Where did the name Xyclone originate from?
Actually, a friend of mine gave me that name since I used to live in Jamaica. A lot of kids wanted to be artists and we’ve been doing it for years. It became like a hobby before it becomes a career. So one day I was like “Yo dawg a who dat artist, a who dat Deejay and we nuh have no name” you feel me. So he was like “what about Chaos” and I said “I don’t know if I like that name too much and plus I know there’s a lot of Chaos out there”. So he said “what about Cyclone” and I said “hmm it got a ring to it” and instead of spelling it with a C I spelled it with an X.
What inspired you to start deejaying?
I’ve always been into music honestly since the jump. In school I had music class and stuff like that so a lot of my friends use to tell me “yo your pretty dope you should do music”. I used to say whatever but eventually I really did get into it and it was something I appreciated and loved. So big up my friends!
Describe a day with Xyclone.
Work work work. Today I woke up and all I did was studio work, tomorrow when I get up it’s gonna be straight studio work until the weekend.The weekend I spend time with my son or when I’m out of town touring I’m going city to city promoting. At this moment in my life, everything is pretty surrounded around my music, promoting my music and trying to get to the next level.
Do you self-manage?
I am self-managed. My mentor is Spragga Benz and I asked him a lot of questions, he gives me his honest opinion, he guides me and gives me the right information when I’m not sure. The past couple of years I have gotten close with Bobby Konders. Dope guy, he supports me a lot and I respect him for that. I mean even though I am self-managed, I have people in my corner that I can take good advice from.
How did you meet Spragga Benz?
Through my cousin years ago.
How do you balance your time between being an artist, manager, promoter, and your regular life?
Everything has its time. In music there are times you do have to back off, take your foot off that glass pedal and regrow. Come out with some new fresh ideas, come out with new material you know that people will appreciate. But when you over saturate the market sometimes things just start sounding the same and you kind of lose that audience.
Since social media is your largest critic, do you think taking a break hurts your career?
It does. I’m on a break right now as an artist, I do understand that. I have one of the biggest songs right now in dancehall. I work really hard to get to this point and the time when my party was coming up I tried to delay the promotion as long as possible. I promoted this party in two weeks, like hard promotion on social media because when you promote and whatever your promoting people tend to that. As soon as you switch to something else the attention switches. You ever see an artist with a song he’s exposing and now all of a sudden they come out with a new song and your like “oh my gosh I was getting used to that song”. You have to be really keen on the time when you do certain things because it’s really important.
Do you face any challenges being a dancehall artist in the U.S.?
I think back then a lot of the artists and music that came out of Jamaica did face challenges. Obviously, Jamaica is the heartbeat, so if you’re doing Reggae or Dancehall music people will go to Jamaica for that sound.They would never necessarily come to Baltimore, Miami, London, Toronto or New York for that hardcore sound. However, nowadays its a lot different. Social media has made the world very much smaller and we see times like this there are artist breaking internationally in Jamaica and other countries across the world. I don’t really think no one faces any other bigger challenge than no other person. It doesn’t matter where you live in the world anymore.
Kranium said he felt like he paved the way for dancehall artists to break out in the U.S., do you agree?
For this generation, definitely, he is the leader. See the thing is music is periodical, its by era you know what I mean. There was a lot of discussions that Yellow Man was king of Dancehall then it was Beenie Man now people are saying its Vybz Kartel. First, it was Jordan now it’s Lebron James five years from now it will be somebody else. For right now for artists who are breaking from America, I’ll give him that respect but there were artists here that have done it before us like the Shaggy’s just to call names that people know relevant today. But I can give him that, I can give him that 150%. Shout out to the other artists that are doing it from overseas and it’s not only in America, but we also have someone like Stylo G that’s breaking from the UK. That’s why I say social media has made the world a lot smaller and big up Kranium.
Explain the feeling you felt when your albums reached the Reggae Billboard chart twice in one year?
Xyclone: Do you watch basketball?
Nova: Yes I peek in every now and then…
Xyclone: If I say someone like Ray Allen what do you expect from him, what do people know him for as a player?
Nova: Let me guess… he is a three-pointer?
Xyclone: There you go. It’s like I found where I was able to make an impact in this music. So we know that Ray Allen is a player that might score nine points the whole game and those nine points come in for the 4th quarter when it really matters. So you have some artists, a lot of artists who are breaking out of Jamaica. They’re really big on YouTube and Vevo and trend as soon as they drop music where they get millions of views on YouTube within weeks. Then you have other artists like me where I’m able to sell 3,4,500 copies of my album the first week when I drop an album just because I picked that kind of market for myself and I choose to focus on that market for myself. So it’s like where I’m strong a lot of artists struggle and where I struggle a lot of artists are strong so it’s all about finding your niche.
Would you say that you’ve mastered your niche?
I wouldn’t say mastered but I’m doing pretty good. Haha. It’s the Reggae Billboard which I’m very proud of and its dope to rub shoulders with Shaggy, Major Lazor, Sting and all these great people that are huge successes. I am just this little kid from the DMV area like “hey what is Xyclone doing up there”? I think it’s dope for real!
What would you advise artists to do to have the same Billboard success that you’ve achieved thus far?
