You exploded onto the music scene with ‘My Youth’ which was a great success in terms of underground recognition. Can you tell us a little bit about your musical journey since then?

Grime was at its peak when I released ‘My Youth’, but I wasn’t a grime artist, I just came out with a grime song. ‘My Youth’ took me all around the UK...I was like this is crazy. But then I was going into clubs and hearing bashment, so I was thinking, okay, I need to get back to my roots. So I started doing dance hall music and reggae music and after the ‘My Youth’ success, I just decided I want to get people on my side and reach out to my dance hall/reggae supporters.

I released my first mix tape called Across the Border and straight after that I released the next called The Leader. I then released a third called Cross The Leader.

I was just releasing dance hall mixtapes and was just trying to build up my reggae and dancehall fan base, this was the journey up until 2011.

Then, in 2012, people started to get the point of where I was coming from; it was just the groundwork of getting reggae and dance hall fans in the UK to get to know Stylo G and not just knowing me as a grime artist. So that was the process that lead up to 2013 where people say my sound is a new sound.

What made you want to start a career in music? What were you doing before?

I saw my dad on stage performing a dancehall song called ‘push up, push up’. So, seeing my dad performing and people going crazy was such a good feeling. It was good to see my dad doing something that people look up to and respect, like he was on the verge of big success. So, that just made me realise I can do this, it was possible to get out of Spanish town. Growing up in the ghetto in Jamaica negative things come your way, you don’t see a lot of positivity. So, when I saw him performing I was like this is something positive from there and I decided I wanted to do music.

Who influenced you musically? Who was your inspiration?

My dad is the main influence to me musically. I’d say all of the reggae and dancehall artists back in the 90’s as well, because that’s the era I grew up in and I was listening to Beanie man and Bounty killer ,Ninja man, Shaba, Shaggy, Sean Paul , Elephant Man and Bob Marley…….. he was a legend.

What do you think of the current dancehall scene in the UK? Is there a dancehall artist you are listening to at the moment?

I’m listening to Stylo G.

The scene is building but it will take some time. The UK dancehall scene does exist you have myself, Gappy Ranks, back in the day you had Maxi Priest, General Levi but now you have the new era coming up. There was a long break, like ten to 15 years, between that and now. I saw that gap in the market for dancehall music six years ago.  Glamour Kid is another person who inspired me - he even won a MOBO - that gave me the push to start doing dancehall. I just thought I want to be on platforms like that. With the UK dancehall scene it’s growing and even the artist that are coming up see what I’m doing and they are learning. Even with my record deal right now, they haven’t had a UK dancehall artist in how many years.

So that’s a good way of moving forward and now even the label is impressed with the progress. Even with the BBC Radio 1 progress, so now we just need people to reach out and show UK reggae music in a positive way.

It only takes one person to do something right, I can make people feel welcome, I don’t want people to be threatened by dancehall. I just decided to be the player to clean up dancehall. People tend to downplay dancehall because they say it’s violent which isn’t true; you can make the crowd happy with dancehall like how Shabba and Sean Paul did it. But not a lot of reggae artists can cross over to appeal to a wider crowd they still have to have that hard core edge.

What can Stylo G bring to the table for UK chart music?

Right now, I’m bringing Soundbwoy, it’s my first song with the label and it’s doing really well. I’m representing dancehall and I want to make it better for other dancehall artists to come up, I’m trying to build the scene.

I had an interview with Twin B and he said “Stylo, you’re carrying the weight of the UK dancehall scene on your shoulders”. So I am under pressure, I have to be making big songs that people can relate too and just keep making songs that is going to keep opening doors for me in a positive way. So what I’m bringing to the table is that I’m trying to build a dancehall scene and bring it forward to a mainstream audience.

Do you feel restricted by being only a Dancehall artist or are you willing to venture out of dancehall scene into commercial music?

I don’t restrict my music “once the beat is kicking you know lyrics will be flicking.” Music is powerful, you can’t limit yourself and say “I’m reggae I’m dancehall” if there’s a gospel track or jungle track I will jump on it. That’s why I call myself Stylo, there are no barriers no limits I just change my style, every big artist does it.

People can’t limit themselves, if you just do grime you will limit yourself to the UK, you need to make sure you’re crossing over to America, Jamaica, Australia, who ever can feel you. There’s no limit on Stylo G!

Tell us a bit about your latest single ‘Soundbwoy’ which is out May 26th?

I got the idea from when I did the Red Bull clash last year.

The show had 9,000 people and I had Usher in my changing room, Rita Ora was there also, it was amazing. I was really amazed that sound clashing came from reggae background and that they could bring it to a commercial audience and people would go crazy over it. When that song came on, ‘ring the alarm(tenor saw)’ it tore down the whole place and I was like I need to make a sound tune. I had it in my mind that I need to find a sound beat then I hooked up with a producer called ‘distortion’. We made the beat in less than an hour and I just felt like yeah this is a ‘soundbwoy’ track. I put the lyrics to it in less than half an hour and in two hours we had a song.

