Oufah Media And Productions is a full-service entertainment company located in Kingston, Jamaica, with satellite offices in Canada, USA and France. We specialise in artist, songwriter, producer and engineer management, as well as music publishing, touring and merchandising. In addition, the Oufah music label is home to a diverse roster of critically acclaimed artists, writers and producers.
Staying true to the origin of it’s name, a Jamaican dialect which translates to whom does this [music] belong, Oufah plans to stay true to its brand by recording and producing music that continues to break charted records.
“Mr Dillon” is Clifton “Specialist” Dillon, the CEO of Oufah, who has an unrivalled track record when it comes to turning Jamaican artists into award winning international acts. In the early nineties he won back-to-back Grammy Awards with Shabba Ranks after introducing the music and culture of Jamaican dancehall to mainstream audiences. For the next five years his productions were ever-present on the US Billboard charts – not only hits by Shabba, but also Mad Cobra (Flex), Lady Patra and Richie Stephens, all of whom belonged to his management stable and were subsequently signed to major labels.
Born in Montego Bay, Specialist grew up around reggae sound-systems, and worked with the likes of King Tubby and Bobby Digital before making records of his own. He knew that dancehall wasn’t just about music – instead it was a lifestyle with its own language, fashion, dance moves and attitude. The talent was all around him in Kingston, waiting to be discovered but it was his up-to-the-minute business, marketing and promotional skills, plus an insistence that his records must be produced, mixed and mastered to the same high standards as those by leading rap and R & B acts which made the difference.
By promoting his artists’ Caribbean roots rather than diluting them, Specialist took the dancehall genre to another level after masterminding collaborations with Queen Latifah, KRS-One, Chubb Rock, Johnny Gill, Chuck Berry and film star Eddie Murphy. Shabba Ranks’ Mr. Loverman opened up urban radio for reggae music in America, whilst he and Lady Patra became the first dancehall artists to get their videos shown on MTV, VH1 and BET. Further success then came with Ky-mani Marley – the son of reggae legend Bob Marley and a Jamaican table tennis champion. Dear Dad, a No. 1 reggae single taken from The Journey album, heralded his breakthrough in 2000. This was a cry from the heart – a song written in the form of a letter and addressed to a father he’d barely known, but whom the world had claimed for its own. Ky-mani went on to sign for major labels, record Grammy nominated albums and star in several films, including Shottas and One Love, co-starring Cherine Anderson.
INTRODUCTION – OMI
Kingston, Jamaica is where you’ll find the heartbeat of reggae and dancehall music, and the sound that’s now swept Rihanna, Justin Beiber and Major Lazer in its embrace. The island’s latest international star is Omi – an Oufah discovery whose breakthrough hit Cheerleader went to No. 1 in ten countries, including America, France, Germany and the UK, where it stayed in charts for four months. In-between racking up Platinum and Diamond sales, Cheerleader served to confirm Caribbean music’s place at the centre of global dance and pop culture.
Omi, pronounced “oh me,” is the face of young Jamaica, and his earliest releases quickly propelled him to more than a million hits on YouTube. He’s far exceeded that now – Cheerleader alone is heading for a billion – and his irresistible brand of urban pop can be heard everywhere – playing in clubs and parties worldwide, and being streamed via every digital platform. Crucially, it’s not just the sound of his records that makes him stand out, but the whole package. In person, he’s quirky and razor-sharp as his dress sense. There’s quality and originality in everything he does and his appeal crosses all boundaries, just like talent.
“I always had an idea of where I was going,” says Omi, “but Mr. Dillon came and added his fifty percent to it and that’s where the magic really happened. He put his creative genius behind me and suggested different instruments and things that can lock into your brain as a listener. He has the ability to do that. He can listen to what you’re doing from a consumer’s perspective and that’s what really connected with me and made this project such a success.”
Reggae music today is no longer confined by race, skin colour or nationality, and its influence has extended way beyond Jamaica. It’s less of a genre than a global phenomenon, driven by one love philosophy and a liking for bass culture. Enter Alberto D’ Ascola, better known as Alborosie – a Sicilian born singer and multi-instrumentalist with flowing dreadlocks down to his ankles, and traditional reggae and dancehall etched into his soul. Before signing with Oufah, he worked as an engineer on Jamaica’s north coast. Specialist brought him to Kingston, where this talented multi-instrumentalist founded his own studio and spearheaded the resurgence in roots reggae from Jamaica, featuring artists like Chronixx and Protoje. Several bestselling – and also groundbreaking – albums later, he’s a headline act the world over.
Oufah’s latest discovery is Spiritual – a Rasta singer with a sound and message designed to bring down the walls of Jericho. Raised in central Kingston, he sang in his local choir before embarking on a musical path and writing original songs of real depth. Noting this, Specialist recorded him with a full complement of “live” musicians, including horns, lead guitar and percussion. The results – heard on tracks like the anthemic Stand Up To Rasta – are the equal of any seventies’ reggae classic.
Spiritual’s debut album Awakening is due for release in February 2017, and should confirm his place among the vanguard of today’s roots reggae renaissance.