Dancehall Artist Jagwa challenges categorization in new EP

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A report by Alexandra Simon for Caribbean Life News.

He is coming out of the shadows.

Jamaican-American artist and former ghostwriter Jagwa, has credits to the songs of popular Jamaican artists such as Bounty Killer under his belt. Now close to two decades of writing for big names, he is releasing his own music, which he expects to release in his first EP. In the release, Jagwa said fans will become more familiar with his style of music, which combines two popular genres that have similar roots.

“My style is basically a fusion of dancehall with hip hop. I think they are one and the same,” said Jagwa. “Hip-hop is from dancehall and when DJ Kool Herc was making hip-hop music, he was influenced by Jamaicans and what was going on in dancehall.”

The artist said that his style of music covers the range of his personality and leans more on positivity. He feels that exploring this in his music gives fans diverse music options contrasting the songs about negative themes, he said.

“I want people to relate to me because music is supposed to be art imitating life and I think it’s unfair to people for us as artists to be feeding the same energy,” said Jagwa. “Somebody isn’t going to be able to relate to that and why people feeling sad supposed when you can have music cheering you up?”

For Jagwa, his priority is addressing real-life issues in which his listeners can identify.

“I just want to be able to talk about real things and life events that can inspire someone to be cheerful,” said Jagwa. “I want people to be able to listen and say ‘I’m going through the same thing.’”

He feels that the hip-hop aspect in his musical style allows him this freedom to get personal where dancehall lacks. As one of the most popular genres of music out of Jamaica, dancehall is great for upcoming artists who want to readily make a name for themselves, but it also curbs creativity due to competition, he said.

“That’s why I changed my sound — dancehall is so limiting when it comes to certain topics because it is limited in a sense where you can only speak about a few things,” said Jagwa. “The culture of riddims limits the artist as well because everybody can be on a beat saying how bad they are or talking evil, and you can’t come out and sing about a handkerchi­ef.”

Staying true to his style grants him the opportunity to expand on topics which carry significant meaning to him. And in his cleverly titled EP named ‘Chinese Food’ he conveys that and challenges categorization. In the western world Chinese food is adapted to fit American diets, when in reality it is not the same food eaten in China, said Jagwa. He parallels this to himself being classed as solely a dancehall artist despite his different sound.

“We walk into a Chinese-owned restaurant, see Chinese workers, and automatically say they’re making Chinese food,” he said. “I do music and because I’m Jamaican and I deliver my music in patois people assume it’s dancehall music, when in reality where I’m from people wouldn’t even classify that as dancehall.”

‘Chinese Food’ EP is set to be released later this summer.

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