Cham's new album for JuneFriday, April 03, 2015
BY KEVIN JACKSON Observer writer
IT'S been nine years since dancehall artiste Cham (formerly Baby Cham) released an album.
His last, Ghetto Story (2006) sold over 200,000 copies worldwide. Come June, Cham is expected to release his third, entitled Lawless.
Lawless will feature 11 tracks and production work from Cham's mentor, Madhouse's Dave Kelly.
The album was recorded in Florida, except for a collab featuring Mykal Rose and Bounty Killer which was done in Jamaica.
Lawless starts with the first single I Am Hot, which was released on March 24. An accompanying video was also released on that date.
"The single I Am Hot has been doing really well. It's a sexy song that the rude bwoys will buss a blank for. The song is moving real fast," Cham told Splash.
Though record sales have dropped significantly since the release of his last album, Cham believes consistent touring and promotion can drive sales. He already has a plan of action for his upcoming set.
"Artistes need to form a cult fan base and you have to also evolve and transcend and take advantage of what's out there. We will be going on tour to promote the new album. We'll be hitting major venues in the US, places that major acts have performed," he said.
He and his The Mad People Gang band is slated for a month-long US trek which starts in June.
Cham enjoyed crossover success in the United States when he scaled several Billboard charts with songs including Vitamin S; Ghetto Story Chapter 2, featuring R&B/pop singer Alicia Keys; This is Why I'm Hot (remix), featuring Mims and Junior Reid, and Tables Will Turn, featuring Foxy Brown.
Cham (real name Damion Beckett) emerged on the dancehall scene in the mid-1990s. He was a student at Calabar High in St Andrew when he met Kelly.
"Working with Dave Kelly is a natural chemistry. I met him when I was 14, while I was at Calabar and he said I was to link him back after I finished school. I was 15 when I graduated and he recorded me on the Stink 'riddim' (the song was called The Mass). It has been a joyride ever since," said Cham.
Cham's debut 2000 album Wow...The Story was significant in that he was one of the early pioneers in dancehall who deejayed in English.
"I was deejaying in English back then and people criticised us for what we did. Now everyone wants to know the formula. I've never heard Bob Marley singing in patois. Overall, it's how we articulate ourselves that people outside of Jamaica will be able to understand," he said.
Cham said the new album will offer diversity and versatility.
"Me and Dave always trying to push the envelope, using a different fusion of music with different melodies. We first began to fuse hip-hop with dancehall and reggae with the song Heading to the Top which we released in 2000," he said.
All the tracks on the forthcoming Lawless album are brand new, except for the track Fighter, featuring Damian Marley which was released last year.
Cham is known for a long string of hits including Gallong Ya Gal, Ghetto Pledge, Many Many, Another Level (featuring Bounty Killer), Wine (featuring O), and Joyride (featuring Wayne Wonder).
He explained why he hasn't flooded the market with many releases.
"We have focused on quality over quantity over the years. By keeping quality over quantity, that's how we have kept ourselves relevant over the years," said Cham.
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