I always get asked “what do you do”… my answer is usually and probably will always be “I’m not sure”….
I entered into this world hearing the baselines of dancehall music pounding through my windows coming from “Jamaica Gates”.. a dancehall-as-fuck venue far enough from my parents house, but close enough that the ocean waters carried it to my windows. After about 2am the music would be shut down by the police. I later found out that my parents were the ones that called the cops. But it was too late, dancehall stole my soul.
I found myself learning to take the bus, and went to half way tree almost weekly to buy vinyl 45’s of the latest riddims. My parents had no idea up to this day as they alway thought “he would never take the bus”.
Around this time online services like AOL became a big deal in the United States and at 13 years old, I decided to create my own version of the online service called Telecom BBS, allowing (paid) users to dial in to my computer and play games against each other.. most importantly access the internet. My internet connection came from a hacked account dialed in through one of my modems, first through the University of the West Indies, then through a hacked ICAS code (A unique code tied to a telephone bill to make international calls at the time). This went well for a while and was my first real introduction into learning about telecommunication protocols, commercial hardware and of course, running a business.
As the internet became popular in Jamaica, Telecom B.B.S became less relevant. But What happed after that, many may claim, paved the path to the future of my career. I created a website called Cyberjam.net which to this day, I cannot wrap my head around it’s impact on Jamaican and it’s diasporas pop culture for at least a decade. With Cyberjam, hundreds of thousands of teenagers both in Jamaica and around the hot pockets of it’s diaspora found an outlet for conversation, looked forward to photos of themselves and their friends and found solid guidance on what events they knew they should be at.
This website put me directly in the offices of high school principals (for all the wrong reasons), CEOs and every major record label in the country. The US Embassy used us to vete students obtaining visas and provided many private companies their first online presence.
I learned quickly that I could be making websites for companies. This was preceded by a phone call from Renaissance Disco (one of the most renowned DJ groups to ever come from the island). What followed was years of creating and maintaining their web presence, providing technical advice and working with and casually always hanging out with local and international artists. I learned an incredible amount about music production, artist management and crisis resolution.
I had a fair amount of press about my involvement with key tech and entertainment projects thought my teens. One of the results of this attention was an invitation to teach Web Design at the University of Technology. I was certainly younger than most of the students I was teaching, but what struck a chord was that I applied to this university one year prior and was rejected. I taught for a few semesters and thoroughly enjoyed it. Perhaps the highlight of this tenure was when a student told me they received their Canadian residency and how much the certification which I presented at the completion of the course assisted in this.
Me and my best friend DarenP decided one day to capitalize on the growing ‘Rolodex’ and attention. One summer, we were given the opportunity to organize an event. We decided on a pool party and Longshore Drift became the most talked about event that summer. We did this for three years, working with police and permitting, hiring and hosting international talent.
Longshore drift went on for three years but the close connection to authorities, public figures and sponsors continue to this day.
Through this time the popularity of Cyberjam surged through the diaspora and continued to dominate the local Jamaican cyberspace. At that time high speed internet became commonplace both in Jamaica and around the world. For a while I started posting music videos on the site, but the videos outgrew it’s little spot on the home page and youstation.com was born.
With regards to learning how to organize teams, harness technology and building an incredible network of music executives and artists alike, the exponential scale of youstation.com for me is hard to deny. With 5 streaming radio channels, on demand music videos, charts and a robust backend to submit, approve, rank categorize both music and videos, this site taught me a lot. This site opened the doors to creating websites for the famous Marley Family amongst others as well as almost weekly meetings and sessions with the likes of Virgin Record, VP Record, Sony Music Entertainment and many more. The site itself was an amazing display of combined technology but unfortunately ‘the cloud’ did not exist and guidance was none existent. The site are out of its servers regardless of what was put in place and the ability to scale was none existent. Youstation lasted a few years and in it’s myriad of features was event ticketing section. While this was growing, I made the leap of faith and purchased my first premium domain. Presoldtickets.com was born and wow, e-commerce never felt so good and bad at the same time.