Red Star Sounds: Def Jamaica : Scott Hunter Smith

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


Appearances include

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.

AllHipHop Alternatives:

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?

SHS: Actually,

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

be going?

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

some kids.