Before They Were Stars Archives

February 8, 2012

Before They Were Stars with Damian Marley

By Marc Parc Writer


Following in the footsteps of a celebrity relative is hard enough. But when your father hails as the greatest musician to grace Jamaica's shores i.e. Bob Marley that job becomes tougher.

However, Damian Marley has not only managed to follow those footsteps successfully, he's established his own identity; moving from under his father's shadow to become one of Reggae music's most celebrated acts to today's generation. Like Tuff Gong before him, Junior Gong has managed to encapsulate fan bases worldwide with messages of peace, prosperity and social consciousness. But for Damian "Junior Gong" Marley, his journey to super stardom took much different turns.

Marley was born on July 21, 1978 to Bob Marley and 1976 Miss World winner, Cindy Breakspeare. Like his many siblings, Marley looked up to his iconic father but never got the chance to truly enjoy his effervescent presence as Bob Marley succumbed to bone cancer when Damian was only two years old. Despite only knowing his father for such a short time, Marley decided to follow in his father’s footsteps as he aimed to start a new family legacy.

During his teenage years, Damian Marley founded a group dubbed The Shephards. The group, including the daughter of Big Ship patriarch, Freddie McGregor (Yashema McGregor) and the son of Third World drummer, Cat Coore (Shiah Coore) immediately garnered buzz across the Reggae industry. This resulted in Marley, who was 13 at the time, leading The Shephards on the Reggae Sunsplash stage in 1992 as the show's opening act. Despite initial success, the group quickly disintegrated, leading Marley to pursue a solo career.

In 1996, Marley sought to surprise the music industry as he and his brother, Stephen Marley co-wrote singles for Damian's debut album, Mr. Marley. Instead of the soothing Reggae vocals fans were accustomed to from Bob and Ziggy Marley respectively, Damian graced the mainstream with a hard hitting, Dancehall style. Though he announced himself to the world as "Junior Gong," some listeners were thrown off by this change of pace; resulting in the lack of success the album ultimately achieved despite reputable efforts such as 10,000 Chariots and Old War Chant.

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January 26, 2012

Before They Were Stars with Mr. Vegas

By Marc Parc Writer


One of the more musically flamboyant artistes of his generation, Mr. Vegas has become one of the most internationally-renowned Dancehall superstars during the last 15 years. His career resume boasts many hits and his sexpot persona on stage has made him very much in-demand with his female fans. However, M. Vegas' career almost ended before it started.

Born Clifford Smith in 1974, he immediately grew a love for music and gained a stage name worthy of the big-time. During his childhood days, Smith acquired the name Mr. Vegas due to his tendency to kick a football like a Las Vegas dancer. Smith took on the moniker and began singing covers of Dancehall/Reggae hits at parties and events; creating some buzz amongst his peers.

However, Smith's career was nearly cut short when, during a fight over stolen mixtapes, he was hit in the face with a crowbar. Smith suffered a broken jaw and had said jaw wired shut for nearly two months. This injury threatened his progress but, in awkward sort of way, built his confidence as he soon changed his speech patterns and deejaying style once his jaw continued healing.

In 1997, Mr. Vegas teamed up with prominent Dancehall producer, Jeremy Harding, where despite not having fully recovered from his injury, recorded his first mainstream single, Nike Air. The song became an instant hit on local Dancehall charts as he gained clout within the industry; particularly amongst female fans.

However, it was in 1998 when Mr. Vegas established himself as a permanent figure within Dancehall history with the release of his internationally-acclaimed hit, Heads High. With chart-topping success in Jamaica, Heads High also featured on the Billboard Top 100 R&B Charts in the United States as well as charts in the United Kingdom. Following the unveiling his debut album, Heads High that same year, Mr. Vegas earned even more acclaim as the project garnered chart-topping acclaim while earning a British Music of Black Origin (MOBO) Award for Best Reggae artiste in 1999.

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January 19, 2012

Before They Were Stars with Ce'Cile

By Marc Parc Writer


Regarded as one of Dancehall's most frank and thought-provoking lyricists, Ce'Cile has asserted herself as a permanent fixture within the genre's foundation since the new millennium's beginning. A winning combination of sex appeal and sultry vocal presence has enabled Ce'Cile to stamp her authority on the Dancehall framework.

Born Ce'Cile Charlton on February 24, 1977 in Manchester, Ce'Cile found motivation to become an artiste through her sisters, who themselves were good singers. While attending Bishop Gibson High School, Ce'Cile decided to follow her dreams and ended up recording her first song at the age of 15. She then gained her first bit of tutelage within the music industry as she teamed up with her father's friend and then Third World guitarist, Michael "Ibo" Cooper. Alongside Cooper, Ce'Cile recorded her second single entitled Beat of My Heart, an effort which gave the teenage singer confidence as she pursued a successful music career.

