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Mr. Vegas On The Multiple Sides Of Gatekeeping In Dancehall

Mr. Vegas has weighed in on gatekeeping within Dancehall music, highlighting its multifaceted nature and the importance of context when disc...

Mr. Vegas has weighed in on gatekeeping within Dancehall music, highlighting its multifaceted nature and the importance of context when discussing the practice.

The Heads High artist recently criticized those he considers gatekeepers on his Instagram page. However, in a recent interview with DancehallMag, he clarified his stance, acknowledging that gatekeeping isn't inherently negative.

"We have to define gatekeepers based on the context," he explained. "Because you do have gatekeepers who are like Tony Matterhorn, gatekeepers like Boom Boom, and when we say gatekeepers, it's not in a negative light. When Matterhorn was the go-too selector, if yuh deh pon a juggling and Matterhorn don't play your song chances are your song naw go buss."

"Even to this day, you still have people like Rvssian who is a gatekeeper because we see how Macka Diamond even a get lawyer involved fi get her song released. He decided who goes on the beat (Dutty Money Riddim). So Matterhorn back then was one of the in demand selectors and Rvssian now is one of the in demand producers and NotNice, so you have that kind of gatekeepers," he added.

In contrast, Vegas argued that there is a darker side to gatekeeping, where individuals actively hinder access and opportunity. "These are the gatekeepers who shut you out of the business, so selectors can't play you, radioman dem get pree if dem play you," he said.

"So it's basically like they programme the industry, they control the industry and they have affiliates. They form some kind of conglomeration and conglomerate the business and they decide that you cannot go through, so they decide if you voice on the rhythm," added Vegas.

Mr. Vegas admitted to being a victim of gatekeeping himself early in his career, citing an instance where he had to buy onto Skatta Burrell's Coolie Dance riddim, despite his song Pull Up being the international breakout hit on the project.

"I had to reach out to Ce'cile because Skatta was hiding from my phone calls and I heard about the beat," Vegas explained. "I heard the beat and said this mad. The whole a the big man dem did voice already and back then it would be like if you don't catch the hot riddim chances are that you wouldn't have a good year or you're going to miss out on a hit song."

"So I had to buy a cut of the beat from Skatta and go back to the US and record my song and took it straight to international radio, I didn't even try to promote it in Jamaica," he revealed.

He also shared another experience where he was the third person to record on Steven "Lenky" Marsden's Diwali riddim, but his song was withheld from release despite its potential.

"Mi hear the [Diwali] riddim a play on the radio and the riddim a play inna every dance and dem thing deh drive you crazy because me a say yow, the man no release mi song star knowing that maybe you would a have a hit song and you know hit song brings more money, more fame," he said.

"So when you use the word gatekeeping, you have to use it in the correct context to understand it," Vegas emphasized. "I wouldn't use the words good and bad because some people can be deemed both."

"That's why I used the examples of Rvssian and Matterhorn who are the different kind of gatekeepers from who go outta dem way fi lock you outta the business. It's like they are still giving people like Nigy Boy opportunities but they are still the go too and most sort after people in the business, whether a with selector, whether radio dj, whether if a producer," he added.

Vegas reasoned that notwithstanding the emergence of and popularity of social media, the influence of gatekeepers is extant.

"It doesn't mean that people who are influential are not able to still influence how the market turns. You even have dancers, if the dancers decide that dem naw dance to your tune then the tune just dead. Not because we have social media automatically means you're going to get through, you still need support," he posited.

He re-emphasized that he doesn't think social media makes musical breakthroughs less difficult.

"I don't know if it's easier. It's the same in my view like back inna the day when a man tek him own money and go produce him tune and it bus. So, you might be lucky, you may put it on social media, and it buss bit how often that happen? So maybe people have more luck now, you may be like gully Bop who sing a song inna the gully and people see it and like it and it buss but you still need support," he said.

Using himself as an example, Vegas continued: "I have pissed off a lot of people so people can decide, oh mi naw dance to him song inno, mi naw voice him inno, mi naw play him song inno and there is social media where I put out songs constantly so there are still factors and people who can decide if you get on a show."

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Frequency Gang : Mr. Vegas On The Multiple Sides Of Gatekeeping In Dancehall
Mr. Vegas On The Multiple Sides Of Gatekeeping In Dancehall
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