Friday, June 30, 2006

Beenie Man: Girls Dem Sugar

Beenie Man (aka Moses Davis) was born in the tough Waterhouse district of Kingston, Jamaica, on August 22, 1973. By the time he was ready for school, the toddler had already decided on a career as a DJ. He wasn't the first tot with dreams of the limelight, but Beenie actually had a true gift for gab. His shot at stardom came when he was only eight, when he took first prize at the national Teeny Talent contest. This led to a meeting with producer Junjo Lawes, who recorded the diminutive DJ's debut single, "Too Fancy." Bunny Lee then took the boy under his wing and put him to work at his Unlimited sound system. By 1983, the youngster found himself appearing on Lawes' Junjo Presents Two Big Sounds, which was recorded live and featured such DJ heavyweights as Dillinger and Fathead. Along with Unlimited, Beenie was also DJing at Prince Jammy's and Volcano sound systems, had a hit single to his credit, "Over the Sea," produced by Niney Holness, and even had a debut album out. Produced by Lee, The Invincible Beenie Man, the 10 Year Old DJ Wonder's title pretty much sums it all up. He recorded some material with Barrington Levy in 1984, two of which, "Under Mi Sensi" and "Two Sounds," would resurface in remixed form later in the '90s. But for the moment, his recording career came virtually to a close, bar the occasional single. But the young DJ remained a sound system favorite, even as he now turned his attention to his schoolwork.

Not surprisingly, Beenie's younger brother, Little Kirk, was keen to follow in his footsteps and five years later, the siblings hooked up with producer Patrick Roberts and began recording a series of singles that quickly brought them into the national spotlight. In 1992, Beenie appeared at Reggae Sunsplash and such was the response that the DJ now felt ready to take on the big guns. Beenie's first target was the acclaimed Bounty Killer, although the young DJ had cause for his attack as the veteran had stolen his catch phrase, "people dead," and the war was on. There was a lull in the very public battle in 1993 when Beenie left Kingston for almost a year after being booed off the stage at a national show celebrating the visit of Nelson Mandela. Upon his return the next year, there was a public reconciliation with Bounty Killer, which resulted in the split album Guns Out.

Beenie had obviously had a major change of heart, further evidenced by his single "No Mama No Cry," a version of Bob Marley's "No Woman No Cry," a scathing indictment of violence, inspired by the murder of fellow DJ Pan Head. The song topped the Jamaican chart and brought the DJ instant acclaim. Jamaica's violent crime rate remains shockingly high, and affects people at all levels of society. While drug overdoses and suicide are a proportionately high cause of death for American artists, in Jamaica, murder is often the tragic cause. That many of these crimes go unsolved, Pan Head's included, add to the emotional devastation and so does the fact that the violence seemingly comes in waves, carrying off a number of noted figures in the course of a year. Beenie, too, was affected by these events and Sly & Robbie, the producers of his "No Mama No Cry" single, were instrumental in guiding the young DJ toward his conversion to Rastafarianism.

A new attitude and a new hit single instantly turned Beenie's career around. Now working with all the island's top producers, the DJ recorded a slew of singles, many of them religiously themed, "Praise Him" and "World Dance" (which took the Best Single Award at the Jamaican Music Awards) included. The hits-heavy Defend It and Dis Unu Fi Hear were both released in 1994 and combined more culturally themed raps with a hardcore dancehall sound. Many of these singles, bar the Taxi releases, were rounded up on Gold by the British Charm label. Beenie's stardom was confirmed by his taking the DJ of the Year Award that same year. Signing to Island Records, Beenie released the seminal Blessed album, which featured another clutch of hits, including the dancehall smash "Slam."

While in the U.K., the DJ fired the British dancefloors with a jungle remix of "Under Mi Sensi." 1995 also brought a pair of collaborative albums, including Three Against War, which united the DJ with Dennis Brown and Triston Palma, and Mad Cobra Meets Lt. Stitchie & Beenie Man, a tag-team dancehall affair. Joined by Lady Saw, Beenie also scored a major hit with "Healer" that year, just one of many successful collaborative singles that included "Papa Was a Rolling Stone," which paired him with Third World. By the end of the year, Beenie was a shoo-in for the DJ of the Year Award. 1996 brought Maestro, Beenie's first "real" album, as compared to his previous hits collections. Produced by Patrick Roberts, it was a stunning effort featuring a kaleidoscope of moods. The following year proved to be his break out in Britain, when his and Chevelle Franklin's "Dance Hall Queen" bounced up the national chart. Both that single and its follow-up, "Who Am I," were number ones back at home, while the latter rocketed its way into the U.K. Top Ten. In fact, Beenie Man could now do no wrong, and a sound system's worth of his singles flew their way up the Jamaican chart that year and the next. The autobiographical Many Moods of Moses features a number of these smashes, including "Oysters & Conch" and "Foundation."

After headlining Reggae Sunsplash in 1998, Beenie signed to Virgin Records in the U.S.; The Doctor was the first fruit of this new union, and was an instant dancehall classic. 1999 brought the King Jammy-produced album Y2K, which never actually mentions everyone's greatest fear that year -- the millennium bug, but does take on a host of other issues from AIDS to illiteracy. And the hit singles just kept on coming, and coming, and coming. Beenie was unstoppable, whether on his own or with other artists, and at times the Jamaican chart seemed to be the DJ's private preserve. "Hot Bwoy" with Buccaneer, "Mi Nu Walla," "Forget You," "Ruff Like We" with Redrose, "100 Dollar Bag," "So Nice" with Silvercat, "In This Together," "Skettel Tune" with Angel Doolas, and "L.O.Y." are just a sampling of the singles the DJ released between 1999 and 2000. The Art & Life album, released in the new century, showcased the DJ at his most eclectic and included guests Arturo Sandoval and Wyclef Jean of the Fugees fame. The following year, Beenie reunited with Jean behind the mixing board to produce the debut album by actor Steven Seagal. Janet Jackson, the Neptunes, Lady Saw, and Lil' Kim all turned up as guests on 2002's Tropical Storm, the Beenie Man album with the most crossover appeal. 2004's Back to Basics was just that, a straight-up return to dancehall. The hit collecting compilation From Kingston To King Of The Dancehall appeared in early 2005

Bounty Killer: The WARLORD

Bounty Killer was one of the most aggressive dancehall stars of the '90s, a street-tough rude boy with an unrepentant flair for gun talk. There were many other facets to his music -- condemnations of corrupt authority, collaborations with hardcore hip-hop artists, tributes to his mother, an ongoing DJ rivalry with Beenie Man -- but his main persona was so dominant that many fans instantly associated him with his more violent material. With such seeming contradictions in his personality, his image in Jamaica was not unlike that of 2Pac in America, though of course he was a far less tragic figure. Making his name in Jamaica during the early '90s, Bounty Killer was working extensively in hip-hop crossover territory by the end of the decade, but retained his hard edge no matter what the musical context.

