Brooklyn based Indy label Solja Life Records Inc. (SLR) which was established in 2001 by Jamaican born Keton “Solji” Cole, is quietly making strides on the international music industry. Cole, who spent several years doing market research, networking, building a catalog of songs and setting up the infrastructure for his label said several songs from his label are already licensed by MTV Networks.
“In August of 2008 two (2) songs, “Burning Bridges” and “Love Song”, were picked by a representative from MTV Networks after they heard the songs at a songwriters’ pitch-a-thon that I attended” Cole said.
“I was contacted a month later by the MTV representative who expressed interest in licensing the songs. To date a total of nine (9) songs and thirty one (31) instrumental tracks have been licensed by MTV Networks for their programming and video games. I am very proud of what I have been able to accomplish and feel I have opened the door for other Jamaican producers, independent labels and artists to get their music licensed” he said.
Just last week, MTV Networks included snippets of “That’s Ma Car” by SLR recording artiste Sly Rankin on the realty show “My Super Sweet 16 – Supa 21” featuring Sean Kingston.
“Sean Kingston is a big international artiste! His self-titled debut album went to #1 in 21 countries and sold over 1 million worldwide. To have a song from our label featured in his ‘My Super Sweet 16 – Supa 21’ MTV episode is a big deal for the label and a big deal for Sly Rankin” Cole said.
Since the label’s first deal with MTV was finalized in November 2008, four licensed instrumentals tracks were featured in episodes of “Teen Cribs” (2009-2010) and “10 on Top” (2011). Both programs have since been rebroadcast in Mexico and other international markets.
The first group that Cole initially signed to the label in 2005 was talented Jamaican based hip hop group Gangsta Colony (GC).
“This is an extremely talented group that has developed a unique sound that comes from mixing Jamaican dancehall/reggae with traditional hip-hop sounds. This new hybrid sound has given birth to a new music genre out of Jamaica that we called I-Lan-‘Op Music (pronounced Island hop music). When you hear the sound, it’s gonna leave you asking if these artists are really Jamaicans” he noted.
The first official mix tape that the label released in 2007 by GC titled “100% Jamaican the Mix tape” contained three songs that were featured in the short film “Blind Date” that aired on BET Network’s “Lens On Talent” in January 2010. The mix tape is available online at ITunes, CD Baby, Rhapsody, Amazon Mp3, Napster and several other digital distributors.
As part of SLR’s 10th Anniversary celebration this year, the label will release several new projects including the debut album for Sly Rankin titled “Jamaican Pride.” The album will include (6) songs licensed by MTV Networks including “That’s Ma Car.” The video for the lead single “Wasn’t There” was shot on location in Jamaica and is enjoying rotation on RE TV and Hype TV in Jamaica.
‘The initial vibes on the single and video have been very positive. Sly is one of the pioneers of I-Lan-‘Op Music and so far fans are embracing his songs’ Cole said.
Plans are in place for the international release of the single/video and for a major marketing trust to garner airplay on American urban and mainstream radio stations in the tri-state area, Boston, California, Florida, Washington and Canada. A promotion/marketing blitz is planned for Jamaica later this year as well.