Dancehall tunes by the year
Mel Cooke, Gleaner Writer
On this final Sunday in 2014, as time marches inexorably on it is a good time to remember some dancehall songs that have marked particular years in Jamaican music.
Since Sting is in the air, a good starting point is firebrand poet DYCR's piece about the 2003 event, when Kartel and Ninja Man had an encounter which ended in an onstage fracas. He identifies not only the year but also the number of the event's "anniworseary", certainly a step down from the planned anniversary.
Many years before that, Lt Stitchie marked his progression by years and climbing the deejay ladder to his best-known rank. Riding the same rhythm on which Leroy Gibbons did a remake of Four Season Lover, Stitchie said:
"Inna 1983 me a St Catherine champion
1981 them used to call me corporal
Inna 1982 them start to call me sergeant
But '84 and then on a strictly lieutenant"
With the 'hot period' of deejays notoriously short-lived, ruling dancehalls and stage shows is a rather precarious business. So Admiral Bailey, deejay and football coach, after being very hot in the mid-1980s with Punaany and the radio-friendly version Healthy Body, as well as NFAP Man (also on the rhythm to Four Season Lover) and No Weh No Better Than Yard, found the need to declare his relevance in 1987.
The song was Think Me Did Done, which begins with an unforgettable belly laugh, followed by the chorus "oonu think say me done, but me jus a come." The year comes after he has declared his prowess and continued plans to "hot up the spot." Then he deejays:
"Ol me no ol man
Young me young
Green me green
An me jus' a blossom
After 87 there's a lot more to come"
As time went on, in more recent performances the Admiral has changed the line to deejay "after the year 2000 there is a lot more to come".
Spragga Benz's 1998 stands out as a song which looks forward to the year ahead, expressing a wish list that even Santa Claus would have a problem delivering on. It is a wonderful lyric, as Mr Grant (his real name is Carlton Grant) covers from some big lazy gal sweeping up their gateways to the Reggae Boyz doing well in France.
One of the really choice lines, though, was Spragga requesting that "PJ Patterson fi lock back de gate/An try no make no more a we future escape."
There are not many lines in Lexxus' (or Mr Lexx or just Lexx) Full Hundred, but in the delightful track he makes a promise about delivering in the new millennium. In the introduction he identifies a year ("You know how it is, 2001"), but in making the pledge to give it his all the deejay names an earlier year - though not by far.
He deejays "fi de whole 2000 we a gi dem full hundred" and "2000 now so whe we a go do, give it to dem".
Still, there was a hint that there had been doubts about his longevity, as in the song he deejays "guess who's back in the new millennium".