Musical Forecast: Look for Snow
by Patricia Meschino
One of the most satisfying cuts on Canadian DJ Snow’s new release, Murder Love, is a tale of his love affair with Reggae music called “Dream.” Here Snow reminisces about his days in Toronto’s Allenbury housing project, where he first became acquainted with Reggae through the friendships formed with the many Jamaicans who had moved into his area: Listen Shabba Ranks playing faintly from the speaker/I would eat mi curry chicken, that’s my favorite supper/If you think mi joke or lie, gwaan ask me mother/I would living on the island sweet, sweet Jamaica/Fish with Coco Tea down in the river/Hanging at the ghetto with me boy they call Ninja/No, but it’s only a dream.
“Dream” goes on to describe imagined evenings spent at Kingston’s Godfather’s nightclub and sessions with the Stone Love sound system. If the song had more verses, it might have depicted other ambitions of the aspiring DJ, like performing at Jam World for Reggae Sunsplash and ripping up the crowd at Topline and other crucial Kingston dance hall sessions. Yet, something Snow could never have imagined was that his first album for Motor Jam/EastWest Records, 12″ of Snow (released in 1993), would go platinum and the first single from the album, “Informer,” would top the Billboard Pop Charts for seven weeks! “When I did that album, it was just for fun,” Snow recalls. “I wasn’t thinking this album’s gonna blow up. I didn’t really think nothing of it, I just loved doing it. When it did blow up, I was like, ‘Are you sure?’ Now, I look on my wall and I see these plaques and I think, ‘Yeah, they’re sure.'” Continue reading
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. Continue reading
SPANNER BANNER The Chillin’ is Over
by Karie Russell
There are many unique things about the Reggae industry. One is the unusual monikers some artistes go by. For example, the list of artistes who make up Reggae’s “musical tool box.” There is Screwdriver, Pinchers (Jamaican slang for a bird-beak pliers,) and Pliers. And, of course, no tool box would be complete without a spanner (wrench)–as in singer Spanner Banner.
Now, apart from being both linked with this tool box scenario, Spanner Banner and Pliers are otherwise connected on two counts. They are brothers and they are both signed to the same recording company, Island Jamaica.
Pliers’ career is already somewhat successfully cemented as he is part of the “wicked” hit duo, Chaka Demus & Pliers, who has had such hit songs as “Murder She Wrote” and “Tease Me,” which went gold, selling some 400,000 copies.
Spanner Banner (born Feb. 6, 1959, in Rock Hall, St. Andrew, and christened Joseph Bonner), on the other hand, has not been as successful as his brother; but he has, and is having, his fair share of success as a singer and songwriter. Continue reading
Yami Bolo – Burning up the Charts From Jamaica to Japan
by Howard Campbell
The conviction Yami Bolo shows as he belts out Bob Marley’s “Heathen” reflects the singer’s coming of age, a conviction that is further enhanced by his commitment to the perfect sound, even during rehearsal. Four takes and a “turn it up little more deh bassie” and Yami Bolo is ready to rock.
Bolo was at the Tuff Gong headquarters rehearsing for the Feb. 6 Bob Marley concert at the Bob Marley Museum for which he was one of the top acts. While the event was a tribute to one of his heroes, the fact that he was billed as one of the evenings stars meant that Yami Bolo is finally being given the recognition that had proved so elusive to him at home.
A jocular, laid-back six-footer with a ready smile, Bolo is the typical Roots man. At home in cut off jeans and Reebok sneakers, he has reason to be satisfied with the route his career has taken in the last 12 months, and as humble as he is, isn’t afraid to say so. “Things a come on good, y’know,” the 24-year-old remarked prior to tuning up. “Right now, we jus’ a concentrate on all that is good for ’95; we’d a like win all awards ’cause we put we heart inna this project.” Continue reading
Garnet Silk Returns to Zion
by Howard Campbell
Before we proceed, let’s get one thing straight, Garnet Silk was no Bob Marley. He didn’t profess to be Bob Marley, nor did he want to be. Despite the obvious similarities in religion and profession, the two possessed entirely different personalities.
The inevitable comparisons that have been made since Garnet burst onto the scene three years ago have been further fueled since his death a few months ago. Such a flattering likeness is evidence of the social impact the 28-year-old singer made in such a short period. In fact, he created a spark more famous names, like Ziggy Marley, failed to ignite among the masses.
That was probably the most glaring similarity between Bob Marley and Garnet Silk, the fact that they were both hero worshipped by Jamaica’s lower class and, through their music, transformed the status quo of a country obsessed with social standing. Continue reading
Gregory Isaacs – Coming in Rough in ’95
by Howard Campbell
An impish grin curls across Gregory Isaacs’ lips, his head bowed when the questions about his well-publicized battles with cocaine come up; how it has affected his career and if he’s still dependent on drugs. “Bwoy, mi nah really deal wid dat right yah now, mi ithren,” he says in that low, familiar nasal tone, “cause wi get to much bad publicity; anything Jamaican people hear dem believe right away, dem nuh inquire.”
You can’t blame Isaacs for wanting to erase the memories of the darkest period in his life. Since his first run-in with the authorities eight years ago for cocaine possession, the self-proclaimed “Cool Ruler” has experienced a decline of sorts in his career.
At 44, he’s still capable of rocking the crowds with a seemingly endless number of Lovers Rock hits (as seen at the White River Reggae Bash two years ago), and is still able to charm the ladies with his legendary onstage rapport. Though he has had a clutch of minor hits in recent times, the chartbusters that fans have come to associate Gregory Isaacs with have dried up; and many point to his experience with drugs as being the reason for the current dry patch. Continue reading