Reggae star Protoje has announced that he has signed a new deal with American label RCA Records and Six Course today, Monday (April 13).
It’s a monumental deal as RCA through Six Course will now offer its support to Protoje’s label In.Digg.Nation, and will not only support him but the two other artistes he’s signed as well. The artistes are Sevana and another rising star in the game, Lila Iké.
Protoje spoke to Rolling Stones Magazine about the deal, which is a rare one for Jamaican musicians to receive. He’s happy that he will still have autonomy over the direction of his label while being able to depend on a big record company like RCA for their support. He was also very grateful to Alicia Keys and Swiss Beatz for their support. He said: “I still get to run my own label, have a certain level of creative control, but have support from a major. This was always something I’ve wanted to do.” “It puts you in better position to get in certain rooms. I just went and did a session with Alicia Keys and Swizz Beatz, and that was those guys who set it up,” he continued. He added that an opportunity like this “gives you an equal platform to get your songs out there.”
It seems the US market is becoming even more receptive to the Dancehall market as Protoje joins other artistes who’ve received similar big deals in the past year and a half. These include Buju Banton who signed with Roc Nation, Dancehall vixen Shenseea and Rvssian who signed with Interscope and Dancehall’s most famous daughter right now, Koffee who signed with Columbia U.K.
Protoje, whose real name is Oje Ken Ollivierre, is happy that Jamaican music is finally getting the recognition and support it deserves. He said this was one of the reasons he created In.Digg.Nation in 2014.
“I needed a way to get my music out and I thought the best thing was to try to build my own thing.” He also revealed his inspiration behind signing his two artistes. In the case of Sevana who he signed in 2015 he said “I heard her sing a cover of Amy Winehouse’s ‘Back to Black’ and I physically reacted. My body had lots of goose bump.” He signed Lila Iké two years later in 2017. “I’ve never heard anything like her style out of Jamaica,” he said.
The first release under the new partnership is expected to be Iké’s “I Spy” single. That release is scheduled for Thursday and will be followed by Lila’s debut EP in May. I Spy, produced by Izy Beats (the same hit maker behind Koffee’s “Toast”) is described in a press statement as a playful song over soft guitar licks that beckons listeners with innocent flirtation and a sweet falsetto.
Protoje also revealed that he and Sevana hope to release new music later this year around July or August.
He also shared the great news with his fans on Instagram saying: “The culture shifted today. Label deal for my whole squad. @indiggcollective Everybody roll out. One out of the three of us is dropping New music this week. This is a dream.”
His fans were quick to show their appreciation for his work ethic as he continues to try and get Jamaican music on the map.
One fan said: “How mi hear say music naw reach noweh. Big lie that. Congrats. Uno inspire mi. ,” while another added: “Congrats! More music to heal the world,” and another said: “Making big strides.”
Lila Iké also made the announcement using her Instagram account. She said: “This day in HISTORY MAJOR SQUAD MOVES. I am excited to announce the partnership with @indiggcollective and major label @rcarecords [facilitated by @sixcourseinc] for a multi-album deal Our first release drops THIS Thursday Stay Tuned!”
In a press release, the Second Chances singer said, “The RCA team I met has really good energy and is just as excited about music as I am, so it’s just up from here! They also have some of my favorite acts. All these artists are doing very well, so their success to me is a good indicator of RCA’s ability to cultivate talent.”
Sevana is also pumped about the new deal on Instagram, said in a statement that the new partnership is a “big deal for me, especially with the kind of music I’m making. Most Jamaican artists go their entire careers never acquiring major label help. All the work I’ve put in over the past 5 years has led up to this moment. I feel blessed, grateful and more motivated than ever.”
Peter Edge, Chairman and CEO, RCA Records said, “We are thrilled to be working with the dynamic and gifted musicians and creators that are the In.Digg.Nation Collective. Protoje is renowned in the world of Reggae and his collective, partnered with the RCA and Six Course team is an exciting combination to expand the global reach of great music.”
While Archie Davis, CEO, Six Course Media Group/SVP, Marketing, RCA Records added, “Reggae is quickly moving to the forefront of what’s happening in music globally. Protoje and his collective at In.Digg.Nation are leading the way, and taking the genre and culture to new heights. I’m honored to partner with Protoje and his In.Digg.Nation Collective, along with Lila Iké and Sevana to contribute to the future of Reggae music.”
The trio last collaborated on their Rock & Groove Riddim which was released in December last year under the In.Digg.Nation Collective along with Naomi Cowan and Jaz Elise. The team gave a sizzling rendition of songs on the Riddim for BBC Radio 1Xtra at Protoje’s Habitat Studios last month.
Sevana, Jaz Elise, Lila Ikè and Naomi Cowan perform their Rock & Groove Riddim live for BBC Radio 1Xtra at Protoje’s Habitat Studios
Dancehall and reggae fans around the world will be looking out for some big projects from Protoje and his team in the near future.