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Happy Birthday Bab Morley!!

6 Feb

Photo from Morrison Hotel Gallery

Check the Birthday Bob mix Safari Sound whipped up:

The Clash/The Hype

18 Jan

The exact point of incision that catalyzed the feud between Aidonia and Vybz Kartel escapes me but as of last month, the two deejays have been indirectly and directly exchanging disses through the media. Aidonia released his track “Left Dem White” as a diss to Kartel, giving a healthy serving of his trademark lyrical elasticity with a barrage of venomous allegories. Kartel responded by twitter saying he wouldn’t bother even giving into the hype (in effect giving into the hype.) Thus was born Kartel’s Dancehall Hero pt. 2,” a preview for which was released earlier Monday and a follow up to “Dancehall Hero” which pissed just about every artiste off in the industry.

Aidonia ft. Navino, “Left Dem White” Download.

I don’t normally wallow in these sorts of matters. Clashes appear often as contrived petty cat fights veiled by the notion that two deejays are flexing their lyrical muscles. Not to disregard their importance, a good “clash” has long been the beacon of dancehall worthiness for an artiste. Nowadays, it seems more like a publicity stunt, presented as a shiny new platform to deliver hits for artistes. But hype is hype, and many artistes will take the free publicity, especially Kartel who uses unusual antics to keep the attention of the public. In this case, he has already used the clash with Aidonia to jumpstart his next hit, “Dancehall Hero Pt. 2” which, despite only having previewed a rough sound bite at a recent session, is getting an unwarranted amount of attention from fans.

To make matters worse, promotional sites such as Hypetv further mock the original dancehall clash with videos like this, claiming that they are bringing back “authenticity to save the music” and “authentic dancehall fans” through “lyrical death matches.” Key words being “authentic” here. Oh, but don’t forget to scroll down and pay up your 25 USD to enter the authentic contest.

“Inspired” Being the Key Word

28 Sep

artiste Ieye getting inspired in her 'Better Mus Come' video

It came to my attention recently, while discussing the upcoming release of the full length Jamaican feature film, “Better Mus Come”, with its writer/director/cinematographer/editor, Storm Saulter, that the recent appearance of a song called “Better Mus Come” by roots artiste, Ieye, is completely unrelated to the film. Confused, I sat back for a second and pondered what Storm was relating to me: this artiste had taken shots from the trailer, interjected her own footage in a similar environment and made a music video “inspired” by the film for a song she calls by the same title.

Jumping on the band wagon, is what some call it. Footballers use a term called “waggonist”, but essentially what I could understand from the blatant copyright infringement that is Ieye’s “Better Mus Come” video – and in a world with more time and money, a corresponding lawsuit– is that the artiste is capitalizing on the hype that is permeating from the creative film project as the early October premiere approaches.

Storm, who has decided to let the video be, has taken a guerrilla style approach to publicity for the film. His orchestration of a picketing during Fashion’s Night Out this month helped create a stir and advertise for the film, causing twitter to run-a-muck with conversation and local media to develop a fond adoration. As artistes are riding on this publicity wave and graffiti celebrating the film– which isn’t condoned by Storm– has been surfacing on blank walls everywhere, it appears the feature may quickly turn into a cult classic of sorts.

This “cultness” may be the result of a communal fever that has been building since the Tivoli Incursion in May. Jamaicans every where seem eager to watch a story of the past– and one that mirrors the present– that engages the public with both humility and humanity for those who have been easily dismissed as your generic “thug”, even as their actions are a direct result of the puppetry of political/social leaders. Here’s to hoping that the key word “inspired” catches the spirits of more then just the industry waggonists.

Read Large Up: BaseKingston Interview

16 Sep

If you get a chance, pop over to to check out my interview with BaseKingston owners, Jason Panton and Cezar Cunningham, and their newest stylish occupant, Tami Chynn and her Belle line. Also, keep an eye out for the amazing Rockers NYC, which the handsome gents promised I’d soon get my hands on at their store right here in JamRock.

Read Belle Kingston at BaseKingston here.

Sani Showbizz Buss!

