What genre of music are you involved in?
I don’t try to bound myself by any kind of genre. I am a musician. I am an artiste. So, my canvas is blank and whatever I choose to put on my canvas, I put, based on what I’m inspired by at the time; whatever I think is the right medium to carry the message I’m trying to deliver.
Music, for me, is more than just entertainment. It’s a mission and my mission is to usher in positive, permanent change with music.
How long have you been involved in the music industry?
Well, I’ve been dabbling with music for a little over 5 years. You know at secondary school, you start meeting your little girlfriend; I found it hard to express myself so then I started writing little poems. I found I was good at writing; then, I tried a little singing but it wasn’t so good at first. However, I kept trying it and I ended up meeting some friends like Chad Mitchell and Jerry Friday. They taught me a little bit more about producing, recording and stuff like that. So, that’s how I started in music. That was in secondary school, probably like in 2003. Later on, it kind of just became like a hobby; guys doing little things to express ourselves. Later, that kind of faded away.
Then, I met a lady called Rochelle Johnson. She saw some potential in my music and she decided to try to take it to the next level. She helped me in getting a music video out; a music video for a song called Dreamer.
I released Dreamer on video and the feedback was great. I did a couple performances at TAMCC Queen Show, in those open-mike nights; eventually, that faded away.
I went on to further my education in Electrical Engineering; I did a Diploma in Electrical Engineering at the University of Trinidad and Tobago. In my journey to Trinidad I did some self-discovery and I noticed that music, on a whole, is a very powerful tool; it is one of the biggest influencers of youths and people in general. So, I got frustrated when I realized the kind of music that is out there; the content of the music. It’s negative, it’s violent.
So, I saw an opportunity to use my positive side and translate it into music that people could understand and probably make a change; that’s like serious, permanent and positive change. So, that’s when I actually took my music serious.
In January 2015, I decided I was going to put my all into music. I started writing and recording and I put down a mixed-tape called Feel Good Music. The entire mission for my music is not just to entertain but to make the world smile; to make the whole world – their inside – smile; to put a big dent in violence and hatred and all kinds of prejudice; just to affect a serious, permanent, positive change.
So are you a solo recording artiste or you’re part of a band?
I am a solo recording artiste but I have a full band. It’s called Nature Claim; that’s my official band. I’m trying to build them from the ground up. We’re still in the grooming stage but we’re getting there.
So are you part of a record label or not?
How do you get the music out?
I am managed by Grenada’s Spice Concoction owned by Angus Steele. Spice Concoction is an entertainment management company. They deal with my distribution and all management aspects, so I don’t have to worry about anything else. I could focus all my energy on creating good content; spend time on writing my music and getting the music recorded and things like that. Management does everything. They get my music mastered to the highest quality; they ensure that everything I do, and put out, is the highest quality.
So how do you get the music out to the people?
First of all, I write the song and then I record it. Then, we get the song mixed by a studio and mastered. Most of the times we work with Mr. Andrew Denny in Barbados; he does our mastering. When we get the song mastered, then we send it out to our distributor, Fox Fuse. Fox Fuse does our distribution, sending the song to iTunes, Amazon and all other major digital media stores.
Even before that, we do the local release where we upload everything to Youtube, Sound Cloud, and any other relevant media outlets. If we’re doing a DJ mix, for example, then we’ll put it on Mix Cloud. If we’re going to do just a single, then we’re going to put it on Sound Cloud, Youtube, Reverb Nation and all these other things.
Not everybody will have access to these mediums that you’re talking about. How do you get the music to the radio stations and so on?
We also do an email blast. Management does and email blast that goes out to over 5,000 people – DJ’s, radio stations, regionally; etc. Everybody gets that in their email at that very moment it is released. So everybody, including all radio stations, all DJ’s, has it right there in their emails as soon as the song is released.
I see you wearing a dreads. Are you a Rastafarian?
Well, I am not bound by any religion. I have huge respect for the Muslim community; I have huge respect for the Hindus; I have huge respect of Buddhism, for Rastas, for Christians, for everybody. I believe all religions have been flawed over all the years. You know, basically, it all started from one religion and it just defused and went on to all different things, based on people’s interpretation. So since people’s interpretation defused it and divided it so much, why not use my reasoning and actually bring it together? So I live based on all the teachings of each and every single religion, which is to live good and be good.
