering his first album did not fare well in terms of sales. According to MRC Data The Prodigy: Ladies Only Edition sold 25 copies in pure album sales in the United States in the first week.
Maybe Wonder’s years in the business has taught him that music is unpredictable because when I asked about his predictions for this album he cautiously stated, “I don’t have one, it’s now up to the fans and music gods hands now”.
With a launch date set for October 15 and no lead single Wonder says he plans to market the album as a full project. “We are more concentrating on the full album”. A marketing roll out strategy. perfected by Kanye West on his last two projects.
A much shorter project than his last 21 track release, Skillibeng’s Crocodile Teeth The Album Wonder says has 12 unreleased songs.
With a star studded line up of rappers which include, Bobby Shmurda, Lil Zach, Rich The Kid, and Stefflon Don, Wonder insists fans should not expect an album heavily influenced by Hip Hop.
The question still remains though, without a lead single, could the album’s star power alone be enough to build the anticipation in the markets that matter and sell some records?
Jamaican artist have a rich history of selling millions of records. Harry Belafonte’s 1956 album Calypso was the first platinum album by the RIAA and there has been many successful platinum selling Jamaican artists since.
In recent times however, dancehall and reggae albums coming from Jamaican artists have not been charting with impressive numbers. Buju Banton shouted in a rant on Monday underscored that “Music nah sell”.
In spite of his sold out concerts all over the world, his album Upside Down 2020 sold less than 5000 units in its first week. Spice’s Ten, Vybz Kartel’s Born Fi Dis and Alkaline’s Top Prize all sold less than 4000 units in their first week.
For an even greater context, consider that no dancehall album has sold or streamed more than 100,000 units in the last 5 years.
In the same period, Rihanna, Steflon Don, Shaggy and Sean Paul are among an elite group of global artists to release dancehall singles that stream gold, platinum and multi-platinum.
With his eyes still on the future of Jamaican music Johnny Wonder closed our conversation with. a top five list of artists right now who are making waves. Among them Blvk H3ro, Skeng, Grim, Jakal and Danianah.