357 Records aims to make a difference with professionalism and its hybrid brand of productions which have already begun to create ripples in the industry. Mario Campbell (a.k.a. Mario C) is one of the label’s partners and is working overtime to create hits. With such high-profile rhythms as the Scoobay and Bomb a Drop, Campbell is cognizant that the way to go is to create music for an international market without ignoring local core markets. Fresh ideas and strong musical influences have attributed to his labels current positioning in the marketplace.
In an interview, Campbell said “We are approaching the music from an international perspective. Everyone was dealing with the same thing and trying to ride off the international wave. We at 357 Records have always and will continue to make music with a global appeal; however we are not ignoring the core market.”
With four hit rhythms to its credit, 357 Records has among its partners dancehall kingpin Moses Beenie Man Davis, and his brother Rohan Blue Smith. The label has also moved into artiste management with names including Razor, Martina, Mafia (one time deejay Gringo) and Kantana listed on its roster.
Campbell who attended St. George’s College is no newcomer to the business. He later attended Miami Dade University in Florida and then the Art Institute of Fort Lauderdale where he studied Sound Engineering. “After I finished Art Institute, I came back home to Jamaica. Right then I decided that music was what I wanted to get involved in,” Campbell explained. He juggled between playing at uptown sessions such as Pip and Ting and the Great Adventure series of parties, while trying his occasionally experimenting with rhythms and beats.
Coined from what Campbell said were Biblical odd numbers, 357 Records debuted in 2003 with the Bad Wud rhythm. According to Campbell that project was a big seller in the Caribbean, reeling out a hit with Beenie Man’s ‘They Call Him Moses’. The Freak Side rhythm was the follow-up project that reportedly made inroads in the Caribbean. ” have to give a lot of thanks to Tony Matterhorn, because he was instrumental in pushing the projects and giving them a lot of support. Without him, none of this would have been possible,” said Campbell.
The Scoobay rhythm was the project which literally shook the streets. It was snapped up by London-based independent reggae label Greensleeves Records and added to the labels rhythm album series of compilations. It featured chart hits including Beenie Mans ‘Weh You Nuh Fi Do,’ the Vybz Kartel/Beenie Man collaboration ‘Breast Specialist,’ Mad Cobras ‘Lock Di Place’, ‘Galang Bad’ by Capleton, and Razors ‘Workings’. “The scoobay gave us the recognition and respect that we had wanted all along. It did very well saleswise and radio wise,” Campbell said. Asked how lucrative producing hit rhythms has been for him, he said, “It pays the bills. The small bills. But we have to give thanks for what we have. What 357 Records has achieved so far is phenomenal”.
The Bomb A Drop rhythm is the newest project out of the 357 Records camp. Lady Saws ‘5 Star Hotel’ and Razors ‘Mr. Dixon’ are among those which have hit the charts in recent weeks.
Campbell said his family supported his move into the dancehall music arena. He also said that music was what he was destined to be involved in from an early age. “My parents didnt have a problem with my musical interests as long as it is clean. If I am not adding something to the business, then it would be a waste of time. We have to be mature in what we do and inject some growth in the music. We are trying to get the music on a higher level, and we are working on a lot of things that are going to surprise people. We got Beenie Man and Vybz Kartel on a project, and now we are working on Kartel and Mad Cobra on a project that we have in the pipeline.”
Hit making producers including Wycliffe ‘Steelie Johnson and Cleveland ‘levie Browne, Sly Dunbar and Robbie Shakespeare, Dave and Tony Kelly, Lloyd King Jammy James and the late Clement ‘oxone Dodd are among Campbells production influences.
Campbell writes most of the songs that he presents to recording artistes who are featured on his rhythm projects. Asked how he came up with the ideas for the projects that the label has spearheaded, Campbell said, “It’s more of a spiritual thing. I really cant explain but its amazing how we come up with the concepts.”
The Disturbance and Tyrant rhythms are two hot projects which Campbell is banking on, to make impressions on music fans this summer. He said “We already have a combination with Vybz Kartel, Beenie Man and Mad Cobra so that is something that people can look out for.