Assassin: Next Generation

It’s not often you come across a DJ who cares less about their individual plight in the game, but rather cares more about the progression of the entire culture of the music.  Assassin, leader of the new generation of dancehall artists, according to Sean Paul, is bringing dancehall to the next level. On Assassin’s uncensored […]

It’s not often you come across a DJ who cares less about their individual plight in the game, but rather cares more about the progression of the entire culture of the music.  Assassin, leader of the new generation of dancehall artists, according to Sean Paul, is bringing dancehall to the next level. On Assassin’s uncensored sophomore album, Gully Sit’n, the St. Andrews dapper ghetto bwoy brings it hard with raw dancehall tunes.  Refusing to go the sell out route again, Jeffrey Campbell aka Assassin, put moving units and pleasing money hungry labels to the back burner and replaced it with his life story and wicked lyrical abilities consistently throughout the 17 track disc. Assassin’s mission, “…mek dancehall continue to grow.  Even though Sean Paul has proven that straight up dancehall can mek it…we need to find the formula, get it to work and stick with it.”  With boom new tunes like “Don’t Make We Hold You” and “Bad Man,” the University of Sutherland Business Management student, seems to be pretty confident that with the help of his generation, he can elevate dancehall into an internationally respected and supported genre of music. AHHA: How have you matured musically since your debut, Infiltration (VP), which was released back in 2005?Assassin: I gained a lot of experience with life itself in those two years. I lost my mother, became a father, changed management, enrolled in school – I’m representing truly who I am and where my love for the music originated on this project. The first album was too diluted and on Gully Sit’n I wanted to fix that.AHHA: Do you feel like living a balanced life makes you more “real” to your audience?Assassin: I separate my personal life from my music. I don’t feel the need to try to be anything because of the line of work I’m in. I keep it real. I just want to be a good artist and do good music. All of the other external factors, I don’t pay much attention to them. I don’t figure I need to have ten screw face men walking in front of me so I can “look” like a gangster.   AHHA: Gully Sit’n definitely has a different sound and in my opinion is more of a real hardcore, yard style, dancehall album. Was your objective to give listeners a real taste of your lyrical abilities on your sophomore project?Assassin: Well, the name and whole direction of the album was Gully Sit’n, as in keeping it gully, keeping it ghetto, keeping it dancehall, keeping it real. I wanted to make music that I would be making coming out of high school, just loving the music; that was the mission on this album.AHHA:  Because there is no real crossover tunes this time around, do you think your international fans will be able to wholeheartedly relate to where you’re coming from?Assassin: I’m not about to go the diluted route again; I think I really need to be real with it. If I want dancehall music to be mainstream, I have to do it with dancehall. Just as Hip-Hop music started off very humble and urban and then finally crossed over to mainstream white America, it travels the same for dancehall. I understand that this process may take time, but I’m willing to sacrifice that for the music. Even though Sean Paul has proven that straight up dancehall can make it…we need to find the formula, get it to work and stick with it!AHHA:  So was the label pushing for you to water down your music? Did they have another direction in mind for your career when you were working on your debut?Assassin:  I wouldn’t say it’s the label – it’s a collection of things. I wasn’t creatively where I needed to be to deliver the type of energy the music needed…after my mother passed, and I cut my braids off, I shed a lot of weight emotionally. I just decided I was going to revamp, rejuvenate, get back the zeal and that hunger I had coming out of high school.AHHA:  A lot of dancehall legends like Spragga, Beenie, and Sean Paul see a lot of potential in your artistry and consistently speak highly of you.  They are handing you the torch to forward the movement, do you feel like you have a responsibility to carry dancehall on your shoulders because of this?Assassin:  I do feel like the load is not only on me, but the whole new generation of artists to make dancehall continue to grow. It is more encouraging that these people, who I consider to be front runners, think that I have it in me to elevate the music; it’s added motivation. But the love that I have for the music is enough motivation already for me to feel like I need to do all I can to help the music be what I know it can be.I don’t feel no pressure because I know I can do it!  There is no question in my mind; I’m ready. For the last year in a half, we have been on the road extensively [Europe, Japan, etc.] and every night I walk out on stage, I feel like I need to give 200% because most of these people are casual dancehall fans, so I don’t get it twisted. When I see a full venue of people, I understand that this is not about me.  