Lenky scores Billboard success again with Justin Bieber remake of Diwali Featured

Entertainment News Written by  Wednesday, 28 September 2016 16:49 font size decrease font size increase font size 0
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    Steven 'Lenky' Marsden is not a big fan of labelling Dancehall as anything other than what it is, which is Dancehall Music.    For him, any intellectual debate about how the New Age Dancehall music is now being branded as Tropical House is a non starter.   



"Branding of our music as Tropical House or whatever, doesn't matter to me, I just know that it is a Jamaican thing. We have a strong influence on the world stage right now, between the dancehall feel, the pulse and essence of the thing, it's Jamaican, so instead of debating what it is called just make music and enjoy this window of opportunity" he said.


Lenky said that the new dancehall sound that the international artistes are using "fuses the North American and European sounds with the Jamaican Dancehall grooves to create a hybrid sound which is not quite hardcore dancehall but is definitely dancehall at its core.” It's familiar to him as it was also a part of his creative process years ago resulting in the Diwali Riddim.


He has been riding a wave of success as his Diwali riddim was recently sampled in the runaway hit,  'Let Me Love You', the Justin Bieber-DJ Snake collaboration. The single is now #6 on the Billboard Hot 100 charts. 


"It's great, just to know that Justin Bieber can take that whole vibe and create a top ten hit almost 14 years later. That's just cool, it was never something I expected when I made the Diwali Riddim" he said. 


The Diwali riddim is considered a classic. The 2002 dancehall beat is characterized by syncopated clapping, and it was given the name Diwali for capturing the sprit of the popular Indian Festival of Lights which celebrates good concurring over evil, light over darkness. It eventually spawned  three hits songs on the Billboard Hot 100 charts: Sean Paul hit #1 with 'Get Busy' while Lumidee peaked at #3 with 'Never Leave You' (Uh Oooh Uh Oooh) and Wayne Wonder’s hit 'No Letting Go' peaked at #11.


"Diwali used a different set of overdubs on each song, thats what made it unique and set it apart from other dancehall riddims in that time. The beat was just an experiment, I was just trying to make something different and the rest, is history," said Marsden, who is the founder of the Jamaica-based labels, 40/40 Productions and Diwali Records.


Marsden is also basking in the glow of success around Tory Lanez recent hit, “LUV” which is a remake of 'Everyone Falls in Love'. The single recently peaked at #19 on the Billboard Hot 100.



The riddim was originally made for Buju Banton’s hit, 'Up, Close and Personal’ produced by Donovan Germaine. It was a musical collaboration between Tony Kelly  and ‘Lenky'. Devonte later came and asked for a riddim, and Coolie, an engineer from Pent House, gave it to him.


“The keyboard sound on “Everyone Falls in Love” is the same feel and style that I used earlier on the dancehall hit “Maniac”. Maniac was produced by Richie Stephens who was also on lead vocals for that track which also featured Bounty Killa," he said  


He credits his friend David Cole who encouraged him to fine-tune his signature sound. 


 “With my good friend David Cole encouraging me to stick with my true sound, Richie (Stephens) was the first one to put out a song giving me the opportunity to express my keyboard style without conforming to the sound of the day and I will always appreciate that.” 


The same is true of the seminal Beenie Man and Chevelle Franklin’s hit single 'Dancehall Queen’ from the movie of the same name.


  “The 'Dancehall Queen' song showcased my style of wasn't yet popular and later came out in my Diwali Riddim where I had complete creative control. I did the keyboard arrangement for "Everyone Falls In Love', and to hear a song remade with my style being reproduced is very gratifying," he said.


Tanto Metro and Devonte' song peaked at #88 on the Billboard charts in August 1999.


Nowadays Lenky works out of his studio “Area 39” where among other things he is working on a soon to be released  EP with his son, Q Marsden, who is a vocalist that also plays the piano.  Q’s current single is “Motion” and is available on iTunes. Also in the pipeline are solo projects with his lifelong friend Rohan 'Zumjay' Stephens and an instrumental project set for release early next year.


He is a satellite member of Sly and Robbie's Taxi Label, and still collaborates on projects. He cites Sly and Robbie as his "biggest inspirations” and has been working with them as far  back as Maniac where Sly contributed the drum track.


"I don't give many interviews, I am not into publicity, that only overshadows my artistry. Musicians play music and when you play, it starts from the soul, inspiration comes from inside. Every great musician plays and practices relentlessly and at every opportunity, it is at this time that your brain wanders off, and you feel it and the creativity is unleashed," he said. 


Marsden who has won multiple awards among them the 2004 ASCAP/PRS Songwriter of the Year, does not knock non-musicians who build riddims, but feels there is no shortcut to greatness.


"If you put in the work, you can make music that can last" he said 




Read 3580 times Last modified on Wednesday, 28 September 2016 10:53

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