Reggae Producer Omar “Bobo Omar” Phillips a big hit in Africa

by Howard Campbell

KINGSTON, Jamaica – Africa is one of the rising markets for dancehall/reggae music. Top acts from Jamaica have performed in the Motherland in the last 15 years, and radio stations there have embraced the songs of independent producers like Omar “Bobo Omar” Phillips.

His Out of Control album, released last year, has reached the ears of fans in Nigeria through extensive play on Top Radio 909, based in the capital, Lagos.

The set is driven by the Train Line rhythm which features songs by a number of artists led by Busy Signal who does “Won’t Stop Now”. Most of the other acts on Out of Control are from Bobo Omar’s hometown of Linstead, a market town in rural St. Catherine, Jamaica.

Reggae Producer Omar “Bobo Omar” Phillips a big hit in Africa

“It is very important to tap into the African market, Nigeria alone has a population of 183 million people so the possibilities are endless,” said Bobo Omar. “Besides that, Africa is the cradle of humanity.”

He said songs on the Train Line beat have also earned strong rotation in Kenya, which is one of the busiest markets for Jamaican music in Africa.

While he promotes his music through social media, New York-based Bobo Omar credits old-fashioned word-of-mouth for introducing Out of Control to West Africa.

“The album got played through a friend who knew a radio presenter who fell in love with Out of Control,” he said.

Omar Phillips grew up in Linstead, aware of the town’s rich music history. It is also the hometown of singers Joseph Hill (lead singer of Culture), Freddie McKay and Phyllis Dillon, who made their names in the 1960s and 1970s.

In 2002, Bobo Omar got into music production with One Tree Records. It has released songs by established artistes like Capleton and Busy Signal, but also focuses on Linstead-bred acts such as Ancient Warrior, Kananga and Don G.

Reggae’s elite acts including Bob Marley and Peter Tosh performed in Africa during the 1970s and 1980s. Because the continent’s promoters developed a reputation for shadiness, Jamaican artists got reluctant to visit.

That has changed in recent years, with Shaggy, Sean Paul, TOK, Sizzla, Cocoa Tea, Inner Circle, Beenie Man and Busy Signal performing in Kenya, Zimbabwe, South Africa and Uganda.


Related Articles

Back to top button