However, Ce'Cile refused to limit herself to only learning the pros and cons of the music industry from an artiste's perspective. She later worked at Celestial Sounds; understanding the business and productions aspects of music while harmonizing for veteran Reggae acts such as Spanner Banner and Norris Man, amongst others.

Channeling her childhood days, listening to a variety of international superstars such as Anita Baker, Fiona Apple, Beenie Man and Madonna, Ce'Cile aimed to incorporate bits and pieces of these artiste's styles within her craft. With a mixture of attitude and soft vocals, Ce'Cile sought to make a major impression on Dancehall by putting more established acts on notice. She succeeded with the release of her first mainstream hit, Changez in 2000. A Dancehall remake of the hit single, Changes I've Been Going Through by Mary J. Blige, Changez showcased clever wordplay; invoking the names of several prominent Dancehall names, including Beenie Man, Bounty Killer and several others as an effort to elicit thoughts from the local music community. The song earned mass airplay locally and internationally, showing the fearless character of a female artiste who demanded respect from her female and male counterparts.

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January 11, 2012

Before They Were Stars with T.O.K

By Marc Parc Writer


Generally, the ability to maintain chemistry and unity within a group proves a difficult task. However, prominent Dancehall group, T.O.K has defied the odds; building its reputation as one of the strongest teams within the music industry; overcoming several obstacles while sustaining relevance within the genre's framework.

Originally inspired by internationally-renowned R&B group, Boyz II Men, Alistaire McCalla aka Alex, Craig Thompson aka Craigy T, Xavier Davidson aka Flexx and Roshaun Clarke aka Bay-C formed T.O.K in the early 90s. McCalla, Thompson and Clarke sang on the Campion College school choir while Davidson attended Calabar High School; all hoping to emulate the highly-acclaimed American group. Initially, the quartet performed R&B covers but quickly changed their identity as they aimed to represent their country through an authentic Dancehall sound.

Training with local vocal coach, Georgia Guerra, the quarter performed several high school parties and at hotels before entering the annual Tastee Talent Trail competition, where they placed second. Exposure on the Tastee-sponsored talent show landed them several recording sessions with Nuff Records as well as where they experimented their sound professionally.

However, T.O.K's big break came in 1998 when they linked with prominent engineer, Richard Browne, whose label, High Profile produced the quartet's first mainstream success, Hardcore Lover, alongside Dancehall diva, Lady Saw. The single charted well locally and overseas; exposing T.O.K to new found success.

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January 5, 2012

Before They Were Stars with Mr. Lexx

By Marc Parc Writer


Always flamboyant and confident in his abilities, Dancehall superstar, Mr. Lexx has never been afraid to showcase his talents in unique ways as a measure to distance himself from fellow stalwarts in the industry.

Venturing within various aspects the performing arts, Mr. Lexx has accumulated a number of accolades worthy of high acclaim. Somewhat underappreciated, the artiste continues to persevere in light of doubt from fans and critics within the Dancehall industry.

Born Christopher George Palmer, the aspiring artiste grew up in the rough-and-tumble area of Mountain View in Kingston. Hoping to master different avenues of the arts, Palmer was a member of the renowned Dance Troupe Squad in the early 90s. Additionally, Palmer featured in several plays while attending the Fox Drama School; earning a Best Actor Award for his stage efforts.

However, music became Palmer's true calling as he looked to follow in the footsteps of his biggest inspiration, Shabba Ranks; practicing the craft during his high school days. At 16, Palmer unveiled his debut single, Own A Home, saluting independent women who could financially support themselves.

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December 21, 2011

Before They Were Stars with G Whizz

By Marc Parc Writer


Prominent Dancehall/Reggae singjay, G Whizz has emerged as one of Jamaica's newest superstar; showcasing his potential on several fronts since his mainstream debut in 2008. With vocal strength and lyrical dexterity reminiscent of singjays past, G Whizz's determination to reach great heights has never been in question.

G Whizz was born Garland Germaine Rowe on January 28, 1983 at the Victoria Jubilee Hospital in St. Andrew. Living in a two parent household with eight siblings, Rowe endured a tough childhood while living in the inner-city community of Nannyville. However, Rowe quickly developed a love for music by idolizing international Reggae icon, Bob Marley; working on his vocal ability when taking up one of his father's old Bob Marley and the Wailers phonographs.

Song like Buffalo Soldier, No Woman No Cry, amongst others inspired Rowe to create a better standard of living for his large family. While attending Vauxhall High School, Rowe started singing by joining the school choir in an attempt to showcase his prospects. Becoming one of the lead male vocalists, Rowe earned high acclaim amongst his peers; resulting in him earning a Certificate for Outstanding Achievement in Music upon his graduation from Vauxhall High.

From there, Rowe decided to employ all that he learned during his high school days into the music industry; adopting the stage moniker, Gangsta Whizz or G Whizz for short. He then joined forces with Fams House producers, John and Kevin Barrett, who are sons of Aston "Family Man" Barrett, a former producer and member of Bob Marley and The Wailers.

