The latest Caribbean artists to break the Billboard Hot 100 is R City with their song Locked Away which features singer Adam Levine from Maroon 5
R City which is short for Rock City (a nick name for St Thomas) is made up of brothers Timothy and Theron Thomas who are from St Thomas in the US Virgin Islands. In 2000, the duo left the Virgin Islands to pursue their music career in Miami before finally ending up in Atlanta, Georgia.
Locked Away is enjoying a wave of success and is currently on several European charts, as well as those of Australia and New Zealand.
R City have written a number of hit songs in a career that started in 2006. The duo sold their first song, “The Rain,” which appeared on Akon’s triple platinum-selling album Konvicted. By October 2007, Rock City had written songs for acts like Usher, Sean Kingston, Nicole Scherzinger, and Miley Cyrus. Early songs from the Caribbean artists that saw chart success included “Take You There” by Sean Kingston (number 7 on the Billboard Hot 100), “When I Grow Up” by The Pussycat Dolls (number 9 on the Billboard Hot 100), and “Replay” by Iyaz.
Throughout their career writing songs for other artists, the duo have maintained that recording their own songs has always been their main goal of the Caribbean artists.
“We started doing music together since the ages of five and six respectively. In the beginning, persons weren’t very receptive because we were rapping and making hip hop music back then, [which] wasn’t as popular in the Virgin Islands as it is today. But over the years it has grown to become very receptive, especially since we started doing socially conscious lyrics, as well as rapping in our local Virgin Islands accent,” Theron explains.
“We always write songs for ourselves, and then Akon gave us the opportunity to write a song for him. The song was called The Rain and it was featured on his second album Konvicted. We got paid US$5,000 for that song, so we decided to write for other artistes as well and before you know, we were known songwriters in the industry,” Timothy explained.
It was only while working on a project with Dr Luke in Los Angeles, a mutual friend informed the producer that the brothers were also artistes.
“It’s crazy the way it happened,” said Timothy. “We always made music, but that side of what we do was dormant. We got the chance to focus on it for the first time in the US with Luke.”
“He came up to us and said, ‘Hey guys, let’s work on music for you!’ We were shocked. We didn’t have a deal. We weren’t working on an album, and he just felt something and had to say it,” he added.
Timothy spoke about the inspiration behind Locked Away.
“It’s a personal one because our dad was locked up for about six years, and during that time our mom held it down the whole time. There’s a different side of the song as well. It shows that real love. When you listen to our music, you can hear the passion and ‘realness’. We did it. If you’re trying to do something, do not let anybody stop you. Our music is a testament to that.”
The duo’s debut album What Dreams Are Made Of is set for an October release. It will feature the hit song Locked Away as well as a collaboration with Tarrus Riley. It’s always great to see Caribbean artists making moves in the music industry. There is so much talent brewing on the islands.