You may not recognize the name Garfield Spence but I’m sure you know the name Konshens. Konshens is a household name in the local and foreign dancehall setting. The 29 year old, currently signed to VP records, has a number of hits like ‘Gal a Bubble’ for the dancehall queens at Wet Wednesdays and ‘Do Sumtn’ for the true breddrings looking to par’. Many people dub him as the “new face of dancehall” but few know his true origins as an artiste. Garfield Delano Spence was born in Up Park Camp, St. Andrew on January 11, 1985 to Delmark Spence a Soldier of the Jamaican Army and Winsome Worthington a cosmetologist and business woman.
Surprisingly enough the artiste from Sherlock, a garrison community located in the Duhaney Park area of Kingston, Jamaica, had no immediate interest in a musical career but sited Beres Hammond as one of his musical influences growing up. His debut was in 2005 with his brother, Delus, in a duo called ‘Sojah’ where they made the hit song ‘Pon di corner’ at the father and son studio: Cash Flow Studios. This song became a #1 hit in Japan and prompted a one month tour in 2005, a 3 week tour in 2006 and an exclusive album release in Japan entitled ‘Sons of Jah”.
The duo then set their sights on the international music scene where they toured Europe extensively, releasing another album while there, as well as Austria, Germany and France. However, despite their successful international endeavors, the brothers decided to return home and become separate artistes; this gave birth to Konshens.
Konshens debut single ‘Winner’ produced by the label Natural Bridge Studios was a hit song as well and preempted his successful years in 2008 and 2009. He was signed to this label immediately in 2007 after an introduction by his longtime friend Carlington Wilmot and successful screening in producing the highly acclaimed ‘Craberry Riddim’ (from which he produced the track Street Life). In 2008 he received many awards such as: the EME (excellence in music) awards for Best New Artist, the Stone Love Best new Artist award, several nominations in the IRAWMA, HYPE TV and RETV awards including song of the year for his debut single ‘Winner’ being the only new artiste to have a nomination in that category.
During this year he toured California and expanded his fan base, he also released the second album in the duo ‘Sojah’ entitled ‘Modern Revolution’ prompting another tour of Europe in July- August. In 2010 Konshens broadened his musical influence by founding his own label called ‘Subkonshus’ where he works with his brother Delus and aspiring talents. In 2014 he became an ambassador for Pepsi.
His collaborations have veered away from the expected routes with established dancehall artistes popular in Jamaica. He seeks to diversify his musical collaborations by branching out into international music collaborations with popular European artistes including: Black Rose from Norway and Messallie from France, and one Jamaican born artist Martina, to name a few. This shows his dedication to broadening his fan base and influence on the international stage and solidifying the Jamaican trademark worldwide as an ambassador.
While most of his recent songs cater to the dancehall vibe in the truest sense, many of his songs hold a deep meaning and uplifting message for Jamaicans. These lyrics and songs show the conscientious side off Konshens and truly give meaning to his stage name. In an interview, Konshens made these statements showing his realness and attention to his fans: “I’m the person who will do any type of music at any given time because I relate to real people and their feelings. I don’t feel any pressure that I have to stand up for dancehall or to be the person rescuing dancehall. I’m just trying to make a good song every time I go into the studio.”
In May 2011, he was one of several high-profile Jamaican celebrities to take part in a march in Torrington Park calling for an end to political rivalry in the area, commemorating a fire in May 1980 at the Eventide Home which killed over 150 elderly women, for which politically motivated arson was suspected.
Konshens, truly a conscious artiste has been blazing trails akin to the fiery red of his hair. From humble roots he has taken the dancehall scene and embraced it.
By Alexandra Daley