Jamballaz Pioneers of Hip Hop and Dancehall Blend

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Reggae has always been an explorative genre. Never resting on its’ foundation, the beloved genre pushed its way into the American mainstream with Hip Hop in the 70’s and EDM in the early to mid 2000’s. It has forged a bond across Europe with Ska, Rocksteady and Lover’s Rock and became the soundtrack for many including the millions who love high energy Dancehall. Listed above are only some of the sub-genres that come from Reggae … until this era.

The blending of Rap and Dancehall is seeing immense popularity thanks to Trap (another sub-genre of Reggae). Before Trap, there were a few groups putting both of these genres together, and not receiving much attention because the new sound was ahead of its time. Pioneers who have recorded songs in this genre is Jamballaz.

Consisting of friends Don Ice and Joel T, it became clear to them at an early age that their musical path combined Reggae and Hip Hop. Both born and raised from Jamaica, and instinctively having the drive to push the set boundaries, both were determined to not waver in their commitment to this new sound.

With singles like “The Realest” which earned over a million streams on social media before it’s major release, and “When You’re Down” which became an underground anthem, the duo’s confidence in the popularity of their catalog grew; the duo elevated their genre ‘RegHop.’

Earlier this year they released “Wake and Bake” which is growing in popularity thanks to their recent radio push, and this is where Large Up sits down for an exclusive talk about their unique sound.

DUSA: Wake and Bake uses the ‘Ready or Not’ sample made famous by the Fugees. Is there a subliminal meaning behind the use of that sample?

J: Just the meaning of “Wake and Bake” is to rise above all obstacles, wake up and have a positive day and move forward. Ready or not is a classic beat. It’s the Fugees. First time we ever heard the Fugees was that song. First time it was heard as a kid, I was like “Yo, what is this and who is this?” Just the sample of Lauryn Hills voice really caught you – it was a hook – an instant classic. For that time era, it was original and a classic and ahead of its time. That sound helped influence our sound in a sense. For years we were nervous to put any and anything on such a classic. You want to do it justice because it is so famous. The vibe of the song was just perfect for the instrumental.

DUSA: Your group was miles ahead of the Hip Hop and Dancehall blend. How do you feel now that the world is finally catching up with you?

J: Well, the world hasn’t caught up to us. I don’t feel the world will ever catch up to us. The sound that’s out now is music we did way back. Just imagine what we release now?! We kinda had to dumb it down so at least this generation and generation before can grasp on to what we are and have been doing.

DUSA: Your visuals are just as powerful as your music. Do you put as much planning into how you present yourself as you do to how we hear you sound?

J: Visuals and Art go hand in hand like the ‘real Roxanne!’ You can’t have one without the other. Our music is very expressive. It’s in your face, but it gives you different feelings and moods. When we write music now, you can relate because the feeling came from somewhere. As artists, you can’t just put the visuals out there not really giving justice to how you feel. So when we put the right visuals with the right thing it connects. The fans definitely give us that feedback!

DUSA: Your fanbase is very interactive with you on social media. Do you have a name for them such as Rihanna calling her fans Navy or Beyoncé calling hers the Beyhive?

J: Yeah! Our fanbase is LifeLine. They keep us motivated to work and put out quality music. They inspire us. Because a lot of times when you randomly see a video on Instagram or Instasnap or on snapchat of somebody from a different country who speak a different language they don’t even know half of what you saying, but they connect with you so much it motivates you to do more. Now you wanna work twice as hard to be in those places. They can reach out and be like YO THAT’s JAMBALLAZ! Getting those organic endorsements is the LifeLine so that’s what we call our fans.

DUSA: The world is always welcoming new talent. How do you think your talents will be received?!

J: Hands down they rockin, the vibe, and West Indian Music. They always be rockin with something new. They will be open to hear what we have done with the fusion of music they love.

Jamballaz is on Instagram via @jamballaz or www.jamballaz.com

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