|Stephen "Di Genius" McGregor|
|Birth name||Stephen McGregor|
|Born||6 January 1990|
|Origin||Havendale, St. Andrew Parish, Jamaica|
|Genres||Dancehall, reggae fusion, reggae|
|Occupation(s)||Producer, songwriter, deejay, singer|
|Associated acts||Freddie McGregor, Mavado, Elephant Man, Vybz Kartel, Sean Paul, Aidonia, Bounty Killer|
Di Genius (real name Stephen McGregor, born 6 January 1990) is a producer, singer, and songwriter of dancehall and reggae music from Havendale in St. Andrew Parish, Jamaica. Di Genius comes from a musical family—his father is veteran reggae artist Freddie McGregor and his siblings, Daniel "Chino" McGregor and Yeshemabeth "Shema" McGregor, are also dancehall singers. While Di Genius is primarily known for producing riddims out of his "Big Ship" recording studio, he has also gained recognition in his own right as a successful dancehall deejay and performer.
Stephen McGregor was born in 1990 as the son of reggae singer Freddie McGregor. The year before, his father had passed up a record deal from Arista Records, choosing instead to create his own record label, which he named Big Ship after his 1982 hit single from the album of the same name. When he renovated the family home in 1995, Freddie McGregor had a small but high-tech recording studio built to produce music for the label, and Stephen took a shine to the studio at an early age. His father recalls of the period: "If we saw the door was open, we’d know Stephen was in there. He was just so short you couldn’t see him over the mixing desk." His father nurtured his interest in music by bringing him along on tour, and the young McGregor would often watch his father's performances from the side of the stage.
Stephen McGregor wrote and recorded his first song at the age of five, a dancehall track titled "School Done Rule" which was featured on the compilation "Reggae For Kids." However, the young McGregor soon gravitated more towards the production end of songwriting, and by the age of seven he had taught himself to play bass, guitar, keyboards, and violin by mimicking the songs he heard on the radio. McGregor began his production career at the age of twelve, contributing to local production studios such as Outlaw. His first hit riddim came in 2004, while still attending Ardenne High School. McGregor and his brother Chino approached dancehall artist Elephant Man at his nearby Havendale home to ask him to deejay on the whimsical "Cartoon" riddim, and the artist accepted, the first of fifteen artists to vocalize on the track. In a radio interview, a local DJ gave McGregor the nickname "Di Genius," owing to the fact that his musical talent came at such a young age.
What MTV described as Di Genius's "defining moment" came in 2006, when up-and-coming artist Mavado recorded the song "Weh Dem a Do" on his "Red Bull & Guinness" riddim. The riddim was co-produced with Delly Ranx the previous year, when Di Genius was fifteen years old. The single was a huge success in Jamaica and even made a mark internationally, placing on the Billboard Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart in the United States. The same year, he also released the successful "Power Cut" riddim and produced singles for several artists, including Bounty Killer, Da'Ville, and Big Ship labelmates Laden and Chino. He also began a project with Mavado's rival, the controversial deejay Vybz Kartel. The record The Teacher's Back was released two years later to a primarily Japanese market and featured eighteen original tracks, all produced by Di Genius.
In late 2009, Di Genius released his first solo single since childhood with the Vybz Kartel diss track "Cyaa Friend Again" on a riddim he produced himself. Rumors of a rift between the artists had arisen on 23 May of that year, when Kartel failed to perform at the Big Ship produced event "Rocksteady Meets Reggae and Dancehall" in Clarendon. These rumors were confirmed in November, when Vybz Kartel released a diss track directed at Di Genius, "Rifle Shot," which was quickly followed by another track insulting the artist, "Empty," from Kartel's labelmate Blak Ryno. Di Genius had already recorded a rough version of "Cyaa Friend Again," but decided to alter the second verse and release it early as a response to the Portmore artists' tracks. When asked about the song, Di Genius said, "The purpose of this song is not to 'get a hype' from the situation 'cause I don't need one off Kartel's career, it's just me getting out all of those emotions and expressing it through song because I'm capable of doing so." Since then, Di Genius has voiced on many of his own productions, such as "Bounce A Gyal" on his "Peppa" riddim, and a few riddims by other producers, such as "Independent Ladies" on Zj Chrome's "Dancehall EFX" riddim.
