Artiste tries entrepreneurship to support family
Recording music for more than five years has been a testing feat for Samoke, formerly known as Mr Smoke.
The Buff Bay-born and raised artiste, and father of six, says he knew more had to be done to support his family and his long-time dream of becoming a recognised entertainer.
Samoke transitioned to a path of entrepreneurship, where he has created a partnership with various community growers to buy and sell medicinal plants such as soursop and cinnamon, and herbs, mainly cerasee and lemongrass, which are dried to supply a local tea company.
"The investment in plants and herbs is very profitable and has become my main source of income, but of late, business has been a little slow and the demand is mostly for soursop leaves," Samoke told THE STAR. "I have not given up; at least once every month I leave from Portland and make my way to Kingston to deliver. At one point, I was grinding the leaves, but my machine was not doing it small enough for the tea bags, so I will return to the drawing board to see if I can build my own brand and expand."
Samoke has also opened a bar and nightclub, which, although affected by the lockdown the entertainment industry is seeing, still gets support from residents.
"I make the effort to open Natnettic (the name of his business) at a reasonable time in the day and close before curfew. The bar, I would say, makes the same amount of money it would without a curfew time in place, and now I have more time for myself and the music," he said.
As a youth growing up, he was influenced by his sister Patrice Harrison, who played the role of Olivine in Rick Elgood and Don Lett's 1997 movie Dancehall Queen.
"Patrice was always listening to Beenie Man and Bounty Killer tapes, and I'd memorise the lyrics of each song to perform them for my friends from primary school to my Titchfield High School days. She is the one that caused the spark, and now I write my own music that are stories of everyday real-life - testimonials - of people and from personal experience," he said.
Four years ago, the artiste recorded Move Not, but was only able to release it this year. It is one of the featured tracks on the Scriptures of Portland album produced by RHT Entertainment in the parish.
"Usually I'd do live performances at the bar, like on special occasions, my birthday in July and Christmas, where I use the opportunity to promote new music. But we couldn't do that this year," he said. "Now, I put even a smaller amount of cash towards promoting music online to get them out to a wider audience, and I know my music is still making an impact because people are showing me love and respect in my community."