UWI masters student quits studies to pursue dancehall career Loop Jamaica

The content originally appeared on: Jamaica News Loop News

His stage name alone generates extreme intrigue and curiosity, but even more so are his background and some major decisions he has made on his obviously very purposeful musical journey.

‘Gramma Zone’, whose real name is Miguel Reid, is a Jamaican dancehall/reggae recording artiste with a fairly unique singjay sound which, interestingly, merges the contemporary dancehall sound with classic dancehall flows and vocals.

He joins a list of artistes who emerged from St Catherine High School in Spanish Town. Others include Chronixx, Spice and D’Angel, with producer Notnice having also taken the musical journey as a past student.

In first declaring that the stage name Gramma Zone relates to grammar as part English Language which helped to guide his education up to the tertiary level, Reid, without reference to it, summarily dismissed the deadly ‘weed killer’ notions that had naturally set in based on the well-known farm chemical of the same name.

That left the intrigue centred around why the accomplished University of the West Indies (UWI) graduate paused his academic pursuits to dive deeper into music.

The outline in that regard is not without logic, as while his approach to the music business has been pretty unique, the dots seem well connected.

Reid said he studied the “business of music” at the UWI, where he was awarded a bachelor’s degree in entertainment and cultural enterprise management, with a minor in philosophy.

Then he started a master’s degree in cultural studies, which is what he put on pause – he says quit – to pursue his dream – dancehall music.

When asked why the switch from academia, Reid replied: ” I grew up in a very rough, violent and financially deprived environment, spending seven years back and forth between Linstead and Spanish Town, and I lost so many of my friends to gang violence while I was just a teenager.

“So I made a decision in 2006 that I’m going to try this school thing. I got my subjects and matriculated to UWI. I thought it was a dream come true, as all my life I was sold on the concept of: ‘Go to school, get a good education and get a good job’,” he added.

“I did exactly that and I can tell you that that’s not a dream in any shape or form,” said Gramma Zone, a past cultural and entertainment affairs chairman of the UWI Guild of Students, who passionately lamented that he was very disappointed after getting his degree.

Gramma Zone

He said the accomplishment on his part led to the unfolding of what he described as a process of “slaving yourself and living in a reality that most likely was projected onto you as a child from your parents and the Government.”

Reid said there are definite positives of tertiary education, as the environment is very good for networking, and particularly for persons with specialisation in their career choices, such as doctors and lawyers.

In reference to his sudden decision to halt his participation in the master’s programme, the reggae artiste said the move came after a number of considerations, especially a particular exchange he had with a lecturer at the university.

The artiste said in a confidential conversation with the particular lecturer who has a doctorate, he was pointedly told: “Gramma, trust mi, it feels good to have the Dr in front of your name, but the lifestyle, money, joy and freedom are not here. I would advise you to pursue your true passion while you have time to do so.”

Now, with the turn to music, he said he is seeing far brighter prospects, with his sound oozing a magnetic vibe for all within earshot.

In fact, what he fondly described as his “flaming new single”, ‘Gold Medal’, is undoubtedly extremely catchy in depicting the energy behind the famed From Rags to Riches tale.

But, at heart, Gramma indicated that the song is really to share and highlight his challenges from back in the days growing up in Linstead, to the present time when his talent and sharply increasing exposure have been combining to position him squarely in line for the big times.

The video for Gold Medal starts off with a quartet of ace Jamaican female relay sprinters expressing their joy at taking home a gold medal for the island on the world stage.

Next, there are subliminal mentions of other top Jamaican artistes, with Gramma Zone indicating that the whole world is now listening to them, like him, through the power and medium of captivating music.

There is also mention of dancehall star, Alkaline, who likewise went to UWI, with Gramma Zone saying “New Rules that neva failing” in reference to the fellow artiste’s popular annual show.

Not left out of the video are two of Jamaica’s more notable contemporary male sporting figures, in retired sprint king Usain Bolt and footballer Leon Bailey.

Gold Medal is produced by Heights of Heights Records/ MoodieBoy Ent/ G.I.A Records