Pon Di Wire: Beenie Man, Jah Warrior
- Words: Tomas Palermo
Six foot, six inch-tall reggae toaster Eek-A-Mouse, famous for songs like “Wa Do Dem” and “Ganja Smuggling,” has been booted from the performance lineup for the July 6 Reggae Carifest concert in New York after making racially insensitive remarks at the Carifest C.A.R.E.S. press conference this week. Following a question from a press conference attendee, the MC, whose real name is Ripton Hilton, angrily replied, “The question is, why all the white boys control reggae? UB40, Ace to Bass (sic), Matisyahu… Eek a mouse is a unique singer. They don't want no black people who grow with the reggae music, them want Sean Paul and Shaggy, you see me?” In response, St. Croix reggae band Midnite did an impromptu duet with Orthodox Jewish singer Matisyahu to show solidarity.
Beenie Man’s life has been captured in book form. The life of Moses Davis is chronicled in a 400-page biography entitled Who Am I? The Untold Story of Beenie Man, authored by Jamaican journalist Milton Wray, and available in July. Wray spent 11 years documenting and researching the scandals and untold past of one of dancehall’s biggest entertainers.
Jamaica Observer and United Reggae are reporting that singer Richie Spice (pictured above) has left his long-standing management team, Fifth Element Records. Spice will join his brothers Spanner Banner and Snatcha Lion at their own family-based management company, Bonner Cornerstone.
After a marathon 16-hour mediation, People Productions (ranch owner Tom Dimmick and former Reggae on the River producer Carol Bruno, respectively) reached a negotiated settlement with the Mateel Community Center over disputes concerning Reggae on the River. Reggae on the River did not happen in 2007. Instead, Reggae Rising, produced by People Productions and Dimmick, took its place. The settlement is meant see the return of two big reggae festivals in 2009.
The Jamaican Flashpoint Film festival took place June 5-8 in Port Royal. Read a full report on all the new Yard cinema that screened.
Veteran singer Beres Hammond tours North America July 30 to September 7 in support of his new album on VP Records titled A Moment In Time, available September 2008. After a successful career fronting the band Zap Pow, Hammond released his first album, Soul Reggae, in 1976. Since then, he’s collaborated with reggae’s elite—Marcia Griffiths and Buju Banton–and worked with top producers Steely and Clevie, and Philip “Fattis” Burrell, producing a further 16 respected albums and scores of singles.
Buju Banton was the featured subject in a university lecture series by renowned professor Dr. Carolyn Cooper, author of Sound Clash: Jamaican Dancehall Culture. Cooper’s lectures entitled "Lyrical Gun: Metaphor and Role Play in the Lyrics of Buju Banton " at the University of the West Indies (UWI) covered how artists such as Banton balance a lyrical and metaphorical use of firearms, yet critics always seem to misconstrue the meaning. Third year, UWI student Vennessia Jennings, who was enlightened by the special seminar, told the Gargamel Gleaner, "It is good to know there are dancehall artists making social commentary and spreading positive messages. That's something you hardly hear about.”
New York's Deadly Dragon Sound will collaborate with VP records to release limited edition 7” singles by top reggae artists. The new series of singles, available in June, includes new hits from Luciano (“Sweet Jamaica,” on the Full Up riddim) and Tarrus Riley (“One-Two Order” on the Great Stone riddim).
Cutty Ranks will be honored with a new retrospective on 17 North Parade records titled Reggae Anthology: Limb By Limb, out July 1. Ranks earned props for his gun-lyrics and blazing singles throughout the '90s. His gruff and militant vocals, backed by hardcore dancehall and hip hop beats, are admired by music fans around the world.
Congratulations to San Francisco’s Jah Warrior Shelter who won its second consecutive L.A. Rumble soundclash in Los Angeles on Saturday, June 14. The fourth annual event also featured Black Gold and DJ JFX.
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