Dancehall music has
made a major impact on pop culture in the past and continues to do so today
with veteran DJs like Beenie Man and Elephant Man, as well as newer artists
like Mavado, Busy Signal and many others. Theres always one breakout leader of
the newbie pack, however, that garners massive attention with crossover singles
that stay in constant radio rotation. This year producer turned singer Serani,
one of the founders of Jamaican production team Deseca, takes on that role with
ease. Serani is responsible for many crossover Jamaican artists hit singles
including Sean Paul, Tony Matterhorn and Mavado to name a few. Here Serani
discusses his careers early beginnings, how becoming a singer was in the back
of his mind and why hes trying to get all the girls on his side.
Alternatives: How do you feel
about the mainstream recognition youve been receiving lately?
Serani: Well, I have mixed feelings, because the kind
of songs that I make, I make them with the intentions that theyre gonna
crossover to the mainstream. And at the same time come on, my song is playing
on Hot97 [laughs]. Thats like wow you know? I expect it, but at the same time
its a dream come true.
AHHA: Who were some of the artists you listened to
Serani: Countless Bob Marley, Tracy Chapman,
Celine Dion, Whitney Houston, Boyz II Men. Everybody thats good basically. As
far as Jamaican Beenie Man, Bounty Killer, Barrington Levy, Ini Kamoze,
Snow. Anything out of this world where youre like what the hell is that?
AHHA: Tell us about Deseca and how it came about.
Serani: Deseca was formed when I told my partners
[Craig and David] that I wanted to start a studio. I guess the whole thing came
about because Ive been playing piano from when I can remember myself. And I
never stopped loving it. I was obsessed in a sense. Basically, anybody that I
knew that was playing piano when I was a kid, they stopped and I never did. I
knew them when I was nine, but we became real friends in 98. Music just never
stopped trying to take me over. And in 2001 we started the crew.
AHHA: What were some of Desecas big hits?
Serani: Anger Management Riddim, which is what buss
out Mavado with Dreamin, Dying, Bad Man Place, Tony Matterhorns Dutty
AHHA: What separates Deseca from other production
Serani: Im gonna speak for my partners; they dont
like to say that they make Dancehall Reggae, they just make music. I would say
obviously we have a Reggae influence, but just making music for the world is what
were trying to do. We try to make music in a way that anybody around the world
can relate to, feel, enjoy and dance to.
AHHA: Which song produced by Deseca are you most
Serani: Between Anger Management and Dying. Anger
Management is what got us our name; made us hit producers. We went from
nothing to something. Dying was a big breakthrough for Mavado and me you
AHHA: Tell us about the Alliance and how you became
Serani: Julian, Bounty Killer and Mavados manager, at
one time was Busy Signals manager; hes now my manager. He buck-up on me as a
good musician. We started doing business together, and then over the years we
became friends. I said to him that I wanted to start a band. I used to play for
Wayne Marshall in 2002 and I told him that I wanted to start a band for Killer
because Killer was in band trouble.
After a while I
started pressuring Julian to let me do this. So really and truly thats how it
happened. Killer recorded an Anger Management beat and then in 2005 I
started playing for him. It was automatic the kind of love that Killer gave us
on the Anger Management beat; even when we did the video him came there and
he stayed for like almost the whole shoot and basically it was an Alliance
video. When he supported us, everybody followed because you know hes the
leader of the Alliance.
AHHA: How do you feel about your role in Mavados
mainstream success? Particularly with Dying.
Serani: Everything that Im doing is what I want
Mavado to do. When we did the Dying track, I knew what was gonna happen. I
knew it was gonna be a song that could cross over. But I dont know exactly
what happened or why they didnt push it anymore. I do know that it was
accepted and well received. When it didnt move any further, I was p#####. I
was like f*ck that sh*t.
It just got me more
upset because with Jamaican music, producers not making any money unless you
crossing over and unless the record is really big outside of Jamaica. The
artist is whose gonna make the money. I did the Sean Paul We Be Burnin song
and that did a lot for me financially. And Im looking at that like how am I
gonna keep up with that? How am I gonna continue?
