Rapper Heavy D. Launches Label, Finds Success In Reggae Music

Although Hip-Hop remains a musical influence, Heavy D is finding success in a different genre via his own record label Stride Entertainment and a brand new reggae album titled Vibes. 

The project, which was recently released digitally on iTunes, debuted at No. 4 on the Billboard reggae chart and No. 2 on iTunes’ reggae chart.

The release may surprise fans, who know the rapper for such classic records as “Mr. Big Stuff,” “We Got Our Own Thang," "Now That We Found Love" and “Black Coffee.”

“I set Stride Entertainment up for this release and to be able to have the freedom to create,” Heavy D. told AllHipHop.com. “I didn’t really have the opportunity to do full-on albums back then because I was under contract with a label who paid you money to do a certain thing.”

Heavy D maintains the new project is a natural extension of infusing reggae into his music over the years.

He admitted to putting the same effort into Vibes as he has done with his rap albums, but admitted that as CEO of his own label, his creative freedom is boundless.

“They [record labels] didn’t regard reggae at the time as something that was viable for the company or something that they felt would sell a whole lot or records,” Heavy D. continued. “I also felt like I wanted to do it on my terms. I wanted to be able to express myself in a way where I didn’t have anybody being concerned about whether or not they'd be reimbursed.”

Among the guests found on Vibes are reggae stars Barrington Levy and Sizzla.

The first single from the project is the project is the steady-tempo, horn-heavy “Long Distance Girlfriend.”

While Vibes could have been released at the height of his rap career, Heavy D sums up the motivation to pursue his latest endeavor with one word.

“My passion brought me here. I was looking for something to do. I was in the studio trying to make music. It wasn’t living up to the standards that I wanted to and I just couldn’t see myself putting out a mediocre product. And honestly, the real reason I did it is because it just felt right. It felt good.”

The opportunity to work on Vibes allowed Heavy D to return to his roots while fully exposing a side of him that fans have rarely heard.

Prior to the album, the rapper worked with reggae legends Josey Wales and Robert French, in addition to Super Cat and Banton.

“I missed the type of reggae that inspired me initially. I missed all of the classic raw sound of the ‘60s and the ‘70s, when cats didn’t have a lot of money to work with. The album is probably 90 percent live instruments, but then my Hip-Hop comes in and then you want your drums hard a certain way. So this is a very nice collaboration of where I’m from, what I did and what I’ve become.”

Despite the move into reggae and his passion for the genre, there is no chance of Heavy D abandoning the elements that generated his love of rap music.

“You’ll definitely hear me rap again, but I don’t know if I’ll put out a whole rap album,” Heavy D. told AllHipHop.com. “I’d be happy to guest appear on somebody’s track. You never know. It’s one of those things. If I do get inspired to do a whole album. If I come up with the right concept, right theme, right direction. I just have to be excited about it.”