Producer Henry ”Junjo” Lawes, singer Barrington Levy and deejay Yellowman together ushered a new era in reggae music – dancehall. Yellowman also helped to bring deejaying to a new level and established slack lyrics in the recording studio.
Yellowman has also won several tough battles in his life, including overcoming the social stigma of being an albino in Jamaica and recuperating from an invasive jaw surgery he had to go through because of cancer. He was actually given only six months to live, but he is still with us and tours regularly around the world, even though he doesn’t record much these days.
His influence on reggae and dancehall is massive and when spinning the new, powerful two disc set Young, Gifted & Yellow it’s possible to follow his musical journey.
He was at his peak in the early 80’s when he combined cheeky, witty and nonsense-like lyrics with an unbeatable flown and some of the toughest riddims around. He’s certainly versatile and often plays with both melodies and words.
At a time every producer in Jamaica wanted a taste of Yellowman and reputedly he recorded nine albums in one year, so some of his albums are not very consistent to say the least. But his work with Henry Lawes was usually above par and ten of his productions are collected the compilation, including show-stoppers such as Nobody Move Nobody Get Hurt, Duppy Or A Gunman and Morning Ride.
Yellowman’s single best track – Operation Eradication – was however recorded for Lloyd Campbell and is happily also included. It features his sparring partner Fathead and they make a good team, even though Yellowman is a way better deejay.
Yellowman has broken barriers in his life and has given Jamaican outcasts a glimmer of hope. He helped to pave the way for deejays such as Peter Yellow and Mellow Yellow.
His prolific career is overwhelming and shows that anything is possible regardless of color or class. Good faith, self-confidence and humor are some of the main ingredients in Yellowman’s recipe for success.
Yellowman is a legendary artist and was Jamaica’s first dancehall superstar. He was one of the pioneers of Jamaican dancehall and has a vast catalogue of hits – Morning Ride, Mr. Chin and Zungguzungguguzungguzeng to name a few.
He reached his peak in the mid 80’s, but has continued to record and one of his latest efforts is New York from 2003.
In his early career Yellowman had it tough. He was an outcast that managed to rise to stardom due to his witty lyrics and incredible flow.
But the misfortunes came back. Later in life he developed skin cancer and had to go through an operation of his jaw.
All his setbacks makes it amazing to see him live on stage. He may not have much of his voice or flow left, but what he lacks in vocal capabilities he takes back on his energy, that is on the same level as a teenager’s.
He enters the stage in a boxers outfit and runs back and forth across the stage. He jumps around and sprawls with his legs.
The set is varied and a bit odd at times, and includes tunes such as Oh Carolina, Nobody Move, Nobody Get Hurt and Duppy Or A Gunman. Unfortunately the versions are not nearly as great as the ones he recorded in his prime.
Yellowman is an entertainer that certainly knows how to get a crowd going. I can only imagine how great he must have been back in his heydays.
Josey Wales – the main rival to Yellowman in the early 80’s – has been awarded a Reggae Legends box set, courtesy of Greensleeves records. This includes four albums – The Outlaw Josey Wales (1983), No Way Better Than Yard (1983), Two Giants Clash (1984) and Undercover Lover (1985).
All albums are nice efforts, but my particular favourites are No Way Better Than Yard, produced by Michael “Pep” Chin, and Undercover Lover, produced by George Phang. These two sets differ a lot from each other though. The first has a more roots oriented vibe, while the latter has pulsating, early digital riddims courtesy of the Taxi Gang.
Two Giants Clash is famous for its great art work by Tony McDermott and because it was a clash between the most acclaimed deejays in the early 80’s. The production is credited to Henry “Junjo” Lawes and is backed by tough riddims from his usual suspects – Roots Radics.
In my opinion, Yellowman won the clash, but Josey Wales proved to be the more consistent of the two and remained popular throughout the 80’s, partly due to his work with King Jammy.
This box set is sold a at bargain price and is easily worth the money. But, as with the Johnny Osbourne box set, it lacks information. No sleeve notes, just credits. It’s a pity for all of us that really thirst for information.
Den 16 februari släpper skivbolaget 17 North Parade en diger antologi om dancehall-producenten Henry ”Junjo” Lawes. Volcano Eruption, som samlingen heter, innefattar två cd-skivor med totalt 40 låtar samt en dvd med en dokumentär om stjärnproducenten.
De flesta av låtarna på cd-skivorna är hyfsat lätta att få tag på redan i dag. Dokumentären är däremot helt färsk och innehåller en 45 minuter lång exposé över Henry Lawes alldeles för korta karriär. Dvd:n innehåller också en 30 minuter lång konsert från 1984 med artister knutna till hans soundsystem Volcano.
Henry Lawes mördades i London 1999 i vad som ryktas vara en knarkuppgörelse. Under 80-talet var han en av Jamaicas absolut främsta producenter och den som började exportera dancehall världen över. Stjärnor som Yellowman och Barrington Levy har till stor del honom att tacka för sina karriärer.
Purpleman är en relativt okänd jamaicansk deejay. Trots sitt ringa kändisskap har han dock en ganska stor skara fans om man spanar in reggaeforumen Roots Archives och Blood and Fire.
Purpleman, eller Peter Yellow som han också kallade sig, är mest känd för att ha varit med på klassiska Greensleevesplattan The Yellow, The Purple and The Nancy från 1982, där han delade utrymme med Yellowman & Fathead samt Sister Nancy.
Purpleman har också rönt viss uppmärksamhet eftersom han är en av tre 80-tals deejays med albinodrag. Yellowman var först ut 1979 och är även den som nått störst framgång. Därefter kommer Purpleman, och på tredjeplats King Mellow Yellow, med skivan Herpes Take Over i bagaget.
Jag har länge varit ett stort Purpleman-fan och är därför glad över att BMC nu bestämt sig för att hylla denne albinohjälte, som gjort en mängd grymma låtar, bland annat Sandra Lee Buy Big House For Me och Get Ready.
Den nästan 60 minuter långa mixen innehåller hela 23 Purpleman-låtar blandat med material från Mother Liza, Don Carlos och Barry Brown samt ett antal dubmixar signerade King Tubby.
Ladda ner mixen från BMC:s nya sajt och ta ställning i kampen om vem som egentligen är den bäste albinodeejayn. Min röst hamnar enkelt på Purpleman.