Bounty Killer was born Rodney Price in the Kingston ghetto of Trenchtown on June 12, 1972. One of nine children, he spent much of his childhood in another ghetto, Riverton City, which was built on the former city dump; his family later moved to the rough Seaview Gardens area. His father owned a small sound system, and he first tried his hand at DJ chatting when he was only nine years old. At age 14, he nearly fell victim to the gun violence he would later document so thoroughly in his music; while walking home from school, he was hit by a stray bullet from a gun battle between rival political factions. Fortunately, he made a full recovery, and soon began performing under the name Bounty Hunter for area sound systems like Metromedia, Bodyguard, and Stereo Two. Meanwhile, he and his friends hung around King Jammy's recording studio, hoping to catch a break. Eventually, he met Jammy's brother Uncle T, who produced his first recordings in 1990.

Still working under the name Bounty Hunter, one of his early tunes, "Dub Fi Dub," became a huge dancehall hit as a sound system dubplate. He subsequently changed his name to the fiercer and less common Bounty Killer, and accordingly ratcheted up the confrontational tone of his lyrics. He had a breakout year in 1992 with several major hit singles, the biggest of which were "Copper Shot" (also an underground hit in New York) and the anti-informant "Spy Fi Die." Other songs from this era included "Guns Out," "New Gun," "Kill Fe Fun," "Gunshot Fi Informer," and "Lodge." Many of them appeared on Bounty Killer's debut album, Jamaica's Most Wanted, which was released in 1993 and later issued internationally under the somewhat deceptive title Roots, Reality and Culture (after a socially conscious hit from 1994). Also in 1993, Bounty Killer's lyrical feud with rival Beenie Man first flared up in an on-stage DJ clash; possessed of similar vocal deliveries, each claimed the other as an imitator, and they took their battle to record on the 1994 clash album Guns Out.

With the Jamaican government starting to crack down on violent lyrics in live performances, Bounty Killer began to broaden his subject matter into streetwise social commentary, most notably on the perceptive drug-trade chronicle "Down in the Ghetto." That became the title track of his next album, issued in early 1995. Over the next year, he enjoyed one of his hottest streaks as a hitmaker in Jamaica, as he released one popular song after another: a smash duet with Sanchez called "Searching," the hip-hop-flavored chart-topper "Cellular Phone," "Smoke the Herb," the anti-censorship "Not Another Word," the maternal tributes "Mama" and "Miss Ivy Last Son," "Action Speak Louder Than Words," "Book, Book, Book," and "No Argument," the last of which was the title track of another album. By the end of 1995, in order to set a positive example, a prominent radio DJ had effected a truce between Bounty Killer and Beenie Man, although it would continue to flare up periodically at concerts and on record over the next few years.

In 1996, Bounty Killer released his defining statement, the 20-track double album My Xperience. Featuring several past hits as well as a plethora of new material, My Xperience also boasted guest spots by American hip-hop stars like the Fugees, Raekwon, Busta Rhymes, and Jeru the Damaja, as well as veteran reggae stars like Barrington Levy and Dennis Brown. The single "Hip-Hopera" made the American charts, and the album sold well amid strong reviews, reaching the Top 30 of the R&B chart and ranking as one of the best-selling reggae albums of the year in the U.S. Bounty Killer followed it with the British release Ghetto Gramma' (as in "grammar") in 1997, and spent some time recording with producer Jazzwad.

In 1998, Bounty Killer returned with a high-profile, guest-laden follow-up to My Xperience, titled Next Millennium. This time around, it was issued in America by the generally non-reggae label TVT. Next Millennium heavily featured the new generation of hardcore New York hip-hoppers, including Noreaga, Mobb Deep, Killah Priest, and the Cocoa Brovaz. "Deadly Zone" was featured on the soundtrack of Blade and made the Top Ten on the rap singles chart in America, and the album again sold respectably well among R&B audiences. The follow-up, 1999's The 5th Element, marked a return to a purer dancehall style.

In late 2001, Bounty Killer made a prominent guest appearance on No Doubt's international smash "Hey Baby," appearing in the video and performing with the group during the 2002 Super Bowl pregame show. The video inadvertently caused some embarrassment for him back in Jamaica, however: the intensely homophobic dancehall community picked up on the fact that one of its nightclub scenes showed a nude man, and his rivals had a field day. The whole episode notwithstanding, Bounty Killer returned to the sprawling ambitions of My Xperience for his next project, the two-volume Ghetto Dictionary set. Issued separately and simultaneously in early 2002, Ghetto Dictionary: The Art of War and Ghetto Dictionary: The Mystery mixed mostly new material with a few past singles, and were firmly in the raw, hardcore dancehall style that had made his name. Both sold well among reggae audiences, and The Mystery was nominated for a Grammy for Best Reggae Album. Later in 2002, Bounty Killer guested on hip-hop producer Swizz Beatz' solo debut, G.H.E.T.T.O. Stories, specifically on the single "Guilty."


A major figure in the positive-consciousness dancehall movement, Jamaican DJ/toaster Super Cat was born William Maragh in a ghetto section of Kingston known as Cockburn Pen or Seivright Gardens (the same area that produced DJ stars like U-Roy and Prince Jazzbo). Interested in music from a very young age, Maragh was touring Jamaica with various sound system organizations by the time he was a teenager. His first DJ name, Cat-a-Rock, was eventually switched to Super Cat due to the former's resemblance to the word "cataract"; he also earned a secondary nickname, the Wild Apache. Super Cat made his recording debut in 1981 with the single "Mr. Walker," recorded for the Techniques label and produced by Winston Riley. A succession of singles for various labels followed, as did his debut album Si Boops Deh, which appeared on Techniques in 1985. Settling for a short time on the Skengdon label, Super Cat recorded another album, Boops, but soon grew dissatisfied enough with the business aspect of recording to start his own label, Wild Apache Productions. The self-produced album Sweets for My Sweet followed in 1988, as did a number of singles produced for other artists on the Wild Apache imprint; Super Cat also teamed up with Nicodemus and Junior Demus for the first triple-team DJ album in dancehall history, Cabin Stabbin'.

Emboldened by success, Super Cat decided to move to New York City and attempt to crack the American market. He secured a major-label deal with Columbia and landed the track "Nuff Man a Dead" on their compilation Dancehall Reggaespanol; in 1992, he issued one of the first major-label dancehall albums, the acclaimed Don Dada. Several high-profile TV and concert festival appearances followed, and Source magazine named Super Cat their Dancehall Artist of the Year for 1993. The following year, he reunited with Nicodemus and Junior Demus, adding Junior Cat to make the resulting album The Good, the Bad, the Ugly, and the Crazy a four-way collaboration. Super Cat's own fusion of dancehall, roots reggae, hip-hop, and R&B was next showcased on the proper follow-up to Don Dada, 1995's The Struggle Continues. While the album was another success, Super Cat really raised his profile in the pop mainstream with his guest shot on Sugar Ray's 1997 smash "Fly," which prominently featured his toasting skills. Columbia capitalized on the resulting exposure in 1998 with the singles compilation The Good, the Better, the Best of Super Cat.