I surround myself with the colours that people could say, Rastafari; but then, people could also say it’s Grenada colours too. I surround myself with the colours because they are colours that induce a serious positive energy, no doubt about that. As soon as you’re around these colours it just brings a brighter, nice feeling to you. Look at our independence celebrations; how independence is bright. It’s not because of the celebrations and so on. It’s because we’re surrounded by these colours right through.
Grenada is a beautiful place. Look at our flag: red, green and gold. The combination of colours is magical, that’s why I surround myself with it and I believe in the symbolisms of Rastafari and the symbolisms of Ancient Egypt and all these kinds of things. So, I might wear an ankh; I might wear a donkey-eye chain; I might have the Lion of Judah on my back. It’s just symbols; it’s energies. The human body, it works with electrical energies; and the electrical energies that you surround yourself with are going to manifest and come out from inside of you.
So it’s nothing about religion for me. I have locks because I like locks. It’s a representation of my liberation from the system.
So who are your role models in the industry? Who would have influenced you? Which past musicians would have influenced the sound?
My sound, I don’t know. I wouldn’t say anybody really influenced the sound. Not one person; there is a combination. I am a big fan of Akon, I am a big fan of Chronixx, and I’m a big fan of Bob Marley. I’m also a big fan of Lil Wayne, as negative as his music might be; but I understand entertainment is entertainment.
I’m a big fan of a lot of artistes, some negative, some positive; but it’s because I see something positive in them. I admire somebody like Lil Wayne because of his work ethics and his ability to use similes to convey a point.
I admire somebody like Bob Marley for his ability to connect with an audience. I admire Akon for his rhymes; he is very catchy with his music. I admire a lot of people that contribute to my songs.
So you’re saying that your songs might be a fusion of Hip-Hop and Reggae?
Reggae, Hip-Hop, Pop, rap, everything. As I said, I’m not bounded by any genre. But, one thing you can guarantee is that the message is going to be positive 100 percent, always. Even if it’s a little love tune just to make people dance, there’s going to be a positive message in there.
Do you have a website or social media platform where one can interact with you?
No, I do not have a website right now but you can find me on my facebook fan page at A#keem, my name. You can find me on Instagram at akeemmusic. You can find me on youtube. You can find me on all social media portals. Just google my name and I’m there.
What sort of feedback do you get?
The feedback is great. I’m never satisfied, so it’s not as good as I would like it to be. But it’s great, so far. I’m getting feedback from little cracks and corners, all over the world. Germany is giving some good feedback; Nigeria, especially; Australia, too. I’m getting feedback from London also. It’s amazing the people that the music is reaching out to. I’m so overwhelmed that my message is actually getting out to so many people.
One of my greatest accomplishments is not even something overseas. It is seeing a brethren that I haven’t seen in a while. He told me he just came out of prison, where he had an opportunity to see and listen to my music. So my music is in prison. That is a great accomplishment to me; greater than going out to any nice, little fancy city and any village in a foreign place. Because if there are any people you really want to influence are the people who have made mistakes; it’s the people in the prisons. So that felt great to me.
Where do you see yourself in 2, 3, 4, 5 years from now? Where do you see the music going?
All over the world. I see the music continuing to go all over the world and, hopefully, at a faster pace. I hope to see myself influencing a lot of other artistes also, because they are the huge influencers of everybody in the world right now. The youths, it’s so sad, the kind of music they’re listening to. Violence – look a little youth who stabbed another little youth and killed him at school the other day. It’s the music that is influencing these kinds of violence and these kinds of stupidness. And then the parents themselves, their focus is way off; when parents are not paying attention, all the children have is music; music and social media, where a lot of negativity is shared.
Who are your producers or do you produce for yourself?
I’ve work with a lot of people. I’ve worked with Adigun; worked with people from Trinidad like Jessil Moore. I’ve worked with Red Boys from Jamaica, and worked with Andre in London. The last song I did, ‘Back to Africa’, I actually produced that by myself. I worked with Elite Productions, that’s in Grenada here. But I’m trying to get into producing myself because Ajamu once told me, don’t get a rhythm and then write a song to it because your song is then polluted by the personality of the producer – the person who produced the rhythm. If you write your song and then you put your music to it, then it’s built around you and your energy.
I want to be able to create everything. Then, I could put my energy and my 100 percent positivity on that song. Create my identity on the music, 100 percent.
Find A#keem at:: facebook.com/officialahkeemmusic