In 2010, musician, beat-maker, and producer Michael ‘Askelle’ Fairman was a final-year student at The University of the West Indies, pursuing a first degree in liberal studies while getting his feet wet in the music industry. After a decade of learning how to play the game, and even slipping in some new rules along the way, it’s fair to say that Fairman has established himself. Among his most recent projects is the critically acclaimed Million Times, a 12-track album co-produced by Fairman, artiste and producer G-Mac, and Sizzla.
Started more than a year before the pandemic hit, it was released in October this year, and Fairman is delighted with the outcome for a variety of reasons. “Originally, I was supposed to be working on an album with G-Mac and then Sizzla came to the studio to do some dubplates. He and G-Mac spoke about a project, and I was asked if I would want to be a part of the team,” Fairman, who has worked with a long list of top acts in the music industry told The Sunday Gleaner. There was only one problem: he had been contacted by his well-connected, Florida-based manager about doing some work for another international artiste.
“I had to choose between this Sizzla album and a Rihanna project,” the visually impaired Fairman shared. “But I know that I would feel more fulfilled working with Sizzla because he is one of us. It has been a great experience working with the Jamaican legend, who I first met at a studio when I was in sixth form at JC (Jamaica College). Sizzla told me that I was going to be great.”
Fairman boasts that having been a student at the “universities” run by Chris Meredith and the late Wycliffe ‘Steely’ Johnson, he was automatically placed on the path to greatness, and he has used their techniques to his advantage. He has worked with a wide range of reggae and dancehall artistes, including Buju Banton, Capleton, Vybz Kartel, Mavado, Wayne Marshall, Turbulance, Sean Paul, Jimmy Cozier, Chris Martin, Elephant Man, and Konshens; and producers such as Troyton, TJ Records (DNA, Word of Prayer, Mood Swing, and Alter Ego ‘riddims’) and Seanizzle.
ORIGIN OF NICKNAME
The beat-maker, whose nickname comes from a gun model owing to the fact that he was the “biggest, baddest clash deejay” while a student at JC, told The Sunday Gleaner that the only shots he fires are number-one songs. And there is more than a grain of truth in his assertion since he has amassed over 50 number ones between 2009 and the present. Naturally, he has great expectations for Million Times.
Replete with “girls chunes” and themed with carefree and seductive messages of love, play and foreplay, Million Times is the Rastaman Sizzla’s season of the succinct. With titles like Feelings, Girlfriend, Motivation, Don’t Stop, Lasting Effect and Without You, it’s no bag of long talking for the man called ‘Dada’. He gets right to the point as he happily caresses his female listeners. And the producer says that this is exactly what he wanted for this genre-bending, fusion album, which Fairman calls Yaad Soul.
“Sizzla didn’t have a choice but to go in that direction. We wanted Million Times to be a happy album for the girls, and so I deliberately didn’t choose any ‘dark chords’, as they call it, when making the beats. Sizzla would come by the studio and freestyle and would listen to the beat and write. The music was so sweet that he would be in no hurry to leave,” Fairman recalled.
Since its release on October 2, Million Times has climbed to number one on Amazon, number three on iTunes, and debuted at number 14 on the Billboard Reggae Albums chart.