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Channelling the sound of Jamaica’s northside

FULLY ACTIVE: Dane Ray is channelling the sound of Jamaica’s northside and has built his producing skills up from scratch

UNEARTHING THE hidden gems is a major part of my day to day happenings. Whether it’s new music, artists or producers, I’m always looking for the next thing to showcase across my platforms.

The past 18 months has seen a change in the trend of where dancehall has been coming from. Usually, that age-old story of leaving from the rural countryside of Jamaica to come to the capital, Kingston, is how it begins – however, it seems that isn’t the case any more.

Artists like Rygin King, Teejay and now Squash have kept Montego Bay on the lips of dancehall fans across the world. Mobay is the place that has kept the dancehalls dancing.
One of the biggest songs last year was Rygin King’s Tuff, which was the second-highest streaming song in the Caribbean; only to be beaten by Ella Mai’s Boo’ed Up.

I was given this information proudly by the man that produced the record, Dane Ray. Not only does he tell me this, but then he casually drops in that it was produced in Camberwell, south London, while on a recent trip to the UK.

I’m sure you can believe that upon hearing this information, I felt like I had been tricked or duped in some manner. How can this happen right under my nose? I wanted to know more and I wanted to hear it all.

Dane Ray laughs with the knowledge that he has got my full attention. “Yeah I was there for around six months, doing some sessions and stuff with different artists. That’s why it’s even a chart-topper in the UK, cos it has that UK avour. The UK sound has that dancehall influence, too.”

Dane Ray is not only a producer, but also an artist. This is how he first caught my attention along with a wave of artists like Deep Jahi coming from the “northside” of Jamaica, the picturesque town of Ocho Rios.

To further prove the rise of the Ochi talent, underground artist Jahvillani has one of the biggest songs on the Island with Wileside Government. This record is currently sitting at number five in my chart on my radio show.

“I was always singing, but I never had the links for the hot producers at the time, so I had to learn to do that from scratch. Now I can produce and mix a riddim in my sleep,” Ray tells me.

This is a story that I have heard from artists/producers many times, when seemingly the spotlight wasn’t on them, so they diversified their skills base.

Through his endeavours and self-teaching, his services have been called upon by many of the big names in the game like Popcaan, Charly Black, Movado, Vybz Kartel and Alkaline. “Because of this, I have learned the business and know how to survive.”

Very important facets to have.“Last year, we broke through with voicing young artists, but I also was recording myself. Nuh Trust Friend and Fully Active are doing good and my current riddim Sports Mode is also doing well, too.

IMPACT

“We have our own sound and formula on the northside and people are gravitating to that sound. They know whatever impact they want, we can give it to them. Whether it’s trap dance- hall we have it, if it’s gyal song, we have it. Any style you want, it deh pon the northside right now,” he proclaims confidently.

He then drops another shocker mid-conversation, ever so casually. He was the producer of EO’s big UK hit German. I was starting to think that he was amused by my raised-eyebrow expressions.

That track was one that had featured in some of my club sets alongside the likes of Lowski, Cadet (RIP), Deno and some other key UK bangers. Not for a second did I think it was produced by a dancehall beatmaker from Jamaica. Dane chuckles and tells me how it all came together.

“Two years ago, I was getting a trim and my bredrin Edwin introduced me to EO and told me that I should voice him, and the rst song we recorded was German. We had recorded ve songs in total, but I gave him German to gwan do his ting and he is what he is right now. We have another song called Range Rover cos he done gawn German!”

He also went on to tell me that he has works with Stef on Don in the pipeline, but he couldn’t divulge too much more about that, and has also added the likes of J Hus, Giggs and others on the wanted list, adding: “Peckham a we place man!”

Having secretly infiltrated the UK market, he lets me know the plan to follow. “What is gonna happen is we are gonna build on it. Now you gonna see Dane Ray work with some more big names and see some more young artists like myself come through, too.”

As his strapline says, Dane Ray is “fully active”.

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