Toppa Top 20: LargeUp’s Artists to Watch For 2016

Kick Raux (Jamaica/USA)

KickRaux Press Pic 7 (STUDIO)

Kick Raux is gearing up for an extra-large 2016 behind the boards. On the front lines of the constantly evolving Caribbean-EDM takeover, Raux is leading the charge with top artists from all corners hitting him up to lend some of that tropical-pop heat to their records. Some of his credits include the monumental “Nobody Has To Know” remix with Major Lazer, which is sitting at a cool 7 million plays on Soundcloud alone,  contributions to Kranium’s recent album, Rumors. He’s also signed an record deal with Mad Decent, has launched his own imprint, Future Dancehall Records. Don’t say we didn’t warn you about this youth. —Deejay Theory

How would you describe your sound?
My sound is Future Dancehall. It’s not future music and it’s not dancehall. It’s a thing I officially started in 2014, where I began taking the Jamaican influences I grew up on and sprinkling it into pop music. I actually started further back, when I produced this remix. I was never credited so no one actually knows I did it, but the voice of my KickRaux drop is done by the female singer on this song, so I did get something out of it. This has been something I’ve been building for some time now, a lot of people started jumping on the movement as things started to pick up, not knowing what it is, or why it’s called that. Some people thought it was a re-branded moombahton or trap, but it’s none of those things.

I started Future Dancehall Records last year as an outlet for Caribbean people making music that had Caribbean influences that didn’t quite fit into the genres we expect Caribbean people to make. With the Internet, Caribbean kids are being influenced by things from everywhere. The next generation of Caribbean artists are going to be pushing and experimenting and taking the culture in places we couldn’t even imagine right now. I want to encourage that, and encourage that the music take an approach reachable to all listeners from all backgrounds. I released a few singles and mixes experimenting with it, the “Nobody Has To Know” remix being one of them. In 2016, I plan to dive more into the sound and take it to the next level.

Tell us a little bit about the place you come from…

I grew up in Waterford next to Caymanas Park Race Track in Spanish Town. When I was a kid, my friends and I used to watch the horse races while racing each across the rooftops in the neighborhood until someone would come and yell at us to get down. My family was far from well off but my mom always had me into something, I used to be on this karate show that JBL used to air when I was kid, I took piano lessons and, everyday after school, I used to walk to the library and read the American books. The stories made me think that, if you come to America, you can be anyone you want to be. It kinda became an obsession until I actually got the opportunity to migrate to the US.

Tell us about the moment where you knew you had broken through as an artist…

Probably the day Diplo reached out to work together. I first found out about him from back when he was doing the MIA stuff back in the day. I was actually on a project with him back then with SBTRKT and a couple others and I’ve been a fan of the works ever since. As an artist the thing that always really gets you is having people you are a fan of respecting your work. And it made it even better that the song did as well as it has, hitting No. 4 on iTunes and all that.

What were your highlights in 2015?

2015 was LIT. It started with an official remix with Motown Records, one of the greatest labels on the planet for black music, then I released a single on Mad Decent which so far has over 800k streams on Soundcloud. ZTAO, who is basically the KPop Justin Bieber, ended up jumping on it, shooting a video for it and that version went platinum in China in like a week. Then Major Lazer and I teamed up for one of the biggest songs in the clubs worldwide right now, the Kranium “Nobody Has To Know” (Major Lazer & KickRaux remix) and to end the year I dropped my mix Shabba Raux mix. I felt a lot of people were trying to take credit for my Future Dancehall movement but that project really cleared that up I think.

What should we expect to see and hear from you in 2016?

This year I am focusing my energy on developing myself as an artist, producer, songwriter, DJ and entrepreneur as well as on expanding the Future Dancehall brand. I spent the latter part of 2015 handling production for a lot of dancehall and dancehall-influenced artists, so there’s a lot of original music on the way. I started this year off producing the Carnival Remix of Runtown featuring WizKid’s hit single “Bend Down Pause” which also included Machel Montano. Up next is my single “Island Breeze,” which I shot a crazy video for. I also have some projects in the works with the legendary Godfather of Soca, Michael “Beaver” Henderson, my big bro TJ Records, some stuff with Chimney Records, a Future Dancehall EP in the works, and I am about 80% finished with my album due out this summer. I want to have the kind of longevity in my career as guys like the Kelly brothers, Sean Paul, Beenie Man and Shaggy, but do it in my own lane. So I’m going to take bunch of risks and put out a lot of music on top of touring and producing for other artists. No time off in 2016.

What artists are you watching in 2016?

I rate this Jamaican kid out of London his name is Doctor. You might not know who he is now but over the past year we have been silently working on a project and it’s crazy. I’ve played some of the songs for some of the biggest artists, producers and DJs in dancehall and electronic music, and everybody’s been going crazy asking me when it’s going to come out. A few labels heads have heard it and been trying to pick it up. Big, big year ahead for us both, big up Doctor!