LOVERS’ rock singer Maxi Priest, who topped the United States pop charts in the 1990s with his Bonafide album, is urging reggae’s new generation to take their destiny into their hands.
In an interview with the British media, Priest says reggae artistes should take a page out of American hip-hop stars’ book and manage their affairs aggressively.
“America and the hip-hop scene has been massively successful because they have lawyers, accountants, and business people as their peers — they haven’t had to go to another race of people for information,” said the 52-year-old Priest, who added: “They work with their own brethren who have gone to university to do marketing or law and all the bits and pieces that build a good business, so they can sit down and casually put together a plan as to what they are going to do with their music. When you put all those pieces together you have a solid business and reggae needs much more of that.”
Hip hop has benefited from the strategic skills of Russell Simmons, Sean ‘P Diddy’ Combs and recently rappers Kanye West and 50 Cent, who have built multimillion-dollar empires.
Dancehall music made significant strides sales-wise in the 1990s but never produced an impresario on par with Simmons or Combs.
Priest was born in England to Jamaican parents. He made a name on sound systems in London before breaking into British reggae charts with songs like In The Springtime and Should I in the late 1980s.
Bonafide was his commercial breakthrough in 1990. It contained the number one hit song Close To You which set the pace for other big US sellers including Housecall with Shabba Ranks.
Maxi Priest is promoting his latest song, Easy To Love. His ninth album will be released by VP Records in September.