LOUIE CULTURE – MEET MR. GANGALEE
by Karie Russell
Dancehall fans, here he is, the original Mr. “Gangalee” himself– Mr. “I wanna be free from all chains and all bangles and rope/Free from all bars and all borders and dope/Free to praise the Lord because mi naw praise the Pope/So mind how yuh a wash yuh face wid Babylon soap/I was born to be free ’cause mi a ole gangalee/Gangalee and who have eyes they will see” (taken from the hit song “Gangalee.”)
He’s also known as DJ Louie Culture, as that is the name he entered the music business with, but ever since he scored with his big hit, Dancehall fans, home and abroad, have branded him “Mr. Gangalee.” He’s very proud to wear this title, not only because he made it popular, but more so, because his belief in the concept of the word “gangalee” has been his main driving force to success.
Now, before driving you all nuts, here’s the history of the word and the man called Gangalee. Follow mi! “Gangalee” is an old Jamaican rural term for an unruly, uncontrollable, bad person. As old people would say, “A soon cool yuh ’cause yuh a gwan like yuh a gangalee.”
Well, Louie Culture, who was born in rural Portland (Windsor Forest to be exact), on May 9, 1968, took that old rural term and gave it a new meaning and lease on life in 1993. To Louie, a “gangalee” is a freedom fighter. One who fights for and never gives up on his beliefs, and what he wants and dreams of, no matter what the circumstances, obstacles or difficulties may be. Even if it means going or fighting the battle alone, with God by your side.
Louie Culture, born Lewin Brown, started out DJing while still at school in Portland. He took the name of his mentor Bobby Culture and fused it with his pet name “Louie,” to come up with the name Louie Culture. Like his mentor, Louie DJayed a lot of Cultural tunes. His first recording was “Rat a Bother Me” (with fellow DJ and friend Waynie Ranking) for producer Red Man in 1986. The song was a flop. Waynie Ranking got fed up and migrated, so Louie then teamed up with the singer called Positive. They recorded a few songs together, but they too were unsuccessful. Positive thought what was happening was negative, so he also migrated, leaving Louie alone, hanging on to his dreams of becoming a DJ.
Louie Culture decided there and then that he was going to make it on his own. He was now determined to go “through the hills and valleys” to the mountain top of the music industry. After recording some songs for Colin Fatta, Louie met DJ Terror Fabulous. Terror introduced him to the “Mad House” crew. That’s when his career took off. He recorded and scored with songs “Live and Learn” (with Wayne Wonder), “Excellent,” “Bogus Badge,” “Revolution Song,” “No Gal” (on the Pepperseed rhythm), and then the monster hit “Gangalee.”
Louie is very happy about his growing success, and he thanks God for making his dream become a reality. He remembers when he used to go to producers with reality tunes, and they’d tell him, “Them sound good man, but give me gal tune or gun lyrics.” So, what he did as a gangalee was to give the producers what they wanted until they had to take “whey mi want to give them, and that is Culture.”
Louie, a Rastafarian (now sporting young locks), is glad to see that Culture songs are now on the upswing; but he’s a little concerned about the sincerity of the many DJs who are recording songs based on the Rastafarian belief. “‘Nuff man a say things them don’t know ’bout because them want to be under the light,” he explained. “A lot of them will soon have to stand up and be counted, then we’ll know who sincere from who wearing ‘the Bogus Badge.'”
He’s also aware that some Dancehall fans have been misinterpreting the word “gangalee.” “When mi go abroad, some man a say, ‘Whoah, mi a gangalee,’ meaning a badman thing, so, mi haffi go pon stage [and] show them how I interpret it. But them still hold fi them view.”
Mr. Gangalee made his debut appearance at Sunsplash this year, where he performed a good set. Here is a story about Louie and Sunsplash that he shared with us: “A great feeling and a great experience. The only thing I never like is how they put me on so late when the people dem weary.”
Louie’s upcoming songs are “Don’t Get Weary Gangalee,” “They Lied” and “Ole Before Them Young.” He predicts that his next hit will be “They Lied,” a song dealing with the “misconception of being taught about Christopher Columbus, Marco Polo and ’bout cow jump over moon.” His concern about things that ruin the social fabric of the country came to light in his song “Ole Before Them Young,” which tells about the young girls who grow up too fast, diss their parents and do thing that young girls should not be doing. “I don’t agree with them things dey because they’re wrong,” Louie said. “Some of these girls look like their mothers while they’re still children. As an artiste I am concerned. The Bible say it [is] going to happen. We can’t stop it, but it is my duty to make the people aware of these things.”
Louie Culture’s parting shot was to the youths: “Be careful, and be yourself. Leave drugs alone and remember there is a God.”