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Dancehall mothers get more than general mention

Published:Sunday | May 8, 2016 | 12:00 AMMel Cooke
Ivy Williams (right), mother of Bounty Killer, poses beside her son, as he signed autograph after a church service in 2010. She passed away in 2012.

Love for the mother is one of dancehall's recurring song themes and guarantees a positive response for a selector at a session.

Apart from general love for the mother (which is not matched by similar sentiments for fathers, indicating an imbalance in parental involvement), there are specific mothers who are so intertwined with their performer sons' lives that they make it on to record.

Shabba Ranks' Mama Christie has transcended dancehall generations. When her son was blazing international trails as dancehall's Grammy Kid in the early 1990s, she was part of the Jamaican connection with the man who was coming back home as an image of a big star on US cable channels.

Now, for another deejay, Mama Christie is a touchstone in Seaview Gardens, St Andrew.

Dexta Daps' 2015 Shabba Madda Pot is not about the content of that container, but a reference to its heat when it is on the fire as evidenced by the smoke - which he links to another kind of smoke and fire. Dexta Daps deejays:

"Daseca when de grabba hot

Scheme hot like Shabba madda pot

Shot fire every man a drop flat."

While Mama Christie is mentioned, the song's content is not all warm and cuddly as it is replete with violent references.

So is another song from a deejay connected with Seaview Gardens whose mother's name is in his song. Bounty Killer's 1990s, Miss Ivy Last Son, identifies his mother in the title and invites his enemies to their doom in its content:

"Run come up inna me Magnum bway

Stan up in front me shotgun bway

Disrespec' Miss Ivy las' son

An yu life disappear."

Garnet Silk's Mama, does not mention his mother's name and is an adaptation of Patches (Clarence Carter's version won a Grammy Award in 1971 for Best Rhythm and Blues Song). The original is about a dying father's instructions to his eldest son to keep the family going and his mother's support as they go through a series of trials:

"Lord, give him the strength to face another day

Though years have passed and all the kids are gone

I aimed to take my mama to a brand new home

God knows people that I shed a tear

My daddy's voice helped me through the years

Sayin, "Patches, I'm depending on you son

To pull the family through..."

Silk and his mother, Etiga Gray, are forever linked in death as they were in life. On December 9, 1994, both died in a fire at her home in Manchester.

Riche Stephens' Pot of Gold (done in tandem with Bounty Killer) is a tribute to mother ("Mama you deserve a pot of gold/You taught me how to survive"). Both Stephens' mother, Miss Carmen, and Miss Ivy are in the music video.

Stephens goes a step further with Mama Carmen, as they perform together in Shine, which is on Stephens' Pot of Gold label.

The song begins: "Now here is an inspiring story about a lady and her son."

It could be their tale.