Like some of his peers, reggae’s ‘Hot Ras’ I-Octane relocated to The States during the pandemic, where the entertainment scene proved more lively. But as he reveals, his absence from the local scene was more nuanced than having access to extra gigs.
“The last show I did in Jamaica was Rebel Salute (January), and prior to that, I didn’t perform in Jamaica for, like, four years because if you do the same thing all the while, you’re gonna get the same result,” the Top Boy singjay told CVMTV’s Sunrise yesterday. “I’ve done every single thing in Jamaica that’s needed to be done, contributing to the music. Mi a the first youth weh seh Rastafari weh go corporate, weh go brand. We sign to 10 different corporate (companies) – I did everything.”
Among his brand deals were partnerships with telecommunications giant Digicel, international shoe brand Golden Eagle and soft drink company Busta. But I-Octane, whose real name is Byiome Muir, has also had milestones in music. Since rising to the fore in the early 2000s with his own style of conscious reggae, he’s released classics like Lose A Friend, L.O.V.E Y.O.U and My Life.
His versatile catalogue also includes dancehall numbers like Puff It, Badmind Dem A Pree (with Bounty Killer) and We Love The Vibes. I-Octane has also invested in the music business with his own label and band, Conquer the Globe.
“(With) music, mi max the game, so, sometimes when people get used to you, you get monotonous to people, so, sometimes dem kinda overlook you,” he said. “And then, the world is bigger, so I went out there to spread my music and a lot of people over the world that never see me before. You go in a different environment, you get a new love… When you get that, it kinda give you back an energy fi come back and do back the music. Cause you’re doing the music like for 20 years, after a while, it become a work for you.”
The sort of work that can feel counterproductive if not appreciated.
“When you reach certain levels, especially in Jamaica, it’s like yuh haffi a redo yourself or outdo yourself and all these things cause it’s not like you’re seeking validation, but if you’re in Jamaica and your perspective or your efforts not being validated or appreciated, it’s like, you know,” he left space for the audience to infer.
His return to Jamaica comes with the promotion of his latest album Dancehall Gift. The 10-track set is an offering to his fans who have been requesting a dancehall project, but its title has ruffled some feathers.
“A lot of people getting the title misconstrued, like, how yuh fi seh you a dancehall gift, like there’s nobody before you, cause you know how we stay as Jamaicans. We always look pon things all different types of ways, so that is the reason why.”
Fans of the Clarendonian can catch him in-person tomorrow night at Live & Direc at Port Royal’s Grand Hotel Excelsior. The line-up also includes Sizzla Kalonji, Luciano and Lukie-D.