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.Continue reading →
Pato Banton and I are sitting atop the roof of the club where he is scheduled to perform in a few hours. Rather than conduct our interview in a stuffy tour bus or shout over the sound check taking place below, he obliges as I lead him through a cluttered storage room and up a make-shift ladder better suited for an acrobat than one of the most recognized names in Reggae. Below us, the seven members of his band, The Reggae Revolution, are tuning up and, one by one, joining in on a smoldering Dub of “Satta Amassagana.” We are watching a beautiful, and especially long, Santa Barbara sunset as the moon climbs high over the Pacific Ocean a few blocks away. He is nearing the end of an extensive three-month tour and looks forward to spending some time at home with his wife and two children, who are back in England. A few weeks away from his 33rd birthday, he seems as energetic and upful as ever.
Energetic and upful seem to define Pato Banton. He is like a constant whirlwind of touring and recording. As we sat down to talk, he is finishing up yet another North America tour, promoting a greatest hits package called Collections for long-time label, I.R.S. Records, and anticipating the worldwide release of the video for the album’s first song, “Baby Come Back” (a duet with bredren Robin and Ali Campbell of UB40).
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.” Continue reading →
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 →
Interviewed by M. Peggy Quattro
Written by Sara Gurgen
The talented ladies in Reggae have historically taken a back seat to the popularity of their numerous male counterparts. A handful of singers, and even fewer DJs, have held their ground and withstood the test of time.
Not to be outdone by the current crop of new lady DJs, the lovely and talented Lady G has consistently proved that she is not yet ready to be considered among the “dead and gone.” The sweet appearance of Lady G does not belie her steely interior, and the Spanish Town-born DJ has taken her shot at macho males with her latest sizzling releases. Lady G, who has seen a great response to her hit song “Me or the Gun,” a demand that her man choose between which one “gives more fun,” is now coming in strong with her latest song “If I was a Gal.” “You’ve got guys who call women gals; that’s not the right way for a man to style [call] a woman,” said Lady G following her terrific performance inside Ft. Lauderdale’s Reggae Cafe. Referring to her new song, she goes on to explain: “It’s not the name they should call the women. In some countries–like Trinidad–they call their women gal. It’s not the name that they call the women, it’s the way they express it.” Lady G is telling the men that if they want to get a woman’s attention, these days, that’s not the way to do it. Continue reading →
Recently, I was honored to have a bonafide Sister come through our gates in Brooklyn to share some positive reasoning and good vibrations with the Flatbush massive. I speak of one of the hardest working women in the music industry, Sister Carol, otherwise known as the Black Cinderella or Mother Culture. Sister Carol took time away from her busy schedule as an activist, artist, educator, mother and wife to engage me in a crucial discussion about music and her contributions to Reggae.
Sister Carol’s presence in the house was a special treat for my eight youths. They came strolling in from outside, one after another, to greet her. With her usual natural composure, Mother Culture spent a little time getting acquainted with them. The older youths tried their best to contain their delight at having “Sister Carol in da house, word!” However, my two youngest daughters, Yeshimabet and Tanagna Worq, would not ease up on Sister Carol. Needless to say, it was difficult to begin the interview. Amidst all the traffic and noise of young people going in and out the gates, Sister Carol and I embarked on an uplifting journey. Continue reading →
Buju Banton cries out for divine help in “God of my Salvation”; Capleton gives assurance that the Emperor still sits on the throne with the constant reminder that “Selassie liveth every time,” while Garnet Silk’s equally prolific shouts of “Jah Rastafari” have given the proclamation Bob Marley made internationally famous new flavor.
Such are the lyrics of cultural change that have been blaring through the speakers of Jamaica’s dance halls in recent times, replacing the gun and ribald lyrics of the DJs that dominated for the greater part of a decade. The cultural rebirth in the dance halls has also sparked a second coming of the Rastafari religion that traces its roots back to the late 1950s and which gained worldwide prominence in the 1970s with the international emergence of the dreadlocked Marley.
Buju’s newfound faith has been wholly accepted by the youth with whom he can do no wrong. The same can be said of fellow DJ Capleton and charismatic singer Silk, one of the forerunners of the revival. Their impact is there for all to see. It’s in vogue to wear locks again. It’s even cool to openly acknowledge Jah without fear of being ridiculed. It’s Jamaica 1995 and it’s hip to be Rasta. Whether a “God of my Salvation” will hold relevance as a “Roof Over my Head” 10 years from now is left to be seen. That could all depend on whether Buju and Capleton decide to forsake their still growing locks and Rasta rhetoric for the latest “talk,” or look, in the coming months. Continue reading →