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Iru Magazine - Front Page

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I met with reggae and rapping artist, Front Page on a beautiful day in a sunny park of West Haven, CT. As we lunched, we spoke about the challenges and privileges of his life and the music industry.

Who is Front Page?

Front Page is a New England artist from the town of Hartford, CT. Although this town is only 18 square miles it is the third most populated West Indian city in America. The South end of Hartford, the area he grew up in, was densely populated with Latinos, and it was through his interactions with a variety of cultures that he grew into the multi-faceted artist you see today.

An aunt of Page affectionately calls him, “Trans-Atlantic child,” whom he used to stay with during summer vacation. Page is of Jamaican descent and spent most of the summers of his abroad in London. It was during this time that he drew much of his inspiration from his surroundings. Front Page recalls that his summers spent over there were “lovely,” and credits his former experiences to his present day sound.

Descended from an artistic family, he was exposed to numerous aspects of the entertainment industry; not just music but also acting and fashion. His aunt is a business consultant for the fashion industry, and through her guidance he gained insight into the world of fashion as well as the urban music scene of London and Rudeboy culture. He credits other family members with exposing him to the art of poetry and DJ-ing. Attending raves in his youth helped him to dive deeper into the Punk culture of England as well as Jamaican Rude Boyizm, which is the term he now uses to describe as his overall sound.

Front Page still remembers the day he knew he wanted to enter the music industry; which was upon hearing Busta Rhymes verse, “Dungeon Dragon,” on the song, “Scenario,” by A Tribe Called Quest. Although Page did not even know the name of the rapper he wished to emulate at that time, he told his uncle that he, “Wanted to be like the Dungeon Dragon.” Upon graduating college, Page knew without a doubt that music was the career for him, and rapping was his means to reach his goal.

The Importance of Black History

Although Front Page does not refer to himself as a conscious rapper, he still gathers much of his inspiration from historical figures of the Black Community. He draws inspiration from influencers all the way from Imhotep and Mansa Musa to Marcus Garvey and Curtis Mayfield. He says that Black history is very important to him, due to the influence of his mother. She raised him to take pride in his heritage and to believe that knowledge of his people’s past was and still is power.

Even though history influences his music, Front Page would prefer not be called a conscious rapper. The only reason he dislikes the term, “conscious” is because it implies that his level of knowledge and consideration for the plight of his people is a trend, which in his case it most certainly is not.

On differentiating between his intellectual capacity and need to stay mainstream he said, “Not gonna sit up here and act like I don’t go to parties. Or act wild; I party hard when I party. But I’m aware that with great talent comes great responsibility.”

When asked to describe his genre of music, Front Page refers to his own diverse style as, “Rudeboyizm.” Simply being called a rap/reggae artist is not specific enough for the diverse combination of cultures he embodies. Rudeboyizm is a mixture of rap and reggae, and was also influenced by the urban music scene of Britain which he became so accustomed to in his youth.

Front Page is one of the rare artists that actually walks his talk; he organized a charity concert to bring relief to those affected by the devastating hurricane in Haiti. He is also a mentor to children and has spent time at juvenile correctional facilities in hopes of guiding the youth to more productive ways of fulfillment.

Front Page is an artist that should be admired not just for his musical talents, but as an honest humanitarian. The time I spent with him was cathartic, and he not only opened my eyes to my own history, but to the conflicts of urban society in Jamaica and England. His music crosses the barriers of culture and time, and I look forward to seeing what this rising star has in store.

//Aisha Marie Sho @Shaka_Sho

 

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