“Shams” Browne, compiler of ‘Strictly The Best’

by Dec 24, 2023News

Shams Browne, compiler of 'Strictly The Best'
Thirty-three years ago when VP Records introduced its ‘Strictly The Best’ compilation album, dancehall music was making inroads in the American mainstream. Many hip hop and pop fans got their first taste of Jamaican culture through ‘best of’ products like Strictly The Best and Reggae Gold.

‘Strictly The Best Vol. 63’ was released December 15 by the Queens, New York independent company. It contains 12 songs including ‘Driver’ by Romain Virgo, ‘One More Time’ (Don Corleone Remix) by Jah Cure, ‘Only Room For Two’ by Gyptian and ‘Gyal Dem Time’ from Shaggy and Teejay.

Musician/producer Richard “Shams” Browne, Artiste and Repertoire manager at VP Records, has compiled ‘Strictly The Best’ since 2016. With the music industry’s transformation over the years, he has taken a different approach to selecting songs.

“My process is obviously different from previous A&R or curators especially because the industry nowadays is more of a streaming market. It’s not like back in the day when the big songs used to come out of Jamaica on seven-inch 45 and it would be hard to access them for the consumer, and the consumer would usually have to wait until it came on a CD compilation like Strictly The Best. That whole business model change now and everybody has access to music as soon as it comes out,” Browne explained.

Strictly The Best 63

‘Strictly The Best Volume 1’ had songs like ‘Baby Can I Hold You’ by Foxy Brown, ‘Shower Me With Your Love’ by Singing Melody, ‘Wicked In Bed’ from Shabba Ranks and ‘Twice My Age’ by Shabba Ranks and Krystal.

Those songs were huge hits in Jamaica and became popular in New York City via sound systems and Caribbean radio. ‘Strictly The Best’ and ‘Reggae Gold’ helped them find an audience on pop radio.

Browne has also released songs exclusive to ‘Strictly The Best’. The latest collection has four songs done specifically for VP Records; they are Konshens featuring IWaata & Country Hype with ‘Cyaan Done’, Aza Lineage’s ‘Don’t Say You Love Me’, ‘Soulmate’ by Lutan Fyah and ‘Happy Living’ by Jahshii.

While ‘Strictly The Best’ helped break many dancehall songs stateside, Browne is looking to do the same with emerging acts.

“We’re looking for artistes who I believe have the potential to be the next big thing,” he said.

Richard Browne is a member of the Browne family, several of whom have made a major impact on Jamaican music. His father Glen is a respected bassist who has recorded with Burning Spear, Ziggy Marley and The Melody Makers and Buju Banton.

His uncles Dalton, Danny and Cleveland (of Steely and Clevie fame) have played guitar and drums on countless hit songs. In addition to producing numerous hit songs, Richard Browne has toured as a bassist with Sean Paul, Shaggy, Gyptian and Anthony B.

(Photo contributed)

Jahshii – Happy Living

Lutan Fyah – Soulmate

Aza Lineage – Don’t Say You Love Me

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