KINGSTON, Jamaica - Beres Hammond has made a career singing ballads like One Step Ahead and Come Back Home, positive songs that have made him one of reggae’s great hit makers. But he believes foreigners are becoming turned off contemporary Jamaican music because of its negative content.
“Wi always sound like wi quarrelling, it’s as if these artistes don’t have any bright days,” said Hammond. He has some advice for his younger colleagues.
“Try a smile an’ the world will smile with you.”
The 58 year-old Hammond blames dancehall’s angry nature for the precipitous fall of Jamaican music sales in the United States, the world’s largest market. Last year was especially dismal, with year-end figures from SoundScan showing no dancehall performer making an impact in that country.
SoundScan is the company that provides music sales data for major publications like Billboard.
Hammond told the Jamaica Observer he felt the disenchantment with new music out of Jamaica while on the road late last year promoting his double album, One Life, One Love, which was released jointly in November by VP Records and his Harmony House Records.
“People say these artistes are angry all the time. You are angry on record but at the same time your personal life is not that bitter because you are making good money, so why the anger?” he asked.
Hammond wrote the 20 songs on One Life, One Love which consists of lovers rock and message songs. While he broke through as a balladeer in the late 1970s with the Willie Lindo-produced Reggae Soul album, Hammond notes he has been writing ‘conscious’ songs since his days with progressive reggae band Zap-Pow early that decade.
It is lover’s rock, however, that has made Hammond a dancehall force. He teamed with Lindo again in the mid-1980s for the massive dance hit, What One Dance Can Do, and has not looked back.
He was one of the 1990s biggest stars, making hit records for producers like Donovan Germain (Tempted to Touch), Tappa Zukie (Putting Up Resistance) and Phillip ‘Fattis’ Burrell (Full Attention).
Hammond plans to continue promotion of One Life, One Love with US promotional dates in January.