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December 14, 2011

Before They Were Stars with Macka Diamond

By Marc Parc Writer


Prior to emerging as one of Jamaica's most accomplished female deejays, Macka Diamond developed fervour for music as she envisioned becoming a prominent Dancehall artiste. That long-standing desire for stardom has helped her elevate to a highly-acclaimed status that few artistes can reach, much less, maintain.

Macka Diamond was born Charmaine Munroe in Kingston. Growing up in Portmore, she later attended Holy Childhood High School where her dreams of becoming a star musical began evolving. Often, Munroe would skip class to practice her deejaying skills at the back of the school.

However, Munroe's musical roots can be traced back to her family traits as her father, Philip, was a long-time producer who worked with legendary Reggae superstar, Gregory Isaacs. Additionally, she was an avid listener of Sister Nancy (aka Mama Nancy), one of Jamaica's first ever female deejays. All things considered, Munroe elected not to attend sixth form at Holy Childhood in 1987, as she elected to pursue her career.

Munroe, through a friend, introduced herself to another foundation female deejay, Lady Junie, in an attempt to showcase her skills. Whilst performing for Junie, the veteran deejay too note of Munroe's beaming potential; making Munroe her new protégé.

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December 7, 2011

Before They Were Stars with Shaggy

By Marc Parc Writer


Proving himself as one of the premier crossover acts in the history of music, Dancehall/Reggae superstar, Shaggy has transcended various genres; becoming one of Jamaica's greatest artistes. Though criticized by some for ignoring the "true" Dancehall/Reggae sound, Shaggy' defied all odds by creating melodies and songs that people of all generations worldwide could listen to.

Orville Richard Burrell was born on October 22, 1968; growing up in JA until he moved with his mother to the Jamaica-influenced Flatbush area of Brooklyn, New York in the United States. While in Brooklyn, Burrell took singing courses and gained popularity amongst locals; performing with the local Jamaican-style sound system Gibraltar Musik.

Despite gathering momentum in his pursuit to become a successful musician, making money from the profession proved a tough task; prompting Burrell to join the United States Marine Corps, where he was stationed in North Carolina. Though he became a member of the armed forces, Burrell wrote music during his spare time; recording his debut single, Bullet Proof Buddy at 20 years of age, produced by Don One.

Burrell built confidence as he continued to record music over the next two years; combining with producer, Philip Smart to record dub plates including Mampie and Big Up alongside Brooklyn-based singer, Rayvon. However, Burrell's musical pursuit was sidetracked by his military obligations; serving during Operation Desert Storm in the Persian Gulf War in 1991.

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November 23, 2011

Before They Were Stars with Lady Saw

By Marc Parc Writer


With a well-deserved title as the "Queen of Dancehall" to her name, Lady Saw has proven herself as the gold standard amongst female deejays. Un-intimidated by a male-dominated Dancehall industry where females struggle to earn major opportunities, Lady Saw blazed the trail for aspiring deejays looking to make waves on the local and international music industry.

However, Lady Saw offers an alter-ego contrary to her personal life; particularly at a younger age. Born Marion Hall in 1971, the St. Mary native endured various hardships within a family struggling to make ends meet. To assist her parents in achieving income, Hall picked fruits and vegetables to sell at the nearest market whilst also playing her trade as a domestic worker.

During her younger days, Hall sang in a church choir; earning recognition for her vocal abilities. However, Hall's break came when she started to record Reggae singles for various sound systems; testing her styles in an effort to realize her potential as an artiste. Recording for sound systems since the age of 15, Hall gained knowledge pertaining to the professional process of music and decided to move to Kingston to pursue her career.

While in Kingston, Hall noticed that males within the Dancehall fraternity were earning much more praise and accolades compared to their female counterparts; not gaining acclaim for the positive music they preached. That prompted Hall to transform her lyrical from conscious and clean to raunchy and rebellious; attempting to rival her male counterparts within the industry.

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November 16, 2011

Before They Were Stars with Sean Paul

By Marc Parc Writer


With his name etched into Jamaican folklore as one of the most successful Dancehall/Reggae artistes ever, Sean Paul has a legacy that many musicians within his genre could only dream of having. However, before Sean Paul was a world-renowned musician, he was already a star in a different right before realizing his true calling as a Dancehall/Reggae pioneer.

Born on January 8, 1973, Sean Paul Henriques was instantly immersed in a family full of successful athletes. His parents were talented athletes while his mother was a well-known painter. Additionally, many of his family members were swimmers while his grandfather was a part of Jamaica's first ever national water polo team. Inspired by his grandfather's achievements, Henriques starred on the national water polo team from the start of his high school years at Wolmers High School until the age of 21. It was at that time when Henriques decided to switch careers; desiring to pursue his dream of becoming a musician.

