Tag Archives: Vybz Kartel

Vybz Kartel should be proud of his protégées

disc-3231-jah-vinci-ghetto-bornThe dancehall genre is heavy on singles and one riddim compilations and single artist full-length albums are few and often far between. But this year two of dancehall’s up and coming superstars have dropped their debut sets.

Popcaan and Jah Vinci have both been members of Vybz Kartel’s Portmore Empire. In June Popcaan dropped his electro-fused Where We Come From and a month later Jah Vinci dropped his dancehall-oriented Ghetto Born.

Jah Vinci has since he emerged on the scene in 2008 delivered several hits, for example Wipe Those Tears, Remedy, Gawn Home and Mama Love. All fuelled with his electric and intense vocal style.

Ghetto Born collects only fresh material and is mainly produced by Khabir Bonner of Grillaras Productions, probably best known for Lutan Fyah’s excellent Life of a King released last year. Also involved in the project are Tariq “Nashi” Smith and Xavier “Bless X” Prendergast from Kamau Music.

Jah Vinci focuses on the tough side of life – crime, violence and poverty. He tells stories about living in the ghetto and how to break barriers rising to success. And it’s his story – growing up with violence on the streets and how he managed to overcome hardships becoming a global dancehall artist.

The set includes 13 tracks, of which two are combinations with Junior Reid and Beenie Man respectively. Best of the bunch are however hip-hop excursions like We Taking Over – with a Barrington Levy sample floating in and out of the mix – and Rude Boys and Police. But also the melancholic and acoustic title track.

Popcaan and Jah Vinci chose different paths for their debut albums. Popcaan’s set might appeal more to U.S. and European hipsters looking for the next dancehall sound. Jah Vinci’s album, on the other hand, is more Jamaica and leans towards traditional contemporary dancehall with clear hip-hop influences. Two sets with different approaches. And their mentor Vybz Kartel should be proud of both his protégées.

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Vybz Kartel sings about love and sex on new album

untitledIncarcerated dancehall superstar Vybz Kartel returns with a new album full of love, romance and sex.

Reggae Love Songs collects 15 tracks and comes with both clean and explicit versions, and if I know Vybz Kartel, the explicit versions are explicit indeed. Rated R to say the least.

It includes new hits like You Me Want, Miami Vice Episode and Guest House, and is now available via digitals outlets worldwide.

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Finally time for Popcaan’s debut album

Dancehall singer Popcaan got his break a few years ago when he appeared on Vybz Kartel’s monster smash single Clarks. From then on he has delivered a number of popular singles and cuts from one riddim albums. My personal favourite is The System on U.S. house producer Dre Skull’s Loudspeaker riddim.

And finally Popcaan is on the way to drop his debut album Where We Come From, with Dre Skull serving as executive producer.

The sultry lead single Everything Nice was put out a while ago, and now it’s time for the second single off the anticipated album, that will be out on June 10.

Love Yuh Bad pairs Popcaan’s signature melodiousness and catchy rhythmic flow with skipping percussion and driving strings. It might be that Popcaan’s debut album will be in the same vein as the Vybz Kartel’s Kingston Story, a slow and electro-flavoured set produced by Dre Skull.

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A dancehall overdose from Vybz Kartel

Vybz Kartel - Kartel Forever Trilogy (Cover)Dancehall junkies listen up. Here’s a real treat for you. Vybz Kartel’s Kartel Forever: Trilogy boasts 60 tracks over three discs, including previously unreleased singles and numerous hits from recent years.

The Wurl Boss remains incarcerated in Jamaica, but is still the undisputed don in the dancehall genre with a truckload of hits under his belt. Vybz Kartel is highly controversial and outspoken and has rendered attention on and off stage for his provocative ploys.

This massive collection is dancehall in its purest form; both lyrically and musically. Look up slackness on Wikipedia and there’s a shot of this dancehall icon. He’s lyrically inventive, even though the same topic – sex – is ever-present.

More than half of the 60 tracks are labelled as raw. And they certainly are crude, rude, explicit, racy and risqué. Lewd hip-hop artists have met their master. Vybz Kartel is superior to any rapper from the U.S. in terms of slackness and shockingly sexual content.

However, Vybz Kartel is also able to address social and economic injustices in Jamaica, and on School – the first official single from this compilation – he calls for youths to stay in school, do their homework and be good students.

