The widely anticipated
Red Star Sounds Vol 3: Def Jamaica album is finally here, and everyone
should know that this is more than a mere collection of songs.
The Heineken Music
Initiative’s Red Star Sounds label worked in conjunction with Def Jam and
Tuff Gong to bring together the hottest in dancehall artists and Hip Hop allstars
for a good cause.
Proceeds from all
of the Red Start Sounds releases go to educational music programs through various
charities, and this third installment in the series is definitely worth your
Method Man, Redman, Capone and Noriega, Cam’Ron, Elephant Man, Scarface, 112,
Stephen and Damian Marley, Jay-Z, Lexxus, Buju Banton, T.O.K., Wayne Wonder,
Joe Budden, Sean Paul, and many more in a series of collaborative efforts
Scott Hunter Smith, President of the Heineken Music Initiative and creator of
the Red Star Sounds label, took some time out at the Heineken House Party in
Montego Bay to discuss the new album and the goals of the Music Initiative program.
What is Heineken’s involvement in the Red Star Sounds/Def Jamaica project?
Scott Hunter Smith:
The Heineken Music Initiative’s mission is to support urban-related music
charities, so what we do is each year we come up with an album. The first one
was a neo-soul album with Sony, then we did a Hip Hop album with Def Jam, and
now we have a Dancehall/Hip Hop album. We pick one or two charities. We’ve
supported VH-1’s Hear The Music, this year we’re doing the Grammy
Foundation which is music education, and also the Shawn Carter Foundation, which
is Jay-Z’s foundation for music scholarships. We put two to three unsigned
artists on the album with big name artists to give them some exposure, then
we donate a portion of the proceeds to charity, and the rest of it comes back
to do the project once again. We’re almost self-funding.
Heineken gave me
a couple million dollars to start this, and it’s going really well. After
this year we’ll probably be self-funding, where we won’t get hurt
by budget cuts and so forth. Business is tough now and corporations are gonna
protect their business first. These are the kind of programs that a lot of times
are cut because of those issues, so I drew up a business plan to try and make
it self-funding so we wouldn’t get caught with that.
AHHA: What was
the original inspiration for you to do this?
SHS: For the love
of music, the love of education. Schools have cut into music programs left and
right, and it’s been proven that music education helps further the academics
of kids in general, so I said ‘what better way to do it?’. One thing
is, because we are a beer company, to be careful we don’t give any money
directly to any students. We always find the appropriate charity to give them
the money to let them do it, because they’ll probably be able to do it
better than we will.
AHHA: What went
into the planning for this project?
SHS: Def Jam is
our partner in the fusion of music and culture. It’s big and it’s
continuing to grow, and so are the trends in music where a lot of reggae dancehall
is being fused. We wanted to take advantage of that and do an album.
AHHA: How involved
are the artists with the charitable aspect of this promoting the album?
in the beginning they were a little leery about it, saying ‘It’s a
major corporation, what are they trying to do? Are they trying to use me?’,
and that’s understandable. That’s why we try to align with reputable
charities and truly show them what we’re trying to do. If you look at our
album, there is a little logo on the back that says ‘Heineken Music Intiative’.
Everything else is Red Star Sounds, the charities, and Def Jam. We are literally
taking a back seat to try to do the right thing.
I did a program
on our first album with Erykah Badu, and Erykah Badu does nothing with alcohol
beverages. She gave us a song on the album, it was a single actually, and we
sent her out to some of the high schools. We funded it and no one knew –
we didn’t put any literature at all behind it. She did an essay program
and donated some money herself, and we donated money. It’s really about
the kids, the music, and education.
AHHA: It must make
you feel good to have a brainchild like this.
SHS: I’m very
fortunate to have some bosses back at Heineken that believed in my vision and
took a shot, and now they see the fruits of it and that this is helping. I’m
blessed in that way as well.
AHHA: Do you foresee
what you’ll be doing with this next year or what direction you’ll
SHS: Actually yeah,
we have some ideas and some music. I am trying to walk away a little bit from
getting into trying to pull these big albums together – maybe going to
producers and working with them to create these compilations to put a twist
on it. Sometimes compilations get boring to people, so you gotta kinda keep
it fresh and new.
AHHA: Is there
anything else you want people to know about the Music Initiative and the album?
SHS: I hope they
take a chance. Albums are expensive these days, and there’s a lot of good
music out there. I hope they take an opportunity to look into what we’re
doing and pick it up, because it is helping other people. The money goes for
good. The Music Initiative, Heineken and all it’s partners, on our end
anyway, we do nothing but use the money for good, and that’s the goal.
Go online and check out our website, and give us a chance – it’s helping