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Kurt keeping the beat

Observer senior reporter

Wednesday, February 07, 2018


Son of famed music producer Winston Riley and a hit-maker in his own right, Kurt Riley has had his share of career highs. The latest came recently when he produced My Kinda Girl, the new song from Beres Hammond.

My Kinda Girl was released on February 26 by VPAL Music, a subsidiary of VP Records. The track is expected to be on Hammond's next album, scheduled for a summer release.

Riley started 2017 on a high. His Jambian Music company produced deejay Charly Black's Gyal Yuh A Party Animal which was a strong seller throughout Latin America and parts of Europe.

Riley initiated the Hammond project because he longed to work with the singer, who is arguably contemporary reggae's most successful act.

“I just waited for the right moment. Working with Beres Hammond is like asking me what is the colour of a toothache…we can't find the words to describe it,” he said.

Though he has produced songs by high-profile acts like Mavado and Gyptian, Riley's biggest moment came with Gyal Yuh A Party Animal, a dance monster that earned Charly Black steady work for the past 18 months.

It has also enhanced Jambian Music's reputation.

“We are now being sought after by record labels to do work with but in terms of pressure, we feel no pressure. Hit music can be orchestrated or not planned for and this is one of the unplanned-for situations,” he said. “The universe just had bigger plans for that record which led to an open window. That record just open the eyes and ears of the music industry that good production is still coming out of Jamaica.”

Riley learned the music business ropes from his father, who came into the industry during the mid-1960s as a member of The Techniques, one of rocksteady era's great harmony groups.

Winston Riley also had an outstanding career as a producer with his Techniques label. Boops (Super Cat), Ring The Alarm (Tenor Saw), Bam Bam (Sister Nancy) and Loneliness by Sanchez, made the senior Riley one of dancehall's most outstanding directors.

Kurt Riley said his old man was his best teacher.

“I have learnt many things from my dad but one of the few that stand out is, 'Never be afraid to make music. Never be afraid of change. If you are gonna be afraid of someone taking advantage of you in the business of music, then don't do it. It will happen. Just don't be stupid and make it happen over and over again.'”