Following graduation from the University of Technology (UTECH), Henriques began to showcase his talents and performed at an open mic event where the brother of prominent producer, Jeremy Harding; compared his powerful vocal style to that of internationally acclaimed Dancehall superstar, Super Cat. After being dubbed with the stage name, Sean Paul, he recorded his first mainstream single in 1997, Ladies Man, alongside Reggae star, Spanner Banner. The single was well received within the industry; prompting a meeting between Harding and Sean Paul. Harding took Sean Paul under his wing and during said meeting, began the process of recording the single, Baby Girl. The two held studio sessions daily whilst formulating a friendship; collaborating on several tracks including Sean Paul's second mainstream hit single, Infiltrate. Their ongoing chemistry led to Harding assuming the role of Sean Paul's manager and producer.

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November 10, 2011

Before They Were Stars with Mavado

By Marc Parc Writer


David Constantine Brooks, known to the world as Mavado, has proven himself as one of the most lyrically-inclined and controversial deejays in the history of Dancehall music. His rise to fame endured its share of troubles, but his determination and ability to adapt has made him a mainstay in the local music industry over the last decade.
Brooks was born on November 30, 1981, raised in the tough, inner-city area of Cassava Piece in Kingston. Given the sudden rise of Dancehall music within the Jamaican folklore, Brooks was somewhat intrigued by the genre.

However, it was his grandmother who gave Brooks his first experience within the musical field; bringing him to church services to sing. The singing sessions at church inspired Brooks to deliver socially conscious music to the masses as congregations witnessed his vocal abilities.

During his high school days, Brooks began to take his talent seriously; meeting with Reggae superstar, Junior Reid at his Kingston-based studio, thanks to one of his close friends. Little did Brooks know that internationally acclaimed Dancehall superstar, Bounty Killer would also appear at the studio session; watching Mavado voice for Junior Reid and instantly recognizing his potential as a singjay.

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November 2, 2011

Before They Were Stars with Timberlee

By Marc Parc Writer

Sometimes, a musical journey finds it roots within a moment of clarity whilst exploring a separate career path. In the case of established Dancehall deejay, Timberlee, her rise to prominence as a musician was somewhat unexpected, but welcoming nonetheless.
Timber-lee Heaven was born on June 2, 1983 in Kingston, but raised in Mandeville, Manchester. She attended Belair High School in Manchester before migrating to Montreal, Canada to pursue her tertiary education at Concordia University; attaining a degree in psychology and child education.
Timberlee initially desired to become a vet while in college. However, she was somewhat intrigued by the music industry during her college years; writing and recording a song about herself and a friend for fun. The by-accident song was overheard by prominent Dancehall/Reggae producer, Kool Face, who immediately sent the song to internationally-acclaimed Dancehall/Reggae producer, Don Corleon, who's known fi producing the like of Sean Paul and Vybz Kartel, amongst several others.

Don Corleon was impressed by Timberlee's vocal abilities as well as her lyrical dexterity and, by 2003, she recorded her first ever mainstream single, via Corleon's Trifecta Riddim, with the single, Prada and Gucci. From then on, it was full speed ahead for Timberlee as she ventured on a musical adventure she never though would occur.

Timberlee also did recordings with Don Corleon for the popular French Vanilla and Mad Guitar Riddims, before meeting another veteran producer, Kunley McCarthy of the internationally-acclaimed group, Ward 21. Following her graduation from Concordia University, she met with McCarthy in Florida during her vacation in the American state. A hurricane met the two whilst spending time in Florida, but inadvertently drew inspiration from the powerful storm and soon penned what would be Timberlee's breakthrough single.

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October 27, 2011

Before They Were Stars with Sizzla

By Marc Parc Writer


Internationally-acclaimed Dancehall/Reggae singjay, Sizzla Kalonji has proved himself in two separate decades to be one of the most versatile and influential artistes of his time. One of conscious Dancehall music's most intuitive architects, Sizzla's lived up to the values and structure, prior towards becoming an elite artiste, that helped shape his musical image.

Born Miguel Orlando Collins on April 17, 1976, Sizzla was embedded within his family's devour Rastafarian culture and principles. A member of the Bobo Ashanti sect, Sizzla was adamant to promote music that would not only showcase positivity, but denounce the slack and deviant behaviors displayed on Dancehall's stage during its explosion in the 80s and early 90s.

While attending Dunoon High School, the August Town born singjay studied mechanical engineering prior to serving a musical apprenticeship with the Caveman Hi-Fi sound system. He recorded his first single for the Zagalou label in 1995 before teaming up with Bobby "Digital" Dixon's Digital B label for a series of singles.

