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DJ Norie: "NYC is still the capital for the music"

ON POINT: Norie says the commercial market wants what’s hot and cool so you have to stay ahead of the game to stay relevant

THE US has always been one of the hotspots for Caribbean culture and just like the UK many of our parents’ generation emigrated there for a better life.

However, unlike in the UK, I don’t believe the first and second generation children of these immigrants had the same connection to their parents’ homeland. What is strangely ironic though is that I am writing this with the Windrush fiasco unfolding on a daily basis here in the UK.

While the next generation from the African community is growing in con dence year-on-year in the UK, over the waters it seems that the next group of West Indian children are seeming to nd their feet and make their mark.

For obvious reasons, America is the home of soul, hip-hop and R&B, but we always had our gatekeepers that made sure big cities such as New York had the reverberation of reggae.
Bobby Konders and Jabba have held down their spot on Hot 97 for a number of years.
On the other side of the country people like Waggy T in Miami have enjoyed long-standing careers and are still going strong.

Fast forward to 2018 and it seems like there is a whole new energy with a brand new generation in this new wave. We’ve got singers, producers, DJs and comedians pushing it through with a verve that will be hard to stop.

One of the new ambassadors is DJ Norie. An acclaimed club and radio DJ, he is flying the Caribbean music scene’s flag sky high. I have met and worked with Norie on a number of occasions, namely aboard the Welcome To Jamrock Reggae Cruise, and have always been impressed at how he conducted himself as an ambassador of the music, and of his region.
His live game is strong – the events are real stand-alone moments and you can see that some of the biggest names in our music support Norie.

Take a look at his forthcoming shows and links up with the likes of Cham, Bunji, Serani, Konshens, Capleton and more. Hugely impressive.

One of the highlights of these shows is his Anything Goes series, which just celebrated its anniversary.

“It celebrates me being on the radio,” he tells me from his base in New York.
“It’s not an expensive show, but it’s a chance for me to give back and say thank you for the continued support from the listeners.”

Being an on-air personality is a core component of success Stateside. Having the vehicle to push the music and yourself helps on an international level.

“I’m still number one in the market for Caribbean music for listeners aged 18- 45, so I can’t complain! It’s a competitive space – I’m one of the younger guys who is on air – some of the guys who are on air have over 10 years more experience than me. I used to do pirate radio before I moved over to the commercial sector.
“I work across the board – from teens to the older heads – it’s kinda hard for me, but we have to keep people happy!”

His musical ear is on point too – he isn’t afraid of breaking new boundaries and introducing new genres to his listeners.

“I was one of the rst DJ’s to play Afrobeat and with artists like Wizkid to a commercial market here is America.

“You can’t just play by the rules – this market wants what’s hot and cool, and you have to stay ahead of the game and give them what they want in order for you to stay relevant,” he said.

This is the thought-process that has brought the likes of Ricky Blaze, Kranium and more recently Dovey Magnum to the fore. “The game is changing now and the younger generation are helping each other out a lot more.

Dovey is an example – she is from Atlanta, but we have been supporting her since the beginning, and now we are thinking that we should support Dancehall from artists from New York too.

We have supported music from Jamaica for years, so why not lend support to those on our doorstep?”

Admirable words, and a sentiment that I wish more UK reggae and dancehall DJ’s would heed.
I was keen to find out where he thought New York ranked in the dancehall and reggae epicentres of the world?

“Well it’s been proven for years and years – you have to come through New York,” he says with the true confidence of an American!

“New York is still the pinnacle over here. You have people talking about Florida or Atlanta – that don’t matter – NYC is still the capital for the music and you know it is what it is!”

Shockingly, it’s been nearly a decade since I touched down in the Big Apple – this conversation with Norie makes me think it’s time to hit Stateside…

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