'No gimmicks just lyrics'
Cocoa Tea has not lost any of the necessary ingredients for stirring up a good performance. This was evident at Saturday's staging of St Mary Mi Come From, held at the National Arena in Kingston.
The Settle Down singer had the crowd singing every word of his hits such as: Good Life and She Loves Me Now, and received a thunderous "No!" when he asked if he could leave the stage. Reflecting on his career which began more than three decades ago, Cocoa Tea told The Gleaner his talent propelled him to stardom as "stunts" could not work back in the day.
A Different Era Now
"Artistes had to use raw talent then, no stunts," he asserted. "I don't use any stunts, I just use my music. I am Cocoa Tea then, and I am Cocoa Tea now - you see what I can do. When Cocoa Tea come to sing you the tunes weh even many of these young people grow up listening to, I deliver these songs with sweet melodies, and it's not a question as to what will happen. We don't need stunts and we never needed stunts in those times, but it's a different era now."
In recent years, several entertainers have yielded to altering their appearance or generating what many call publicity stunts to attract attention to their music. Alkaline, for instance, wore contact lenses when he emerged on the scene in 2013, but insisted his eyes were tattooed, generating quite a buzz around the deejay. Spice also received international attention last month after posting a lighter-skinned version of herself on social media, attracting attention for her accompanying single - Black Hypocrisy. Cosmetic surgery has also become popular in the entertainment industry, with acts like Shauna Chyn undergoing the 'luxury doll' procedure to appeal to a wider audience.
"We're what you call the residents, elders and veterans of the music business, and we're still here without having to do all of that," Cocoa Tea said. But he does not hold it against artistes who do. He referenced jazz singer Nat King Cole's Time and the River to make his point.
"He says, 'Time and the river will bring my love to me til time stands still and the river runs dry'. Well, time doesn't stand still and the river doesn't run dry, so younger artistes haffi come cause after a while we can't sing no more, the younger people haffi come take up the thing. If dem haffi use stunts, dem use stunts. If young women haffi use dem beauty and dem 'batty' fi mek dem songs play, nothing is wrong with that because it's about survival. This music is for the people who is less fortunate and don't have anything to do. Can you imagine nuff of these young artistes who get rich off music, what they would do because dem never go university?" he asked.
"Dem haffi use weh dem have, and what dem have is music."