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October 19, 2011

Before They Were Stars with Elephant Man

By Marc Parc Writer

elephant_man_before_they_were_stars_outaroad.jpgInternationally acclaimed superstar, Elephant Man has been one of the models for consistency within the Jamaican music industry for over a decade. Prior to being known as Dancehall's "Energy God," this prominent artiste had long been embedded within the genre's framework; taken under the tutelage of a duo of Jamaican musical legends.

Elephant Man was born Oneil Bryan on September 11th, 1974; earning the nickname "Dumbo Elephant" as a child for his larger than usual ears. Despite concerns his mother expressed regarding his early pursuit of becoming a musician, Bryan followed his dream. While attending high school, Bryan was known for using his desks to bang out Riddims and tunes, to the enjoyment of his classmates and friends.

During Bryan's high school years, two internationally renowned deejays, Bounty Killer and Shabba Ranks were residents of his Seaview Gardens neighbourhood while the legendary King Jammy's studio was just block from his house. On occasions, Bryan travelled to King Jammy's in an attempt showcase his talents; hoping producers and fellow artistes would take notice. His attempts proved successful as Bounty Killer took notice of him while singing at the studio's gates; suggesting that Bryan join a group he was forming featuring Seaview-based teens.

The group featuring Bryan was originally named Seaview Family, but was later changed to the Scare Dem Crew as a result of Bounty Killer's hit single, "Big Guns Scare Dem." While recording with the group, Bryan was also mentored by Grammy Winning deejay, Shabba Ranks who dubbed him with the stage moniker, "Elephant Man." With his new stage name, Elephant Man, alongside Harry Toddler, Nitty Kutchie and Boom Dandimite proved a formidable group while with Scare Dem Crew. The group's presence was strong during the mid-90s and in 1999, Scare Dem Crew released their critically acclaimed album, Scared From The Crypt.

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October 14, 2011

Before They Were Stars with Tami Chynn

By Marc Parc Writer

tami_chynn_before_were_stars_outaroad_feature.jpgProminent Dancehall/Reggae artiste, Tami Chynn has already accomplished many accolades in her musical career and still is in her prime as an artiste. Before the world became familiar with this sexy songstress, Tami's roots within the Dancehall/Reggae framework had already been embedded.

Tami Chynn was born Tammar Anika Chin on June 14th 1983 in St. Andrew. Chynn was bred and raised in a multicultural background; to a Jamaican mother with British ancestry and a Chinese father with Cherokee ancestry. During her younger years whilst in St. Andrew, Chynn attended St. Peter & Paul Prep School before heading to Campion College.

However, it was at the tender age of 14 when Chynn decided to pursue her dream of becoming a musician by migrating to London, England. Encouraged by her parents, who were also musicians, Chynn spent three years in London; studying the performing arts and perfecting her abilities as a singer.

At the age of 17, Chynn returned to Jamaica looking to put what she learnt overseas to practice. She was recruited by legendary Dancehall/Reggae act, Shaggy as a dancer during his "Caught Red Handed" world tour in 2001. That experience gave Chynn confidence to pursue her music career and in 2003, under the moniker, Tami Chynn, she collaborated with fellow upcoming artiste, Kid Kurupt for the sultry single, "Rock U." The song and accompanying video showcased Tami's scintillating vocals and sex appeal to the masses; gaining acclaim locally.

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October 5, 2011

Before They Were Stars with Aidonia

By Marc Parc Writer

Prior to being recognized for possessing one of the most unique voices in Dancehall music, Sheldon Aitana Lawrence, more popularly known as Aidonia, made himself synonymous with genre from a very young age.
Born in 1981, Lawrence grew up within a stable family environment whilst living with his mother, a teacher and father who was formerly a soldier. The Red Hills Road native was invested in music from an early age and while attending Meadowbrook High School, Lawrence gained an appreciation for the Dancehall genre. After watching a tape of the memorable clash between prominent Dancehall entertainers, Beenie Man and Bounty Killer at STING '93, Lawrence would re-enact the clash for his family and friends to enjoy. It was at this point when Lawrence would seriously pursue his dream of becoming a deejay.

Lawrence began to write his own lyrics and soon formed his own group entitled JAG1 (Jah A Guide). The group was referred to by onlookers as J.O.P (Jag One Productions) while the group performed at several fetes and school events. However, Lawrence was unfortunately expelled from Meadowbrook in 6th form after allegedly keeping bad company. Nevertheless, this did not deter Lawrence's dream of becoming a deejay.

After being expelled, Lawrence migrated to the United States with his father and worked for a short time at FedEx. During his stay in the U.S, Aidonia briefly made waves on the Dancehall scene in New York but would return to Jamaica at the encouragement of friends in order to build his career.

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September 29, 2011

Before They Were Stars with Spice

Marc Parc Writer


Grace Hamilton has been known to provide Dancehall music with a lot of "Spice" in recent years. Spice has been well seasoned within music and the performing arts throughout most of her life and before she was a star within the local music industry, she was destined to become a Dancehall superstar.

