Still Deh Yah! Voicemail is a reggae and dancehall cultural phenomenon hailing from the island of Jamaica.
The group came to recognition in the early 2000s, and was largely synonymous with dance songs, like “Weh Di Time” and “Wacky Dip”, featuring deceased renowned dancer Bogle. They further proved their claim to fame when they branched out in 2008, and went in another direction, releasing a new album devoid of dance tunes. This move solidified the group’s place as a contentious worldwide act. Fast forward to 2021, Voicemail continues to prevail as a musical sensation and their natural melding of bars accounts for several contemporary hits bubbling over the airways.
I sat down with the members of Voicemail a few weeks ago. We spoke a little about what their experiences were like at the height of the Covid-19 outbreak. Kevyn addressed the mental health piece and spoke of the vast amount of people struggling. He referred to Delus, a member of the dancehall fraternity and brother, who was lost to suicide some years ago and proudly mentioned a partnership with former NFL player Jay Barnett, to spread mental health awareness. Jerome, or Qraig with a “Q”, added that one issue about mental illness is the fact that its sufferers are not always homeless people eating from garbage bins, but so called “normal” individuals. He says that he spent much of his own time during lockdown baking and focusing on his pastry company Beg Yuh Piece. These activities helped him get through, along with watching tv and writing music.
Group dynamics can be tricky and subject to different things. When they lost member Oneil Edwards tragically, the remaining artistes relied on their bond as a unit to keep going. According to Qraig, Voicemail is a “brand for life”. He posits that there have been other situations where the group has been tried, but it has always been guided by the premise that “family is everything” and in it, the members have invested sweat, breath, time, and not to mention, tears.
The idea of balance as in life, led us to discuss the group’s individual projects. Qraig currently has a mix tape out called “Congrats”, with several singles already bubbling on the airways. Among these is “When Was the Last Time”, a spicy feature for the ladies where he explores balance in relationships, and tells women “Doan sekkle, yah nuh Meadowrest”, and to not “stick around if [him] a tear [you] down”. He also instructs, “Gyal yuh want action, not a bag a mouth. If him nah do wha him fi do den put him out.” Kevyn’s individual projects also include new music and expanding his clothing line brand, Skillachi, which started from a need for a vest for a past performance. His new single “Skilla Dan” is a lively provocative bop, where he croons about having “de ting weh [yuh] love” and professes that he is more “skilled” than Maradonna, as he “completes the mission with her on her knees.”
Both men are excited about where Voicemail, the brand, is currently, and where it is headed. They are confident that their sole endeavors strengthen it and make it better. According to Kevyn, their day one standards account for them having the same energy in both solo and group projects. They both attest that it is natural, influenced by a twenty-year relationship and rooted in compromise. Voicemail’s partnership lacks the influence of ego, women and money, a decision they made in a pact years ago at the group’s formation. There are no plans when selecting music they perform, but that “fun factor” which makes fans feel good.
The group’s new single “Still Here” celebrates its sustainability and speaks to those who “said [they] never did a go mek it; now look at where [they] are.” It also pays homage to Oneil and tells him to “rest in peace as they stay real to the dream.”