Ninjaman:Don Gorgon

One of the most popular dancehall DJs of the late '80s and early '90s, Ninjaman was also perhaps the most controversial, thanks to his often violent, progun lyrics. His bad-man image overshadowed the fact that he was a hugely talented freestyle lyricist, and the owner of a theatrical, stuttering delivery that made him a highly distinctive toaster. What was more, he did delve into social commentary at times, protesting war and the harsh realities of ghetto life rather than glamorizing their attendant violence. By the late '90s, Ninjaman was making far more headlines due to his turbulent personal life than his music, but even if his recording activities had tailed off, he remained a popular -- and still polarizing -- concert act.Ninjaman was born Desmond John Ballentine on January 20, 1966, in Annotto Bay, in the Jamaican province of St. Mary. His family moved to Kingston when he was 11, and he started DJing a year later under the name Double Ugly. Initially performing for the Black Culture sound system, he moved over to the Kilimanjaro organization in the early '80s, and there got the chance to learn from Super Cat and Early B. He changed his name to Uglyman, then Ninjaman when another artist of the same name came forward. Kilimanjaro started its own label, and in 1987 Ninjaman got the chance to make -- and self-produce -- his first single, a duet with Courtney Melody called "Protection." It was a success, and led to further hit collaborations under producer Lloyd Dennis in 1988, most notably "Cover Me" with Tinga Stewart and "Zig It Up" with Flourgon.Over the next few years, Ninjaman recorded prolifically for a variety of producers, including King Jammy, Philip "Fatis" Burrell, Redman, Ini Kamoze, Bobby Digital, Gussie Clarke, and Steely & Clevie, among others. His hits over the years 1989-1992 established his image as one of the most dangerous rude boys around: the controversial "Murder Dem," the chilling "Permit to Bury," "Border Clash," "Laugh and Grin (Mad Ninja)," "Test the High Power," "My Weapon," "Above the Law," "Reality Yuh Want." He also continued to cut duets with partners like Cocoa Tea, Gregory Isaacs, and Linval Thompson, and teamed up with both Shabba Ranks and Admiral Tibett for "Time Is Serious." As Ninjaman's popularity began to approach that of Ranks -- at least in Jamaica, where all the gun talk wasn't yet a liability -- the two struck up a spirited rivalry, trading barbs at many a concert clash. At the height of his notoriety, Ninjaman christened himself with the alternate appellation "Original Front Tooth, Gold Tooth, Gun Pon Tooth Don Gorgon," and inspired a legion of imitators with their own ninja-themed names.By 1993, however, Ninjaman's gun-toting rude boy persona was beginning to spur a backlash. Criticized as irresponsible, he began to find it more and more difficult to get recording or performing gigs. He worked with producers Henry "Junjo" Lawes and Junior Reid during this period, but his career momentum was fading fast, and by the mid-'90s his recording activity had tailed off substantially. Battling problems with crack cocaine, in 1997 Ninjaman became a born-again Christian, and began performing gospel reggae tunes under the name Brother Desmond. The switch wasn't entirely permanent, however, leading to condemnations from some in Jamaica's Christian community.That was only the beginning of a series of incidents that kept Ninjaman's name in the headlines in spite of the decline of his recording career. True to the character he played in the 1999 film Third World Cop, he had several run-ins with the law during the late '90s; among other allegations, he was accused of raping a woman at knifepoint in his home, and -- most seriously -- murdering a taxi driver in late 1999. He was acquitted on those charges, but convicted of unlawfully possessing a firearm and ammunition, and sentenced to a year in jail (also in late 1999). While serving his sentence, Ninjaman was reportedly assaulted by prison guards for attempting to shield his cellmate from a beating. Things didn't calm down upon his release, either; in July 2001, he was rushed to a hospital after suffering several machete wounds, some to the head, from a family associate trying to break up a physical dispute between him and his common-law wife. (He was later charged with domestic assault.) Several months later, he was arrested for driving erratically. In the summer of 2002, he was arrested again following a profanity-laced tirade at the Reggae Carifest, which resulted in his being dropped from subsequent festival engagements... Ninja remains the one and only front-teeth gold teeth don gorgon gun pon teeth brush teeth with toothpaste...Reverse de hearse mek him put in de dead!

Tanya Stephens: Bad Gal

Tanya Stephens - Born :07/02/1973 Country :Jamaica
Best known for/as: One of Jamaica's strongest songwriters, Bad gal with socially concious lyricsBiography: Tanya Stephens was born Vivienne Tanya Stephenson the second to last of 7 children in St. Mary, Jamaica. She was raised in St. Mary and in the tourist town of Ocho Rios. She began music as a hobby, in 1993 her first recording ‘Is This For Real?’ was included on the compilation Further East.

In 1994 she gave birth to her daughter Kelly. Two years later she recorded her first album, ‘Big Tins a Gwaan’ for producer Barry O’Hare on the X-Rated label. The title song was a hit and she followed up with two other albums that included his such as ‘Goggle’ and ‘Yuh Nuh Ready Fe Dis.’ Her hits were melodical full of humorous wit yet served as commanding statements of female sexual empowerment.

She moved to Sweden in 1998 to record the album ‘Sintoxicated’ for Warner Music Sweden. The album flirted with alternative rock music and was released in Sweden only, but after experiencing creative differences with her label and producers Tanya decided to return to Jamaica after 3 years in Sweden.

She began writing and recording dancehall music immediately with her partner Andrew Henton releasing the hit “It’s A Pity” produced by Pionear on the Seeds (Night Nurse) rhythm. The song was a major hit and VP Records came calling for an album.

In 2004 Tanya released her 5th album “Gangsta Blues” on her label Tarantula Records with distribution through VP Records. The album contained poignant lyrics of provocative subjects including “Little White Lie” and “Turn the Other Cheek.” The former about a woman who becomes pregnant during an extramartital affair (with a white married man) and misleads her mate into believing the child is his (a practice called giving him a jacket in Jamaica) and the latter a stinging social cry singjayed on an acoustic guitar rhythm. Never one to shy away from controversy “Breathe” is a love/hate song written from the perspective of a female stalker.

The album went on to become a major critical success and 2004 found Tanya performing constantly to support it. When she is not performing she enjoys writing songs, poetry and stories as well as dabbling in fashion, graphic and web design (she designed the logo for her Tarantula Records label). Watch out for Tanya....

Queen Of Di Dancehall.

There are so many names for Lady Saw: The Queen of Dancehall, The First Lady of Dancehall, or the latest one: Mama Saw. The latest name, however, is quite befitting at this point in her career because she is The Matriarch for all female dancehall deejays, and arguably some female rappers. She is the first female deejay to win a Grammy (which she did with No Doubt for “Underneath it All” –Best Performance by a Duo or Group with a Vocal), to go triple platinum (with said single), to go gold (with Vitamin C for “Smile”), and to headline shows outside of her native Jamaica . Even before Gwen Stefani and her cronies tapped Saw for their multi-successful, mainstream single together, Missy Elliott and Foxy Brown had long contacted the singer/deejay/producer/songwriter to weigh in on their hip-hop/reggae flirtations. Truly, this Mama has made an impact, not only in the smoky corners of the dancehall where her sensuous lyrics cause couples to bubble and wine, but internationally. Her style, a blend of rude gyal, pump-your-fist-ladies anthems and raunchy, risqué rants about real and surreal sexcapades, is in demand now more than ever.

