Tue | Oct 20, 2020

‘Diseases’ hitmaker sings new COVID-19 song

Published:Saturday | May 16, 2020 | 12:00 AMYasmine Peru/Senior Gleaner Writer

As the world races to find a vaccine that many hope will eradicate the dreaded COVID-19 disease, several singers and players of instruments have injected musical shots, in an attempt to help heal the virus-stricken world. Papa Michigan, of the famous duo Michigan and Smiley, has added his voice to the ever-increasing number of songs about the current pandemic, but his is unique in that it is loaded on a revamped version of the classic Gun Shot riddim.

It was in 1982 that Michigan and Smiley teamed up with ace producer, Henry ‘Junjo’ Lawes, and recorded their biggest hit, Diseases, a song whose relevance is as striking in 2020 as it was nearly four decades ago. Not surprisingly, Diseases has again found its way into people’s consciousness and, with it, a call for Papa Michi to “lick it over”. But the ever-fresh, rub-a-dub toaster had a slightly different plan.

“People wanted me to sing over Diseases and include COVID-19. I told them I wasn’t interested in doing that. I wanted to do what is happening now and, when Portmore got lockdown, the idea came,” the St Catherine resident told The Gleaner.

Titled Quarantine Lockdown, the single does many things – it pays tribute, it gives thanks, it creates laughter and it extols the virtues of love, even as it blasts “one of the wickedest ting fi cripple mankind”. Sounding serious, Papa Michigan, whose real name is Anthony Fairclough, explained exactly what he hopes to achieve with this song, which is produced by creative label Rub A Dub Mrkt.

“I am saluting the front-line workers for their heroic work fighting a battle without the proper equipment. I am taking out fear from the people who are traumatised by this and think staying home is boring, and I am putting some laughter into a bad situation,” he said.

Papa Michigan was one of the performers who gave freely of their time and talent for the recent Together We Stand COVID-19 Telethon, and he even mentions the online charity event in the track. Just like his other colleagues in entertainment, Papa Michigan is facing a barren 2020, as live shows have shrivelled up.


“My calendar is totally cancelled all over the world,” he told The Gleaner. “But I’m still writing and making songs such as this. As it relates to this virus, I haven’t the slightest idea of what is happening, but I know it will come to light very soon,” he said, sounding almost like a prophet.

According to the entertainer, when he was warning the world that “mind Jah lick yuh with diseases”, he didn’t think the song was prophetic, but he emphasised that he is only too aware that history has a way of repeating itself. “So, as an ardent reader of the Bible then, my faith told me that we, the ones that were suffering, will be set free and our captives will be rewarded with diseases,” he said.

In January, Papa Michigan released a 13-track album comprising remixed and brand-new songs, written and produced by him, along with a cast of cutting-edge co-producers, engineers, and musicians. Put Your Loving On Me, the title track, enjoyed its pre-release in September 2019, and climbed into the top 10 on charts in the Caribbean, as well as globally in Africa – Nigeria, Ghana, Gambia, and Senegal; Europe – the UK and France; and the Americas – USA, Canada, Mexico, Colombia, and Brazil.

Papa Michigan made his name with hit songs including Rub A Dub Style, Nice Up de Dance, One Love Jamdown, and, of course, Diseases.

Quarantine Lockdown was officially released on all platforms on May 14.