This episode is all about the early rude boy days in Kingston 14 – Tivoli Gardens. this was the time when men ruled the recording studios with gun and tactics. early record producers like Duke Reid and Coxsone Dodd knew what it would take to “squeegee down” a hit. the process always involved “a strong control on the process“. records were cut, the artists were paid cash on the spot and the producers became the owners of these memorable tunes. many of the songs that were attributed to the top producers of the day, were in fact just done on the spot fi a money fi eat.
During our talks with reggae legend Mikey Dread he reminded us of his story of the barber saloon song. he was in the studio just scatting and warming up. the producer heard it, recorded it – all without Mikey knowing; and then played it back. Mikey said it was just a warm up. the producer said this is a hit, and so it became a major hit for Mikey Dread. this is the type of power the early producers had over reggae and it’s performers.
But on the opposite side of that line, were the men who made the legends; that the singers and producers made songs about – the Rude Boys. yes Jamaica has some legendary rude boys and many of them have gone on to become known as urban legends. Men like Ryegen; and the Man – Jim Brown.
Many say that Duke Reid with his Matic in his Waist; was one of the rudest men in the recording game. it’s been said that if a performer wasn’t giving his all in the recording studio, above the liquor store; Producer Duke Reid would buss a shot through the floor to liven up the session. this is how things run in the ghetto. somebody has to provide the impetus “to make di ting run so“.
on the opposite side of Kingston, we had Sir D – the legendary Coxsone Dodd. Mr. Dodd was wielding his strength at Studio One in a whole different way. he was a shot caller and had his dirty work done on paper. if you went to Mr. Dodd and needed money, he would oblige you to sign over the rights to your tune; and then he’d let you record it and he’d make the money. instead of you getting paid later, you got yours up front in cash, as you went out the door. this made him one of the shrewdest and richest early studio owners in Jamaica. his catalog of hits reads like the who’s who of Jamaican music. all the early studio one riddims, have gone on to become recognized; as true classics of dancehall and traditional reggae.
Many of the top artists of the 70′s, went on tour with the help of their local community leaders. Men who would “Big Them Up” with money and support for a tour. in exchange, many of these top named artists became the first round of the spangler’s and shower posse’ tickets; out of trenchtown and tivoli gardens.
Alot of the men who accompanied these stars on tours globally, were the hands and money makers of the dons; who were just getting their feet wet in the music business. you see, money and music always seem to need each other; to function effectively.
the tours were multi city affairs, sometimes multi country. complete with backstage guest lists, that included VIPs from all the major posse’s of the time. if you had a man who came from reema; then you had reema posse’ who lived in the area there. this came along with their foreign community dignitaries, who were traveling on the tour as promotions assistants and road managers. these people were there strictly to handle the money transactions, that occurred when these artists hit town. many of the posse’s knew, that this would allow them to move their product and people around; in a less noticeable way.
it went on like this for years literally. the reggae shows were huge meeting places for all “man and man” business. there was hardly a time that you would go to a reggae show in a foreign country, and not see the head of the local community there holding a vibe so to say.
the American scene got hot. cocaine and murder as well as various other crimes; quickly brought the attention of the various federal authorities to the reggae sets. this made it hard for the posses’ to use the cover of the shows as their meeting place. so it moved to a whole different venue – private clubs.
Many private caribbean clubs began to spring up in various parts of major cities around the globe. the artists would still perform; and man and man could still hold a vibe. except here, it was under a closer scrutiny of the community leaders; and with less interference from the outsiders and police. this system worked for a few years. but then di thing got hot again.
The Spangler’s and Shower Posse’ men, were heating up the bodycount every where they went. with the blam blam blam of their machines.; bodies would pile up and the shows would go on. somehow the people who were behind the murders, always managed to be no where to be found; when the police arrived or the story got out. man and man began to separate one from another out of fear and intimidation.
the ting was getting hot mi tell unu..
the feds were cracking down on reggae musicians and their tours. there was a new rush for documentation, on who would be traveling; and who would be handling the money. this was to help the feds shift their focus off the artists and back onto the posse’s. except one thing everybody forgot happened – the public had a keen interest in their urban folk heroes. them wan know whey Jim Brown Deh ? whey Claudie and whey Capper deh ?
you will hear men shout out to them in tunes. you hear them say “Capper deh when kingston run hot, and them holdin the sixteen and glock”. yes these were timely lyrics. men were getting shot with bigger caliber weapons like the glocks and desert eagle. the nine millimeter was supposedly the machine of choice for the spanglers. just as the tech and glock were the choice for the shower posse’; who btw supposedly got their name because they liked to rain bullets; as though you were in a shower.
this is no urban myth, this is the real story of what made the Badman the Right Man for Jamaica; in the seventies. no one seemed to think that things would change as they entered the eighties, but ahhhh they did.
this was the new era in dance-hall, and men were stars in the dance-hall and legends on the street. many legendary dance-hall artists were denied working visas to tour, and eventually deported from the USA. this also happened in other foreign countries; due to their connections to their community leaders.
some were exiled in jail in foreign lands; for their money connections, and refusing to give up information on who their patrons were. this was a hard era and a change. it brought about a whole new game in producers and talent.
it came like a thief in the night; like a bullet aimed straight at the heart of reggae and Jamaica. The Rude Boy was replaced with The Gun Man and the tide was high with blood in the dance-hall.
there were legendary deejays murdered for their connections; and for not giving up their connections. one was Tenor Saw; another was Echo Minot. both killed at the height of their careers in the dance-hall. they were both mysteriously murdered in the USA. no one has ever been charged in either murder; because they remain unsolved to this day.
Nitty Gritty, the legendary Producer, DJ, Badman Manager of Dancehall Dadda Supercat was cut down. effectively ending the career of Supercat. it was the murder of his manager, that made one of the baddest gun chatters in the dancehall exile himself in his house on Long Island. admittedly to protect and shield himself from the end of his career and grief.
when we spoke to him a couple years ago, he explained that the dance-hall has changed so much; that there is no integrity in who a man is when he stands up before the crowd these days. he can be a big man and be cut down for being a big man. that seemed to bother supercat more than the loss of the revenue. the loss of respect.
in the days of the gun, only the gun gained respect because reggae was dead. killed by the bullet shot through it’s heart in the dancehall; by these legendary leaders of the dance-hall era. men who never set foot in the dance-hall; for fear of instant death. these are the men of Tivoli Stories. we will present the next episode in a couple weeks. during the lag time, we’ll be bringing you videos and music from when The Two Sevens Clashed here on BadGalsRadio and on our blogs.