Changing local mindset about local musical talent
It is the mixtape Bermuda needs to buy, if only because it's full of local talent.
Kellan Lewis handpicked 16 artists for Rawyalty Is Earned, the EP that will drop on streaming platforms on November 15.
Bermuda can get a preview on Friday at a concert at Buna Gallery and Coffee House. S.Wav, Ynmidas, Combat, Tone Deaf and Mike D Man will all perform.
"[These] guys have so much talent and there is so much noise around the world that Bermuda doesn’t actually focus in on some of the local content," said Kellan, who orchestrated it all through his company, Rawyal Family Management & Entertainment.
"So that’s why I put this project together. This project is really about changing people's mindset when they look at local artists and when they look at the industry in Bermuda. This project is to make non-believers believers — that's what this project is about."
It's the type of support that got S.Wav to start thinking seriously about music as a career two years ago.
The 27-year-old, whose name is Bruce Perinchief, became interested at age 10 when his brother, Kris Frick, showed him how to pull beats, rap and record.
"But it would be other people's lyrics," he said. "And then we got into writing boot camp and he was like, 'Nah, that’s not good. Say it this way. Say it rhythmically’.“
By the time he was 15, he was performing — at Bermuda Beachfest and in competition — and his songs could be heard on Hott 107.5. Although he raps and does "all genres of music", it is his talent as an R&B singer that is showcased on Rawyalty Is Earned.
"I feel like I just started in the past year, two years — just before Covid — taking it really seriously and trying to push to: OK, where can I actually take this?"
What changed, he said, is the feedback he got from family and friends.
"It was everyone supporting me in my life; different people saying I actually have talent. When you actually dive into the artistic side, no matter what age you are, everybody's thirsty for something that’s real, something in life they can connect with and I feel that’s the type of artist I'm turning into. I feel like I have something to offer and that’s what made me push for my love — because I love it."
Jamie Furtardo, who performs as Tone Deaf, is likely the EP's biggest surprise. He has been producing music for other people for about four years — this is the first time he has put out a song of his own.
"For a long time I wasn’t very comfortable giving away beats. It felt so personal to me," he said. "So I eventually started rapping myself with a few friends but this EP will probably be the first time that a lot of people know that I make music in any way.
"It's pretty exciting. I think I really killed it with this song. It's been advertised all through Instagram so a bunch of people that kind of know me have seen it and been really surprised. So that’s very exciting."
Jason Clarke, who has been rapping as Combat since the late 1990s, is grateful to have a management team that has taken on the responsibility of social media and other tasks that keep his focus away from his music.
"For me to be here right now is a blessing," he said. "As artists in Bermuda, especially rappers, there aren’t too many platforms. When you combine what everybody's doing into one pot it only magnifies the scene even more.
"It's an opportunity for all of us to be heard, to be seen and shine. To get to another level you need someone else representing you while you focus on your music and I feel like that’s pretty much what Kellan's done with this project."
Kiandre Spencer is better known as Ynmidas on the Bermuda music scene.
"I feel like this tape is just one of the best things going for Bermuda music industry right now," said the 17-year-old, who already has a solo EP, Coronation, under his belt. "For a long time it's all been individual [work], everybody just making it individually, doing the best that they can. But I feel like this tape really brings all our supporters together, all our talent together and just [creating] the ultimate Bermuda mix really."
Michael Doucet has been dropping music on YouTube as Mike D Man for about six years.
"I feel like I have a story I can tell from the experience that I have lived," he said, explaining how he puts that story to a beat and "goes from there".
"I'm just rocking with who feels it. About two years ago I got a little buzz and last year I had a nice little buzz in Bermuda, making some noise around the hip-hop/rap scene. So this is just another opportunity to get heard and be seen again."
It is up to Bermuda to now decide whether it wants to support talented locals without censoring their art, Kellan said.
"During this process as we reach out to different institutions, different individuals for sponsorship, for support, you start to see the true colours show. There are individuals that pretend to be about the community, pretend to be about the youth and when we reach out to them [they complain that] these guys are promoting [things they do not want to be part of].
"I like to look at it like this. Music is a reflection of the culture and if the culture or the society is in a bad state that’s going to be reflected in the music. This tape — the public is going to hear it — the culture is reflected in a positive way. Of course you’ve got some gritty stuff [but that is] necessary in music. Music helps you to feel your emotions and in that way you can experience some sort of relief, in entertainment."
It is especially hard for the artists who have "put countless hours into their work".
"They write their music, they surf the internet looking for producers just to get their music heard, and for our own people to shut us down in Bermuda is hurtful," Kellan said.
"We all know what's happening in Bermuda. Bermuda is in a tough space right now for multiple people, for multiple industries. We need more acceptance, more collaboration. Instead of saying I'm not going to help these young guys with their music, let's try to embrace it because when they turn on their TV, there's music playing, when they're driving to work, its music playing — music is the one singular thing that’s in every aspect of our lives."
Follow @rawyalfamily on Instagram, share the Rawyalty Is Earned flyer and tag three friends in the comments for a chance at winning a free ticket to the EP release party on Friday. The winner will be announced on Wednesday. People with tickets will be entered into a raffle for prizes. Visit www.rawyalfamily.com. Follow @rawyalfamily on Instagram