Recording artiste Tamo J catapulted into the dimensions of reggae-dancehall approximately five years ago and has enjoyed local success since. But the singer-songwriter, who has commanded the attention of his audience, including his peers and critics, has opened up that before now, his mind was not as clear and he wasnt operating at his best. He has since turned to therapy and is grateful for the impact the sessions have made.
Oftentimes, when the word therapy is mentioned to a person, especially a Jamaican, the response is aggressive and defensive. The reaction is usually, Me nah guh nuh shrink. After me nuh mad. Even for a youngster while growing up, we dont see them capitalising on guidance counsellors, but there are many forms of therapy around that people can benefit from using, Tamo J shared in his recent interview with The Weekend Gleaner.
He added: I was impressed by the thought when it was suggested to me because really and truly, people dont usually focus on an artistes mental state. It is more about what we can provide and do. But if an artiste, or any person for that matter, is not in the best state of mind, he or she cant fully function. I know when my mind is clear, I can operate better.
The Change the World artiste decided to face his demons head-on. That included getting to know himself better, getting past the past, and ignoring societys labels for individuals who seek or take the route of getting professional counselling.
He said: Sometimes as human beings, [we] dont realise how important it is to talk to someone. Yes, we have our peers and family members, but I dont think their capabilities are of a professional level or the advice wont come from an unbiased place. Then there is this big stigma around mental health, and the misconception where people immediately associate mental health with mental illness.
Tamo J said that growing up in Jamaica, there have always been conflicting beliefs coming from a learnt and unlearnt place that include how we are raised and the culture. Men are not encouraged to share their emotions, especially not with each other, and he, too, has heard, A why yuh a gwaan suh? Mek yuh a gwaan like one likkle girl, more than once in different environments amongst his male peers.
Males dont learn how to express [themselves]. Instead, we are exposed to constant jeering and criticism. In our culture, we love making fun of our peers, and sometimes there are deep-rooted issues you would be surprised to learn that even the comedians we laugh with, or at, are working through their own mental-health issues, he said. People always have underlying thoughts that affect how we operate daily, without us even knowing, just subconsciously. If we figure out what is happening, then we can function much better.
Tamo Js counselling sessions which have a spiritual and meditational component havent been easy. Still, he is focused on becoming his best self. At the same time, he is a beacon in the music industry simply by sharing that writing and recording music alone is not therapy. Seeking professional guidance helps, and theres no need for the inaccurate stigma. The singer-songwriter revealed that one of the issues he had to work through was love of self.
I literally went through a process of self-discovery, learning to love and embrace myself to the fullest. It is the only way to be, the way you were meant to be. If you are constantly fighting with yourself, for some people, its their physical image. For me, it was much deeper, and that clouds your judgement, Tamo J said.
In the male-dominated music industry, it can often feel like the toughest battleground. With all of us trying to accomplish the same thing, some will start seeing their peers like competition. Now, I see everyone playing them part, and I communicate differently. I have more patience and understand timing better. Its a beautiful thing, and once you dig up what was buried, you cant unsee or unthink it, he continued.
He said that his music has evolved through therapy, helping him create more efficiently and approach his craft with an international (and intentional) mindset because he is able to express himself more freely.
Im able to tap into myself and trust myself more. When writing, an artiste will track back to things people said [up] to two years or more before, and these things can restrict you from expressing ourselves and make you want to try and put everybody elses thoughts into one song instead of trusting yourself. Now, Im taking on a new perspective and trusting myself, Tamo J said.
Tamo J first opened the doors of the music industry by stepping out of the safe space of his bedroom, where he produced his eight-track EP Eccentric, then began working with renowned producers like Mikey Bennett. His singles, Miss Jamaica and Life Too Short, earned him the respect of the industry, and he became a mainstay, writing for artistes like Kranium, Sean Paul, and Denyque. He is currently under the management of Christopher Townsend, attorney-at-law and owner of Genna Storm Productions.
According to Townsend, both emerging and established artistes can benefit from therapy, and he has seen the impact it has had on Tamo J.
Before Tamo J was added to my roster, his songs were of a certain quality high quality, nonetheless but since receiving the counselling, I find the energy is noticeably different, he shared.
The recommendation for an artiste to receive therapeutic counselling has become a regular course of action for the record label to better engage the artiste and industry professionals the label works with. Noting that Tamo Js talent and experience far exceed the local stomping ground, Townsend is comforted by the fact that when it is time for the artiste to get a major breakthrough, he is going to take music to another level because he is capable, physically and mentally, and he is bussing internationally because he has that flavour, that sound, and the look.
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Tamo J is 'digging up deep-rooted issues' in therapy - Jamaica Gleaner
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