SAE Institute Miami 2007 graduate Oje Ken Ollivierre, who performs under the name Protoje, is currently completing his third full-length album, which will be released in September 2014. The album is a joint venture between Kingston-based Overstand Entertainment and Protoje’s self-owned independent label Indignation Collective.
“The album will be a whole new sound for me,” says Protoje. “My previous albums were more R&B-tinged, while the next one will be more dub/rock/roots-reggae. In terms of the songs’ subject matter, I’m aiming to re-establish the standard for the decaying art of socially responsible, mentally stimulating lyricism.”
Protoje grew up in Santa Cruz, St. Elizabeth, which is located in central Jamaica, and attended Munro College, a prominent boarding school near his home. Both of his parents were involved in music: his mother Lorna Bennett, a vocalist, had a hit song in 1972 called “Breakfast In Bed,” and his father Scotty Bennett was a Calypso Monarch of St. Vincent and the Grenadines. Along with being of fan of such reggae stars as Black Uhuru and Buju Banton, Protoje also enjoyed the sounds of American hip hop artists as a youngster, including Slick Rick and Jay Z.
In 2006, Proteje decided to pursue course work in audio engineering. He researched several leading colleges in the United States, and ultimately chose to enroll in the Audio Technology Program at SAE Institute Miami.
“SAE Miami’s location, curriculum, and facilities were the right fit for me,” says Proteje. “I appreciate the education and training that SAE provided, and I really learned a lot about the technical side of music. The experience helped me to have a disciplined approach to my work as a solo recording artist.”
After graduating from SAE Miami in 2007, Protoje returned to Jamaica to begin his recording career. He had been writing songs while studying at SAE, and in 2009, Protoje released his first single “Arguments” on Don Corleon Records. His first album, “The Seven Year Itch”, was released in 2011 and charted #2 in Canada, #3 in the U.S. and #4 in France. It included the single “Rasta Love” featuring Ky-Mani Marley, which was a major reggae hit across the globe and has garnered close to 15,000,000 views on YouTube. Protoje’s follow-up album, “The 8 Year Affair”, came out in 2013 and climbed to #5 on the Billboard Reggae Chart.
“The audio technology principles that I learned at SAE have helped me to guide the engineering and mixing of my music,” says Proteje. “I have also produced many of my songs, one of which will be featured on my new album.”
Protoje’s success has created demand for his live performances on stages across Europe, including Poland, Germany, The Netherlands, Belgium, Spain, France, Switzerland, Italy, Sweden, Slovakia, and Slovenia. He’s also gigged in the U.S., Canada, Costa Rica, French Guyana, Trinidad, Barbados, and Jamaica.
“For SAE students or grads who are aiming to be recording artists, my advice is to get right into it,” says Protoje. “You have very limited time to hone your craft, develop your brand, and present it to the world. However, once your pursuits as a recording artist have ended, having the engineering skills that you developed at SAE will be extremely valuable, and will always be useful.”