Now that February has eased itself into place, Marlon Williams, better known as Bling Dawg, is in full album mode as he eyes a February 4 release date for his debut album ELEV8.
Bling Dawg is on a positive mission, and it is charged with bringing the positivity flowing through his veins to life through 19 tracks of blissful one-drop reggae cuts. The dancehall veteran is not alone on the project and has called on some of his closest friends and collaborators to spread the messages of love, unity, and the healthiest form of prosperity to his fans. The project is blessed by the likes of Morgan Heritage, Popcaan, Busy Signal, Bounty Killer, Romain Virgo, and Tanya Stephens.
The man who also goes by the name Ricky Rudie is known for hits such as “Phone Call” with Vybz Kartel, “Shotta Ting,” “Tweeta,” “Kreech,” and “Aji Bounce.” You won’t find much of those cuts on ELEV8, and previously released tracks “God Is Amazing,” which dropped in 2020, and “PRIDE” feat Romain Virgo, released in 2021, should give fans an idea of what to look out for.
The entertainer is also hosting not one but two album release parties to get the momentum going before the official release on February 4. Bling Dawg has taken the promotion of his album to another level with his ELEV8 Album Documentary, which should premiere a day before the album is released. The entertainer leads the charge by executively producing the documentary while Jerome Lee, Sharon Schroeter, and Johann Dawes help with bringing the behind-the-scenes footage to life. Peek clips from the production below.
The entertainer took a bit of time out of his busy promotional schedule to chat with Urban Islandz on his new project about the project that sure boasts a number of potential hit singles. The deejay also gave us a rundown of his start in the business, his influences, and his thoughts on the direction of Jamaica’s music.
How did you get started in music?
Bling Dawg: From I was young, I always loved music and I always wanted to become an artist. While in high school I was introduced to Bounty Killer by Dougsy Ranks and Beetle Bailey. After graduating from school in Miami I decided to go back to Jamaica to pursue a career as an artist. The first recording I did was for Bounty Killer on the “Tight Clothes Riddim” in 1995.
Aside from Bounty Killer, who are your other musical influences?
Bling Dawg: My musical influences have evolved, and different aspects of my musical journey are influenced by different people but along the journey include but are not limited to Bob Marley, Chubb Rock, Slick Rick, Special Ed, Biggie Smalls, Eminem, Lauren Hill, Louie Culture, Round Head, and more recently Damion “Junior Gong” Marley.
What are your thoughts on the current state of music being produced in Jamaica?
Bling Dawg: There is still good music being produced, but unfortunately, many people are getting into the industry with their own agenda and so the industry has become overrun by quantity and not quality. The survival of our industry will not only be on the shoulders of the good and talented artists, musicians, and producers but on the fans to embrace quality.
Do you believe one-drop/reggae gets more love than dancehall outside of Jamaica? Yes/No Why?
Bling Dawg: Yes, I think one-drop/reggae gets more love than dancehall outside of Jamaica. I think reggae is the foundation and has a longer lifespan than a lot of dancehall music that is currently being made. I also think that the production of reggae vs. dancehall plays a major part because reggae productions are more uplifting for a wider cross-section of the world and resonate with more people than a lot of the dancehall productions that are currently being put out.
You have proven that you are a capable dancehall entertainer. What has influenced your decision to release a complete one-drop album?
Bling Dawg: Growth and maturity. I wanted to challenge myself to become a better and more diverse entertainer. I have also started learning to play the guitar, which has become very important in my musical journey.
You’ve had nearly 2 decades in the music business without an album. Why are fans just receiving your debut project?
Bling Dawg: Nothing happens before its time. I am at a different level and mindset of life which is also why the album is titled ELEV8.
We know you have been on a long fitness journey – Is this project a reflection of where you are in life right now? Tell us more about that journey.
Bling Dawg: Definitely, my fitness journey gave me a different type of discipline, motivation, determination, and focus which has spilled over in other areas of my life. I was over 350lbs, and I became tired of being overweight and having to shop in “Big & Tall”, and so my fitness journey began with me wanting a new physical image for myself but has manifested into so much more.
Who are some of the people who have produced music on the album?
Bling Dawg: Some of the producers on the album include Damian “Junior Gong” Marley, Baby G, Adrian Locke, Bugle, Iza Young Boy Production, Warriors Musick Production, Bobby Digital (God Rest his Soul), Creative Titans, and my personal production – Dawg House Productions.
How did you go about selecting the people who are featured on the album?
Bling Dawg: Each selection was based on respect for the particular artist and the vision I had for the project.
What is your favorite track on the project and why?
Bling Dawg: “God is Amazing” because it resonates with aspects of my journey. But all the tracks were puzzle pieces to the masterpiece of ELEV8.
ELEV8 seems like a beautiful compilation of moods and melodies. What is the general takeaway that you want fans to have after listening to the album?
Bling Dawg: I think ELEV8 is an easy listening album and I know that the world will appreciate the time and effort that has been put into this project by all involved. I want fans to view it as a classic. My hope is that it will have a lifespan that will live on beyond my lifetime and be a column of my legacy.
02. Yo – Feat. Christopher Martin
03. God Is Amazing
04. Father God A Guide Me
05. Step Son
06. Pride – Feat. Romain Virgo
07. There She Goes
08. Feelings – Feat. Morgan Herritage
09. Walk This Way
10. Prayer We Use – Feat. Popcaan
11. Married To The Music
12. Buss A Road – Feat. Bounty Killer
14. Table Turn – Feat. Busy Signal
15. Facts of Life
16. Seh Dem A Love Yuh – Feat. Tanya Stephens
17. Nah Follow Trend
18. My Struggles