RHEON ELBOURNE has been in the music industry for the past 17 years.
He a founding member of the local hip-hop group, CYNX and has built his own studio called DiffeREnt studios, where, “he writes, records, edits, mixes and masters, conceptualises scripts, storyboards, does visual production and provides promotional assistance,” his bio said.
To him, Trinidad and Tobago’s musical landscape is as varied as its people.
“Since I born I know rap, I know R&B, I know soca, I know dancehall, I know conscious...I know all of these different genres and I never shied away from them.”
“I still don’t shy away from them. I am still a very versatile artiste. It might be confusing at times to fans, to people who support because they may not understand the line or chain of thought...when it comes to what it is I am really doing at the point in time.”
He is known for songs such as Endurance, Different and Zessame Street.
The 32-year-old Kelly Village, Caroni performing artiste and cameraman, has a recent release with singer/songwriter Prince Pronto, featuring Jah-Z Blaze, called Essential. This is a thank you to TT’s essential workers, he said.
The song came about on a trip to the north coast during the pandemic.
“In reality we were so close to the beach and could not go to the beach...it would have taken 20 footsteps to walk into the water but we had to respect that we could not go into the water.”
For him, the creative’s voice is to be used to express what others might be unable to say for themselves.
“It gives thanks and praise to the essential workers of TT. To say, ‘Hey, thank you for coming out in your ambulance, even if it is for the neighbour next door but it is still helping save my life.
“‘Thank you for staying up late hours in the gas station so I could fill my gas tank.
“Thank you for picking up my garbage outside my house...”
He knows that music lasts a lifetime and so is also urging artistes and creators to use their voice to send positive messages.
Elbourne was one of the earlier practitioners of TT’s Trinibad genre, the local form of dancehall.
As an artiste he loved the word play of Trinidad being Trinibad.
“Trying to state it is Trinidad yes… But we trying to say everybody bad.”
And in this context, bad means good.
While he was one of the earlier practitioners of the genre, he is no longer comfortable with the direction it has taken.
“I do not want the world...thinking that TT is a bad place...
“I think that is the connotation and the example we are setting as artistes. Like when we say bad, it actually means bad. Bad like we have guns, bad like we will rape and kill and we don’t care. Bad like we don’t give a hell about society, bad like we don’t care about the future generations, we here to do what we want for ‘weself.’
“I think it has become a lot of that.”
Elbourne said he no longer wishes to be categorised with that and simply wants to be considered as an artiste coming out of TT.
The two artiste who shared a similar vision are both dead, he said. Those artistes were K Lion and Rebel Sixx.
Kwinton “K Lion” Thomas died in June last year and Kyle “Rebel Sixx” George was murdered in July last year.
“These are two artistes I worked with personally before their demise...I think we all were on the same chain of thought, which would be to take whatever is coming out of TT, whether it be soca, dancehall and so on..whatever it is. I think we always wanted to take whatever we had happening in TT to the main stage.”
He described K Lion as a great soul and mind and added that K Lion had a vision for where TT could be in the global entertainment industry. He showed Elbourne that TT needed to show a united front to be a global force on the music scene.
“It does really hurt me that he not around anymore and can’t be around anymore. He can’t bring that level of inspiration of what he is. Not was. Of what he is...”
But there were still a lot of artistes who were willing to bring that vision together.
For the past three to five years every artiste coming into the studio is singing dancehall and is singing about guns, he said. He wants local artistes to understand that every human being has a God-given talent.
“Once you understand that, you will understand that if your talent is music, that God gave you that talent. He did not make you to build a bench. He did not make you fry chicken or to work taxi.
“You have a voice. The reason he give you the voice is to be a messenger and the reason he give you the voice to be a messenger, is since before you born, there has been a fight of good over evil and evil over good.
“God has given you this talent to be an angel in his battle. To be a soldier in his battle. Now you can take your bow and arrow, your gun, your shield and your sword and defend yourself and your family...
“That is for a short period of time because there is everlasting life after this.”
Through his music, he tries to show youth that he is trying to be the messenger God asked him to be.
Artistes have a corporate social responsibility – because they were also brands – not only to TT but to the youth, he said.
“If you want to see a change in what is happening in our society, now you have become a part of the society that is able to make a change. If you do not understand that, you will never be part of the change.
“Once you realise your voice has purpose and meaning then maybe you might change your message to a more positive one to enlighten youths,” he said.
Elbourne is set to have a song out with Preddy soon called Weekend Holiday. It will be out August 1. The song falls into the dancehall category. People can also look forward to another release called Ground Bad.
He said it is not a song which falls into the Trinibad category but it does say that people from the ground – such as carpenters, dancers, singers – are bad which, in this case, means good.
He has also been working on a tentative album with Prince Pronto which will feature artistes like himself, I-Sasha, Jhallano and Jah-Z Blaze. Naliah Blackman, Preddy and Nessa Preppy are also expected to be featured on the album, he said.
The album is a collaborative effort through Elbourne and Prince Pronto to show what TT really has to offer, he added.
Last year, Elbourne was signed as one of the House of Angostura’s and Correia’s Hard Wine brand ambassadors.
He thanked the company for that.
“They believe in me that much. They worked with me that much to realise my work…”
He added that Angostura checks up on him and has also taught him a lot. The company sent Elbourne to workshops where he was able to learn more about the corporate side of his music; mixing, mastering, distribution and marketing among others, he said.
“They are really invested and I would like to see that with more corporate companies,” he said.
There is a song in each day for Elbourne and he believes every artiste should have 365 songs in them except when it’s a leap year. Then there should then be 366.