Kulcha Don: Native Son

Unlike other dancehall and reggae artists, who in most cases are Jamaican, Kulcha Don is ready to put a musical twist to Caribbean music and negate common stereotypes. Kulcha Don was born on the small Island of Montserrat, but admits that having a Jamaican father and being surrounded by Jamaican culture heavily influences his own musical style.

Inspired by acts such as Ninja Man, Shaggy and Shabba Ranks, Kulcha Don began to do his own research on different Caribbean cultures, and was determined to morph the outlook of Caribbean music. He left Montserrat at 18, and made his way to New York to pursue a career in music. Although he’s been on the scene for quite some time, and has performed with renowned Hip-Hop artists including The Fugees and Tupac, Kulcha’s name is still not synonymous with reggae heavyweights.

Kulcha Don’s rational approach to the industry along with his confidence and perseverance is proof that he’s done his homework while being on the grind. Currently residing in Bronx, New York, Kulcha blends the sounds of dancehall reggae, soca and reggaeton on his latest album, It’s All About You. Although he’s been traveling a lot these days, we caught up with him to discuss his diverse inspirations and creative direction.

AllHipHop.com Alternatives: You sound so Jamaican when you speak. I’m sure you get that a lot.

Kulcha Don: I get that all the time. As you know, Jamaica has played a big part in my career and in my whole being. I spend more time in Jamaica than I do in Montserrat.

AHHA: You fuse dancehall, soca and reggaeton music in your latest album. Why not one or the other?

Kulcha Don: As I like to emphasize, I’m a different type of artist. I am what the next artist is not. I’m dealing with what I call world sounds. Me understan’ it’s a big world out there and I always wanted to reach out. The album to me is entertainment. It’s my vehicle to do what I want to do. It’s time we come outside of the box that we live in. Instead of sitting down trying to differentiate, I’m dealing with unity and people.

AHHA: Many would agree that this album sounds more commercial than your previous music. What do you have to say about people who may think you’re selling out?

Kulcha Don: I’m gonna get that criticism. The myth in the industry is that dancehall doesn’t sell. Does it get radio play? Yes. Does it get played in the clubs? Yes. Does it actually sell? No. My goal, my object on this album is to reach out to the dancehall and Caribbean artists and tell them we need to start focusing more business wise. I’m thinking like how Jay-Z and Diddy thinks. I have no choice, maybe that’s what living in America does to me but that is the way to selling some records. We alone [Caribbean people] understand our music, and if we don’t have the resources to put into our music and get it out there, it nah go’ work.

AHHA: Dancehall is similar to Hip-Hop in the way that some artists feel that a lyrical battle is sometimes necessary to hype things up. Are you prepared for other dancehall artists who may come at you regarding your style of music?

Kulcha Don: I’m going to get that, trust me. I look at it as an inspiration. If I inspire another artist to be like me, I’m all for that. But if you’re going to try to be like me, but in denial and try to dethrone me, then it’s a different story. It’s a cultural problem we have that instead of riding together, we’re strictly trying to replace each other.

AHHA: You teamed up with Beenie Man for the first single “Drive You Crazy.” How did that come about?

Kulcha Don: Beenie and I have known each other and been friends for years. That was actually the producer’s idea [for the collaboration].

AHHA: Is the video out already?

Kulcha Don: Yeah, it’s on Tempo and it was aired on VH1, and it’s on local channels in New York, and it’s supposed to premier on BET.

AHHA: Is there a special lady in your life at the moment?

Kulcha Don: It’s difficult because being an artist, women can’t tolerate the lifestyle that an artist has, and I understand that. It’s hard, that’s all I can say. It’s hard to be in a serious relationship when you’re out here with your career on your mind – and vice versa for a woman who’s career-driven being in a serious relationship.

AHHA: What about the women you meet on the road?

Kulcha Don: I grew up with six women in my mom’s house. From the time I was in high school, I had all the girls. I opened for Sean Paul last week in Philadelphia and there was like 2,000 girls screaming. It feels good, it boosts your confidence – but that’s not all I’m about.

AHHA: What’s your take on other Caribbean artists?

Kulcha Don: A lot of Caribbean artists, their vision is limited. They’re into a hit song and a tour. I want to emphasize I’m in this for real – I’m in to establishment.

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