Kemar Ottey, more popularly known as Ding Dong, has cemented himself in the dancehall space, having maintained and achieved an exceptional level of consistency and dominance,
Hailing from Nannyville, Kingston, Ding Dong shot into prominence with his Ravers Clavers dance crew in the early 2000s, with the smash hit and accompanying dance move – Badman Forward. Since then, the entertainer has kept a steady foot on the accelerator (‘pressing gas’ if you will) to establish himself as not only a renowned recording artiste but a dancing icon. As he evolved into a household name, so, too, has Ding Dong grown into the roles of husband, father, ambassador, and a calm voice of reason and motivation for those who know him. His infectious positive energy transcended the dancehall space and made room for him in the corporate world – where his dance moves and unmistakable vocals have piloted several successful campaigns and landed him ambassadorships for brands such as Grace Foods, Magnum Tonic Wine and Western Sports.
As he prepares to hit the Reggae Sumfest stage on festival night one, on Friday, July 22, the Bounce artiste shares some of the most enjoyable moments and most valuable lessons he has learned in his career thus far in Five Questions.
1. You have managed to maintain a solid reputation in the dancehall industry and have a repertoire of music and dance moves that can be enjoyed by all. How important is that for you?
I am an artiste that is widely accepted – in households, the streets, by children, the elderly – everywhere. So I have to be mindful at all times. I am also a global brand ambassador for some of the biggest companies in Jamaica – both under the GK Group as well as others. So I have to be mindful that I am a part of corporate and a lot of people are drawn to me. I want people to think about fun, joy and happiness when they think about Ding Dong. So I have to make sure I stay true to that, because that is my lane.
2. When you are not making music, what do you enjoy doing?
When I’m not making music, I like to chill with my family and friends. I enjoy relaxing with my wife, going out to restaurants and enjoying different foods and experiencing different cultures. At home, I like to be in the kitchen sometimes and just cook some food. It’s sometimes hard to relax because I’m a workaholic, but I am encouraged and motivated by my wife to just go out and live life sometimes.
3. Speaking of cooking – among your roles of dancer, recording artiste, husband, father and cook, why do you enjoy cooking so much and what is your favourite meal to cook?
I enjoy cooking because it frees my mind and allows me to focus and enjoy what is happening in the moment. Sometimes you can get tired and not feel like cooking, but you can never get tired of cooking itself. It gives you that sense of freedom to create so many things.
Some of my favourite things to cook are brown stew beef and oxtail and some of my favourite quick meals - Grace mackerel and franks, corned beef and corn, and curried chicken and white rice. I don’t even have one specific favourite thing to cook, because I just love being in the kitchen.
4. What impact has your ambassadorship with Grace Foods had on your career, and what are you hoping this deal represents for your fans, especially a child from Nannyville who is looking on and wanting to be the next Ding Dong?
My ambassadorship with Grace Foods is one of the greatest moves I’ve ever made in my career, because I was raised on the products. To become a global ambassador for the brand is not a normal thing. I came from humble beginnings and went through a lot of things, and those experiences moulded me into what I am today. Grace Foods has never tried to limit my creativity in terms of what to do and not to do, and this partnership is so organic and natural for me. It is very big for me, and I take it with so much respect and gratitude.
I hope I can inspire other youths to aspire to achieve things that are bigger than their present circumstances. I hope they never think they are limited, because, once there is life, it can happen. Just put your heart, your sweat and your drive in it, and remember that the sky’s the limit. Use the challenges around you to fuel that energy you have inside you to go get what you want in life.
5. Finally, what next can fans expect from Ding Dong?
What’s next? Everything that’s great – greatness! I’m an on-the-go person, so I’m always working. I have some new songs and dances right now to release, but I’m giving people some time to catch up with what’s already out there, like Bounce. There are big things ahead, so just expect to see Ding Dong bigger than what you see me as and reaching more people across the world with a lot of fun vibes, music and dancing.