The collection also includes some of the man’s biggest hits in recent years, including Summer Time, Straight Jeans & Fitted and Why Pree (World Boss). Oddly enough titles such as Clarks, Ramping Shop and Pon Di Floor are not included.

Vybz Kartel is definitely one for the history books. He has garnered himself regular global airplay and has touched base with the U.S. Billboard charts. He has a tremendously confident flow and certainly knows how to ride and rock any dancehall riddim, which has solidified him as a favourite among DJs and dancehall aficionados worldwide.

Vybz Kartel has been a prolific artist and has dropped an insane amount of singles over the past years and it’s great to have some of them collected in one place. This is a proper introduction to Vybz Kartel and a glimpse into the sounds of contemporary Jamaica.

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Al Fingers’ fascinating story on Clarks

In early 2010 Vybz Kartel and his former fellow Gaza members Popcaan and Gaza Slim dropped the shoe anthem Clarks on ZJ Chrome’s Mad Collab riddim. In the first verse Vybz Kartel stated “mi nuh love crep enuh Clarks mi prefer, Clarks with the leather yea, Clarks with the fur, Clarks fi di summer, Clarks fi di winter, Clarks fi di sun, Clarks fi di water”.

It became a massive hit that year and was soon followed by two new cuts from the Wurl Boss – Clarks Again and Clarks 3 (Wear Weh Yuh Want) on the Wallabee riddim. At the same time the demand for Clarks increased in the Caribbean.

But this was not the first time Clarks had been celebrated in reggae. Dillinger had done it. Eek-A-Mouse too. But the best known Clark’s tribute up until Vybz Kartel’s anthem is Little John’s Clarks Booty released in 1985. And if you browse record sleeves from the 70’s and 80’s you’re bound to find Clarks. Just look at Dennis Alcapone’s Guns Don’t Argue or Michael Prophet’s self-titled album.

Street style has no boundaries and follows no rules. Converse is worn by punks and rockers all over the world, skinheads prefer Dr. Martens and Adidas Superstars was celebrated by Run DMC in the early days of hip-hop.

The story about Clarks dominance in Jamaican reggae and dancehall culture is fascinating since it’s a shoe partly synonymous with comfortable footwear for children and pensioners. It intrigued London-based DJ, musician and graphic designer Al Fingers so much that he recently put out a nearly 200 page book on the subject.

Pompidou and General Leon in King Jammy's yard in 1986. Photo by Beth Lesser.

Pompidou and General Leon in King Jammy’s yard in 1986. Photo by Beth Lesser.

Clarks in Jamaica is a stylish and colorful photo-essay of Clarks’ celebrated status on the island, where Wallabees and Desert Boots have ruled dancehalls ever since the 60’s. But it’s also a lesson in general Jamaican fashion, social history and the importance of brands and brand values.

Style and fashion are integral to Jamaicans, especially in dancehall culture, and Al Fingers and photographer Mark Read tell the story from Clarks earliest years in the 19th century via its arrival in the West Indies about 100 years ago to today’s iconic status.

Triston Palmer in Kingston in 1982. Photo courtesy of Greensleeves.

Triston Palmer in Kingston in 1982. Photo courtesy of Greensleeves.

It features current and historic photographs as well as never before-seen archival material and is based on interviews with veteran and contemporary artists and producers as well as industry people like Chris Lane and John MacGillivray from Dub Vendor.

Clarks in Jamaica gives interesting insights of how a comfortable shoe established in Somerset in 1825 could be the choice of rudeboy’s and Rasta’s. It also gives an exciting overview of Jamaican fashion and how Jamaican’s dress to impress.

What’s the recipe for its success? Check the book yourself, but it has a little something to do with simplicity, durability and price.

I currently don’t own any Clarks, but ten years ago I had around four or five pairs. When I read this book I suddenly felt an urge to address this problem and update my wardrobe.

Jah Stitch in Kingston in 2011. Photo by Mark Read.

Jah Stitch in Kingston in 2011. Photo by Mark Read.


