The hit-making style of Shaft


Jason Bishop went on a sabbatical last year in order to find himself, musically. Known as Shaft Vibes Entertainment, a songwriting hitmaker from Trinidad, he told EASY that the journey was necessary.

“I did some courses in music, opening up the brain. I travelled to Thailand and the United States to find a different sound.

“I found I was going down the road in the same vein and using the same methods to write . . . . I wanted a fresh vibe for this year.”

He said that he felt a need to change and find a stronger musical base for his writing.

He linked up with some African artistes and producers based in New York, and it was a new experience.

“What I got out of it was a new appreciation for music itself.  The break allowed me to develop my craft in a more worldwide sense and kind of come out of the box of the more traditional soca and explore where I can go as a writer.”

Last year, he didn’t do as much writing as per his usual heavy workload for Crop Over, but he did write for Alison Hinds (Come Good), Shanta Prince (Expensive Liquor), Lil Rick (Advantage), TC (Paradise), Aziza and Kirk Brown (Incredible Girl).

He said last year he was impressed with Marzville. He also had his favourites from his homeland of Trinidad, many of whom he has written for.

He is looking forward to coming hard for Trinidad Carnival next year with his compositions and his lyrical content and melody.

In previous years, Shaft would have written competition-winning tunes with his “storytelling” for Crop Over.

Biggie’s Need A Riddim in 2013 placed second at Soca Royale and he redeemed himself with Pankatang the next year. He followed up that success the next year with Peter Ram’s All Ah We in 2015.

In 2016 he was back in the Peter Ram camp with Tribe (co-written by Ram);  and  Edwin’s Home Sweet Home was written by Shaft, Edwin Yearwood, Scott Galt and Michael Hulsmeier.

If you had a diabetic coma over Hypasounds’ Sugar Rush, loved the flavours of Biggie’s Sweet Type Of Way or was drenched by Imani’s Wet, you were rocking to the beat of Shaft Vibes. He also had a hand in Mikey’s Hands On The Road, Kirk Brown’s You’re My Number One, and Tionne Hernandez’s Breathe.

This year he wrote three for Lil Rick, one of which was released (Hold Me) and Shanta Prince’s Throw Wine and Put It On Me.

“A lot of artistes approach me for songs, but I really don’t want to write for too many people. I really wanted to focus on the artistes who could really bring out what the songs were.

“I love writing for Lil Rick and I wanted to challenge him as he isn’t necessarily known to really do singy-singy songs. It also challenged me.”

What about Peter Ram and Biggie Irie whom he has tasted victory with already?

“Funny you asked. Not all songs are gonna fit the artistes. I basically didn’t find the right song to fit them to give them that right impact. I had songs in the vault but they were OK. I didn’t want OK.

“If I couldn’t give you a song that is gonna be a monster hit to continue that trail of monster songs for me as in the past, then I won’t send any.”

Speaking of hits and winning songs, Shaft was under the spotlight for declaring owning the rights to his songs and taking half of the winnings of any title holder.

“I am still of the same mindset. Basically all artistes should own their masters. A master copy is not just the writing but the final product of a song. I am going to start to want to own my own masters too. I focus on having my publishing and owning the rights to my songs. I share the royalties with the artistes . . . . I am not giving myself a 100 percent because the artiste has put a lot of work in the song too, and promoting it and spend money behind the song to get it pumping.”

He said with the laws changing every day, everyone needs to be aware and protected and not focus on making money for carnival or Crop Over.

“Please do business the right way. It is time the industry do it across the board and make it fair for everyone.” (NS)


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