A BET boost

A BET boost

Observer senior reporter

Thursday, October 29, 2020

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There is no such thing as bad publicity. That's the sentiment being expressed by entertainment insider/music consultant Clyde McKenzie regarding the inclusion of Jamaican artistes Shenseea, Beenie Man, Bounty Killer, Skip Marley, and Koffee as well as radio personality ZJ Liquid on Tuesday's Hip Hop Awards, organised by American television network Black Entertainment Television (BET).

The virtual event saw the acts performing in the reggae cypher on a singular rhythm for just under five minutes of the telecast.

Marley has nothing but high praises for BET for including Jamaica in the line-up.

“It was an honour being chosen to represent the culture with a talented group of artistes. Performing our verses on my uncle Damian's Welcome to Jamrock riddim made the moment even more significant. Big up BET for recognising reggae and dancehall,” he told the Jamaica Observer.

According to McKenzie, this level of exposure is what is lacking for Jamaican music in mainstream international media.

“Anything to showcase the music is always great. I have always maintained that what is needed is a sustained, dedicated presence on mainstream media. We don't get this on a sustained basis and, therefore, it is one of the problems we find with pushing our music even further. There is a lot of talk about the influence of the Internet and social media. The truth is that traditional media still has a lot of value and the industry still looks to a prime time appearance such as this to assess an artiste. Music identification apps such as Shazam and the analytics it provides will always pick up an appearance by an artiste on a show like this… so it's definitely a win for the music,” said McKenzie.

This is not the first time Jamaican artistes are making an impact on an awards show organised by BET. In 2014, Dawn Penn, Chakademus and Pliers, Beenie Man and Elephant Man were the toast of the BET Awards that year, injecting their infectious performance ethic into the event and igniting the audience.

For McKenzie, Tuesday's booking again shows the popularity of the Jamaican music brand and our big acts.

“This BET appearance follows up on the appearance of Beenie and Bounty on Verzuz in May of this year. We all remember what that was like and the supporting figures. Again it highlights the respect and appreciation that exists but is sadly not being reflected in mainstream media. The work now is to get mainstream media to see the value of the brand. The people won't buy or support what are not hearing on the radio and seeing on TV. Yes, we have a Jabba and Bobby Konders on radio and we can't underestimate what Irie Jam is doing in the US. They have certainly helped to push the music… but we need more, a more sustained, consistent effort. We have to look to alternate sources such as college radio to get our music heard even more. Artistes such as Jah9, Chronixx, Lila Ike and Protoje are perfect for that college radio market,” McKenzie added.

Hip hop act Megan Thee Stallion was a big winner at Tuesday's event, walking away with three awards. She took the awards for Hip Hop Artiste of the Year and Best Collaboration, Savage (remix) featuring Beyonce. Song of the Year went to Roddy Ricch for The Box. He also won for Hip Hop Album of the Year for the project Please Excuse Me For Being Antisocial. Best New Hip Hop Artiste went to the late Pop Smoke, while DNice, the DJ whose popularity has increased exponentially as a result of the COVID-19 restrictions and lockdown, was named DJ of the Year.

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