You have to go on stage with a mission to move the audience from a lickle bit casual patrons to people who care enough about the music to come to another show. There is no doubt in my mind that I can deliver and get it done. I can go on whatever show, work with any producer in the world, any artists in the world and represent on a real level. I just want them mek mi squeeze mi lickle toe in da door…I waiting for the opportunity. AHHA:  You’ve been quoted saying, “I’m celebrating the ghetto on this project not laminating how horrible it is,” regarding this new album, Gully Sit’n. What’s the difference between the two for those individuals who may not be able to draw the distinction?Assassin: Ghetto life is not solely about delinquents and criminals – you have people from the ghetto who get up everyday and work hard so that them can provide fi dem kids…there is a part of ghetto life that’s fun and great, I wouldn’t trade mine in for growing up well off, I swear. I grew up in Kingston in a very humble situation. It was a one room board house with me, my mother, my brother and me sister, and we certainly had nothing close to a gold spoon, but at the same time you realize you are happy with that…happy playing football on the road, making toys out of box drinks, going down to the river.  All of these things came because we didn’t have the luxury of toys from Toys R’ Us…we did all of those things because of what the situation was, and we were happy doing those things. It’s just that to understand that is hard because most people don’t see the light at the end of the tunnel, which is the difference between growing up in the ghetto and growing up in a middle class family. In a middle class family you figure everything will be ok, you don’t have that bleakness hanging over your future. Where as in the ghetto, we don’t have a lot of positive examples of people who work them way up from poverty to social mobility.AHHA:  Any favorite tracks on this project?Assassin: Not really favorite. You look at your songs like your kids so they carry equal value. A song, which is different from the rest and definitely more personal is “The Pain” where I’m talking about losing my mother and a lot of people close to me…the birth of my daughter – this tune is definitely different from the others…AHHA: ”Girls Alone We Want” has a very Mediterranean feel to it – you switch up your flow on this tune and even flex a different accent. I know this must have been fun making in the studio…how did this song come about?Assassin:  [giggles] Yeah that was great. First of all Lenky of 40/40 productions is responsible for that riddim…Lenky is crazy from the Diwali riddim’, which was left field in terms of what was happening in dancehall at that time. “Girls Alone We Want” has like a hot African sounding drum, but at the same time it had like a Mediterranean sound as well, so I wanted my flow to represent and compliment that sound. I decided I was going to do something with an accent on the riddim’ and I really don’t even know what type of accent that is. [laughs]AHHA:  Done know you are di gyal dem sugah already, hot new tune, “No Boring Gyal” with a laundry list of requests from women…are you single?Assassin: [laughs] I try to stay out of the personal life situation but yes, for the most part, I’m single right now! The thing is, I’m at the end of a situation…I’m in transition, not 100% certain on either side.AHHA:  So do you feel like it’s impossible to have a relationship at this stage in your career?Assassin: I’m beginning to believe that. Unless I find someone that is extremely  understanding, a relationship is not going to happen. I have a responsibility to myself and to my passion, which is the music and not everybody can understand being so passionate about something. Everyone doesn’t understand what it means to be so consumed by something…dem just don’t get it! AHHA:  I know you got seriously involved with music when you were in high school and was conveniently classmates with Spragga’s nephew who helped usher your music into the right hands…what’s the major difference between the music industry now and then?Assassin: Music at that time was more fun because it was a hobby and there was no added baggage that comes with music as a profession. When you don’t have to consider all of the factors that come with the business and contend to all of the demands of the industry, you enjoy making it more. Interestingly, that is what I wanted to do on this album – revisit that state of creativity and just forget about all the technicalities. When I was recording this album, I wasn’t worrying over moving units, I totally distanced myself from all of that and just went in the studio and kept it real… AHHA:  If there was one misconception out there about Assassin that you could clear the air on for fans, what would that be?Assassin: I think people are still unaware of my potential…what my abilities are, what I’m about…because I’m not the type of artist carrying my own pom poms with my own cheerleader squad, mi just keep it real. I intend to fix people’s perception of Assassin with a very expensive ad campaign that will put me in the public’s eye more consistently. We were in New York back in September promoting the album, and with just two weeks of campaigning, we collected five years worth of people not knowing who and what I’m really about…I’m ready ready 100%.