Hamilton was born in the tough area of Braeton in Portmore, St. Catherine; dealing with the realms of poverty. Hamilton was an avid listener of Gospel music in her younger days; becoming a big fan of the internationally acclaimed Gospel group, The Grace Thrillers.

She soon took her affinity of music to greater heights whilst attending St. Catherine High School where she participated in the Jamaica Cultural Development Commission's (JCDC) annual music festival; winning several gold medals. After excelling in her CXC's, Hamilton immediately desired to capitalize on her growing potential as a musician; plying her trade at the Edna Manley School for the Visual and Performing Arts to study voice and drama.

Her training at Edna Manley built her confidence as Hamilton soon focused her attention towards becoming a Dancehall artiste. Hamilton would begin to showcase her deejaying prospects; performing at community stage shows while displaying her lyrical dexterity with a hardcore edge. It was in 2000 where Hamilton's would be given the biggest Dancehall stage to prove her worth as an up-and-coming talent; performing a STING that year thanks to established promoter, Heavy D who discovered her and decided to make her a staple in the show. Her performance garnered widespread attention for both her lyrics and looks; winning her fans and as a result, "Spice" was born.

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September 21, 2011

Before They Were Stars with Vybz Kartel

By Marc Parc Writer


Today he's known as one of the most captivating and controversial artistes of his era. However, Adidja "Vybz Kartel" Palmer had to endure moments that were far from treasured before becoming Dancehall music's crown jewel.

Palmer was born in January 1976; originating in Waterhouse but spent most of his youth growing up in the tough neighborhood of Waterford in Portmore. During his younger days, he would often watch his uncles, who were aspiring artistes, performing various genres from Jazz to Dancehall.

At the age of 10, Palmer studied the lyrics of some of his favourite Dancehall acts such as Papa San and his idol, Ninja Man; singing out their lyrics word for word to friends. He also developed an affinity for hip-hop; listening to the likes of Will Smith and KRS-1 and used his knowledge from the various genres to help build his own desire of becoming a successful musician; particularly a deejay.

During his days attending Calabar High School, Palmer recorded his first single at the tender age of 15 entitled, "Love Fat Woman," under the Buju Banton dedicated moniker, Adi Banton. However, Kartel wanted a different name to help expand his outreach to the masses and, at 16 he along with singer Escobar and another friend formed a group named Vibes Cartel after a movie Palmer watched talking about infamous drug lord, Pablo Escobar.

However, Palmer's musical interests were conflicting with his education as he constantly got in trouble in class. At 16, he was expelled from Calabar High School for truancy but would rebound; earning his degree at a tutorial college. Meanwhile, Palmer's musical pedigree was quickly building and soon he adopted his group’s moniker; changing his deejay name to Vybz Kartel.

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September 15, 2011

Before they were stars with Stacious

By Marc Parc Writer

Prominent Dancehall entertainer, Stacy "Stacious" Scarlett has proven to become of Jamaica's fiercest and most versatile female artistes in the 21st century. However, it took time and a few bumps in the road to help this curvaceous diva shape her career into a success.
Born on December 28, 1982, Scarlett had developed an affinity for music from an early age; idolizing many of Dancehall's greats such as the aforementioned Lady Saw and fellow legendary female artiste, Patra along with the "War Lord," Bounty Killer. However, Scarlett began to seriously invest her time towards a career in music at the age of 19, following her graduation from St. Hugh's High School. It was while she spent some time living in New York following her graduation when she did background vocals and was told by her producer that she had the skills to become a deejay. That producer who duly noted her talent was internationally acclaimed producer, Paul Henton aka "Computer Paul." Paul previously worked with many musical heavyweights such as Reggae legends, Jimmy Cliff and Inner Circle as well as Sizzla and George Nooks; aiming to turn Scarlett into the next Jamaican starlet.

Despite the support of such an A list producer and being exposed to the pros and cons of the music industry, Stacious career seemed to stagnate and she thought about quitting the industry on a whole and work for the airlines as she was also a certified travel agent. However, she re dedicated herself to her first love and those efforts would soon be rewarded

Her raunchy, no holds barred lyrical approach and sex appeal touted Stacious as "The next Lady Saw" by many Dancehall observers, Stacious aimed to prove that females could successfully deejay gangster lyrics like their male counterparts. Her debut single in 2005 entitled, "Thug Gal," proved said sentiment to be true; displaying lyrical dexterity with an edge and making her one of Dancehall's hottest properties.

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September 7, 2011

Before they were Stars with Busy Signal

By Marc Parc Writer


From a very early age, Reanno Gordon, now known to the masses as Busy Signal, strives towards becoming an artiste that went beyond his genre; spreading messages that would impact various walks of life. Before becoming a “Busy” superstar within Dancehall music, Gordon had to overcome various, inner-city struggles on his way to prominence.

