The surprise appearance of dancehall heavyweight Popcaan (Andre Sutherland) on Beres Hammond’s virtual ‘Love From A Distance’ concert and their ensuing duet “God Is Love” may have arguably been the highlight of the VP Records-presented experience for many.
Unbeknownst to fans old, new and in between, this collaboration was in part due to the efforts of three young men from the Eastern Caribbean island of Dominica.
Maybe the following day, when Shane Brown of Juke Boxx Productions posted a photo of himself, Beres, Popcaan and a young man in the background, some may have gotten one third of the puzzle as he is Kiman Burnette, son of noted Dominican promoter, the late, “Big Poppa” and a Jamaican mother. It was Burnette who introduced fellow Portsmouth native, ProducerDlo (Dylan Lowe) to Brown. Dlo, who co-owns TMI Records along with Burnette, then recruited guitarist Giovannie Green and keyboardist Shane St. Claire to join their production team. Over the past months, the four have been creating beats for Juke Boxx, which were then presented to various artists.
“God is Love” features the work of Burnette, Lowe and St. Claire with guitar contributions from the legendary Earl “Chinna” Smith and Robert “Dubwise” Browne. The song is the first of multiple projects from the Juke Boxx / TMI collaboration with major acts set for release this year.
Brown, who manages Tarrus Riley and has been in Jamaica for an extensive period in great part due to COVID-19, decided to put a production team together comprising young talents.
“I believe in growth and I believe in helping young people because that’s how I came into the business, so I met Kiman and the chemistry was great so I decided to do some work with him.”
He says that the young Dominicans have a youthful exuberance that energises him. “They’re quick and they’re excited about music and that is what I need.”
In the same vein, he wanted to bridge the generational divide by initiating collaborations between young artists and veterans in the industry and this is how the “God is Love” project came to be.
“Beres has transcended through generations, from the 70s to the 2000s but this generation, I think gone over his head.” The combination of Beres and Popcaan, he says, is a “win-win” for both artists.
“God is Love” was first introduced to the public at the Love from a Distance concert- the largest show to bring the curtains down on Reggae Month 2021 activities.
Beres introduced the Unruly Boss, Popcaan by saying “I so much love this song… I hope I remember it.”
When he arrived on stage, the dancehall deejay stopped the band to pay tribute to the Reggae icon, “Salute to a living legend. Salute. Love,” before wowing fans with their performance of the song, which he later called “a modern classic.”
Fans on YouTube were overwhelmed and had raving, positive reviews of both the song and the performance. “This nice bad” said Gabriella Smith, while Jan Rob stated, “this will be my anthem for 2021… touched to the core.” Many viewers shared that they were moved to tears by the music, had chills and were in great anticipation of its release.
Two days short of a fortnight, they will get their wish as the single drops on Friday 12th March 2021 on all platforms.
For Dlo, this collaboration is nothing short of a “privilege” and he is proud of the team who has been working “long nights” to bring the project to fruition.
Burnette hopes that this endorsement from these major Jamaican acts will inspire other Dominican artists and producers and further motivate them to produce work of an international standard.
“I would love to see Dominican producers ruling the dancehall industry, ruling the reggae industry. There’s a lot of people in this world fighting to be working amongst the greats, so we have to take it serious.”
Buju Banton and Marcia Griffiths were the other two guest artists on the live stream. Speaking from his Harmony House studios during the concert, Beres implored his fans, “let’s stay apart to stay together. You have inspired me after not being with you for over a year. The best thing we can do is love from a distance.”
Thanks to technology, he’s also making great music from a distance. Here’s to even more and greater collaborations for these four young men from the Nature Isle.
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Download “God is Love.”