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Konshens: Dancehall don

DANCEHALL DON: Konshens

IN THE Nineties, US R&B singer Sisqo had hordes of men reaching for bottles of peroxide in a bid to imitate his famed blond locks. Fast forward a decade and dancehall star Konshens (pronounced conscience), looks set to give sales of red dye a welcome boost.

The flame-haired Jamaican, famed for hits Stop Sign, Bad Gal and Gal A Bubble, has effectively chosen a hair colour to match the lyrical content of his songs – fiery.

He laughs at the comparison.

“Yeah, you could look at it like that,” he says sheepishly.

From songs celebrating the female form to videos showcasing them, Konshens pulls no punches – a fact that has facilitated his steady rise to fame.

“Konshens ah mi name, but me nah have none,” he sings in his 2011 hit Do Sumn. Well, at least he’s honest.

I catch up with the 27-year-old, real name Garfield Spence, after his performance to a crowd of over 10,000 at last month’s St Kitts Music Festival.

Although he is fully clothed by the time we meet, just moments earlier I had watched dancehall’s lothario tease the females in the audience by ripping off his shirt to expose his perfectly carved six-pack.

“I liked my performance and the ladies liked it, so that’s the main thing,” he says when I knowingly ask how he thought his set went.

“To have a large female fanbase is really good. Thank you females for loving me,” he laughs. “It was my intention to attract female attention and it worked. I tapped into what females want to hear. The real side of it, not just the romantic side,” he said.

Can the UK audience expect similar stage antics when he touches down on our shores later this month for a performance in east London’s IndigO2?

“Yep, the top will come off, the shoes and anything else that I have on that can come off, will come off.”
If that’s not a convincing sales pitch, I don’t know what is.

“That’s the thing about the London crowd,” he says. “They’re basically the Caribbean crowd. There’s a huge Caribbean community in London, so I’ll feel right at home.”

Another place that the artist can call home is Japan. The Japanese community, who have emerged as keen supporters of dancehall music, have lovingly embraced both Konshens and his music. His 2005 hit Pon Di Corner led to a month-long tour of the country and a Japan-only album release for 2010’s Real Talk.

In fact, it was Pon Di Corner that kick-started the star’s career around the world. Ahead of the songs release, Konshens was part of music duo Sojah with his older brother Delus and had been working a 9-5 job in his hometown of Kingston to fund his musical calling.

The pair were directed to a studio in the neighbouring Cooreville Gardens where they recorded a string of demos – one of which contained the track that would jumpstart their career.

Pon Di Corner spent most of the year at No.1 in Japan and although the duo enjoyed successful tours in Japan and Europe, they made the decision to split their act into three separate entities – Sojah, Konshens and Delus – to “spread out the attack”.

Konshens has since established himself as the ‘new face of dancehall’ earning the coveted ‘best new artist’ title twice in his Jamaican hometown.

“I’m not your regular artist,” he tells me. “I didn’t go to artist school, I didn’t go to DJ school, I was the youth who loved music. I’m trying to bring that realism to my sound.”

He adds: “I’m the person who will do any type of music at any given time because I relate to real people and their feelings. I don’t feel any pressure that I have to stand up for dancehall or to be the person rescuing dancehall. I’m just trying to make a good song every time I go into the studio.”

During the St Kitts festival, fellow dancehall star Shaggy, who was also on the bill, noted that the genre’s stars needed to look at the industry as a business rather than a hustle if they wanted to see their music go worldwide.
Does Konshens agree?

“Definitely! Most people in the business right now see it as a hustle. When we get more people to move from that stage of the hustle to the business-minded stage, it will work.”

He added: “Creatively the genre is good, but business-wise, it’s not so good. If we focus more on the creative side and stop beating and bashing the business side, the business side would be better.”

Despite the many accolades he has earned along the way, Konshens’ feet remain firmly on the ground.

He recently said in an interview: “The thing that keeps me humble is the fact that no matter how far me reach, me still nah reach no where. You have people before me and you have people doing it right now that are 10 or 20 steps ahead of me. My little success is just a stepping stone.”

Konshens will perform at the IndigO2 on August 25. For more information, visit www.konshensonline.com or follow @KonshensSojah on Twitter

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