A Wild Apache honoured in song
The 30th anniversary staging of Sting on Boxing Day 2013 was built largely around a rare Jamaican performance by deejay William ‘Super Cat’ Maragh, also widely called the Wild Apache and Don Dada among dancehall enthusiasts. Two years later, on the first leg of the recently concluded Welcome to Jamrock Reggae Cruise, he was introduced as a living legend on a line-up that included Elephant Man, Busy Signal, Popcaan, Jah Cure and Bounty Killer.
Super Cat’s influence is obvious in the voices of deejays Sean Paul, Damian ‘Jr Gong’ Marley and Hollow Point and no retro party is complete without Don Dada and Ghetto Red Hot.
The deejay’s lasting influence is remarkable for someone who has performed very sparingly in Jamaica since Sting 1991, when he clashed with Ninja Man in an unforgettable encounter, and was not part of the dramatic change in dancehall beats in the early 1990s (Scalp Dem was a very rare exception). Still, a Super Cat dub plate remains a very precious thing – ask David Rodigan, whose cut of Don Dada is guaranteed to 'turn dance over'.
This enduring ‘ratings’ is evident in how Super Cat has been name checked by a generation of artistes who were born long after the Wild Apache was ruling the roost on Kilamanjaro sound system and were perhaps babies when his Ghetto Red Hot album was released through Columbia Records.
One of those is from Jr Gong in Beautiful, the combination with Bobby Brown from his 2005 album, Welcome to Jamrock. Super Cat is among the essential listening material for the man and his mate:
“So we listen couple speech a Martin Luther chat
Dennis Brown, Bob Marley and some Super Cat”
Reinforcing the reference is a shout out of “Super Cat!” in the background.
Assassin may not call Super Cat’s name in the 2009 remake of the Boops rhythm, but then it is automatic that the deejay be remembered when the rhythm which he has the title song on, reappears about two decades after first issue. Assassin deejays:
“Go check yu Granny or yu Daddy
Gwaan go ask somebody
Or go look inna yu history books
Cause yu won’ know 10 cent bulla
Paper one dollar
Or when woman used to call man boops”
In a performance at the White River Park in 1994, Super Cat deejayed the song about a man who shells out money for his lady and got to the point where he said:
“Put up yu han if yu have yu boopsie
Who no have a go dead fi hungry”
He was unhappy with the reaction of some men in the audience, as they put up their hands. Super Cat stopped the music and said “hol on man, a waapen to dem bredda whe a put up dem han? A whe oonu come from? MoBay? Hol on man. I ask de girl dem if dem have no boops an I see some man a put up dem han. Watch it y’nuh. Wha oonu waan do, cut de girls dem hustling short? Check out if da crew deh come from anyweh a Mobay or inna from de ... zone a Kingston. Check dem out, see me.”
As the crowd cheered he continued deejaying “anyway, me cry see boobs ya run come hug him up...”
His distinctive voice, lyrics, smooth style and sharp dressing apart, Super Cat is legendary for hurling a bottle back into the crowd at Sting 1991, when the glassware rained during his encounter with Ninja Man. It is a moment carved into dancehall history, which dub poet DYCR referred to in an especially missile heavy Sting year, its 20th anniversary in 2003.
It was the year of the encounter between Vybz Kartel and Ninja Man on stage which got physical. For DYCR, though, if any came his way, there would be a reaction, to "return one back like Super Cat."