A ‘GENIUS’ comes of age
STEPHEN 'DI GENIUS' McGregor, arguably dancehall's top producer of the last decade, is making some noise on the British music scene thanks to Dangerous Love, a song he produced for British/Ghanaian singer Fuse ODG featuring Sean Paul.
Last weekend, Dangerous Love debuted at number three on the UK pop chart. McGregor spoke to Splash about the project's genesis.
"I got the chance to work with Fuse ODG through my publishers at Sony ATV. He was one of the persons I had worked with on a recent production trip to London," he said. "I recorded Sean Paul on the track when I got back to Jamaica and the label (3Beats) heard it, loved it and decided to release it as the next single."
3 Beat Records is a British independent label. Last year, it released dancehall artiste Stylo G's single Soundbwoy which reached number 18 on the UK pop chart.
McGregor said he did not know Fuse ODG personally prior to working with him, but was familiar with his work.
"He has some really big songs in the UK and Europe, I knew the songs, I just didn't know the artiste."
Fuse ODG won the UK MOBO Award in 2013 for Best African Act. His British chart hits include Antenna, Million Pound Girl (Badder than Bad) and Azonto.
McGregor has had international success with Mavado's Weh Dem a Do (a Top 40 Billboard R&B Hip Hop Singles chart hit), and Sean Paul's So Fine and Press it Up, both of which entered the Billboard Hot 100.
While not as big as the American market, McGregor considers the British charts just as influential.
"The UK market is a lucrative one not only in terms of record sales, but music placement like sync licences and publishing," he said.
McGregor's father, singer Freddie McGregor, was a regular on the British charts in the 1980s with songs like Just Don't Want to be Lonely (which peaked at number nine) and That Girl (Groovy Situation) which stalled at number 47.
Stephen McGregor began his production career in 2002 at age 12. His debut project was the Dutch Master 'riddim' but it was 2004's Cartoon beat which really got the ball rolling.
It yielded Mr Lex's We Hot, Elephant Man's Fly Go A Moon, Delly Ranx's Doan Fear Dem and Things Set a Way by Predator.
After more than 12 years producing dancehall beats, McGregor feels the time is right to move on to the next phase.
"It's definitely very important to move my sound to the next level and thankfully that process has started nicely so far," he said. "My main focus now is to continue getting placements like these songs to secure my longevity in the industry outside of only dancehall/reggae."
That new focus includes working with live instruments.
"I basically work from what I think will work for the particular songs, so it varies. The track by Fuse ODG and Sean Paul is more computer-based," he explained. "However, at the same time in London, I did sessions with Maverick Sabre for his album which is mainly live instruments."
Other recent projects by McGregor include singles by his brother Chino, Aidonia, Tifa, Mavado and Denyque. He is also producing Chino's new album, scheduled for release this summer.