Mr. Killa Makes Huge Strides For Music In Grenada And The Caribbean
Marketing Moves is a series highlighting Caribbean artistes who use innovative marketing moves to differentiate their brand and music. This week we feature the incomparable Mr. Killa from Grenada.
It was easy to miss if you were not paying careful attention. Mr. Killa’s historic win at the 2019 International Soca Monarch (ISM) did not occur by happenstance. It was the culmination of several strategic brand-building moves. Intentionally or not, the Grenadian soca artiste has been steadily building his unique brand of music for several years now and he is starting to reap international accolades and the other rewards of his hard work.
Hollice Jonah Mapp, more popularly known as Mr. Killa has been playing in the music arena since he was ten (10) years old. He started as a dancehall musician and switched to soca when he was seventeen (17). ‘His first composition was entitled “Gouyave Alone”, a song about Carnival in his hometown. In 2002, he entered Grenada’s premier Soca show – the National Soca Monarch with his debut hit song: “The Wood Can’t Done”, placing 7th in competition.’
That competition launched a series of wins and titles in various competitions. This included a few Soca Monarch titles in Grenada punctuated by different placements in the Trinidad and Tobago International Soca Monarch competition. In 2004, he won the Soca Monarch title in Grenada with his song, ‘Thunder Rags.’ He placed fifth (5th) in 2005 in the Trinidad and Tobago’s International Soca Monarch with his composition entitled “Gyal Whine If You Whining”. He won the Soca Monarch titles again in 2006 and 2009 in Grenada. In 2009, he also won the Grenadian Road March title with the song, ‘Swing It Away.’ This was also a pivotal year for Mr. Killa introducing his brand to the wider Caribbean diaspora in a more significant way. He really caught the attention of the wider soca market with his 2013 hit, “Rolly Polly,” which won multiple Song of the Year awards.
His 2019 ISM win was a huge stride for the one Caribbean movement that is a pivotal ingredient for raising the profile of Caribbean music and culture throughout the world. Here are some marketing moves that Mr. Killa got right while building his musical brand.
Built A Persona That Went Beyond The Music
- Mr. Killa is a soca artiste yes. He is also an avid dancer and from his social media videos a good chef as well. By infusing those interests into his online personality, it added dimensions to his persona and made him even more relatable than simpy a soca artiste who surfaces around Carnival season. He found ways to keep eyes on him throughout the year.
Out Of The Box Thinking
- When everybody was singing about pretty girls with big bumpers, Mr. Killa smirked and said ‘Ha! Y’all cute’ and then belted out the strains to ‘Rolly Polly.*’ It was a song paying homage to heavy set women with enchanting waist lines. Performances of the song were made even more exciting with on stage antics with these same women doing the most. The infectious music and exhilarating performances really made you pay attention. Just one example of ways Mr. Killa goes against the norm to create a lane of his own. This year’s rendition of ‘Run Wid It‘ was another such example.
Had Both A Local And Diaspora Focus
- Mr. Killa is Grenadian to the bone marrow, and if you had, any doubt you would just have to see him perform to clarify. This patriotism has nurtured a loyal local following and has earned him the title of Cultural Ambassador for Grenada. It created a loyal fan base at home which gave him a foundation to build on throughout the diaspora. Mr. Killa always kept his eyes on growing his fan base internationally while nurturing the local love.
- Mr. Killa embraces the opportunity to work with artistes across the diaspora. In 2019 he worked with Trinbagonian artiste, Terri Lyons, on a song called ‘Way Yo Dey,’ on the Afro Jab Riddim. He also had a collab with Benjai called ‘Jab Party’ on the Hot Bottle Riddim. He has worked with the likes of Sizzla Kolanji and Skinny Banton to name a few . His winning song for Soca Monarch ‘Run Wid It’ was produced, mixed and mastered by CEO/Executive producer Kevin Charles of Stadic Studio Productions based in Union Island (Saint Vincent and the Grenadines).
Diversifying His Brand
- Mr. Killa is a musician first, that’s true, but, he also knows that music has no pension plan. He has started diversifying his brand and business interests by investing in several ventures including an app called ‘Promo Caribbean’ which will be a hub for information about the Caribbean islands. He is also focused on exporting Carnival to the rest of the world with initiatives such as his partnership with Little Africa that carried ten people from Grenada to Nigeria. He is also a building an art studio to attract more recording business to the island.
Mr. Killa’s journey has only just begun. He is laying the right foundation to build a sustainable brand that goes way beyond his musical career and which leaves an undeniable legacy as he claims his rightful place as a trendsetter within the Caribbean music world.
SOUND OFF: What is your favorite song from Mr. Killa?
MISSION: To elevate the brand of Caribbean culture in the fields of MUSIC, BUSINESS and the ARTS by celebrating the work of cultural ambassadors while advocating for upcoming Caribbean talent1.