Vybz Kartel’s sons, Likkle Vybz and Likkle Addi are on a mission to create their own musical legacy as they set out on a musical path with the formation of a new label and their first debut album to be released under the label, Upton Gaza Records.
The project called Team Different is set for release on May 6 with 13 tracks in what Adidja Jaheim Palmer, the eldest son of dancehall superstar and legend Vybz Kartel says is their effort at cementing their place in the dancehall space. Likkle Vybz sat down with Urban Islandz where he opened up about his career, UTG’s new project, having Vybz Kartel’s stewardship at his disposal, and how becoming a young father is helping shape his music.
The album does not have any guest features, including from their father, Vybz Kartel.
“With this project, we’re trying to establish ourselves in the business and we just want to really get the point across that we’re doing this on our own,” Likkle Vybz told us. “We could have gotten so many features even from our father but we really want to keep this project strictly UTG and show our abilities.”
Likkle Vybz, however, says despite Vybz Kartel not being present on the project, his mentorship and guidance are present, and he can be their biggest critic to ensure they put out the best work.
“He is our father and mentor so you know when we finish with a track and we want him to hear it, you know he gives us his two cents or anything that he wants to take or take away from production and he gives the best advice always,” the deejay told Urban Islandz.
Likkle Vybz, 19, and Likkle Addi, 17, have solo songs that introduced them to the dancehall world, but it was their 2020 debut EP, Skinny Jeans, which drew fans into the sheer talent on the mic and songwriting skills they both possess.
The project was a commercial success, with it being named one of two dancehall projects selected by Dr. Dre for the official soundtrack for GTA Online: The Contract.
The young artist promised that their debut album will have a completely different feel to show off their versatility and range. So far, they have released the dancehall track “Euphoric Love,” which has international appeal.
“This album really gave us a chance to sit back and reflect on how far we’ve come over the past few years. You can say the style of the album is really based on the original dancehall beats with a lot of modern takes, even the lyrical content as well… we’re showing that we’re putting in the work and here to make a name for ourselves,” the well-spoken young artiste said.
Likkle Vybz recently became a father, but he says that the milestone at the start of his career is no hindrance.
“The birth of my son has influenced me. I have to go harder than before and I would say that it has helped me to even better my sound, for example, my melodies because I try to stay in the studio to perfect my sound. This project will show all of this.”
As the sons of one of the greatest names in dancehall, Likkle Vybz agrees that his father wears some big shoes, and while he does feel slightly intimidated by his father’s talent, he also understands that no two talents are the same.
“At the end of the day the only thing you can aim to do is your best because it is definitely pressuring and it’s big shoes to fill but at the end of the day we always try to do our best that is lyrically and when we’re in the studio.”
As for their creative process, Vybz Kartel does not spare honest feedback.
“I think my father loves our music. Being our father, the chances that we get to talk to him, when he hears the music he is always going to be honest and give his honest opinion, and if it’s a case where he is not feeling it, he’s going to tell us straight up. Over the years, while developing our craft, I’m positive he likes our music,” he said.
The UTG duo earlier this year announced that they were taking over their father’s music business. While many teens are busy spending time playing sports or preparing for college, the brothers were actively understudying their mother, Tanesha “Shorty” Johnson, who runs her own Short Boss Muzic label as well as their father’s Adidjaheim Records.
Likkle Vybz says those early years have prepared him for starting their own label.
“When I was younger and listening to music you think you just go in the studio, you record a track you put it out and you get all the money in the world. The business part helped me to understand everything from publishing to distribution to everything and with this project it’s more hands-on as this is the first project to be released under Uptown Gaza Records, our record label, our company.”
The young artiste also spoke about his mother’s influence on his music career while his father was incarcerated.
“You’re always around music and listening to music. The time that my father went away we were very young so you know it was a lot to deal with but our mother was always there. Even when she ventured in the music business, we also learnt a lot being around her.”
Despite his father not being around, Likkle Vybz shares that his solid upbringing has prepared him for fatherhood and his career.
“[when my father went away] It was really hard to understand at first because I was really young and growing up I would always ask myself certain questions and the older I get I understand things for what it is. It has helped us to do our best in life overall because there are a lot of people out there who really don’t want anything good to come from the situation. So we always try to do our best in life so people can see we’re destined for greatness.”
As for the long term, Likkle Vybz says he wants his legacy to be similar to his father’s prolific dancehall career.
“I would want to have a similar legacy. The thought of that really pushes us to go far. I would really like to leave behind a legacy that will outlive our kids and grandkids and leave an impact on the industry and have legendary status,” he says.
In the meantime, Likke Vybz says his family has learned a new joy with the birth of two babies in the family, including his father, Vybz Kartel, who frequently posts his grandsons on Instagram.
As for what’s next for Likke Vybz, he says he’s planning a new solo project similar to his song “Glory,” which has strong motivational content.
“That track was to say ‘hey you’re not alone and it only gets better but with hard work and faith it gets better.” He said.
The young artist and music producer promises that there will be merch for Team Different to come ahead of the album launch and asked fans to stay tuned and stream “Euphoric Love” in the meantime.