Vybz Kartel’s King of the Dancehall album, “Of Dons and Divas”, is the top-selling dancehall album for 2020 but it has sold less than 3,000 copies. Of course Buju Banton’s album “Upside Down 2020” has sold more than 3 times more than Kartel but Buju is actually more of a Reggae artist than he is dancehall.
The fact that the king of dancehall can’t even sell 5,000 copies paints a very dire picture for the genre.
At some point; artists, producers, promoters and even record labels will have to get together and see what can be done to improve the state of dancehall music where sales are concerned. Sure we can blame it on technology and say music just isn’t selling like it used to but look at Drake, he sold over a half million units in only his first week of sale and the leading tack for his album was dancehall. So we know we have a product that people love and we have some very talented artists to go with it.
Maybe we have to look at marketing and promotion and see if we can do a better job in that area. Even here at 18 Karat Reggae where we pride ourselves as one of the top online promoters of reggae music, it is obvious we are not doing a good enough job. With the abundance of talent in the dancehall pace, there is no reason dancehall should not be doing at least ten percent of what hip-hop is doing. So if Drake could move 500,000 in his first week; why then can’t Vybz Kartel move 50,000 in his first week?
Maybe even corporate Jamaica needs to get involved in the marketing and promotion of dancehall. Recently the U.S. Virgin Islands started using local dancehall artists to promote their tourism, maybe the Jamaica Tourist Board (JTB) needs to follow suit. Instead of “One Love” and “Every little thing is gonna be alright” over and over, year after year, why not use some Busy Signal and Agent Sasco to bring tourist on the island?
A majority of dancehall fans believe that Kartel is not only the hottest dancehall artist right now but is also the greatest ever, yet he can’t sell 5,000 albums. So in essence, Kartel is rich in talent but only in a poor man’s genre.
The truth is dancehall can do a lot better but it will take a lot of unity and creative thinking. Maybe instead of so much lyrical clashing, artists could clash their heads together and brainstorm ideas of how to move the genre forward.