Reggae/dancehall artist Kranium’s star is on the rise. Born Kemar Donaldson, the Jamaican-born singer moved to Miami, nearer to his uncle/mentor, dancehall singer Screw Driver in 2005; that's when he recorded his first song. In 2006, he moved to NYC and enrolled in an after-school performing arts class where honed his singing and lyricism and began performing around town and building buzz. He soon landed opening gigs for the likes of Gyptian, Serani, Jadakiss, I-Octane and Tarrus Riley.
His debut album Rumors has been in the making for three years, and the world has finally latched on to his talents. His single “Nobody Has to Know” has over 7.6 MILLION streams on Soundcloud, and is currently #3 on the iTunes Reggae Charts. “Nobody Has to Know” attracted major labels, and he was signed to Atlantic this year as one of the few reggae artists signed to a major label (alongside Sean Paul and Wayne Wonder). Could Kranium be the one to bring reggae back to the American mainstream airwaves?
Check out our interview with the rising reggae star below:
When did you know you wanted to do music professionally?
When I stared singing, I realized how the women react to it, at a young age, and I liked that, so I was like yep, this is my golden ticket.
How does it feel to have a smash international hit in “Nobody Has To Know” and a huge deal with Atlantic after three years since it’s been released?
For it to take so long was frustrating, but I realize everything was meant to be like the way it is. I’m happy about everything that happened. I feel like the longer it took, the more experience I have with everything. It was a learning process for me.
What did you learn?
Everything: mostly about performance, dealing with people, the conduct of good interviews, tapping into different markets. The song was going city by city, so it took a little time, so I was down south, I was on the east coast, west coast, so it moves very slowly but, it prepared me gradually.
Dancehall seems to come and goes in the mainstream here in the U.S., like it did in the early 00s. Do you think dancehall music will get a renaissance in the U.S. soon?
I don’t really feel like dancehall comes and goes; I feel like we, as reggae and dancehall artists, we just focus on our markets. Yes, we want it to be in the international markets in America, but we just focus on doing music. It’s always been this way, like with the song “Sorry” ft. Justin Bieber, that last Omarion record featuring Chris Brown had that reggae feel to it. There’s really no way to explain why reggae/dancehall isn’t being played on American radio, but internationally reggae music always leaps.
Tell us about your album Rumors.
Rumors was recorded, like, two years ago. We just wanted to drop something that showcased my talent. You can relate to the things I sing about. When I give fans my song, you can get an understanding of pretty much what it is.
It’s been reported you’ve been working on Rihanna’s next album. What can you tell us about that?
I can't speak on that much but, I did some work, and hopefully when the album drops we'll find out if anything happens.
Who would you like to work with?
I’m a huge fan of Big Sean, for some reason. I think he’s dope, and Drake, most definitely Drake.
Ok, that would be hot. And my last question is what’s next for Kranium?
For me, it’s all about working, I can’t predict the future, I just do everything I can do to the best of my ability, and hope that my good deeds come out.