Dancehall music has been getting all sorts of hype recently from mainstream. Drake, Mavado, Gyptian, Nikki, Sean Paul, Beyoncé and on and on and on. Yeah, yeah, yeah. All that is wonderful and I am proud of everyone doing their thing. It’s all about elevating the genre, don’t it? Kudos to the artistes who are doing it big. Salute!
I recently had a conversation with a young man who’s been on the planet just short of two decades, and I had to smile at some of the things he said. It was a very amusing conversation actually. He was all excited about his new found love…dancehall music. Born in Brooklyn, New York with no known connection to the islands, he was beside himself with the glee. Yeah man…im love the genre bad.
He was all excited about a certain track from Cobra called ‘Anyweh”, and went on to tell me about another recent release by Cobra call ‘Defend It’. Pure glee I tell ya. I was amused by his reaction to Cobra’s music, and elated at the same time that he recognized real artiste when im hear one. He didn’t bother doing research on mi dj, he just assumed Cobra was new to the dancehall scene. Imagine that. Google my yute…Google.
Now, anyone who knows me knows that I have been a supporter of Cobra from the first time I heard the Billboard chart topper ‘Flex’. Now that the opportunity presented itself for me to educate someone regarding mi dj, who was once signed to Columbia Records, of course I had to jump on it. Yu done know mi a’ready.
I didn’t know where to start, so I started somewhere in the middle. Cobra is intelligent, respectable, multi-talented, and definitely an entrepreneur. He is a businessman, and can teach some a thing or two about investing. In and out of the recording studio, I am sure you will agree that Ewart Brown can hold his own.
Now I have to remind some folks reading that this is a blog. My blog. This isn’t some article I am writing for someone’s publication. A my ting this to send out to the masses. I am writing this my way and in my own words. No edit, and definitely no mute button. Kool.
I remember watching Cobra twice, tekking it to them back in the eighties on “The Arsenio Hall Show”…(hit Google). He wasn’t just a musical guest mind you, he spent the entire hour with the band. (the poor ting looked confused when mi seh Arsenio). I also remember Cobra’s remix with Toni Braxton of ‘You’re Makin’ Me High’ in 1997, which soared to platinum success. The yute was hanging onto every word now. The name Toni Braxton was not so foreign to him. He knew who she was. But when I told him about Teddybears, I had to laugh when I was met with, ‘Who?’ (Back to Google with a little assistance from YouTube).
Teddybears is a Swedish band formed in 1991, known for mixing pop, rock, hip-hop, electronica, reggae, punk and other genres. “Cobrastyle” is a song performed by Teddybears, featuring Cobra and his “Press Trigger” lyrics. Check YouTube for not only the video which features Cobra, but while you’re there, check out the hilarious European Heineken commercial featuring the track as well. The song was released on Teddybears 2004 album ‘Fresh’, and reissued on their 2006 album ‘Soft Machine’. “Cobrastyle” is featured on the soundtrack of the FIFA 06 and Forza Motorsport 2 video games. It was also used in the ending credits of the film ‘Employee of the Month’ and WWE’s Summerslam 2006, as the official theme song for the event. (I really had his attention now)
Last week I received an email with a YouTube link of Cobra in a studio in Jamaica. He was speaking his mind regarding Sting, (Jamaica’s annual year end stage show) and I had to literally laugh out loud. I heard a lot of hearsay regarding Cobra and the Sting issue, so I decided to get the info from the one person who could tell me the real truth. No one but Cobra can know what he is thinking…so I linked and he responded. Check it out below.
CP- I refer to you as an icon in this dancehall ‘industry’ without apology. You have always been relevant. What’s the secret to Cobra’s staying power?
MC- I always try to do songs that people can relate to. When I record, I try to bring across the point as graphical as possible with soul and emotions. Whether it’s a reality song, a gal song, or a badman song. Fans feel you when you’re real.
CP-You have set records throughout your career that are yet to be broken. What advice would you give to a young dancehall artist regarding longevity in this business?
MC-Write and do good songs. Enjoy your work and never ever believe the hype. Always let your fans feel appreciated.
CP- You have always been respected for your honesty and outspokenness. In your opinion, what is the current state of dancehall/reggae…and what will it take to heal the ills?
MC-All these producers need to start making good dancehall riddims. No one say they can’t bring new ideas to it, but keep the signature of the culture. As for the artist, not everyone of us is blessed with singjay ability. Stop doing songs that only suit you and your friends. In other words, keep it universal. Last but not least, the incurable disease of any industry THE POLITICS.
CP-Some dancehall fans who’ve never taken the time to research the history of the genre, are in awe right now. You’ve been dashing out hit after hit recently, and some think you’re a newcomer. Have you anything to say to them?
MC-Yup. Thanks for listening to my songs. I’m more than grateful that a new generation take the time to listen. Having me as a new artist lol. When they get the chance they can check out some of my earlier materials. (Google and YouTube ppl)
CP-“Sting”…the greatest one night event in Jamaica. Or is it? A video of you voicing your opinion regarding this event has gone viral. Can you tell me about it?
MC-First of all, that was a leak. It wasn’t to be out, but now that it is, I stand by every word that exit my lips. The bottom line is, the organizers of Sting want me to cancel other shows that I am booked to do and do their show. I am making much more than what Sting is offering me. Just for the record, I did not ask to be on Sting. Anyway, we went into a discussion about me performing. I was going to gross a total of 50k US dollars for my two overseas shows, so I told them my intention which I choose not to say right now. It would benefit their show for what it is known to deliver every year. The representative for Sting that I met with said he understood where I was coming from, and both parties walked away. Two weeks later they went on the air saying I’m charging them too much to do the show and all sort of things.
The long and short of it is, I don’t need Sting and will still repeat this: Sting promoters don’t rate nuh artist. When you’re hot they hunt you. When you’re not they dump you.
Money is not the issue here. What hurts me is the picture they are trying to paint of me. I don’t really care what they want to do. What I’m sure of is, I will diss any promoter who try to under mind the contribution that I bring to this art form.
The last time I appeared on Sting it was the year they were doing 10 Giants, and Bounty Killer while working saw me and said, “Laing, how unnu fi a duh 10 Giants and nuh call dah man yah?” Killa called me on stage and I belted out “Press Trigger”. The crowd busss when I left the stage. Laing said to me, ‘you still bad eeeh!’.
Mi hold mi prestige. Mi nuh beg work. Mi nuh friend promoters either. A three years in a row mi pay guh Sting guh watch the show.
IF YOU DONT STAND UP FOR WHAT YOU WANT, YOU WILL FALL FOR ANYTHING.
CP-You are much more than a DJ. You are a businessman. What’s next for you Cobra?
MC-Right now I’m doing the final mixes on a dubplate album that I’ve been working on. Going all out, and one of my biggest problem is visibility. Some more new videos. Other than that, the regular me being on the farm with my pigs. Training my race horses and living stress free.
I will be on most of the little ghetto zinc fence shows to keep the love between me and my fans. I will also be doing Bounty Killers ‘Saddle To The East’.
Nuff said, don’t it? Gotta love da snake ya. Venomous … straight!