Words by Jesse Serwer
Until a few days ago, the primary association most people made between Ne-Yo and Jamaican music was Vybz Kartel’s co-opting of the island-y, Stargate-produced beat for “Miss Independent” for his own 2009 hit, “Ramping Shop.” But then the R&B superstar flew down to Kingston last week and, amidst soaking up the local nightlife, announced that he was starting a Jamaican division of his record label, Compound Entertainment, and hosting a series of parties at the Negril club Jungle during Emancipation Day Weekend in July. The division, called Compound Island, will hold searches for singers, groups, songwriters and producers. “The reason we decided to do this here, besides the obvious talent, is that the Jamaican market is very single-driven, where you have that one special song,” he told the Jamaica Star, of his motivation. Pointing to recent international successes that Rihanna and Bruno Mars have had on Jamaican melodies, he indicated a desire to help Jamaican artists re-assert their presence in their own market: “Reggae music is global music, you can go anywhere to hear it, you can go to Australia and hear it.”
This isn’t the first time Ne-Yo has sought out Jamaican talent, though: alhtough the results remain unreleased, he’s worked with Jamerican-American songstress Jovi Rockwell.