And there's nothing matronly about this Mama. Strip Tease, her latest album and sixth with VP Records, the label that sired all of her albums (Lover Girl 1994, Give Me the Reason 1996, Passion 1997, The Best of Lady Saw 1998, 99 Ways 1998), is a concoction that's been blending for a while. The 20 track CD features production by Troyton of “Gimme The Light” fame, Tony Matterhorn, Don “Vendetta” Bennett, Delano Thomas for Renaissance Crew Productions, and Lady Saw herself. She's Hot Mama on “Man is the Least” and on the title track “Strip Tease,” on which she chants to the men: “Let me strip, so I can tease, so I can bring you to your knees…. She's Sexy Mama on “I've Been Dreaming of You” and the Baddest Mama on “I'm Coming Over.” She rounds out her naughty self, though, when she becomes a Mama's Girl on “Mama I Love You,” a dedication to her mother who died in 2002. “When I perform this song, people in the audience cry", she says. “Even some of my fellow entertainers, too.” Lady Saw has also joined dancehall music's latest obsession with dance-themed songs. Hers is called “Move Your Body” featuring Voice Mail. If a video ever airs she says it will feature her contorting her body into the main move, a full split. (“I've been practicing,” she says.)

Strip Tease is the most balanced album of Saw's yet. The topics range from cheating spouses (“It's Been So Long”) to taking another girl's man (“I've Got Your Man”), from a girl who just wants to have fun in bed (“None Stopper”) to being in love (“Still Convinced”). The song “Pretty Pussy” however, is the best example on this album of how controversial she can be. Saw, best known for her performances which usually entail simulated sex acts with men she handpicks from the crowd, and for lyrics which have been called slack, might be labeled “post-feminist” or “empowering” by a better judge. “Pretty Pussy” is one such track. On it she names all the glories men find in this part of the female anatomy while telling women to feel proud about their organ. “Women love this song every time I perform it”, she says. “They want to hear it.”

The Lady Saw we hear today, though, was once a singer making hits with covers of Chaka Khan (“Sweet Thing”) and emulating her namesake, the late Tenor Saw, with songs like “Am I Losing You” and “Glory Be to God.” Much of her older catalog became hits in the U.K. and Jamaica. But Lady Saw was always a top deejay in waiting. The night she tested some of her hardcore, deejay-style lyrics at a sound system dance is the night she was granted entry into the male-dominated field of deejaying. It's what convinced her to leave her home in the countryside of Galina, St. Mary for the studios in Kingston.

It was the late ‘80s when Lady Saw (born Marion Hall on July 12 in the 1970s), just 15 at the time, left behind her little tomboy self who used to sell fruits and race wooden karts for the young woman who made it out of the Kingston ghetto to become a first-rate recording artist. She became a regular in the studio after quitting her sewing job at The Free Zone on the outskirts of Kingston . “That job wasn't for me”, she says. “I would deejay at work during the day.” During a stint with the Diamond Label she released most of her dancehall hits from the early nineties (“If Him Lef,” “Find a Good Man,” and “Stab Out Di Meat,”). VP Records became interested in Saw when they realized how captivating she was. She's been signed to the label for almost ten years. Since then, her more commercial hits include, “Healing” with Beenie Man, “No Long Talking,” and “Sycamore Tree.”

Today, Lady Saw has her own production company, Hall Productions. She's produced two riddims: Blindfold and Lock Jaw. She's produced major dancehall artists Capleton, Spragga Benz, Sizzla, Bounty Killer, and Beenie Man. She's a mentor to up-and-coming artists on her imprint as well as to Ce'Cile, her artistic progeny. She's recorded for Shaggy, legendary producers Sly & Robbie, Funkmaster Flex, and Pharrell Williams of the Neptunes . She's appeared on “The Tonight Show with Jay Leno” and “The Rosie O'Donnell Show.” And she's the only dancehall artist to have had her song, “Give Me the Reason,” covered by a country singer.

Lady Saw aspires to speak for all women. For one, she can relate. She is a Mama to three adopted children: one girl and two boys. She's almost married, has been through her share of heartbreak and infidelity. And being one of the few females in a male-dominated industry, she's definitely experienced sexism. While some prudish people find her expressions, both the lyrical and the physical, to be offensive (she was once banned from some important stage shows), she continues to address, with each stroke of her pen, what she considers to be the real issues women face: Being daughters, wives, girlfriends, sisters, and mothers in this modern world while still being strip teasingly sexy.


Buju Banton was one of the most popular dancehall reggae artists of the '90s. Debuting with a series of popular "slack" singles, which drew criticism for their graphic sexuality and homophobia, Banton converted to Rastafarianism and revolutionized dancehall by employing the live instrumentation and social consciousness of classic roots reggae. He first adopted the approach on his 1995 classic 'Til Shiloh, which raised hopes among his fans that he would become dancehall's great international ambassador, as Bob Marley had been for roots reggae. While that never quite materialized, Banton remained a high-profile star into the new millennium.Buju Banton was born Mark Anthony Myrie on July 15, 1973, in the Kingston slum of Salt Lane. Buju was his childhood nickname, a word for breadfruit that was often applied to chubby children; he would later adopt Banton in tribute to one of his earliest musical influences, Burro Banton. He was one of 15 children; his mother was a street vendor, and he was directly descended from the colonial-era freedom fighters known as the Maroons. Banton first tried his hand at DJing and toasting at age 13, performing with local sound systems. He made his first recording not long after, with the 1986 Robert Ffrench-produced single "The Ruler." He continued to record through 1987, then took some time off to allow his voice to mature. He returned in the early '90s with a rough growl comparable to that of Shabba Ranks.In 1991, Banton began recording for Donovan Germain's Penthouse label, often teaming with engineer/producer/songwriter Dave "Rude Boy" Kelly. Debuting for the label with "Man Fi Dead," his first major hit was "Love Mi Browning," an ode to light-skinned women that drew the ire of Jamaica's sizable darker-skinned population. As penance, he released a follow-up single called "Love Black Woman," but courted even more controversy with "Boom Bye Bye," a notoriously homophobic track that seemingly advocated violence against gays. Other hits of the period included "Batty Rider," "Bogle," and "Women Nuh Fret," among many others; in fact, 1992 saw Banton break Marley's record for the most number one singles in one year. His debut album, Mr. Mention, was a smash hit that year as well, and he signed an international major-label deal with Mercury.The Voice of Jamaica album, released in 1993, introduced Banton to the world outside Jamaica, and gave him a huge hit in the celebratory safe-sex anthem "Willy (Don't Be Silly)." Other singles from the album included "Operation Ardent," a critique of police corruption, and "Deportees (Things Change)," which castigated emigrants who refused to share their overseas earnings with the family back in Jamaica. In early 1994, Banton released the monumental single "Murderer," an impassioned indictment of dancehall culture and gun violence recorded after the shooting deaths of fellow dancehall DJs Panhead and Dirtsman.As well-received as Voice of Jamaica was, it was the 1995 follow-up, 'Til Shiloh, that would rank as Banton's masterpiece. A fusion of dancehall with live instrumentation and classic roots reggae, 'Til Shiloh consolidated Banton's move into social awareness and adopted a more mature, reflective tone that signaled Banton's arrival as an artist able to make major creative statements. His follow-up, 1997's Inna Heights, continued in a similarly rootsy vein and won only slightly less acclaim than its much-heralded predecessor. In 1999, Banton recorded with the punk band Rancid and subsequently signed with the punk label Epitaph's eclectic Anti subsidiary. In 2000, he delivered his Unchained Spirit, which found him growing more eclectic in a quest to cross over to the international market; it also featured a successful duet with Beres Hammond on "Pull It Up." After a three-year break from album releases, Banton returned on Atlantic in 2003 with Friends for Life, a crossover-friendly record with elements of hip-hop, R&B, and pop (and very little of the roots-dancehall hybrid that had catapulted him to stardom). Unhappy with the support he was given at the major labels, Banton started his own label, Gargamel Music, and is planning to release his next project entitled "Rasta Got Soul" in 2006.