AHHA: When you choose to work with an artist, someone
who may be known in Jamaica but not necessarily in the States, what do you look
Serani: Somebody that can do Jamaican music, but can
be a pop artist. I have no time to waste making dumb-ass sh*t thats not gonna
make no money. Im trying to make money for the business; Im trying to make
Dancehall music world music. Thats my ultimate goal.
AHHA: Has singing always been an interest of yours?
Serani: Back-door in the back of my mind. I thought
about it, but not for any time. I used to be upset sometimes that I wasnt
singing from earlier. I had a formula from a long time, and I knew that it
could work. The more and more I produced, the more and more I mastered my
formula. I think timing was perfect.
But it definitely
wasnt something in the front of my mind. Dying had a big part to do with it
because that was me fooling around. I was making a beat, I wanted a vocal like
a sample kind of thing and I said let me do something different cause Im
always trying to do something different.
So I went in the
voice room and started doing some sh*t, listening back to the beat and said this
beat is crap. So I started playing another beat around the sample. The sample
was the first thing really and then I made the beat around my voice. And when I
sit down in front of the speakers and pressed play, I was like damn. Who better
to call than Mavado? So I called him and started fooling around with it; he
didnt know it was going to be that big.
After time I
realized it was my voice that made the song and the beat was just the baddest
beat. So playing with the idea, making beats and trying to come up with hooks,
by no means never see myself as a writer. Craig and David my partners were even
better at it than me. In May of 2007, thats when God just threw the talent in
AHHA: Of the songs youve recorded so far, which
song is your favorite?
Serani: I have four favorites: Mama Still Hungry
because thats my story in a sense. No Games because its exactly what I wanna
do in terms of the direction I want things to go. She loves Me and Naked.
The three girl songs are party songs and Ive touched on the topic of love and
AHHA: If you can work with any Hip-Hop artist or
producer, which ones do you think will compliment your sound best?
Serani: T-Pain, Akon, R.Kelly
AHHA: T-Pain, really?
Serani: Yeah hes the best right now. He has the best
AHHA: So if he came on your track with the Auto-Tune
Serani: Thats just him, but hes gonna hit and I have
no doubt about that.
AHHA: So just strictly people that are gonna bring
Serani: Yea, why would I record with somebody whos
not gonna bring a hit? Thats a waste of my time. I dont have time to buss
something thats not worth bussin. Because I see myself as a hit, so whats
the point? If somebodys not gonna hit that means they shouldnt be doing
AHHA: Youll be surprised; theres a lot of people
putting out music just to put it out.
Serani: Yea exactly I dont have time for that.
AHHA: So you seem like a pretty easygoing guy.
However theres a track on The Future album called Not A Badman.
Serani: I knew you were gonna talk about that
AHHA: Have you had any confrontations?
Serani: No, Not A Badman is straightforward; Im not
a bad man. In other words, leave me alone or I should say leave me the f*ck
alone. Im not coming at you, Im all about girls, but at the same time dont
mess with me. Im just trying my best to avoid situations Im an easygoing
dude. Im really and truly saying that Im not a bad man, Im not evil, mi no
buss gun and kill people. I go as far as telling Im an uptown kid. That says a
lot, but its real to me. That song was so easy to write.
AHHA: You did an interview recently and you were
asked if you can choose to be any type of superhero, what would your name be? And
you said Get Girl Man. Care to elaborate more on that?
Serani: [laughing hysterically] I dont believe I said
that. Mi a idiot ya know? Thats just me keeping it real. It sounds along the
lines of my thoughts; but to me violence and this whole bad man front dont
make no sense and its a waste of time. It only gets you killed and you make
less money. Girls to me, thats where the money is in the music business.
AHHA: They buy more albums
Serani: Right, so Im all about getting the girls on
my side. So I guess thats what Get Girl Man means what? What were you thinkin?
AHHA: Nothing at all anything else you want to add?
Serani: All of yall haters, all of you people that
dont like Dancehall music, we got something coming for you. Its not just Serani,
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