7 Sep

Lately it seems video director and itinerant photographer, Peter Dean Rickards, has been cooking up his own little dancehall industry in the backwoods of Stony Hill. Interviews with Sani Showbizz, a remarkably familiar-looking Jamaican musical artiste (aka Prince Zimboo in a suit), have been leaking onto the photographer’s youtube site. In what appears to be a performance art parody on dancehall culture, Sani Showbizz adds a little levity to the heavy fog that has become the Jamaican music industry. In this video, Showbizz’s blustering swagger apologizes for nothing as he dances his way through the interview to “I know”, a Sani Showbizz original. Until the interviewer asks him about Zimboo, and just like a hothead, Sani losses his cool.

(via Annie Paul Twitter)

5 Reasons “Doggie” is the Best JA Poet of the Year

6 Sep

Having been on the run for almost five years, “Transnational” contract killer, Cedric “Doggie” Murray, was shot down by police the second week of August this year. Accused of multiple killings and suspected of others, “Doggie” was the known leader of the infamous Stone Crusher gang and a lieutenant to Tivoli strongman, Christopher “Dudus” Coke. In a romantically tragic ending, with security forces on his tail, “Doggie” was gunned down on his 37th birthday after a dramatic exchange of gunfire. Police found on his person, Doggie’s gun and his diary.

Last weekend, under Jamaica’s Access to Information Act, the media finally got their hands on the coveted diary of “Doggie”. Published in the national newspapers, quotes from the diary chronicled the life of a considerably intelligent person/father/lover living in desperation and struggling for survival from even the early age of eleven. Doggie’s tellings don’t paint him in a forgiving way, his gun and his gang are at the core of his violent existence, but they do shine a light on the fragile humanity of even the most murderous derelict gunman.

Doggie’s tellings have captured a visceral narrative so uniquely raw and authentic, that no artist could attempt to recreate it. His story and tragic ending are the makings of an urban mythology and for that reason, “Doggie” may be the best Jamaican poet of the year (at least). Here are five reasons why:

1. He has a dark, unapologetic autobiographical narrative: “Babylon has labeled me a threat to society, why, because they can’t kill me and people love me. There are many skeleton in my closet never to be opened.”

2. His story leads up to a dramatic ending: “I was asleep when babylon came but by the grace of God I escape. The tracks are ruff. My life right now is very ruff, each day way different from what I am use to at my age.”

3. He is conflicted: “Today I got mad and strike my girl. We are having some problems, real life issues. She make me happy and I make her unhappy. She is scared of all this.”

4. His prose is rhythmic: “I fired my AK-47 until my fingers were numb. I ate gunpowder until my throat was sore.”

5. He is delusional: “Babylon feel seh man a fool like dem and dem can jus come and kill mi. Them betta know seh gangsta fi life. All out when mi get drawn out, straight bullet fi dem. My gun is my best friend. We are always together.”

(via Jamaica Observer)

Freshly Launched:

5 Jul

Not that long ago, before I dissolved from the U.S. to attend graduate school in Jamaica, I made a job of studying fashion blogs and mingling amongst the fashion masses alongside the lovely Chioma Nnadi, Style Director of The Fader. It was under these circumstances that I first came to Jamaica in 2008 as a guest to Caribbean Fashion Week and fell in love, not with clothes, but with Jamaican culture. It was our job as visitors to Kingston, Ms. Nnadi and I’s, to seek out style moments on the street to shoot for later posting in the website’s style section.

While “fashion” is not a term I particularly like, the term “style” seems more relevant because it has the ability to reveal true character, regardless of price tags. It was in Jamaica that I realized people had a very particular sense of personal style. Jamaicans make style their own by mish-mashing name brand with no brand and adding a lot of personal flare. More then anything, Jamaicans love posing for a camera, so it was a surprise to see there hadn’t been any “on-the-street” style blogs brewing.

Enter, Jamaica’s on the street and style wise website about everything from shopping to new designers to fashionistas. Hosted by Kingston based Biggy Bigz, the website is never short on perfectly framed and nicely edited snapshots of Jamaican style. Thankfully, talented and stylish Jamaicans are finally receiving the attention they deserve.
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