Stylez or IamStylezMusic, as he is credited on much of his work is one of the most promising upcoming dancehall artistes, both in terms of his skill as an artiste but also in terms of his creativity, with his video for the single ‘Skeleton Fresh’ being one of the standout videos in dancehall last year. With the visuals easily matching something that would usually be seen in a high budget US rap video.
Not only does Stylez have one of the biggest videos of 2018, but he has also topped the Billboard charts with his incredible 2017 debut album ‘Back To My Roots’ as well as working alongside some of the biggest names in the EDM community like Diplo and Steve Aoki.
Following the release of his new mixtape ‘Skeleton Don’ we spoke with Stylez to break down not only his music and creativity, but also his approach in promoting himself as artiste in the crowded dancehall space.
Find out what Stylez had to say below.
Let’s start off with the simple questions, where do you originate from in Jamaica?
When did you begin making music?
Stylez- “I’ve been making music since highschool, so over two decades now”
How has your creative process evolved since starting out in the music industry in highschool?
Stylez- “Well making music has always been a big creative process to be. Being in the industry so long, I’ve been able to create my own opportunities, I’ve had experience in producing, booking, acting as my own lawyer, I’ve been involved in almost every music business process and as an artiste, I’ve just had to figure it out”
Coming from Portmore, who are some of the artistes that had an impact on your career early on?
Stylez- “I have to say Vybz Kartel, if any artiste coming up after Vybz Kartel are saying he didn’t influence their career they are lying.
Me being from Portmore, I really focused on his music and learnt how to craft my own music better, his vocabulary and lyrics were definitely very influential”
Having experienced the music industry in various different stages over the past two decades, what have you really noticed in the changes in how Jamaicans listen to dancehall?
Stylez- “I think Jamaica is quite limited in it’s approach to taking in music. We lack the technology and the education. We are ignorant, not in a bad sense, we just have a lack of knowledge when it comes to how things like social media, Spotify and piracy laws . It means that the streams we are supposed to get from the core audience in Jamaica we are not getting”
What are been some of the best experiences for you in your career so far?
Stylez- “My album ‘Back To My Roots’, before that work on Future Fambo’s album”
What has been your main focus over the last couple of years before 2018?
Stylez- “Working independently has been the main focus, doing things to make money, whilst building connections and getting more experience in the industry”
One of your biggest moments in 2018 was the release of ‘Skeleton Fresh’, what was the process behind releasing such an impactful single with one of the best videos of 2018?
Stylez- “I working and grinding for perfection, when I drop a video, I don’t just want to shoot a video in front of a boardhouse, I want to promote success in dancehall and show people the other side of life.
I want to get back to the days of Shabba and Mad Cobra, with big budget videos, major label deals and big songs that last for years.
I really wanted to put money into the production”
What do you think is holding dancehall back from more commercial success?
Stylez- “I don’t think people are applying themselves enough, big dancehall artistes are thinking too small, they don’t want to sacrifice to make the millions”
Do you aim to change that through your own music?
Stylez- “I want to make those sacrifices, I want to be able to sell, I want to be able to sell out arenas around the world”
Other than ‘Skeleton Fresh’ which other singles do you think really reflect your aims as an artiste?
Stylez- ‘It’s A Pitty’ which was the leading single from my album, when that connected, it had more of a spiritual connection to the poor people in Jamaica, so connected in a different way to ‘Skeleton Fresh’.
What was the impact of releasing a single like ‘It’s A Pitty’, that connected on more of a spiritual level?
Stylez- “It felt really genuine, it was doing some good, it really made me focus more. At the same time it made me realise the importance in Jamaica of music that can be seen as hype over substance”
Do you believe that as a less well-known artiste releasing a single like ‘Skeleton Fresh’ that it had an impact on other artistes in dancehall?
Stylez- “I could definitely see it inspiring young artistes, personally I think it inspired a whole new wave of artistes, it was the first time in 2018 that a less known artiste released a big single. In a sense I see myself as the leader of a new school of artistes, I’m not doing it for the acknowledgement but I do think that last year set the trend with more upcoming artistes coming into dancehall than ever before”
Following on from your success in 2018 you released the ‘Skeleton Don’ mixtape in January 2019, what was the aim behind that project?
Stylez- “I wanted people to get to know the artist, the diversity of my talent”
Continuing from your mixtape what are your main aims in 2019?
Stylez- “At the top of my to-do list is continuing to promote the mixtape, I’m shooting a lot of videos right now as well as planning for the followup to ‘Skeleton Fresh’ tour in which I did 14 shows in all 14 parishes. Apart from that, I am just going to continue to see what comes next and continuing working on improving my artistry because there is always room for improvement, that’s the biggest ting”