In today’s overcrowded music landscape where individuality is dwindling, Lagos-based dancehall/reggae artiste Jahblend is worth noticing. On SoundCloud, where he’s uploaded dancehall covers for Dave’s Burna Boy-featured Location and YCee’s Juice with Maleek Berry, was an interesting exercise in artistry and showmanship. Although dancehall/reggae music has been around for some time, Jahblend is looking to be no one other than himself.
His debut single Black on Black, released last year, focused on the landscape of youth oppression by the police and echoed the frustration of being a victim himself. The video came out in 2021, dedicated to the lives lost in the #ENDSARS protests.
Black on Black made it to his debut EP Compos Mentis, housing 5 dynamic tracks. ”Compos Mentis was inspired by the events and happenings around the time of its creation,” Jahblend says, ”It was during the lockdown and BLM period I made the third song Show Love and this kickstarted the compos mentis idea. I and my team decided to make it a conscious body of work, I had to make 2 extra songs (Know It and By Force) to complete the body of work. So I’ll say roughly it took a year of perfectly matching events to make compos mentis even tho we didn’t know we were making it at the initial stage.”
Opening track Embargo is a commentary on government incompetence, rolling in dancehall rhythms with a hovering EDM beat. By Force tackles the subject of sexual consent and rape, admonishing men and women who could be perpetrators. ”Why yuh wanna have your way / yuh wanna have your way,” Jahblend sings in Jamaican patois, ‘‘Why you wanna have your way / yuh wanna have your way by force.”
The project can be found on streaming platforms like Apple Music and Spotify, but it’s also an impressive entry in Nigeria’s dancehall canon. A Delta native and born Toju Buwa, Jahblend consumed a lot reggae music growing up and was tuned to Ajegunle’s galala music, a nuanced fusion of dancehall, reggae and pidgin. ‘‘I was also listening to artistes like Bob Marley, 2face, Daddy Showkey and many others.” Jahblend adds.
From a family of five and two younger siblings, Jahblend studied Economics and Statistics at Redeemer’s University. After releasing two singles this year – Puella and Gi Dem – 25-year-old Jahblend in this YNaija Next Rated interview reveals more on his music, hopeful collaborations and future projects.
At what point did you decide you wanted to be a dancehall/reggae artiste? Has this always been your preferred genre/sound or did you make a shift?
I have always loved reggae dancehall but I initially started as a rapper but then came a time I made the switch to dancehall/reggae and since then it’s been amazing growth.
When were you signed to your current label? Also, how has it been navigating the industry under this label?
I’m currently signed to 360 incubation, I got signed towards the end of 2019, navigating the industry with my present team has taught me a lot, I know and have seen for a fact they are dedicated to the real growth of their artistes.
Are there international dancehall/reggae artistes you love to collaborate with it?
Yes sure. Even though I intend to work with a lot of them, I’m looking to get Popcaan and Shensea first.
What other genres of music do you listen to?
I listen to any type of music as long as it’s enjoyable, I try as much as possible to enlarge my sound bank [laughs].
Are you working on a new project? If so, how much can you say so?
I just recently released my second single for the year titled Gi Dem and also at the moment, I and my team are focused on making our intentions clear so for the coming months till after summer we have packaged a run of songs back to back. I’ve termed this run victory lap. So that’s what I’m working on for now, as for a body of work just know it’s ready already.
When Bernard Dayo isn’t writing about pop culture, he’s watching horror movies and reading comics and trying to pretend his addiction to Netflix isn’t a serious condition.