The Outlaw: Josey Wales

Josey Wales was one of dancehall's founding fathers, building on the innovative DJ chatting of his mentor U-Roy and creating a highly influential style of his own. Along with Brigadier Jerry and his sound-system partner Charlie Chaplin, Wales was widely regarded as one of the best DJs in Jamaica when dancehall took over the reggae scene in the early '80s. His gruff, gravelly voice and half-spoken, half-sung delivery were instantly recognizable, and were copied by many an up-and-coming DJ. Unlike his contemporary Yellowman -- perhaps the only DJ of the era who was more popular -- Wales pointedly refused to resort to slackness, keeping his lyrics purely conscious and Rastafarian. That meant he grew increasingly unfashionable over the course of the '80s, but he nonetheless continued to perform regularly, and remained a highly respected pioneer. Josey Wales was born Joseph Winston Sterling in West Kingston, Jamaica, and took his stage name from the Clint Eastwood Western The Outlaw Josey Wales; naturally, "The Outlaw" became a standard nickname for him, along with "The Colonel." Wales first performed professionally as a DJ with the Roots Unlimited Sound System in 1977, and made his name as part of U-Roy's King SturGav Hi-Fi Sound System, where he spent three and a half years in the early '80s. There he teamed with DJ sparring partner Charlie Chaplin in one of the most potent one-two punches of the era, which in turn made King SturGav arguably the biggest sound system around. Wales' first recordings were live performances issued on producer Bunny Roots' label, but he didn't enter the studio until he hooked up with the foremost producer in early dancehall, Henry "Junjo" Lawes. Wales began moonlighting for Lawes' Volcano sound system, and in 1983, he issued his first-ever single on the Volcano label, "Baby Come Home." "Baby Come Home" wasn't a big hit, but its follow-up, "Let Go Mi Hand," was a breakthrough smash that established Wales as a recording star, not just an electrifying live performer. His debut album, The Outlaw Josey Wales, appeared later in 1983, and it cemented his status as one of Jamaica's top DJs, behind only Yellowman at his peak. Further hits followed, including "Bobo Dread" (which appeared on a shared album with Yellowman, 1984's Two Giants Clash) and "Drug Abusing" (on his second proper solo album, 1984's self-produced No Way No Better Than Yard). In 1985, Wales moved over to producer King Jammy's label and recorded a series of hits that included "Na Lef Jamaica," "Ha Fi Say So," "Right Moves," "It's Raining," and "Water Come a Mi Eye," among others. The Rulin' album appeared in 1986 on the Black Solidarity label, and several collections of his work for Jammys also followed in the late '80s. By that time, however, Wales' style seemed increasingly out of date; other toasters had upped the ante for lyrical technique, and slackness and gun talk ruled the dancehalls, leaving little room for Wales' staunch Rastafarianism. Nonetheless, he remained an active presence on the Jamaican music scene for quite some time, both as a recording artist and as a mentor to up-and-comers like the young Shabba Ranks. He cut an album for George Phang in 1989 called Undercover Lover, and focused chiefly on collaborations during the early '90s. Duo albums with old cohorts U-Roy (Teacher Meets the Student) and Charlie Chaplin (Kings of the Dancehall) appeared in 1992 and 1994, respectively, and a duet with Beres Hammond, "Hey Girl," was a smash hit in the U.K. in 1993. The solo album Cowboy Style was released on King Jammy's label in 1994, and Wales also worked with the likes of Gussie Clarke, Tappa Zukie, Philip "Fatis" Burrell, and Bobby Digital during the decade. In 1997, Wales was robbed at a Kingston bar and managed to survive gunshot wounds; the incident briefly revitalized his recording career, as he scored Jamaican hits with the singles "Bush Wacked" and "Who Shot the Colonel" later that year. In 1998, Wales joined the reunited King SturGav Hi Fi Sound System, touring with the likes of Charlie Chaplin, Brigadier Jerry, and U-Roy.


During his heyday, Shabba Ranks was arguably the most popular dancehall toaster in the world. He was a massive crossover success in the U.S., thanks to an openly commercial

hybrid of reggae and hip-hop, and also to prominent duet partners like Maxi Priest, Johnny Gill, and KRS-One. All of this brought him several hit singles and albums on the R&B charts in the early '90s, and made him the first dancehall artist to win a Grammy. Ranks' distinctive, booming growl of a voice earned him many imitators, and his sex-obsessed lyrics -- while drawing criticism for their unrelenting "slackness" -- made him one of dancehall's hottest sex symbols. Ranks' early success also helped pave the way for even bigger crossovers by artists like Shaggy and Sean Paul.

Shabba Ranks was born Rexton Rawlston Fernando Gordon on January 17, 1966, in Sturgetown, Jamaica. When he was eight years old, his family moved to the Kingston ghetto of Trenchtown, where Bob Marley had grown up. By age 12, he was fascinated by the sound system DJs who spun records in local clubs, and often chatted on the mic over the backing tracks. His early inspirations included Charlie Chaplin, General Echo, Brigadier Jerry, Yellowman, and especially Josey Wales. He soon tried his hand at performing as a toaster, and spent the early '80s working under Admiral Bailey at the Roots Melody sound system. Paired with a record selector dubbed the Navigator, Ranks initially called himself Co-Pilot. Under that name, he cut his first single, "Heat Under Sufferer's Feet," in 1985. He soon changed his name to Shabba Ranks, and caught the attention of his idol Josey Wales, who took the young toaster under his wing.

Wales introduced Ranks to some of the producers at King Jammy's studio, and Ranks soon began recording there, debuting with the single "Original Fresh." He collaborated with Chaka Demus, and recorded a large quantity of singles, none of which gave him a breakout hit. The 1988 single "Needle Eye Punany" marked the beginning of his notorious sexual explicitness, which he would soon ride to tremendous popularity in Jamaica. More crucial, though, was his move to King Jammy engineer/producer Bobby Digital's new studio and label, Digital B, in 1989. Having known each other for some time, the duo's chemistry was immediate, and Ranks quickly vaulted to stardom that year with a series of hit singles and an electrifying stage show (at one point, Ranks arrived on-stage via helicopter).

From 1989-1991, Ranks recorded some 50 singles, mainly with Bobby Digital but also with producers Gussie Clarke and Steely & Clevie. He scored hit after hit, including the massive "Wicked Inna Bed," "Roots and Culture," "Live Blanket," "Mama Man," and "Peeny Penny," among others. His album Rappin' With the Ladies featured covers of songs by female reggae artists, and gave him another big hit with a new version of J.C. Lodge's smash "Telephone Love"; it was also one of his first successes overseas, proving quite popular in the U.K. Gussie Clarke produced his 1989 LP Holding On, which spawned major hits in "Pirates' Anthem" (a collaboration with Cocoa Tea and Home T), "Twice My Age" (a duet with Krystal), and "Mr. Loverman" (a new version of Deborah Glasgow's "Champion Lover"). He also cut several other tracks with Cocoa Tea and Home T, including "Who She Love," "Stop Spreading Rumours," and "Your Body's Here With Me." A subsequent album, Golden Touch, proved to be another U.K. success.

