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Giving Life To Reggae In The UK

  • Written by  huffington post

For the generation that know Channel AKA as Channel U, Stylo G is a household name. Bursting onto the scene in 2004 with what was the anthem of many a bus journey, 'My Yout', he was the mascot of the mid-2000 urban music scene. Now he's back and ready to put reggae well and truly on the UK map. Stylo G has rocketed from the urban underground into the forefront of British music, headlining Glastonbury, working with Diplo and Damien Marley and being nominated for two MOBO's, a feat he himself remembers once being a mere dream;

"At one point of my career when I just started I wanted to become a nominee, not even a winner at the MOBOs. That was a platform that I aimed at. For me, over 10 years passed and I've actually achieved that."

He acknowledges his 10 year journey in music hasn't been the easiest one, but remains adamant that "If you're going to give up on something that means you never wanted it". The last time he had been in attendance to the awards had been under very different circumstances indeed:

"I went there when it was in London. I can remember Craig David, Kano and T-Pain on stage. I was just in the crowd watching. That was a motivation for me. It was like, 'Wow; this is possible Stylo.' I actually went to the after party and I couldn't even get in!"

To say things have now changed for him would be quite the understatement. Born Jason McDermott in Spanish Town Jamaica, Stylo moved to the UK at just 15 with his younger brother and despite the popularity of Grime and Hip-Hop around the time he entered music, he remained true to his reggae roots and sound. It was his 2011 breakout hit 'Call Mi A Yardie' that really cemented his place in dancehall and reggae, leading him to be the only UK act to be nominated for the reggae category at the MOBO's and pitting him against the industry greats:

"I feel good to know that I've revived and brought back something that people haven't seen in such a long while" he muses.

"That was one of my aims as well because when I watch awards and nominations they're always putting in outsiders you know, people from out the country, from Jamaica, people from America. Sean Paul, Shaggy- all these names, but my aim was to make sure that there's a spot for me. It takes a while but we actually nailed it and we're getting there so I feel good to be in that category against the big giants."

His love for his homeland permeates throughout his music and even in videos, his latest single 'Badd' showcasing the very best of Notting Hill Carnival, the notorious annual street party celebrating all things Caribbean. So, how does Stylo like to celebrate?

"I've been to carnival a few times, enjoying the vibes, the atmosphere, the culture, the food. The rice and peas and jerk chicken, the coconut water... I just feel like I'm in Jamaica for a day. And I think that's we've done that with 'Badd'. It's a good look to just get that culture across and to show people around the world what took place in the UK at carnival time. I think it's a good advertisement for Notting Hill Carnival so I think they should be happy. I think they owe me some money now!" he says with a laugh.

Clearly Stylo is a man who appreciates good food, even turning to recipe analogies when we ask him how he has sustained his new found success.

"I think my secret is to stay focused and make music to please. I'm not making music for myself I'm making music for people so that they can relate to it. I think my main secrets are my ingredients-good studio, good atmosphere, good producer, good vibes. To make a proper cake you need the proper ingredients and I just stick to my ingredients... I'm not trying to add no salt or no extra pepper to the pot. I'm trying to keep the pot bubbling just how it is so people can come back to my recipe and want to buy my food!"

It really is refreshing in this day and age to see an artist who knows where they've come from and exactly where they're going, even when able to count the likes of Idris Elba amongst their growing fanbase. Though big things are coming for this musician, his feet remain planted firmly on the ground and he appears to be approaching his big break with humility and patience. He imparts some true words of wisdom when we finally ask him what advice he would give to young artists trying to embark on their dreams as he did all those years ago:

"Success is a journey. A lot of things happen on that journey. Your wheel might puncture, but that doesn't mean you're going to turn back- just make sure you've got a spare tyre. It's a long journey, it's not easy. Some people have a quick journey and the quicker the journey, the quicker you can lose everything. I think the longer the journey, the more you appreciate it and my journey has been long."

Stylo G's single 'Badd' featuring Sister Nancy is out on 28th October.

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