SPRAGGA BENZ – Rising Star
by Yasmine Peru
Although ace DJ, Carlton “Spragga Benz” Grant has been on the music scene for less than two years, he has had mega hits with his first singles (“Jock it Up” and “Girls Horray”) and has recently been signed to Capitol Records in what has been hailed in the music industry as “historic.” Through it all, Spragga has managed to remain a humble youth with both feet placed firmly on the ground. “I’m just a normal person like everybody else,” he declared.
For Carlos, as he is affectionately called at home, being introduced to Stacy Greenberg from Capitol Records at the Cactus nightclub in Portmore was the first step towards getting signed. Stacy, he said, had heard New York DJ Dahved Levi playing some of his songs and really became inspired. She came to Jamaica in March of last year in search of him; he went to L.A. shortly after, and the rest, they say, is history.
Spragga has a lot of respect for Stacy who is the same age as he is–25. “This is her first signing, and she’s really going the extra 10 miles to ensure success,” he noted with admiration. He pointed out that despite his new deal, he has as much freedom as before, and is at liberty to work with whichever producer he chooses.
For his new album, he has been working with producers Dave Kelly, Donovan Germaine, Bobby Digital and Dahved Levi. And if the unmixed versions are anything to go by, then he will be enjoying even more chart success.
With a serious expression on his face, Spragga explained that the music, quite frankly, has been getting boring. “But what else can you expect when you have 15 man on the same riddim?” he queried. That’s why he declared he is moving to another level and going in a different direction. “But these songs will have the same solid Dancehall flavour, and the lyrics are still Spragga,” he was quick to point out.
This is my opportunity to change the tone somewhat and introduce the music to a wider cross section of people. To achieve this, I have been teaming up with people like Ben E. King with whom I really enjoyed working, singer Blacka Shine and Brownstone, a group out of New York,” said Spragga.
The Spragga/Ben E King combination is a wicked cover of the classic “Rose in Spanish Harlem.” Prior to this, he also did a combination with Brownstone, who is also signed to Capitol, and the decision was taken to use the single on the track for the movie Free Willy Part 2.
Spragga says his favourite on the album, which has a projected March release date, is a single produced by Donovan and which gives thanks and praises to Jesus Christ.” Spragga’s experiment with the music and his determination to create a different sound has even taken him into the realm of Jazz. And he is really quite excited about all of this.
“Some of what you are hearing will probably be changed, but this is the basic idea and mood of what I will be coming out with. The first single to be released from the album is one called “A1 Lover,” which is done in combination with Brownstone.”
Since his rise to stardom in February of ’93, when his very first single “Jock It Up” raced to the coveted No. 1 slot on the charts, Spragga has been touring extensively. He has been to Canada, England, most of the cities in the U.S. and several small islands, including St. Croix and Bermuda.
He recently returned from the U.S. where he, along with stablemate, Frisko Kid, gave a fantastic performance at the Golden Pavilion nightclub. Spragga noted that it would not be fair to mention this concert without singling out singer Sugar Slick who he said “really tear down the place.”
Spragga is the first one to point out that getting ahead and staying ahead in the music business is a lot of hard work with many sleepless nights working in the studio. And this, although it pays off, is essentially one of the drawbacks as it means that he doesn’t get to spend as much time as he would like with his two children–a daughter and a son.
And Spragga is not only a proud father, he is a loving one too. Just as we were about to drive off from the “corner” at Dunkirk, he unbuckled the seat belt, got out of the vehicle, and sauntered towards his son and tenderly dried his tears.
“Listen boss, later when I come back, you and I will go out . . . OK?”