Local hip-hop/crossover singer Marcus Braveboy made headlines recently when his single “Action Ting” was featured on a promotional video for NBA franchise Cleveland Cavaliers.
Braveboy, a self-professed basketball fan, said the feature was the result of a series of networking links he has spent the last four years developing. The video was shared with the Cavs 8.4 million followers on Instagram on October 16. “For the past four years, I have been working with a music licensing company based in Los Angeles called “Shut Down Music”. The CEO Ty Frankel, who is also a music producer connected with me via Facebook, as he was scouting Caribbean vocalists to work on tracks for TV and film. ‘Action Ting’ would have been in a pool of songs sent by the company to brands and agencies for use in sports videos,” Braveboy explained.
T&T hip hop has crossover appeal
Braveboy, who has a LLB (Hons) in law from the University of London, reckons the Cavs deal is a huge win for the local hip-hop community. If nothing else it proves definitively that T&T hip-hop, despite its critics, has crossover appeal, he said.
“A hip-hop song using the Trini/Caribbean accent was able to be selected by a mainstream American brand. It shows that our hip hop music has crossover appeal in its own way globally. Hip-hop artistes in Trinidad tend to be overlooked and in many instances not respected or taken seriously, so I do see it as a win for the Trinidad & Tobago hip hop community, as well all artistes and producers from T&T who dabble in other genres,” he said.
Braveboy is a true lover of local music culture. Despite boasting many EDM and hip-hop releases the Diego Martin-born singer has dabbled in soca parang and infused elements of calypso, soca and even chutney into his music.
He believes, however, that T&T musical talent runs much deeper than the traditional and contemporary sounds of the island. The notable emergence and growing influence of the TriniBAD dancehall movement, he says, is proof of the power local musicians can wield when they work together. “I think that we have so much talent here in T&T in other genres, but the reality is that there is still a lack of opportunities, especially for artistes and musicians in hip-hop, pop, rock, jazz, reggae etc. My hope is that artistes on a similar path to me, can look at this as an example to show that there is a world of opportunity out there and I encourage them to not limit themselves to only the domestic market and most importantly not to give up,” Braveboy said.
Staying proactive during the pandemic
While the ongoing global pandemic has curtailed his initial plans for 2020 it has in no way derailed Braveboy’s year. The proactive entertainer adjusted his calendar and swapped travel dates with studio bookings. He has released 13 new tracks and five music videos in the past seven months. And also worked with long-time collaborator singer Stef Kalloo on a virtual concert series.
“To be honest, the first month was tough as I had so many plans to travel and also locally, I had a few music related events I was ready to launch, but I remember taking a day or two to reflect and deciding I wasn’t going to let this pandemic stop me from achieving my goals.
“Personally, I think it’s been an amazing time for self-growth and development. I realised that this is the most down time I would get and that the majority of the industry globally was in the same position as me. I used my song ‘Pronto’ as a musical business card and started messaging DJs and producers all around the world like crazy, sometimes ten DJs a day for almost a month. And the result of this was me getting a foot into the Latin market and having a bunch of releases in that market, as well as EDM and recently the African market,” Braveboy revealed.
Braveboy urges all local creatives “to focus on creating income opportunities from streaming, licensing, publishing and work for hire opportunities”. A simple introduction of social media could go a long way, he advised.
“For me personally, I’m doing a lot of trial and error testing with my releases. I started my own label, Bravehouse Music Group and I am releasing my own songs and collabs through my label and learning as I go along. The only way to learn is to actually try. We should not be afraid to fail or make mistakes. That’s the only way to get better or to level up,” Braveboy concluded.