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Discover the contemporary Jamaican dancehall scene

Noisey – a music site curated by Vice – recently went to Jamaica to explore the culture and people behind the contemporary dancehall scene. The documentary is executive produced by the recently reincarnated Snoop Dogg aka Snoop Lion and hosted by Vice Media producer Codine Williams, and includes great footage of Jamaica today and interviews with dancehall newcomers and veterans, such as the incarcerated Vybz Kartel, his protégé Popcaan and Lady Saw.

In the first episode Codine Williams visits Gaza, the Kingston area made famous by Vybz Kartel, to meet his crew and get people’s perspective on the controversial dancehall icon.

The second episode focuses largely on Popcaan and also glimpses into Jamaican club culture and its provocative fashion.

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A surprisingly consistent story

I ignored one major release last year. It was Vybz Kartel’s Kingston Story, and a few months after the release the controversial Jamaican dancehall superstar was arrested and charged with murder, and he has since been jailed.

Now I get a second chance to write about it since it was recently re-released in a deluxe edition with two bonus cuts and a different cover sleeve on double LP, CD and digital download.

On Kingston Story Vybz Kartel – with the charmingly boastful moniker Wurl Boss – is more laid-back than usual. It’s not the lyrics spitting style that you’re used to. His auto-tuned vocal flows effortlessly over the futuristic melodic electro beats produced by New York City’s Dre Skull of Mixpak Records.

Musically it’s a cohesive and well-thought story where the Boss deals with topics ranging from the usual rude and crude romancing to social commentaries, all spiced with the typical self-assertion.

It’s not often you hear a dancehall album as consistent as Kingston Story. And this is probably because of Vybz Kartel’s huge talent and that only one producer has been involved.

If you want to have a look behind the scenes of the recording of the album you can check this interview on Boomshots with Dre Skull and Max Glazer where they talk about working with Vybz Kartel.

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Reggaemani’s best tunes in 2010

Like with albums, 2010 has been a pretty decent year with some major tunes. Gyptian – for instance – scored one of the biggest reggae hits in recent years with his hypnotic Hold You.

Apart from Gyptian, Vybz Kartel had two very well received tunes – the anthemic Clarks that have some follow-ups and Jeans & Fitted featuring producer Russian.

In the one drop field producers like Not Easy At All, Frenchie and Irie Ites have kept their flag high in Europe. In Jamaica, Don Corleon and John John produced two of the best riddims this year – Major and Zion Gate.

My best tunes in 2010 are a mixture of hard and sweet and dancehall and one drop. The tunes selected are not necessarily the ones that I’ve played the most, since I wanted a more diverse list than 20 tunes in one drop mode. You’ll probably notice that Hold You and Clarks are missing. Why? What can I say? The competition was just too fierce.

Artist – song title (riddim)

20. Gappy Ranks & Million Stylez – Life
Two European singjays that work very well together.

19. Jah Vinci – Me Alone (Wallabeez)
Bouncy dancehall at its best.

18. Maikal X – Get Away (Police in Helicopter Reactivated)
One of the loudest bass lines in 2010. Ouch.

17. Sena – Work in It (Eyes On My Purpose)
Sena was in the top of my list last year. Work in It is a wicked combination of hip-hop and reggae.

16. Chris Martin – As I Walk Away (Jah Protect)
Beautiful ballad with Chris Martin’s emotional voice over a riddim with acoustic guitar and strings.

15. Jimmy Riley & Fantan Mojah – Tell Me Your Name (Best Trick)
Hard and pulsating riddim that makes you want to dance.

14. Nas & Damian Marley – As We Enter
Hip-hop and reggae fusion at its best.

13. Vybz Kartel & Russian – Jeans & Fitted
Combination of dancehall and hip-hop with pop melodies.

12. Protoje – J.A
A great homage to Jamaica.

11. Kali Blaxx – Nah Trust Dem (Clearly)
Way too under recorded singer on a nice one drop riddim.

10. Chezidek – Walk With Jah (Collie Weed)
Slow and sweet riddim with Chezidek’s distinctive voice.

9. Papa Dee – My DJ Friends
Swedish veteran deejay on a riddim that echoes from the 80’s.

8. Skarra Mucci – Jah Blessings (Jaguar)
Tough tune from this Jamaican singjay.

7. Romain Virgo – Live Mi Life (Boops)
Producer Shane C. Brown revitalizes this great 80’s riddim and Romain Virgo does a great job with it.