In addition to his riddim productions and solo work, Di Genius also produced the entirety of his brother Chino's eponymous album in 2011 and the majority of Sean Paul's 2009 album Imperial Blaze and Mavado's Mr. Brooks...A Better Tomorrow, also from 2009. He also wrote and produced several songs for international artists, including Hasidic reggae artist Matisyahu, J-pop singer Mika Nakashima, R&B singers Ne-Yo and Estelle, and pop star Nelly Furtado, whose Di Genius produced song "Don't Leave Me" appeared on her 2012 album The Spirit Indestructible. Recently he has turned his focus more towards producing singles, and in 2013 he worked on singles for artists such as Aidonia, Stylo G, and Denyque.
Di Genius has said in interviews that he admires songwriters such as Stevie Wonder for his arrangements and instrumentation. He also stated that he draws inspiration from producers such as Timbaland and The Neptunes for their instantly recognizable production styles. Vivien Goldman described his productions in The New York Times as having "a challenging sound that combines playfulness, the spatial drama of a movie soundtrack and orchestral brio" characterized by "sparse, punching jabs of sound and lush snatches of melody." She also wrote that while his tense urban riddims are well suited for American hip hop audiences, he displays a great amount of versatility, with productions ranging from lovers rock to reggae fusion.
Equipment-wise, Di Genius stated that he started out producing with a single drum machine MPC, but has since moved on to multiple MPCs, keyboards, and a variety of audio editing programs, including Pro Tools, Reason, Logic Pro, and REAPER.
- Labwork Vol. 1 (2010)
- Labwork Vol. 2 (2010)
|2005||Red Bull & Guinness|
- Goldman, Vivien (21 Sep 2008). "For Him, Reggae Is the Family Business". The New York Times. Retrieved 11 Apr 2013.
- Patterson, Joseph (25 Jul 2011). "Stephen McGregor: The Interview". MTV. Retrieved 11 Apr 2013.
- "Super bash for Stephen". Jamaica Star. 8 Jan 2009. Retrieved 30 Apr 2013.
- "Stephen 'Di Genious' McGregor: About". Facebook. Retrieved 4 May 2013.
- Grindley, Latoya (21 Jun 2010). "Captain Freddie McGregor Guides His Crew". Jamaica Gleaner. Retrieved 11 Apr 2013.
- "Centre Stage: Stephen McGregor". Jamaica Star. 14 Nov 2008. Retrieved 11 Apr 2013.
- Henry, Krista (20 Jul 2008). "'Di Genius' at helm of Big Ship". Jamaica Gleaner. Retrieved 11 Apr 2013.
- "Freeload: Assassin, 'Money' (Work Out Riddim)". The Fader. 26 May 2008. Retrieved 30 Apr 2013.
- Henry, Krista (31 Dec 2009). "'Di Genius' says Kartel 'Cyaa Friend Again'". Jamaica Star. Retrieved 11 Apr 2013.
- Henry, Krista (5 Dec 2008). "10 questions for Stephen". Jamaica Star. Retrieved 11 Apr 2013.
- Brooks, Sadeke (26 Sep 2012). "Di Genius produces for Nelly Furtado". Jamaica Star. Retrieved 11 Apr 2013.
- "Aidonia, Di Genius collab on Ask Dem". Jamaica Observer. 6 Apr 2013. Retrieved 11 Apr 2013.
- Lester, Paul (24 Apr 2013). "New band of the day: Stylo G (No 1,499)". The Guardian. Retrieved 30 Apr 2013.
- Delahaye, Jordane (28 Jan 2013). "'Her Name Is Denyque'". Jamaica Gleaner. Retrieved 30 Apr 2013.