Sean ‘Contractor’ Edwards, principal of Contractor Music Group, praised Masicka‘s Generation of Kings (G.O.K.) for its initial success in the US but believes the album could have made a bigger splash with a crossover hit.
“Well firstly, I think the album is brilliant and shows growth from 438 lyrically and instrumentally,” he told DancehallMag. “For a Dancehall album, the numbers are consistent with a hit Dancehall album. However, had it had a crossover hit, it would have done better.”
The album, released through Def Jam Recordings on December 1, debuted at No. 2 on the Billboard Reggae Albums chart, behind Bob Marley and The Wailers’ Legend. It recorded 3,500 units in combined sales and streaming during its first week, according to data provided to DancehallMag from Billboard’s sales tracker Luminate. This was a slight increase from Masicka’s previous album, 438, which also debuted at No. 2 with 2,864 units moved during its first week in 2021. As of November 2023, 438 has recorded 50,000 units in the US.
Marley’s Legend (Universal Music), a staple atop the Reggae chart, continues to outperform new releases, and typically records over 11,000 units in combined sales and streams every week.
Among new releases, Byron Messia‘s No Love (Ztekk / SimpleStupid / Geffen) is the best-selling Jamaican album of 2023, according to the Billboard Year-End Chart, where it is ranked at No. 8 behind ‘greatest hits’ compilations from Bob Marley, Sean Paul, Shaggy and UB40, and three studio albums by American Reggae band Stick Figure.
It took No Love five months before it debuted on the weekly Reggae Albums chart dated June 10 at No. 8, after selling 1,400 units the previous week. A July 20 remix of its top single, Talibans, with Afrobeats star Burna Boy, helped to push the album to No. 3 on the Reggae chart dated August 5, with 3,000 units in combined sales and streaming recorded the previous week. So far, it has spent 25 weeks on the chart.
Other Jamaican albums released in 2023 include Popcaan‘s Great Is He (OVO Sound), which peaked at No. 3 on the chart after it moved 3,200 units during its first week, Buju Banton‘s Born For Greatness (Gargamel Music / RocNation / DefJam), which moved 1,100 units, Stephen Marley‘s Old Soul (Ghetto Youths Intl / UMG / Tuff Gong), which moved 900 units during its first week, and Beenie Man‘s Simma, which recorded 500 units during its first week.
In 2022, the top-selling albums were Koffee‘s Gifted (Promise Land / Sony / RCA), which debuted at No. 2 on the Reggae chart after selling 3,500 units during its first week in April 2022, and Shenseea‘s Alpha (Rich Immigrants / Interscope Records) which also debuted at No. 2 on the chart, selling 4,900 units during its first week of release.
Edwards suggests that artists should adopt more aggressive marketing strategies, including targeting diverse American audiences, collaborations, and releasing a hit single before the album. “Higher numbers in America need more aggressive marketing to a Black American and White and Hispanic audience. There needs to be a hit single first and then the release of the album,” he said.
“Also, collabs with other artists outside of Dancehall would improve the sales and streaming numbers. We also need more campaigning from the artists across the entire USA and not just in the core West Indian territories; and most importantly, the artists need to find crossover songs,” he added.
Lloyd Laing—conceptualizer of CertifiedStreams and music director at Edge 105 FM—offered praise for the performance of Masicka’s G.O.K.
“I was not surprised at the numbers, considering the groundwork that was obviously placed into this album way before it hit the launchpad. Considering his surprise delivery on 438, I think the bar was set high and he delivered an album well worth the accolades,” Laing told DancehallMag.
According to Laing, Masicka is worthy of being dubbed as the genre’s Monarch.
“[The album] is an excellent body of work carefully curated to showcase why he is deservedly the new King of the Dancehall…It’s is what it is, and considering all the accumulated achievements Masicka has made, he has the receipts to prove it,” he said.
Like Edwards, Laing also explained that artists need to pay keen attention to marketing tactics to ensure that their projects reap rewards, irrespective of whether they believe they have a vast fanbase. “Some creatives in the business have a skewed perception of what a fan is and when they can’t see the conversion from attention currency to dollars they get frustrated,” he said.
He added: “First, we need to understand brand building and role what marketing plays and what how promotion and publicity exist in the brand ecosystem of an artist.”
While Edwards lamented that Dancehall has shifted towards ‘darker’ themes, Laing said that fans and critics alike should allow it to flow organically as the new crop of artists experiment.
“I think that like in every industry we face bubbles of growth that burst for the better, or the worse. Dancehall as a soundscape is still relatively young, and still has room to grow. If every body in the homegrown space doing the right thing in their own corner then collectively we gonna see quality of music exports rise,” Laing said.