By: Jarrell Fenton
Vybz Kartel (Adidja Palmer) has become synonymous with Dancehall and it is only fitting to start the Dancehall First Quarter (2013) series of articles with the Dancehall Hero. Unless you reside under a rock (on another planet) you’re already familiar with his ongoing problems with the law. The artist has been locked away in Jamaica since September 2011 awaiting trial on two murder charges. His next court date is May 27th, 2013 when the Clive ‘Lizard’ Williams murder trial is scheduled to begin.
Despite all his legal troubles Vybz Kartel continues to reign over Dancehall music. Many speculated as to who would takeover the number one spot with him behind bars but none have dominated the Dancehall space like Vybz has in recent times. Acts such as Konshens and Aidonia are currently doing exceptionally well in the Dancehall arena but Kartel remains in a class by himself.
The artiste has an unbelievable amount of unreleased material recorded before his incarceration which his record label releases periodically. 2013 songs include “Gerogina,” “Make Up” ft. DJ Powa, “Lighter” and “Show Me” ft. Flexx (T.O.K) and Monsta Twins. However, my favourite three (3) 2013 tracks from Vybz Kartel thus fare are “Convertible,” “Mr. Bleach Chin” (Billion Dollar) and “Weed Smokers.” (*Weed Smokers and Convertible were released in November and December respectively of last year but really gained traction this year.)
Convertible is a follow up to Kartel’s mega hit “Benz Punany” (2010) on the S Class riddim. In similar fashion to Benz Punany and other Vybz Kartel ‘gyal tunes’ the lyrics to Convertible are raw to put it mildy. Kartel’s first line is “You p**** good up to p****clart” and it only gets more graphic. Nonetheless, Kartel has the unique talent of making even the slackest lyrics sound romantic with his smooth voice, effortless flow and deep analogies.
Mr Bleach Chin is another lyrical masterpiece that shows off Kartel’s genius and creativity. Firstly, the title of the song “Mr Bleach Chin” is a play on Vybz’s much debated bleaching (lightening) of his skin. Moreover, “Chin” is a popular last name for individuals of East Indian descent who are stereotyped as rich in Caribbean culture. It is no secret that Kartel knows how to use controversy to boost his career as evidenced by the wildly popular songs “Cake Soap" and "Dancehall Hero.”
In Mr Bleach Chin the self proclaimed “Worl’ Boss" sings about his desire for a billion dollars, private jets with 24 inch gold plated rims and his loyalty to longtime girlfriend “Shorty” (Tanesha Johnson) no matter how rich he becomes. Once again his lyrics are mind blowing, for instance: “The whole a dem (females) ah blow me like a beach wind.” This lyric pertaining to oral sex is as deep (no pun intended) as it gets.
Weed Smokers as the name suggest is an ode to the smoking of marijuana by Vybz. Kartel’s flow is fast paced, impeccable and complemented wonderfully by the Russian produced beat. As we’ve come to expect from Vybz the lyrics for this track paints a vivid picture. “Weed naked and you fe put clothes pon it/Warm up di grabba like mi a roast rabbit” are just two of the lines that jump out at you.
All Worl’ Boss junkies will be pleased to know that plans are underway for the release of a new Vybz Kartel album in the summer. With his old catalogue and new hits Kartel will continue to have a good year - musically at least.