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K'Coneil: “I don’t classify myself as a dancehall artist"

IN CONTROL: K’Coneil’s latest single, Balance, featuring Stonebwoy, is making waves online after being released last month

BEING A young upcoming dancehall artist and trying to get noticed is not the easiest of things – trying to meet up with your mates at Notting Hill Carnival at the height of a oat passing by your friends may be an easier task...

I wish I was paid a pound for every time I was asked how to get more exposure by artists – I’d be a very wealthy man.

Some used to say that you have to start from Jamaica, but in recent times this doesn’t seem to be the case. We have seen artists rise from many different regions of the world and catch the interest of producers that come from the Yard.

This was the case for K’Coneil who was born in Jamaica, but migrated to the States with his parents at a young age.

He caught the attention of respected dancehall producer Seanizzle, who we have featured previously in this column. He has crafted many hits including Future Fambo and Beenie Man’s Rum & Redbull among others. As an artist, if you catch the attention of producers like that, it usually makes DJs like myself pay attention.

Fast forward to 2018 and K’Coneil is unleashing his latest single. Balance features Ghana’s Stonebwoy, who is fast becoming one of the rising stars of African reggae, and effortlessly crosses the boundaries of reggae, afrobeats and the sound of now.

In a month of wall-to-wall football, I managed to find a footy-free window to call K for a chat in New York...only to find out he is a big soccer fan!

“Yep, I am a big football fan – not American football, I’m talking about the regular football,” he tells me.

“When I was growing up in Jamaica I played a lot and at a competitive level, and it was the thing I took seriously growing up. But I wasn’t exposed to the recording studio until I came here. That’s when I fell in love with it and decided to focus on that instead.”

Migration at a young age can unsettle anyone, but K took it in his stride.

He compares the Big Apple to being in Jamaica, and feels at home in both places. “The Bronx community had a big Jamaican community, so it always felt like home.

“You can pretty much get anything from home over here, so you don’t feel like you are missing out too much.”

At this point I should add that one of the unique factors with K is his openness to not being categorised.

There are many artists that crave that core vote of confidence that they can miss the bigger picture. However, this doesn’t seem to be the case here.

“I don’t classify myself as a dancehall artist. I’m a recording artist,” he says.

“I love dancehall, and reggae, R’n’B and the works, but I like to have the freedom to create what I feel I want to.”

FREEDOM: K'Coneil says music is art and should be expressed however the creator of it chooses to

“I don’t produce music myself, so I jumped on anything I could, including pop, and that’s when I came up with the term ‘genre-fluid’ because I feel music is art and should be expressed however the creator of it chooses to.”

I find this concept really interesting, but also wanted to get his take on whether that fluidity potentially threatens the identity of reggae and what it brings to the global music market.

“No – I don’t think it damages the identity of reggae at all,” he tells me emphatically.

“You aren’t going away from the fact that reggae is at the core of what we do. The beat, the bassline and sound comes from that root. I want to dabble in other genres, but that doesn’t take away from the fact that I am a true Jamaican and the foundations of my sound are clear.”

He adds: “I’m still labelled as a dancehall artist by the wider market, and I’m cool with that, but just know that I have a wider repertoire that just that. I like to say that I am in my own little lane that fuses everything.”

His work to date proves that and the fact he is trying to develop a ‘different’ sound that appeals to a wider audience should be congratulated. He explained how this is received in Jamaica.

“I get a good reaction there, but I feel I need to be there more. My music plays on the radio and sometimes people don’t know it’s me,” he says.

“Feels So Right and Hot Like You both did very well out there. The latter was produced by Seanizzle.”

The future looks bright for this star in the making. He is definitely putting in the work, and I can hear his determination in his voice throughout the inter- view. The new project is already showing signs of growth.

He tells me: “The video [for Balance] dropped two weeks ago and we are already at al- most 1.1 million views.

“The love from Africa is crazy too – their support is different – it feels so big and we look forward to them supporting us even more as we move on.
Onward with the march...

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