Ranks' burgeoning popularity led to a major-label deal with Epic in 1991, and it was clear from the start that he aspired to crossover stardom. His Epic debut, As Raw as Ever, featured a high-profile duet with the then-hot Maxi Priest, "Housecall." "Housecall" made the Top Five on the R&B charts, sending As Raw as Ever all the way to number one on the R&B album listings. Another duet, "The Jam" -- this time with rap legend and reggae enthusiast KRS-One -- topped the hip-hop singles chart in 1992. As Raw as Ever was awarded a Grammy for Best Reggae Album, making Ranks the first dancehall artist ever to notch a win. Later in 1992, "Mr. Loverman" was re-released as a single in the States, following its appearance in the film Deep Cover; it went all the way to number two on the R&B charts. Ranks released his follow-up album, X-Tra Naked, the same year, and notched yet another duet hit with the Johnny Gill collaboration "Slow and Sexy," his third R&B Top Fiver. X-Tra Naked also featured other minor hits: "Muscle Grip," "Ting-a-Ling," and a duet with Queen Latifah, "What 'Cha Gonna Do?"; it also won Ranks his second straight Best Reggae Album Grammy. Ranks was so popular that two compilations of his earlier Jamaican hits, Rough & Ready, Vol. 1 and Mr. Maximum, both charted in the U.S. in 1992 as well.

1994 brought Ranks another decent-sized hit in the Addams Family Values soundtrack contribution "Family Affair," a rap/reggae version of the Sly & the Family Stone hit. He completed his third Epic album, A Mi Shabba, in 1995, and it produced several minor hits in "Ram Dancehall," "Let's Get It On," and "Shine Eye Gal." However, it didn't match the phenomenon of its predecessors, and Ranks fell mostly silent afterwards. He did return to Jamaica to record some more material for King Jammy during the late '90s, some of which was released on the hodgepodge album Get Up Stand Up in 1998. However, no new major-label offerings appeared, and Sony issued several compilations around the turn of the millennium.

Monday, June 26, 2006

Rebel With A Bling???

A CURSORY glance at Jamaican popular music can easily mark it as a long-player of rebellion or even revolution. With Bob Marley as its poster boy, reggae in particular wears this label well and the music of Peter Tosh, Jimmy Cliff and others has given reggae music the reputation of popular music without the pop.

As such, many critics see the arrival of dancehall as the end of the revolution when bling replaced substance. Those who know better, however, realised that dancehall carried within it the seed of social criticism. It was simply gyrating to a different beat and sometimes its visceral growl made it seem too dangerous for one to look it directly in the eye. It was too hungry, with razor-like claws which cut through pretensions of decency, forcing the middle class to deal with the society's underbelly as it boomed from their CD players and gained international acceptance.

However, toward the end of the 20th century it seemed that dancehall was no longer interested in anything but dancing and having a good time. With a lisp and a leather outfit, Elephant Man declared that "dancehall nice again!" and it seemed to some that the dancing fever had gone to our heads and sent us crazy.

Arguably, the revolutionary impetus on which Jamaica prided itself had been lost. Having spent too much time dancing in sheep's clothing it seemed we had forgotten that we are really wolves. The cries of 'we want justice', the plea that 'poor people fed up' fell on deaf ears. Someone needed to call the hearse; like so many other innocent bystanders, the social conscience expressed in the arts appeared to have been gunned down by indifference.

Of course the greatest indication that Jamaica may no longer be as politically conscious as it used to be may have come not in the form of bling culture, which so often gets the blame, but through the lead of The Gleaner two Mondays ago, which was a warning from the Leader of the Opposition to the Prime Minister.

"With Venezuela bidding for a seat on the United Nations (U.N.) Security Council, Opposition Leader, Bruce Golding, is warning the Government of consequences for Jamaica in its relationship with the United States," read the opening paragraph of that story. The warning essentially declares that Eric Williams was wrong, Massa day is far from dead as we have to be careful not to anger Massa (or Uncle) Sam. Golding's argument is that we should ignore any strength we may gain by looking at other developing countries because Team USA takes world domination seriously.


Golding's warning is not that we remember the 1970s, but that we remember what happened after when, with guns blazing, we were helped into progress and the morass of debt in which we continue to sink. The warning comes at a time when popular music seems to be intent on only having a good time and theatre could be accused of only catering to those who need a belly laugh.

So the question is whether our artists and artistes, those who should be the voice of the people allowing us to reflect amidst the maddening crowd, have thrown in the towel and rather than inspiration have decided to give the people what they want ­ distraction.

Amina Blackwood Meeks disagrees with this notion somewhat. "I think we expect too much of our creative artistes. I think we romanticised the past," she said. "Some of us are radicalised and some of us are not." While admitting that Jamaica does have a culture of resistance that does not appear to be as evident now, she does not believe it has quite disappeared. "I don't know if people have given up. Maybe people are in self-protection mode," she said. She also noted that maybe the nature of resistance has simply changed rather than disappeared.

Indeed, some of the accusations about the lack of resistance may be deemed overreaction. Tanya Stephens' Gangsta Blues and, more recently, Junior Gong's Welcome to Jamrock provide great evidence of that as the album manages to walk in a militant tradition set by roots, reggae and dancehall. Indeed dancehall's reputation for merely being about sex and violence has always been a near-sighted label pinned on by those who were unable to see anything other than the rabble being aroused by a wicked bassline.


Additionally, though theatre has often been accused of plumbing too hard for laughter, that has not been all it has done. Time and time again playwright and producer, Basil Dawkins, has explained that audiences have claimed disaffection with drama and wish only to laugh. Yet his productions continue to attempt to marry drama and comedy and deal seriously.

Laughter does not mean being silly and being silly does not mean not being serious. So Aston Cooke's Jamaica to Rahtid managed to deliver not just laughter, but satire. Many small productions steer clear of the need just laughter and attempt to deliver straight drama.

According to Dr. Clinton Hutton, lecturer at the University of the West Indies, a part of the problem has to do with the media. Hutton argues that many entertainment reporters are "kass kass journalists" who merely focus on events, productions and artistes who are 'passa passa' worthy. He argues that this situation is further problematised by the lack of criticism, compounded by journalists' ignorance of Jamaican cultural aesthetic in which to contextualise and accurately comment on current culture and art.

Yet, the bling culture does exist and even some artistes believe that dancehall ought to be merely an expression of fun. At the launch of Donna Hope's book Inna Di Dancehall, Macka Diamond declared that Hope had seen the point ­ dancehall is just "a fun ting".

Hutton argues, however, that a part of the emergence of bling dominance has come from a sense of alienation that currently grips the population. He explains that this alienation can be seen in the phrases 'born fi dead', 'mi cyan dead anytime' and 'mi done dead a'ready' as the society has come to a stage where in some communities a 25-year-old is seen as "an elder".