It’s one of the quickest tracks I’ve put together and it became my first single.

Sometimes in music you don’t plan things they just happen and sometimes they are the best ones, ‘Soundbwoy’ is a mixture of reggae with a bit of the UK culture and the reason I went for that is because I’ve been here for 13 years. Like I said, there are no limits to my music so, I thought, I am going to mix reggae with the culture that I’m representing and it works, it’s a good formula.

How does it feel to get the recognition for your music by Top DJ’s such as Sarah Cox and Toddler T?

I never expected that kind of heat from that record, I was just making music to please people and put it out there. People will gravitate to it if its good music. When I heard about the BBC radio 1 thing and the way it was building up I was surprised.

After finding out how big it was to make it on to the playlist, I never realised how many artists don’t make it on to the playlist no matter how big you are, so it’s a real pleasure. I was at home just thinking …Wow BBC Radio one are playing my song, I’m coming from pirate to this. I always believed in myself and believed in my music, so when things happened so fast you just don’t expect it. I was thinking you have to build yourself up first to get on the playlist but they just picked it up so big up Zane Lowe and Sara Cox, big up all those who played it.

You’re signed to Universal/3 beats, what is it like being signed to a major label? Will it change your musical direction?

No, it just feels like graduation for me it feels like I went to school and now I’m graduating, I knew I would get signed eventually. Rascals got signed I used to write for them. Dot Rotten used to be around me and he got signed. My aim was to be signed but to be prepared for when I got signed because I see a lot of artists get signed and then they’re not prepared. So you need to prepare yourself as I know how to write, produce, mix, master and perform, I organise my own events.

So I was just preparing myself and showing people that yeah I can do this, but with the help of 3beat/Universal they are able to reach things/people that I am not able to reach out to independently. As an upcoming artist it’s good to know your craft, it helps you to know when you go wrong.

When can we expect an album?

Very soon!

Right now I’m just popping off the singles with 3beats so hopefully there is an album in the pipeline, but I am releasing a dancehall EP in a few months. I can make dancehall tracks quick, like, in an hour but the mainstream ones I take my time with… I can give MOBO an exclusive when we are done.

You previously collaborated with Sneakbo on ‘Call Me A Naji’. Can we expect any more collaborations in the future with UK and US artists?

At the moment the label wants to just focus on Stylo because the last couple of month’s people tried to rinse me, jump in and take a piece of the pie.

I will do collaborations but just the right ones I just done one with Lethal B that should be coming out soon also with Ms Dynamite and Shy FX, and I also have song with Gyptian. It’s about picking the right ones you have to be selective with who you work with. You can make that one collaboration and people will be like “that’s it, what’s this Stylo doing?” I’ve made a mistake before but it wasn’t on a big scale.

Who would you love to work with?

Busta Rhymes.

I used to watch this guy on BET with his ‘Gimme Some More’ I thought this guy is representing! He was that one who gave me that crossover influence. When I hear Busta on a track it’s guaranteed to be a banger, so the two of us together would be mad.

Your performing at Reading and Leeds festival this year will you be performing new material?

When I saw the line-up I was like wow!

I did Leeds last year with Omarion, the live band was amazing so to do Leeds again and Reading I’m excited. I’ve been working out so I’ve got energy on stage been doing press ups too, I’m getting ready.

I’m doing Glastonbury too, with festivals I always do new song and my manager will be like yeah I like that song. But I will also be performing some off my old songs, when I perform ‘My Youth’ it’s mayhem, ‘Call Me A Yardie’ as well is madness and so is ‘Swagger Dem’.

When I perform them songs people go crazy so mixing the old with the new, it will be a good show. My aim is to turn my fans into super fans. 

Previous winners in the reggae category for the MOBO Awards include Sean Paul, how does he inspire you?

Sean Paul is a great artist he’s had number ones all over the world. He did a lot for reggae music he changed the game he got the people to listen to bashment.

What would it be like to win a MOBO?

I would jump through my window!

Not even being nominated makes me want to work harder so I can get that nomination.

I don’t think about Brits and stuff like that, I think about MOBO because it’s the music of black origin. So if I won one it will be like, “yes, okay I’m ready to go America, I’m ready to take over the world.” One of my biggest dreams is to win a MOBO, it would be my biggest accomplishment in the UK. After the whole ‘Call Me A Yardie’ and all the work we put in, I thought yeah this is my year. But then you just have to keep trying and keep thinking about what you really want out of life.

I mean the names that were nominated were like Damian Marley, Sean Paul, Popcorn, these artists are going somewhere. So I just have to go back to my drawing board and it gives artists like me something to aim for.

Describe the MOBO in three words?

Platform, inspiring and original.

Follow Stylo G on Twitter: @StyloG

For more information on Stylo G see here:

Catch the latest video from Stylo G here: 

Stylo G - Soundbwoy (Official Video)


Simone Elesha Edwards/Karine Le Blanc