Basically, I would have to give them the strategy that I use and the strategy I used is to get your friends to buy your album. It’s simple, it’s no secret to it for real. I’m a person like this, I
started out years ago as a promoter, promoter/artist which I still do. I had events where I brought out 300 people, I had events where I brought out 700-1000 people so it’s like I have a really big fan base. I’ve done events in Philly, Baltimore, D.C, New York, West Palm Beach, Miami, and I have a following in Dancehall with street people you know what I mean. So even though my social media might seem mediocre to a lot of people I’m able to get a lot of stuff done underground on the street. When I got my albums I’m promoting it out there with iTunes cards, I’m there with your phone like download my album. I’m literally in the clubs taking peoples phones like “download my album” because a lot of people won’t do it, they just don’t care. But when you walk up to someone it’s like selling them a CD, “yo put this on your phone” and it sells so I’m always able to do that. You got to be your own sales person.
Do you ever feel defeated or taken back by other races like Caucasians reaching number 1 in the Reggae Billboard charts?
Nope. I do not. A lot of people are always quick to jump and say oh they’re stealing from Reggae or oh they’re stealing from Dancehall, their not giving credit or this or that. But we ourselves used a lot of other cultures. For instance, my top song right now isn’t Dancehall it’s a mix between Afrobeat and Hip-Hop. My song with Bobby Konders is not Dancehall it’s an Afrobeat song. That whole Steven Di Genius era was a fusion of Dancehall and Hip-Hop, if you listen to Bounty Killer’s album he had a lot of Hip-Hop beats on the album even ‘Suidcial Murder’ produced by Bobby Konders was not straight up Dancehall. The point I’m making is we use so many cultures the world is just a big melting pot. If something sounds good together use it. What I don’t like is when or if someone samples something and don’t give credit, then that becomes an issue because you cant sample my work and not pay me for it. Listen, music is big and if white people want to sing Reggae that means our culture is strong.
You recently did a freestyle on BBC radio 1Xtra Seani B’s show. How did that come about?
It was my first time in the UK. I flew into London because I was supposed to perform for the first time in Switzerland the very next day. So I flew into London a day early to go to Seani B’s show. I was invited because at the time my album in September had gone up to #1 on the Reggae Billboard charts in July so it was two months after. Due to that success, people wanted to speak to me. They wanted to know my story, how I did it, how was I able to outsell a Major Lazor and how I was able to surpass Shaggy. So I went on there and explain my story, exactly how I did it and whatever I do I put on social media. That way maybe someone else can observe and learn from what I’m doing and try to do it better than me.
What inspired the song “Stay With Me”?
Afrobeat is the sound that’s moving right now. As an artist, you really have to understand in the music what people are really into and how to keep “current” with what’s going on. Last year and this year has been really big for us. We see songs like “Fall” and “If” from Davido hit major, even here in America. We have seen Wizkid with Drake, we’ve seen Patoranking, we see all these Afrobeat artists rise up and I wasn’t going to be the first and I wasn’t going to be the last to flow with that wave. Just like when Dancehall is hot they flow with that wave. You know what i mean, its a certain sound at a certain time. It was the lead single off my last album, I really think that song didn’t get the credit it deserved but I really think its a dope song, I shot the video, I dropped it, and people were like “oh it’s nice, NEXT”.
What made you collab with Konshens and how did the collab happen for the song ‘Mek It Clap’?
I was listening to the song over and over again because I really think its’ a dope song, I think the beat is dope and I felt the song was needed in Dancehall. I was thinking to myself “who can I put on this remix that would make sense?” I see a lot of artists do collabs and remixes for songs and the artist doesn’t fit the song and I was like the perfect person is Konshens. I never thought about anybody else. I felt like that was his lane so I hit up Spragga Benz and said “yo I want Konshens on this record, you gonna link him” and he said, “yea I got his number ill give it to you.” Haha! We did the song within a week, he liked the record, I was able to shoot the video with him and the rest was history. Shout out to Konshens man I appreciate that 100%.
Your single “It’s You That I Need” that’s was in the charts was produced by Massive B. How did you guys link up to create the song?
Haha! C’mon man that’s Bobby man. Why wouldn’t you want him to produce you like that’s the top of the food chain right there haha! It’s crazy because I called him one day and I was like “yo fam when are we going to do a song” and he’s like “yea well do a song”. I kept asking him and one day I called him, I don’t know he must have been in a good mood and I was like “yo when are we gonna do a song” and he’s like “you know what I got a beat for you, I got Vybz Kartel on the beat and it would just be you and Vybz Kartel on the beat”. So I said, “send me that right now”! Haha! I got the song, sent him back the demo and I thought my song was the bomb. He calls me back and said, “uh’ yeah this isn’t going to work. I want you to sing so we can get a song for you to crossover”. I was like Oh My God what am I going to do because I am not a singer and that’s Bobby Konders, you don’t second guess or question. So I deleted that whole section, start it over and Bobby was like “it’s you that I need”. He gave me the idea for the song and I wrote the lyrics and it was dope. It’s actually a lot of people favorite song. I will never forget, we dropped the song January 18th and the song was pushing half a million on Spotify. It had 425,000 in less than 6 months and I never had a record move that fast before on Spotify. However, I learned how better to use Spotify from ‘Mek It Clap’, so the next song I drop I know I’m probably going to make half a million in 3 months.
What advice can you give to a young artist trying to make it in the Dancehall industry?
I would tell them find what works for you and focus on your strong points. So if you are an R&B singer do not try to rap. If you are a rapper do not try to sing and if you do both then do both. But focus on your strong points and eventually, you’ll have to branch out and spread your wings. But if you’re just starting out you need a strong point to focus on and once you reach a level where you can spread your wings and fly you can focus on other things so your not a one-dimensional artist.