Interestingly, this trend was explored in Owen 'Blakka' Ellis' poetic play Tick Tock, which explores the relationship between concepts of violence and sex in contemporary Jamaica and its relationship to history and culture. Hutton further explains that this concept has fostered the idea that life would be short and without hope. "Their life is not valued by the state because the state dispatches them via the police," he says.

He explains that many Jamaicans in inner-city communities, from which most of the artistes in dancehall come, have therefore attempted to simply get all they can as quickly as they can.


"It is a period in which people's hope is almost reduced to nothing," Hutton says. This lack of hope is then reflected in lives that move too fast and too furiously. Of course, talk of revolution and rebellion generally feeds on adversity and thus one can question why the current state of Jamaican society has not produced another Marley.

Hutton argues that the difference is the lack of hope. He argues that movements like Rastafari and the emergence of the NDTC were expressions of hope for change as mediated in Derek Morgan's Forward March. He argues that despite the turmoil of the early to mid-20th century, a feeling of optimism endured, which allowed for the creation of freedom songs.

"The level of hope that I saw growing up as a boy does not exist anymore," he said. Now pessimism about economics, leadership and how we relate to each other has set in. However, Hutton has not lost all hope and he argues that all Jamaica has not lost it either. "I don't think all is lost or was ever lost," he said.

However, our vision may have well been blurred, which would explain why Mr. Golding could boldly warn us to tuck our tails and not incur Massa's wrath and no one seemed to notice how incongruous this is to a nation whose identity surrounds a revolutionary history, which has been expressed in much of our culture and even the jokes which suggest even hell itself cannot contain us.

Of course, as we give over more of ourselves to the mesmerising pull of Americanisation, maybe we can send an email to Batman, who can call Anansi and tell him that we're sorry, we didn't mean to desert him and we'd like him back.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

My NY Trip.....

AWESOME!!! I got to hang out with my better half's side of the family and check out a few reggae record shops, but the icing on the cake happened while my father-in-law was wearing us out by walking us through Manhattan on 42nd Street. As we approached BB King's for lunch, my wife noticed that YELLOWMAN was on the marquee for that night! Cool, but we were going to see The Color Purple Musical. As we entered BB King's, Yellow's guitar player spotted me and said HEY PAPA Wha'agwaan! "Yellow inna de van ova deh so". I walked over to the van & bigged up Desi (drummer) and Simeon (keyboard player) While Yellow chatted on his cell in the back. When he finished running his mouth, I yelled to him "Yellow, A Papa Robbie dis"....Yellow jumped out of his van and introduced himself to my father-in-law and hugged my wife (VERY FUNNY)...What are the odds that my musical mentor would be just outside of the venue that I was going to just for lunch???...We could'nt see his show because we already had plans to go see "The Color Purple".....I truly enjoyed our trip! We'll DEFINITELY be back!!! I need to check a couple more spots in Brooklyn (record shops)

Gangsta= Steroids Of Hip-Hop

Living in America makes it always time it pull out the race card. I really smell race stench on the MLB back turning on Barry Bonds this year as he passed the Babe. Not so much in the media itself , but in the atmosphere they fester in their big payback to BBs so called 'career surliness' toward them. The media kind of lets the average sports ( usually white) working class male pull the pin to the grenade they plant, and step back and witness the perfect storm. Fed right into a millennium lynch mob. The Babe will always be a hero, regardless of how much pork was in some of those ingested hot dogs, liquor binges, and chick orgies in his career and especially the year he almost overdosed in all that excess.

It's much of the same demographic that has supported the posturing of gangster rap. Who am I to argue? As I named the group Public Enemy off what I knew was a fascination of 1930's Capone era lifestyle. In the depression era , the gangster was blown up by the media to the largely skeptical Americanation. It was like modern day Robin Hood fantasies come to life or at least the big screen when that aura was passed from the Capones' and Schultzes' to the Edward G Robinsons and George Rafts depicting them. Escapism in rough times.

Like a sport. As with war and cowboy westerns, television era brought guns to the living room during the baby boom. The first eleven years of my life were Vietnamed with violence. Cartoons were laced with bombing, lasers, and thunderous blows in fights, at least the ones I dug. During the depression era of R&B (Reagan and Bush) the imagery of the updated Robin Hood came in rap music. Somehow crack and guns were in post disco black neighborhoods while kept outside of the white privileged Rubelled fueled cocaine laced Studio 54. Its the 80's and as presented by NWA ...surprise niggers, uh I mean niggas..yeah..WTF?

At college radio WBAU around 1985, KING TEE painted a picture to us in the east first depicting that life wasn't all 'soul train dancers and palm trees in the left coast. Better Get A Gun was the name of the record. Caught my attention. ICEburg T brought the tales of that life to the wax , depicting the details of the good, bad, and the ugly. The South Bronx escapism from the reality of thuglife 1980 style was peace, love, unity and having much fun rather than witnessing the broken glass everywhere. Nobody there wanted to hear no depressing sht. It was already right thurr. By 1987 Scott LaRock and blastmaster KRS ONE brought that reality to east coast rap wax with Criminal Minded. Well the answers were no where to be found on who was gonna fix the ghetto. Not Reagan, Nor the next prez Bush. PE found a way to flip all this gun fare and criminality in the air and morph it into black nationality on the remembrance edges of militancy.

By that time white kids invited to the hip hop party through the portals of FLASH, RUN-DMC and The BEASTIES had to walk gingerly on the black paper rug laid down of afrocentricity. It was a entrance fee of respect beyond the registers of retail.

NWA and the POSSE one upped the lyrical pictures of ICE T with a super team of emcees along with a west coast master of records named DR DRE, who produced with the WRECKING CREW and made early mixtapes of largely East coast rap joints sold at the swap meets( I clearly remember a swap meet outside in the parking lot of the San Diego Sports Arena in 1987, where the ever intimidating ERIC B single handedly confiscated every tape he saw with his music on it from sellers he placed fear upon). I think back then it was the good and evil that balanced upon the shoulders of NWA, the righteousness that made DRE say he wouldn't give into the drug-game at the time so easily when he claimed he didn't smoke weed or cess. Crack and mo guns spread to the cities in 1987-1990, the media bias considered everything outside NYC lines the suburbs, and thus called it that way.

The cable privileged side of YO MTV Raps swelled up at the bravado of the black gangsta though. Black guns, style and maybe some ass in the living room on the sneak tip. Besides the nationalism was a bit too much of a price to pay , where maybe NATIVE TONGUE style invited those to the peace, love, unity and having fun thing as BAM intended. The other flip was that the spread of urban reality into the first Bushsht years, brought the aspect of gangsterism as escapism. The Source immediately praises the gangsta black life because the numbers of fascination were higher, and they never knew it existed in the first place. Black folks in the east were tired of the reality of gangsta life. But something was sold under the counter. Maybe via Viacom. Possibly dragging along everything in its path as well. The key balance of conscious ICE CUBE defected to the east keeping the balance, while NWA spiraled to being 'Niggas for the rest of their lives to white amerikkkas praise.

