Coming into his 20th year in the music industry, having formed Voicemail back in 1999, Qraig has seen a lot of transitions in dancehall since he first came onto the scene. Although already having a lengthy career Qraig is showing no signs of slowing down just yet.
Reflecting back on the days of the original success of the group. Qraig focuses on the beginning aims for the group, as following the 2004 hit ‘Weh Di Time’ they really began to focus their careers on enjoying themselves and not taking this time for granted, as Qraig put it “after doing that it was all for fun”, “the music was not that serious and there was a big market for it”.
‘Weh Di Time’ really pushed Voicemail into the top tiers of dancehall, having linked up with a true dancehall icon in Bogle, and fellow upcoming artist/producer Delly Ranks, Voicemail had created a great platform for themselves. They followed ‘Weddy Time, with yet another hit record in ‘Ready to Party’ which again featured Bogle and Delly Ranks, but also brought upcoming dancer/deejay Ding Dong into the mix.
The impact that Bogle had that is stage in their careers, is something Qraig still finds hard to describe, describing Bogle as “the dancehall Michael Jackson” in terms of his impact on the dancing culture in dancehall. Referring back to Voicemail’s first meeting with Bogle, Qraig distinctly remembers the compliments that Bogle offered the group, remembering that “the first thing he commented on was our style“.
Voicemail went on to release the smash hit ‘Wacky Dip’ following Bogle’s passing, which utters the immortal words “Mr Wacky is gone, but his dancing lives on”. ‘Wacky Dip’ which is a collaboration between Voicemail and Ding Dong, really helped to push Voicemail into the international scene as well as furthering their success in Jamaica.
Qraig distinctly remembers the thought process behind creating ‘Wacky Dip’, as “we had to record a tribute to Bogle! Ding Dong was the one that came up with the name of the dance. To see that to this day it is still a monster hit is a really good feeling“.
Ding Dong who was a frequent collaborator with Voicemail at the beginning of his career, and is someone that Qraig has nothing but respect and admiration for. Looking back on Ding Dong’s start with the group “as an intro man” as he “started off with intros to a couple of our tracks, including ‘Wacky Dip’. Qraig now feels like “a proud big brother” to Ding Dong, looking back on nurturing his creative talent at the beginning of his career and how he is putting some of their advice into action, “one of the things we said to him is you have to pass on, when you are in the position to help, you have to help, and we can see him doing that now with the Ravers“.
Voicemail’s 2007 debut album ‘Hey’, was a pivotal moments for the group, as Qraig put it, it was the beginning of them “getting really serious” about music. With the album doing phenomenally internationally, selling over 100,000 copies in Japan alone. ‘Hey’ really helped to bring Voicemail’s incredible music to an audience outside of Jamaica. Unfortunately in 2010, O’Neil Edwards tragically passed away, leaving Qraig and Kevyn to continue Voicemail’s legacy following his passing, their upcoming album ‘Skanking Season’ will be their first album release O’Neil’s passing.
Looking back on his career with the group Qraig looks most fondly looks towards his time “performing for the people” the feeling of “going into the studio with just an idea and seeing what that idea turns into when you are on stage performing on stage“.
The future remains bright for Voicemail with an increased focus on the Latin American market, following recent success in Central and South America, having previously released ‘Come and Dance’ with Panama based artist Inti, which helped to boast their popularity in the market.
The focus for Voicemail remains their upcoming album ‘Skanking Season’ which is due in 2019, with Qraig focusing on “preparing the fans for the upcoming album” as they aim to “video all the songs on the project” and continue to build the Voicemail brand both locally and internationally in preparation for the album, with an increased focus in “staying grounded to the fans” so that Voicemail produce the music that their fans want to hear.
Voicemail have released some incredibly promising music in the build up to their upcoming album including the phenomenal ‘Pushy Dung’ which was released on Friday. It is clear that although almost 20 years deep into their careers Voicemail have not started to slow down yet and are going to continue releasing incredible music for quite some time. It was a privilege being able to speak to someone that has had such success in dancehall, and we are definitely looking forward to the release of ‘Skanking Season’ in 2019.