6. Sizzla – Music in My Soul (Zion Gate)
King Jammy’s son John John produced this relick of a Bunny Lee riddim. Sweet old school reggae.

5. Johnny Clarke & Fantan Mojah – Rebel With A Cause (Rebellion 2010)
Another great relick. This time from Frenchie who lays his hands on the Creation Rebel riddim.

4. J-Boog – Coldest Zone (Hustlin’)
Very emotional from Hawaiian singer J-Boog. Tough riddim from Bost & Bim.

3. Chezidek – Live and Learn 12”
Some wicked horns arrangements compliments Chezidek’s emotional singing very well.

2. Tarrus Riley – Wildfire (Major)
Tarrus Riley’s take on one of the best riddims in 2010. Smooth and uptempo at the same time.

1. Pressure – Ina Dancehall (Strange Things hip-hop remix)
Pulsating to say the least and Pressure’s flow is beyond belief. I must admit that this was released late December 2009, so it could have been disqualified. But it’s just to good.

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Dagens Nyheter skriver om Stingfestivalen

Dagens Nyheters reporter Erik Gripenholm skriver i dag om vad som kallas världens tuffaste festival – jamaicanska dancehallfestivalen Sting.

Insomnade Reggaebloggen brukade skriva oerhört initierade inlägg om Sting, den ”War season” som rådde veckorna innan festivalen och (ö)kända artister som Mavado, Bounty Killer, Beenie Man och Vybz Kartel. Reportaget i DN är i samma anda.

Det tvåsidiga reportaget handlar om festivalen som företeelse snarare än om musiken. Med lite tur publicerar DN ytterligare en artikel med recensioner från festivalen, men med tanke på hur deras reggaebevakning är i allmänhet är det kanske att hoppas på väl mycket. Man får nog nöja sig med festivalen som kulturell händelse.

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Kill your darlings Tarrus Riley

tarrus-riley540Först ut i sommar av reggaebarnen var Queen Ifrica med plattan Montego Bay. Hon är dotter till ska- och rocksteadysångaren Derrick Morgan. För två veckor sedan var det Tarrus Rileys tur med nya plattan Contagious. Han är son till Jimmy Riley – sångare i 60-talsgrupperna The Sensations och The Uniques samt solo med höjdare som Majority Rule, Tell the Children the Truth och Love and Devotion.
Precis som sin far har Tarrus Riley haft en lyckad karriär. Han har släppt plattorna Challenges (2004) och Parables (2006). Han blev 2008 framröstad till Best Male Vocalist och Best Song (She’s Royal från Parables) på International Reggae and World Music Awards.
Trots att det gått tre år sedan förra plattan har det inte varit tyst om Tarrus Riley. Han har under tiden släppt en handfull starka singlar såsom Back Biter och Protect Your Neck.
Contagious innehåller flera tidigare osläppta spår. En smula ovanligt i reggaesammanhang, där albumen brukar bestå av en stor mängd tidigare utgivna singlar. Det är faktiskt hela 15 färska låtar. De som sipprat ut är Start a New, Young Heart och Good Girl, Gone Bad.
Precis som tidigare skivor är Contagious en blandning av roots och lovers med pompösa arrangemang och körer. Plattan har slagsida mot lugnare låtar i balladstuk, exempelvis Superman och toksmöriga Let Peace Reign tillsammans med Duane Stephenson och Etana.
Tarrus Riley skulle tjäna på att tuffa till sig och samarbeta med producenter som Donovan Germain, Donovan Bennett eller Bobby Konders, snarare än smöriga Dean Fraser som ligger bakom ett antal låtar på Contagious. För det är i upptempospåren och i de hårdare takterna som det svänger snarare än i de honungsglacerade.
Men Tarrus Riley är rätt ute, det märks inte minst i duetter med reggaestjärnor som ligger en bit från hans eget sound. I Herbs Promotion delar han micken med Auto-Tune-älskaren Demarco samt hårda Vybz Kartel och på Good Girl, Gone Bad möter han upp med Konshens.

Tarrus Riley har blivit bättre för varje platta han släppt. Han har dock en bit kvar till ett helgjutet album. En väg kan vara att renodla och göra sig av med lovers-låtarna och fokusera på tyngre roots och dancehall. Han klarar bevisligen av även ett tuffare sound.

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