By this time it was about numbers and the quantity was king over the quality of the issues at hand. There was no looking back as one year the Source claimed that everything that sprouted from the Straight Outta Compton existence had generated into tens of millions of records, white the PE, BDP-XCLANish stuff only resulted in a couple million. The numbers were staggering al the way up to these Get Rich Or Die Trying times. Through the murders of PAC, BIG, BIG L, MAC DRE etc , the style was the dominant identity praised by the media. The films followed path of the modern day rapper classic 'SCARFACE' ( which by the way I think is the most mis-followed movie of all time. The world is never his and people ignore his wackass ending...hello? .. there's a message here..)

Seventeen years stemmed from the seed it could've went either way. Taking the reality and making a better situation from it. But the numbers don't lie. It is what it is. 'Die nigger Die' is amerikkkas longest running profitable horror flick. But its a horror flick to my constituency, possibly a chitlin western porno, possibly comedy to the Barry Bonds hating crowd. A sad documentary, in fact, not a friendly game of baseball as MAIN SOURCE said. It might be what it is Amerikkkan like baseball, hot dogs and big apple pie,but let's check the bat and the blood, before it splinters and splatters into the basics of what was originally intended to do. Balance yall.


Jamaica's first dancehall superstar, Yellowman ushered in a new era in reggae music following Bob Marley's death. His early-'80s success brought the popularity of toasting - the reggae equivalent of rapping - to a whole new level, and helped establish dancehall as the wave of the future. For better or for worse, he also epitomized dancehall's penchant for "slack" lyrics - that is, casual violence, sexism, homophobia, and general rudeness. Graphic sexuality was his particular forte, reaching levels of explicitness previously unheard in Jamaica. It brought him numerous detractors, but it was also a big reason for his early popularity. There was more to it than that, though; Yellowman was one of the most verbally nimble toasters of his time, with a loose, easy flow, a talent for improvisation, and a definite wit in his wordplay. Plus, all the boasting about his prowess on the mic or in the bedroom had to be over the top to be convincing: true to his stage name, Yellowman was an albino, which carries a tremendous social stigma in Jamaica. His rise to stardom was unlikely enough, but his transformation from untouchable outcast into sex symbol was staggering - and may not even have taken place without his trademark lewdness. Shocking though it could be, it affirmed him as a sexual being just like his listeners, and was delivered with enough humor to let the audience know that he wasn't taking himself too seriously.
Bouts with cancer pushed him into more thoughtful, socially conscious territory in the '90s, but his initial style remains the most influential, paving the way for countless dancehall toasters to follow.Yellowman was born Winston Foster in Negril, Jamaica, in 1959 (some accounts say 1956). An early target for abuse because of his albinism, he grew up in an institution in Kingston, with little to keep him company besides music. Influenced by early toasting DJs like U-Roy, he practiced rhyming and got a job with the Gemini Sound System as a substitute DJ. Christening himself Yellowman and dressing in a bright yellow suit, he peppered his lyrics with jokes about his skin color and outlandish tales of his sexual conquests. In 1979, he won a landslide victory at the well-known Tastee Talent Contest, and within months he had become one of Jamaica's top concert draws, thanks to a dynamic, humorous stage show in which he often used the microphone to mimic his anatomical gifts. Yellowman recorded prolifically in the early '80s, at one point flooding the Jamaican market with more than 40 singles.

His first full-length album, Them a Mad Over Me, was recorded for Channel One in 1981 and featured the hit title track and the single "Me Kill Barnie," an answer record to Lone Ranger's hit "Barnabas Collins." He also scored with singles like "Operation Eradication" and the infamously slack "Shorties," which Peter Tosh condemned as degrading to women (hardly the first time such a criticism would be leveled at him). Despite this success, Yellowman didn't truly hit his stride on record until he hooked up with groundbreaking dancehall producer Henry "Junjo" Lawes. The 1982 LP Mister Yellowman kicked off their collaboration; released internationally by Greensleeves, it started to break him in the U.K. and U.S., and is still often acclaimed as his best album. It also launched a series of Jamaican hit singles over the next few years that included including "Yellowman Getting Married" (a rewrite of the My Fair Lady number "I'm Getting Married in the Morning"), "Mr. Chin," "Who Can Make the Dance Ram" (a rewrite of "The Candy Man"), "Zungguzungguguzungguzeng" (sampled by several hip-hop acts), "The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly," "Soldier Take Over," "Nobody Move Nobody Get Hurt," and "Wreck a Pum Pum," among others.

Many of his recordings during this era featured vocal contributions from fellow DJ/toaster Fathead, whose specialty was punctuating lines with animal noises ("ribbit" and "oink" were his favorites). After 1983's Zungguzungguguzungguzeng album, Yellowman signed a major-label deal with CBS Records, which encouraged him to maintain the stylistic versatility of his previous work. However, his lone album for the label, 1984's King Yellowman, sported mixed results, attempting everything from slack toasts to R&B and pop-tinged crossover tracks, including covers of "Sea Cruise" and "Take Me Home Country Roads," and the much-maligned fusion attempt "Disco Reggae." He subsequently released several albums on Shanachie, including 1984's Nobody Move Nobody Get Hurt, 1985's Galong Galong Galong, 1986's Going to the Chapel, and 1987's Don't Burn It Down. The latter found him delving more into social consciousness; the title cut was a pro-marijuana protest, while "Stop Beat Woman" condemned domestic violence, and "Free Africa" criticized apartheid. Around the same time, he suffered a bout with throat cancer, but fortunately recovered. He returned to action with the hit Fats Domino cover "Blueberry Hill," and moved to the Ras label to record the well-received Yellow Like Cheese album with producer Philip "Fatis" Burrell.

Yellowman's recording career continued, as his sexual boasts and gay jokes kept getting raunchier and nastier. His popularity had slipped after 1985, due in part to less consistent material, and also in part to the emergence of a legion of new dancehall artists, many of whom harked back to his early material for inspiration. Things changed, however, after an early-'90s bout with skin cancer. Greatly shaken after this second life-threatening illness, Yellowman completely rethought his approach to music, and thereafter devoted himself almost exclusively to spiritual and social concerns. 1994's Prayer album (still on Ras) was the first effort in this new direction, and it was followed quickly by Message to the World in 1995. 1997's Freedom of Speech continued in a similar vein, after which Yellowman switched over to the Artists Only label. His first effort was 1999's Yellow Fever, which concentrated on conscious reggae but also featured some good-natured party tracks.

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This site is a showcase of the man of the hour, the tower of power, too sweet to be sour, 215lbs of screamin' steel with mass appeal, the ladies pet, the men's regret, what you see is what you get and what you don't see is better yet...The reflection of perfection, the number one selection...Believe it and receive it, don't fight it, invite's the one and only PAPA ROBBIE. PAPA ROBBIE (Robert Ellington)is a native of Charleston, SC. He's a lover of history, politics and of course MUSIC. Papa Robbie has been performing dancehall reggae since 1993 and hasn't looked back since. He and Drummie Zeb (current drummer for Bob Marley's Wailers Band)were founding members of the RAZOR POSSE, a high energy dancehall reggae group. Papa Robbie went solo in 1995, and has opened shows for people like his musical mentor Yellowman, Shabba Ranks, Patra, SuperCat, Wayne Wonder, Ziggy Marley,Junior Gong (Damian Marley), Jimmy Cliff, Busta Rhymes, Outkast and The Fugees (before Wyclef started singing and when Lauryn was sane). Stay tuned....It's about to get crazy up in here!