Gordon was born in 1982 in Brown’s Town, St. Ann; raised his mother who sent eventually sent him to Brown’s Town Comprehensive High School where graduated with good grades. However, Gordon’s family, also including three brothers & one sister had to endure several hardships; moving around several times to places like Tivoli Gardens, Spanish Town & Papine in an effort to find a better life.

In an effort to prevent Gordon from practicing an illegal lifestyle, his mother brought him to Church twice a week. It was at church where persons first witnessed the talent that Busy possessed when he sang one of the church hymns; displaying vocal strength and clarity to the pleasure of the congregation who roundly applauded his efforts. Continuing with his musical interests, Gordon was a regular purveyor of cassette tapes from artistes of varying genres such as R&B legend, Celine Dion & Dancehall icon, Super Cat. Other inspirations such as hip-hop superstars, Jay-Z & Eminem as well as R&B icon, Whitney Houston helped develop an affinity for various musical styles. However, his desire was to become an established Dancehall artiste; constantly making beats on his desks during school days & deejaying songs from one of his idols, Bounty Killer.

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August 31, 2011

Before They Were Stars with Agent Sasco

By Marc Parc Writer


Prior to various fan bases and Dancehall industry players knew him as a lyrical "Assassin," Jeffery Campbell was the typical youngster aspiring to become a world renowned deejay. However, Campbell is a rare case of an artiste who got his break at a young age and, in his case, on the first try.

Born in 1982, Agent Sasco had an affinity for music from his childhood days and carried that love with him to Camperdown High School where he excelled in the arts and often engaged in lyrical clashes within the school's cafeteria. His lyrical fluidity and constant victories in clashes against schoolmates earned him the nickname Agent Sasco, and built his confidence as an emerging Dancehall talent hoping for a breakthrough. Prior to his final year at Camperdown, a 17 year old Assassin decided to test his musical skills in a different way; writing the lyrics to a song entitled, "Big Up All Di Shotta Dem," and giving them to a friend to use.

That friend, Briggy passed on the lyrics to his Uncle and legendary Dancehall/Reggae artiste, Spragga Benz. Spragga was impressed with what he saw and almost immediately voiced the song on the classic, Street Sweeper Riddim by internationally acclaimed producers, Steelie & Clevie. Though the song itself was part of a summer job he had been doing in order to find out if he had what it took to be successful in the music industry, Spragga saw that Assassin had even more potential as a pure deejay. Spragga soon took Assassin under his wing and harnessed his talents; making him one of the hottest young prospects in Dancehall music in the early 2000s. Assassin's mainstream breakthrough would arrive in 2003 when he unveiled the medley video for his singles, "Do My Thing" and "Cyaan Lock Off Di Dance." The singles received great acclaim and started a great two year run for the Spragga Benz protégé; unveiling hit singles such as "It's A Girl Thing," "Girls Gone Wild," and the internationally acclaimed single, "Idiot Thing Dat," in 2004.

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August 24, 2011

Before They Were Stars with D'Angel

By Marc Parc Writer

d_angel_before_there_were_stars.jpgPrior to being known as the "Angelic" presence that graces Dancehall circles in present life, Michelle "D'Angel" Downer has overcame her share of demons to escalate towards becoming one of the best female deejays of the 21st century. From a young age, D'Angel was bound to spread her wings and become a superstar but, at first, it wasn't music where she first gained noteworthy, mainstream buzz.

Born and raised in Spanish Town, St Catherine, Downer was destined to become a stage performer. She developed an affinity for singing during her pre-teen days; performing for friends and family before showcasing her musical talents on wider scales at school parties and concerts.

However, Downer's interests soon changed as she aspired to become a well-renowned model. In the early 90s, Downer began to strut her stuff for runways locally and overseas while doing photo shoots; most notably for hip-hop superstar, Jay-Z's Roc-A-Wear clothing line. Such a lifestyle of glitz and glamour seemed to do Downer well and she soon launched her own clothing store; unveiling her unisex boutique, "D'Angel's" in 2002.

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August 17, 2011

Before they were stars with Wayne Marshall

By Marc Parc Writer


Internationally renowned Dancehall singjay, Wayne Mitchell aka Wayne Marshall has proven to be one of the genre's most consistent and multi-talented artistes since emerging on the Dancehall scene in the early 2000s. The veteran Alliance artiste has truly worked his way towards becoming one of Dancehall's elite acts and his creativity & versatility can be traced back to a very young age.

Entrenched within the vintage, Reggae-heavy sounds of the 80s whilst living in an uptown community, Marshall immediately developed an affinity for music; desiring to become an artiste despite his parent's wishes for Wayne becoming a pilot or doctor. During his teenage years, Marshall was introduced to the confines of the legendary Kings Jammy's studio in Waterhouse, St. Andrew. Marshall's regular trips to the famous studio helped him to get up to speed with the creative process of music & gave him the dedication towards becoming a complete product as an artiste.

