5 Rising Local Jamaican Artists Offer Local Guide for Music Lovers to Vogue Magazine

In the wake of the release of the film, “Bob Marley: One Love, five emerging local Jamaican musicians – Teejay, Sevana, Samory I, Lila Iké, Jaz Elise – offered a guide to Vogue to their favorite current music hotspots on the island where music lovers can find the best of its evolving music scene and enjoy a wide variety of musical genres.

Sevana’s favorites

Anne-Share Blake, a singer and actor known professionally as Sevana, was born in Savanna-La Mar. Her songs feature a blend of R&B and Caribbean sounds. In addition to music videos, she made her feature film debut in the new “Bob Marley: One Love” film in the role of Judy Mowatt, one of the I-Threes. Her single, “Keep Going,” was released at the end of February 2024. Her choices for the best events are the Jamaica Rum Festival in Montego Bay and the Frenchman Party. Rumfest features music, rum, and a fun time, with various Jamaican rums on tap and a venue where star performers give their best performances. Artists at the festival have included Capleton and Tessanne Chin, and it is high on Sevana’s list of local music hotspots. Her other choice, Frenchman Party, began some 25 years ago when three local friends joined to enhance the Caribbean party experience and created a roving theme party that occurs in various parishes throughout the island. Each one offers a combination of live music, DJ performances, local cuisine, and joy. Sevana said that she had only attended one of the parties, but described it as “magical,” adding that even though it was raining at the time, no one cared; everyone had fun and danced in the rain.

Samory I’s choices

Samory-tour Frazer, better known by his professional name of Samory I, was raised in Kincot, Kingston, and views reggae music as a kind of redemption. He released his second and most recent album, “Strength,” in 2023, and it reflects his desire to persevere through life’s challenges like other roots reggae artists have done. His local music venues include Dub Club and Uptown Mondays. He describes the Dub Club as a spiritual place. “Dub Club is roots, “ he says, “Dub Club is Rasta music nonstop.” It is located on Kingston’s famous Skyline Drive, which provides panoramic views of the city. Open only on Sundays, it is the place to be if you love reggae music, according to Samory I. The Club has been in operation since 2011, and it is “a vibe” that visitors must experience for themselves. Calling it “beautiful and serene,” Samory I said locals call it “Zion” because it is “the temple we go to have fun with the world.” It’s the  dream in real life,” he added. Uptown Mondays has also been running for a long time. This dancehall street party in Kingston features dancers, DJs, and “selectors,” or people who select the songs. (The DJ is the individual who speaks into the microphone.) He noted that tourists love the vibe of the party because of its “beautiful energy” and is a place where everyone has the freedom to be themselves.” It has also attracted artists like Beenie Man and provides “next level” entertainment.

Lila Iké’s picks

Lila Iké, born Alecia Grey in Christiana, Manchester Parish, performs a fusion of reggae, dancehall, R&B, and hip-hop. Her stage name combines “Lila” or “blooming flower” and “Iké,” a Yoruba word meaning “power of God.” Her first EP, “The ExPerience,” was released in 2020, debuting at the top of the reggae album chart in the United States. She has toured the world with her music, and her lyrics are meant to raise awareness of local Jamaican issues. She is working on her first full-length album through the In.Digg.Nation Collective and RCA Records. The day-long music festival, “Lost in Time,” is one of her top choices for local music. It was created and operated by reggae star Protoje, who is considered a mentor among local reggae musicians. The event features two stages and local musicians, including Protoje, Sevana, Jaz Elise, and Chronixx. Lila Iké has performed there herself, and one of its notable features is that it starts and ends punctually, which is not always the case in Jamaica, she said. The festival offers a “unique and fresh experience with really good music and a good crowd,” she added. People attend because they love the music and will see a predetermined lineup of all the latest artists on the island. Describing the Dubwise Café, the singer says the best thing is that there is always something happening in its chill, plant-filled environment. It doesn’t matter if you’re a visitor or a local, there is something to see every night, she said. There are live performances and pop-up events, and she noted that it is run by people “who are really invested in the culture.” The venue also features a shop with handmade art pieces and excellent food vendors and there is a big tree that overlooks the entire space “so you fell like you’re just sitting in the forest” while enjoying the music.

Jaz Elise selections

Jasmine Taylor, professionally known as Jaz Elise, was born and raised in Harbor View, Kingston. A dancer and actor, she released her first EP, “The Golden Hour,” in 2021, and her songs and videos reflect the authentic Jamaican experience, as does her latest 2023 hit, “Rice & Peas.” One of her favorite events is Boom Sundays, a weekly street party held in Kingston. It is headed by dancehall selector, Marlon “Boom Boom” Wizard, and his friend, Harry Hype. The event makes a special effort to support the younger musicians, and it is a good place to get an idea of the emerging dancehall scene in Jamaica. There is a big sound system, and many new artists pass through. For the “realest” experience, she said, you need to go to Boom Sundays. Another favorite is Skyline Levels, which is similar to Dub Club. Known locally as “Levels,” is it also located on Skyline Drive, but it is a larger space that can hold some 450 people. There is a full recording studio, bar, and an ital restaurant, Kamila’s Kitchen. There is also a bed-and-breakfast for travelers who want to experience “roots culture,” but it is mostly about the music. Artists who have performed there include Chronixx, Jah9, Kelissa, Protoje, Jesse Royal, and Kabaka Pyramid. “It’s a sacred place,” Jaz Elise said.

Teejay’s recommendations

Timoy Janeyo Jones, known as Teejay and Up Top Boxx, was named “the future of dancehall” in the digital edition of the January 2024 Billboard magazine. He was born and raised in Montego Bay and is known for infusing his songs with afrobeats rhythms and trap. His 2023 release, “Drift,” and a dance choreographed by Gabi Don inspired a viral TikTok dance challenge that got over a billion views. His debut EP, “I Am Chippy,” executive produced by his mentor, Grammy-winner Shaggy, was released February 2, 2024. Teejay says he has a special love for Pier One, a restaurant and event venue in Montego Bay, which he recommends to all visitors. The place has an “uptown tourist vibe,” he says, but it helps visitors experience Jamaican culture by providing live music and authentic dancehall selectors. He recommends the finger food and the scenery as well. Teejay also likes Boasey Tuesdays, another weekly dancehall street party that takes place in Kingston. It offers a place where tourists can come and learn dance moves and see their favorite artists. He believes the street parties are the best way to connect with local music artists. He noted that for those who are doing music in Jamaica, it is required that they go into the street and “make people know your face” because not all music lovers are on TikTok or other social media. “Some people just stick to the roots,” he added, and street parties are where local artists can market themselves and let fans known about them. Another favorite is the five-day Island Music Conference in Kingston, which is the place to “go all in” on Jamaica’s music culture.