By Carlena Knight
Popular promoter Humroy Wright has put the local disc jockeys (DJs) on notice that “no one will be performing at any of his events unless they have a full set of local music”.
Wright, who is known for his events as Suns Out, Buns Out, the Back-to-School tour with reggae superstar Koffee, and Mic Drop, made the daring announcement last week following what he terms is a lack of support by the DJs for all local artistes.
“What I have done over the past few months is I’ve been to every spot that had a gathering, and one of the things I observed is that one or two DJs will play the songs on the radio, but I have never heard a local song during a set in the bar at an event, or anywhere whatsoever. I have never heard a DJ pull up a local song in a party, and I find it kind of strange. You would hear the local big name artiste songs, but hardly any of the up-and-coming guys. Personally, I don’t see any good DJs around here because they only play a song to get a hype from the crowd. They are not playing the songs. They are not blending the songs,” Wright said.
“If I want to see a change, I have to start with myself, and so as one of the biggest promoters in the country, you cannot play for a H. Wright event whether a year from now or three, I am making it mandatory, me nar book you unless you-ah play local music. You cannot play for any H. Wright events or function and not play local. I am going to stand for something. You must have local sets. You must play the local artistes and not just the big names. You must have an Antiguan set. I refuse to book anyone if you don’t have local music. If you don’t play them, you will not be paid, and it will be in a contract. We have to push local, so if this is what has to be done to start the change then I am doing it,” he added.
He says that unless there is greater support from the DJs at events and bars, these up-and-coming artistes cannot build a platform.
“These artistes cannot build a platform if people do not hear the music. If the artiste is in the building the DJs would play the music, and then the people just don’t know how to react because they are not accustomed to hearing the songs. There’s a whole ton of music coming out now, but you only would hear the big names. Back in the day, the DJs would say the artistes are not producing quality music, and I totally agree, but right now a ton of quality music is coming out of the place and I just don’t mean soca, dancehall, pop, but the DJs are not playing them at events. You cannot expect artiste to get bookings unless you play their songs, so DJs, if y’all are good as you say and so talented why when let’s say you a run a Skillibeng, why not drop a Drastic or a Melody kid or any one of our other dancehall artists?” he asked.
Wright mentioned that when travelling to other Caribbean countries like Jamaica, Grenada, Dominica and Trinidad and Tobago, their airwaves and events are dominated by their local music.
“You will never go to Jamaica and hear them play less local music than regional and international. You can’t go and hear an Antiguan artiste play down there that much. I went to Trinidad and is one Antiguan artiste u hear play and its Ricardo Drue. You go Grenada, it’s all jab jab. Antigua is the only place, I have ever seen and heard that buss everybody else apart from their own. Sometimes I am out, and I am wondering if I am in America. All Lil Baby, Drake and Future I am hearing. You are telling me that our DJs can’t play these songs and mix a Drastic, or Ekon, or Jordan song in there? Tell me how does that add up?” he asked.
Wright, who recently stepped into the music industry as an artiste, did however commend the few DJs especially those on the various radio stations who “are pushing the locals.”
But he says that a lot more needs to be done.
He is encouraging other promoters to take the same stance.
Wright’s controversial comments have garnered support from the public and also some local artistes like Drastic and Ras Juba.
Discussions like this one have been ongoing for some time as persons from both sides of the divide, whether artistes, promoters, or DJs, have spoken out.
Many artistes especially during the Carnival season have accused DJs of not playing enough local music at the fetes or on the road, while DJs have rebutted saying the content is either not up to par, or there isn’t enough material out there to play.