During his days at Wolmer's Boys' School, Marshall would often mimic his favourite deejay & icon, Rodney "Bounty Killer" Price. Despite Marshall's singing prowess, Wayne was known to mimic Bounty Killer during his high school days & Bounty's songs inspired Marshall to write music & discover his own talents. With the help of a well-renowned voice trainer, Marshall perfected his vocals & soon linked with prominent Dancehall producers, Ward 21 where Marshall would record his first official single on the "Bada Bada Riddim." However, the buzz surrounding Marshall would soon land him his big break as Bounty Killer took notice of his talents and the duo recorded the hit single, "Smoke Clears," on the Trilogy Riddim in 2001.

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August 10, 2011

Before They Were Stars With Tifa

By Marc Parc Writer

Well renowned Dancehall deejay, Latifa Brown, more popularly known as Tifa has become one of the genre's flag bearers for female Dancehall artistes since she burst on the scene in the mid-2000s. However, her ascendancy towards becoming of Dancehall's top deejays required lots of hard work; defying the odds along the way.
Tifa's affinity for music developed from a young age; listening to & finding inspiration from legendary female artistes such as Patti Labelle & the "Queen of Soul," Aretha Franklin. Her extended family also had musical traits as her stepfather, Sampulae was a prominent Reggae producer who was instrumental in the rise of the "Queen of Dancehall," Lady Saw; motivating Tifa to become a Dancehall artiste.

Tifa's love for the performing arts was evident during her time attending Wolmer’s Prep; becoming a part of the school's dance troupe with which she won a gold medal in the 1994 festival competition. Additionally, Tifa was a member of the school's choir & drama club; establishing a well-rounded core that helped shape her into a complete performer at an early age. She later became a member of Ashe Caribbean Performing Arts Academy and Ensemble; an internationally acclaimed performing arts group based in Kingston with which she toured with regionally & across North America

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August 3, 2011

Before They Were Stars With Konshens

By Marc Parc Writer


Popular Dancehall-Reggae singjay, Garfield Delano Spence, better known as Konshens, has emerged as one of the industry’s biggest players since he burst onto the Jamaican music scene in 2008. However, his desire to become more than just an artiste dates back to his younger days when he realized that music was his true calling.
Spence grew up in the tough community of Sherlock in Kingston; brought up by his mother, a cosmetologist and his father, a former member of the army. Following his graduation from Excelsior High School, Konshens became fascinated with the Gospel & Reggae genres & was particularly inspired by legendary Reggae singer, Beres Hammond. Such music helped teach Konshens the fundamentals required to become an all-rounded musician & soon committed to produce music that would not only be popular, but provoke strong thoughts in the minds of future fans.

Konshens initially debuted on the music scene as a part of the Sojah Brothers duo alongside his brother & fellow Dancehall-Reggae artiste, Delus. Their hit single “Pon Di Corner,” got little buzz in Jamaica but gained noteworthy buzz in Japan; earning them top 5 spots on the Japanese Reggae charts. The following year, the Sojah Brothers released their first studio album, “Sons Of Jah,” which was a big hit in Japan. Konshens & Delus proceeded to do a tour in Japan; building their international brand. Yet, Konshens still aspired to make it big in his native land.

In November 2007, Konshens was introduced to Natural Bridge Studios by's founder, Carlington Wilmot; enabling Konshens to record a single on Natural Bridge's Cranberry Riddim entitled "Street Life," that received rave reviews. The producers & CEO of Natural Bridge were so impressed with Konshens' flow; they immediately signed him to their label. The CEO, Mark Pinnock had a strong resume; working with artistes such as well-renowned Dancehall deejay, Bounty Killer & focused on helping build Konshens into the genre's next superstar.

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July 26, 2011

Before they were stars: I-Octane

By Marc Parc Writer


Byiome Muir, known more popularly as I-Octane has become one of Dancehall & Reggae music's hottest commodities. However, the "My Life" singer's journey to local & global musical success has been far from easy.

The Sandy Bay, Clarendon native had a natural born love for music; constantly belting out noises around his mother and siblings as a young child. As time evolved, Muir took his musical talents to school; looking to prove his versatility. Whether it was using the desks as drums, lyrical clashes with schoolmates, school functions or concerts, Muir's passion for music was evident. However, he initially didn't consider music as a career option despite his talents & focused on taking care of his single mother & sisters whilst pursuing his high school diploma.

Despite wanting to become an architect, Muir couldn't resist music & following graduation from high school, he vigorously pursued his desire to become a Dancehall sensation. At first, Muir performed hardcore Dancehall lyrics under the name "Richie Rich," & such lyrics grabbed the attention of Penthouse Records producer, Donovan Germaine. Whilst linking with Germaine, he spent time around some of the Reggae industry's biggest names like Tony Rebel & Buju Banton.

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