With recent albums like VIEWS and ANTI, it's all too clear that we are living in an era where the Caribbean lifestyle has infiltrated popular culture en force. Caribbean dialect, music, fashion and its people are beginning to get a major forward in mainstream media. Now, there are a glut of blogs claiming to have their eye on the latest happenings on the Caribbean way of life. Its simple, if you want to find out who Gully Bop is dating, or if you're curious about what The Artist Formerly Known as Lady Saw is up to, there are countless media sites waiting to fulfill your desires. Where do you go for the info that isn't riddled with gossip and propaganda? Look no further than LargeUp.com.
All fans of reggae and dancehall music, Martei Korley, Dave Susser (aka DJ Gravy) and Jesse Serwer, together form an A team of industry collaborators, photographers, and journalists, whose vision was to build a world renowned hub for those looking for all things Caribbean. They saw the need for an editorial website covering the culture with a more refined lens. The site was founded by Susser, in collaboration with Serwer, a journalist who has covered music stories for magazines such as Rolling Stone, and The Fader, and finally Korley, a professional singer also known for his photo contributions to popular music publications such as Trace and XLR8R magazine. Korley, in particular, has 20 years of documenting Jamaica's culture under his belt. The team's collective experience in the field is sited as one of the reasons for LargeUp's massive success. LargeUp aims to delve deeper, while still promoting a platform that is inviting, not riddled with celebrity gossip and not too serious. The original vision was to create a "Pitchfork, but for dancehall and reggae," says Serwer.
If you're familiar with NYC's OG reggae and dancehall party called Rice and Peas, which is said to have been a major influence on Grammy Award winning group Major Lazer, then you have DJ Gravy to thank for the vibes and the influence. He saw a niche, filled it, brought it to all five boroughs and the event developed into a moment of inspiration amongst the founders to move forward with their idea.
"There wasn't anywhere to read about Caribbean culture," says Serwer, who was added to the LargeUp team in 2010. "When we started, there was a lot of negativity around the portrayal of reggae and dancehall artists. LargeUp set out to only portray the positive," Serwer elaborates. Here is what is fascinating about how LargeUp works, they don't sugarcoat the information they make available to the public. They filter out the BS and highlight facets of Caribbean culture that allow it to grow; even mature, as visitors to the site develop a more keen understanding of what makes reggae and dancehall so influential.
In patois, the term "large up" means to elevate, or exalt. So, it is fitting that the site of the same name shares the same intention. The site's impact has allowed the LargeUp team to expand to promotion, and organizing events such as their first-annual SummerStage concert in Central Park with live performances by Chronixx and more. These events stay true to mission statement set forth by the blog: to illuminate the impact Caribbean culture has on the world, culturally. "We tell stories through articles, events, video and photography, in our own original style," says Jesse.
We asked Jesse to leave us with any final words of advice for aspiring creatives who may struggle to create their own lane in such a congested market. He had this to say :
"My advice would be to figure out what you have to offer that's special and unique, and hone in on that. Figure out how to do what you're good at, in a way that is productive for your outlet. Look at your lifestyle, your surroundings. Anytime you can do something original, its great. I often wonder how people are able to do something that 100 other people are doing. How are you finding success? How do you stand out? If you want longevity, be original and make it a big point to embrace that."
Staying true to what they excel at, every Monday LargeUp publishes Mixtape Mondays; a hot mix of Caribbean music including dancehall, Afrobeats, reggae and soca. Check out one of their newly published mixes by California's own DJ Green B and stay tuned to LargeUp every Monday for some brand new vibes.