The official music video for ‘No Surrender’ has become an international viral hit with over one million views in its first week online.
Directed by Dameon Gayle (Warrior Films), the music video features two dozen Jamaican dancehall dancers and was filmed on Orange St in downtown Kingston.
The video concept was about capturing the energy and talent of the current dancehall scene through a showcase of Jamaican dancehall dancing. Dancers in the video include dancehall veterans Colo Colo and Boysie Roses, Koolkid, Kimiko Versatile, and members of dancehall crews Supreme Blazers, Xqlusiv, Kriptic Klique and Outshine.
There has been an enthusiastic response from viewers around the world, with positive reception from Europe, South America, Australia, USA and Asia.
Music producer Monkey Marc says, “I have a huge amount of respect for Jamaica’s influence around the world, from ska, rocksteady and reggae to dancehall music and dance. Almost no other country compares to the influence that Jamaica has had on music and dance globally. Most of the music that we love wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for the island’s influence, including genres like hip hop, house, techno and more.”
He continued, “However that respect and recognition doesn’t always come back to Jamaica. International artists have been taking inspiration from Jamaican culture for too long without giving it the credit that it deserves”.
The issue of cultural appropriation from Jamaica has been covered at length by local and international media have raised from Noisey, Buzzfeed, Billboard, FACT and Fuse, to The Gleaner, The Star and the Observer. The Jamaican press has noted that dancehall dancers in particular have long been denied the place on the international stage that they deserve. In 2012, Orville Hall said, “We are not even close to getting the recognition that we deserve.” In 2016, he elaborated,
“I don’t think we get enough credit for the work that we do. In fact, I don’t think we get any credit at all for the dancehall moves being used on the international level. There is no respect for the creators or the foundation, for where it is coming from, and that is something that needs to be addressed. Our dancers are not being viewed as choreographers, but as mere street dancers who aren’t good enough for the international scene.”
Australian/UK music producer Monkey Marc and his team made this music video in an effort to redress this issue. In contrast to international artists and producers (such as Justin Beiber, Diplo, Major Lazer, Drake and Rihanna) who sometimes have been criticised for cultural appropriation, Monkey Marc and his team wanted to make a music video that featured Jamaican dancehall dance culture front and centre.
Monkey Marc said, “We aimed to make a music video to showcase the skill, energy and unique flavour of Jamaican dancehall dancers. Jamaican dancers are renowned around the world – perhaps more so internationally than on the island. In this music video we wanted to give Jamaican dancers the recognition that they deserve on an international stage.”
He continued, ‘We wanted to create something that acknowledges the grassroots contributions of all Jamaicans, from the legendary oldschool dancers to the country youth and the Kingston crews, and even the kids and bystanders dancing in the streets at the shoot. Everyone contributed to the vibe in this music video’.
Music video producer Kim Williamson talked further about their careful selection of dancers, saying, “Every dancer and every crew brings something different and unique, and we actually wanted to put everyone we knew in the music video. But we couldn’t fit everyone in a 4 minute video … So we worked with a select group of dancers to showcase oldschool dancehall as well as some of the most exciting young dancehall crews of today.”
She said, “In the shoot, we gave each dance crew an opportunity to shine by themselves, and we ended the shoot with a group scene of classic oldschool dance moves led by dancehall veteran Colo Colo. We wanted to pay respect to the history of dancehall, and give viewers a tantalising glimpse into authentic dancehall culture.”
Williamson continued, “The idea was to give the dancers a platform to represent themselves authentically. The dance crews were hired to perform their choreography and to represent their crew and their dance moves. We applied the same approach to the styling of the music video. We didn’t give specific directions to the dancers on how to look and dress, other than to rep their style the way they wanted. We believe in the creativity and iconic style of the dancers, and we knew that viewers would find it inspiring too.”
Williamson believes that the video speaks for itself. She said, “We knew that if we gave the dancers an international platform where they could display their talent and their iconic style, then everyone around the world who was lucky enough to see it would be blown away.”
With one million views in the first week of the video’s release, that is exactly what happened. Monkey Marc said, “We are thrilled that the music video has received such a huge response. People have been commenting all around the world, saying things like ‘These are some of the best dancers of all time’. That’s exactly what we wanted them to see.”
Video producer Williamson said, “People are energised, uplifted and inspired watching this clip. It goes to show that if given the chance to observe it, people around the world have a huge amount of love and appreciation for Jamaican dancehall dance and Jamaican culture.”
However, music producer Monkey Marc declared, “Not enough international artists are giving props to the source. All the international artists who take something from the Jamaican scene – or even build their entire career on Jamaican styles of music – have a responsibility to reflect that in their work. Why would you exclusively use non-Jamaican dancers to represent Jamaican dancing in your music videos? People have been sidelining the creators and originators for too long.”
He went on to say, “The international response to this music video goes to show that Jamaican dancehall dancers are admired around the world. I hope the Jamaican government recognizes the immense value that dancehall dancers bring to the island and its economy. To make the most of this unique opportunity, the government needs to acknowledge dancehall dancers as cultural ambassadors for the island, and as a key element of the entertainment industry.”
He continued, “It’s encouraging that Prime Minister Holness described dancehall as a “national asset”, but he needs to follow through in terms of what it actually means for dancehall practitioners. Dancehall dancers should be supported with assistance for dance education, with business training on how to make dancing into a sustainable career, and with mentoring programs from industry leaders.”
Monkey Marc said, “From my perspective as someone who loves Jamaican culture, it seems that steps like this would help leverage the ambition, talent and drive that exists in the communty to get the most benefit from it for the nation. The Jamaican dancehall industry needs support like this at the community level if it is going to thrive and continue to be globally influential.’
Williamson concluded, “It was a blessing for us to be able to share the passion, joy and skill of the Jamaican dance scene with the world. The international response was even better than we expected. It just goes to show the true value of Jamaican dancehall in the international community.”
The single ‘No Surrender’ is the first release from producer Monkey Marc’s full-length album, Soundclash Inna Kingston Town, slated for release in late 2017. Other artists on the album include Dre Island, Iba Mahr, Ninja Man, Turbulence, Lutan Fyah, Prince Allah and a host of up-and-coming artists.