Di Genius: Moving Forward Image

by Contributed

At only 21 years of age, Stephen McGregor is one of the most successful and renowned Jamaican producers in the music industry. The recipient of several Producer of the Year and Best Music Producer awards, 'Di Genius', as he is popularly called, has gone from being seen as just "Freddie McGregor's son" to a musical icon himself.

The creative force behind Big Ship Productions gave us a behind the scenes exclusive. 

When did you start to look at production as something you wanted to do seriously?
I started doing production professionally at about 12 years old. Really it was just a hobby. I didn't start playing instruments to be a producer but when I started recording artistes and did the Cartoon Riddim at 14, the rest was just history.

What advantages do you think playing instruments affords you as a producer?
I play a few instruments; drums, guitar, bass, violin and piano. I think it is an advantage for me because most producers have a lot of silent partners or they have ideas and cannot create them for themselves, whereas I have that edge over others to think up something and do it rather than hire someone to do it for me.

Where does your inspiration come from when you set out to create a riddim?
DG: My inspiration comes from everywhere. I don't have a set pattern or routine when I set out to make music. I'm at my best when I just sit in the studio, have a vibe and ideas just start flowing. I think one good hit song can last a lifetime. If Michael Jackson was still alive and came here to do a concert, he wouldn't need a new song because of his several previous hit songs.

What would you say is the most challenging thing you've been faced with as a producer? How have you overcome this?
The most challenging thing I think would be the criticisms from people in the industry who believe they know the answers to everything and critics

How has becoming a performing artiste helped you as a producer?
It's a way of getting a better connection with the people. When you go out there and perform you get a first-hand look at how they receive your music. Subconsciously, it's helped me in producing but I can't pinpoint how exactly.

Are you working on projects with overseas artistes or producers that you would like to brief us on?
I recently did some sessions with Nelly Furtado for her upcoming album. I've worked with Ne-Yo as well, but most of the time ... I work on songs to be shopped by artistes abroad.

Who do you look up to in the industry?
There are a whole heap of people! I basically look up to everyone before me that played a role in getting reggae and dancehall where it is today. Internationally, I would say producers like Timberland and Swizz Beatz.

What is your vision and mission for your production house?
The vision and mission is what I'm doing now, like spreading the music in places all over the world. For instance, most of our fan base is in Africa, where dancehall isn't so popular.

What should we be expecting from the Big Ship Family for 2011?
DG: Albums for sure. We just completed Chino's new album that's extremely sick! The album is exciting as we're trying to push the envelope with what we're doing. Also, we have tours for a couple regions planned already like US, UK, Japan and stuff in Africa coming up.

What do you think about the state of the music industry to date and where do you see it going in another five years?
DG: There is always good music being made. The problem I have now is with quality control. These days, anything can make it to radio, but otherwise we have a good group of people working to make good music so five years from now we should be safe and in a good position.

What words of wisdom can you share with upcoming producers?
DG: You just have to know what you want to do and put your all in it. Believe in yourself because if you don't, then no one else will or take you seriously. Make sure you are getting in it for the right reasons and not for the hype or anything like that. Most of all, try to be different.
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