Usain Bolt says he wants ‘proper’ respect in dancehall music

Sprint legend turned music producer Usain Bolt

Three riddims and an album later, and sprint legend turned music producer Usain Bolt says he still hasn’t gotten the respect he deserves in dancehall music. 

Speaking with Chuckie Lothian on his JD IN The Duffle Bag podcast, Bolt explained that people sometimes attribute what he has accomplished musically to his star status, however, he said his team has been putting in the work. 

“We want the proper respect, because people may be like it’s because of who he is,” he told Lothian. 

“NJ wanted to do music so I was like, ‘let’s do an album together, and not do collabs but put a good body a music together so people can hear and listen and say you know what these guys are serious, they’re really serious because the quality that they put out, it wasn’t just throwing something together.”

Usain Bolt

He said the lack of respect for him in the industry was a struggle that was even greater when he just launched his career.  Bolt said he realized that a lot of artistes he reached out to initially were finding ways to hide their disinterest.

“I felt like I was gonna call yuh up and seh listen, ‘I have a riddim, here it is, I need you to give me a song’,” he said indicating that the lack of enthusiasm from entertainers led him and his manager to put out their own work.

“I was like ‘you know what, if you don’t respect me, kool’. We decided that you know what, a lot of people don’t take us seriously in this music business. NJ wanted to do music so I was like, ‘let’s do an album together, and not do collabs but put a good body a music together so people can hear and listen and say you know what these guys are serious, they’re really serious because the quality that they put out, it wasn’t just throwing something together,” he said. 

The album, Country Yutes, was released in September and in just two days was number one on the reggae iTunes chart removing Bob Marley and the Wailers Legend from the top position.  It also gained the endorsement of incarcerated dancehall star Vybz Kartel. 

“Now artistes are calling us like ‘if you doing something, shout me!”

Bolt

Bolt acknowledging a shift in the industry shared that he believes the album vindicated him.

“Now artistes are calling us like ‘if you doing something, shout me!” 

He is now hoping to bring even more respect to himself and to the genre by extension, by bringing back hardcore dancehall- a key element that he says has been missing for some time. 

“It’s hard to see the change and I think that’s why dancehall is losing its respect,” Bolt told Lothian. “No disrespect to all the other artiste they doing their things they making money, cool. But the respect that dancehall had that everybody want a piece of is different now because it’s not the hardcore like ghetto type of dancehall anymore.”

Usain Bolt with Minister of Entertainment and Culture, Babsy Grange, Ricardo “Bibi’ Gardner, Chris Martin and Munga Honorable. Gardner, Martin and Munga have all featured on previous work from the sprint star

He shared that his next project will be an authentic dancehall riddim project that will feature some hardcore dancehall artistes.

And while not naming anyone, according to Bolt, he has already reached out to a few of them and they are showing interest. 

“I can’t determine where Dancehall go, but now I’m here I can try to change it and try to put more hardcore Dancehall out there,” he said.