Culture

This Is How Dancehall Star Teejay Is Tapping Into Afrobeats To Design A Unique And New Wave

BY Abena Dzaka January 18, 2024 6:10 PM EDT

Dancehall artiste Timoy Janeyo Jones, better known by his stage name Teejay has explained how he’s using Afrobeats to help shape the genre’s next big thing. 

The music star who is originally from Montego Bay, Jamaica, was recently captured in a Billboard feature.

Teejay was inspired by his musical family to pursue music at an early age. He dropped out of school in the seventh grade to focus on his music full-time, becoming enmeshed in his neighborhood’s thriving dancehall scene and looking up to musicians like 2Pac and Jah Cure.

Teejay’s persistence paid off in 2010 when Tommy Lee, a fellow Montegonian, acknowledged and encouraged him, setting the stage for his first live performance.

However, the untimely deaths of two close friends in 2020 handed Teejay a serious blow.

“I was just getting my footing as an artiste when Wallen and Lewis passed away,” he said.

He had to reevaluate his musical direction after the loss, moving away from overtly gangster themes toward more upbeat, broadly appealing music. 

Teejay explained his change in musical style, saying, “Hardcore music has a barrier. It’s not allowed to be played in certain homes or Christian homes. I decided to do something joyful rather than resort to violence.”

He made adjustments to realize this vision, beginning with a review of his business dealings. 

Jamaican artistes don’t even understand the concept of proper management, according to Teejay. Jamaican artistes still have to go out there and hunt for everything—including an interview and a chauffeur. Some individuals are oblivious to the fact that some Jamaicans claiming to be managers are booking agents.

With the help of veteran Jamaican music industry professional Sharon Burke, Teejay changed his image and adopted a new sound he called “Afro dancehall.”

The Drift hitmaker included Afrobeats elements into his music, realizing that traditional Dancehall and reggae were losing their appeal. “It’s being said that Afrobeats is more popular than dancehall,” he yelled. His 2022 release Drift, which proved to be successful, brought attention to this fusion and led to a remix with Afrobeats artiste Davido that was released in December 2023.

His flexibility and willingness to try new genres herald a new era for Dancehall, one that pushes the genre’s boundaries and keeps it appealing on a global scale.

While Teejay keeps innovating, Dancehall’s future appears to be in its adaptability and openness to experimenting with different sounds. Teejay’s journey is proof of Dancehall’s adaptability and tenacity; it shows that the genre flourishes when artistes seize opportunities and embrace change.