Producer ‘Frankie Music’ On His New ‘Epiphany Riddim’ And Thriving Legacy

Oct 29, 2021

The right producer can mean the difference between a short-lived single and a career-defining classic. When Koffee linked with Frankie Music Productions in 2018, the result was the then-unknown 17-year-old’s slick social critique, Raggamuffin. The three-minute track honed in on urban realities (“Ghetto tears long river nile out here”) while paying homage to Uptown Top Ranking, (“Mi gi’ dem heart attack inna mi halter back”) and Koffee’s career has been hot ever since. Her hyper-speed flow helped her land on BBC 1Xtra’s Hot For 2019 list, and the song is among five definitive tracks on the pint-sized star’s Grammy-winning debut, Rapture.

That brilliant beat was created by Comar ‘Frankie Music’ Campbell, now a Grammy winner by proxy, who helms Frankie Music Productions. Campbell, who has over three decades in the business and a stunning ear for Reggae riddims just released his new juggling project, Epiphany, a sway-inducing dub instrumental.

He not only produced but curated the riddim which features his trademark blend of emerging and established artists, this time working with Bugle, Qraig Voicemail, Vinyl Voice, Kevyn V and others.

In a year that has seen artists (Sean Paul, Kranium, Red Rat) and producers (NotNice, Jordan Chimney) alike tackling the issue of unity in Dancehall, the Epiphany riddim is Campbell’s contribution to the debate.

“I’m excited to show how well new and more experienced artists were able to collaborate,” he told DancehallMag. “Our front runners need to work together and encourage unity. Unity is strength.”

Another project that received his trademark treatment was 2019’s General A General riddim, showcasing stalwarts like Anthony B and Lutan Fyah alongside newcomer Naomi Cowan, Frankie Music signee Shawn Antoine, plus Jesse Royal, Romain Virgo, and many others.

Though he’s been around many big names in the ever-changing genre, Campbell admits he has a knack for nurturing new talent. Aside from Ragamuffin, he’s also the engineer behind Bella Blair’s Beethoven sampling ganja anthem Gimme A Light which made DancehallMag’s 4/20 Playlist back in April. “I strongly believe in new talent. My policy is to bring across the culture by featuring and introducing new talent as well as established artists to bridge the gaps in music. My choice isn’t based on trend,” Frankie said.

Sure of his strengths with a solid list of credits – Beenie Man (Dweet Again), Duane Stephenson (Love Her), Konshens & Delus (She’s Happy) – Campbell is hopeful about the genre’s future whereas others see cause for concern. “The evolution of music and growth/development is where I remain whole and confident,” Campbell said. “The world has evolved and we have to acclimatize to the changes as well as learn how to differentiate between what is expected and what we choose to represent.”

When asked whether he felt Dancehall was being threatened by its thriving subgenres – Afrobeats, tropical house, dancehall pop – Campbell gave a bold and balanced response. “Dancehall can never die,” he quipped.

“All genres have been influenced by dancehall in some way.” However, he again stressed unity as a mitigating factor against the many unchecked incidents of interpolation. “Where we are divided is where there is reason to fault or not succeed in keeping our livelihood alive and sustainable,” he said.

While he’s proven adept at the most cutting edge sounds (such as the ambient loops and beat-breaks on Ragamuffin), the seasoned label head is looking forward to the global resurgence of vinyl, a development he says “makes [his] belief in music a proud and fulfilling moment.” “I thoroughly enjoy knowing there is a resurgence,” Campbell said excitedly, adding that it was during the medium’s heyday up to the 90’s that he significantly recognized his ear for producing.

Back then, Campbell worked closely alongside his former colleague/mentor/close friend, the late Bobby “Digital” Dixon, whose blueprint breathed life into the 90’s reggae/dancehall scene. Rude boys such as Shabba Ranks (Digital won back-to-back Grammys for his work on Xtra Naked and As Raw As Ever) and roots crooners Cocoa Tea, Sanchez and Sizzla Kalonji (Da Real Ting) are all indebted to Digital’s innovative style.

Campbell who “grew up next door to Bobby Digital” has been similarly moved by his impact. He shared the most potent advice the iconic producer gave him. “The one thing amongst so many things Bobby taught me is to take PRIDE in the person you are and to the fullest extent, Campbell said. He’s clearly turned one of Dixon’s compelling directives into his life’s work: “Make music that will live forever.”

Epiphany, distributed by VPal Records, is now available across all DSPs.

 

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