Hoarse, humorous Yellowman at Kgn Rock
Mel Cooke, Gleaner Writer
There is no doubt that Yellowman's voice is not as strong and clear as it once was. In fact, he sounds outright permanently hoarse, the vocals often fighting a losing battle with the volume of the rhythm.
However, while his vocal prowess is diminished - chances are some of the attrition due to the cancer which has ravaged the left side of his face - Yellowman, the crack deejay and all-round wisecracking entertainer is very much intact. As is his body in general, as he showed with high knee lifts at points. And so is the reputation and catalogue he has built up since the early 1980s, when I'm Getting Married established a semi-singing style of deejaying and announced the betrothal of the man who would go on to become king to the reggae nation.
The persons (including a significant number of Japanese) in the average-sized turnout at Pulse's Trafalgar Road, New Kingston, headquarters on Sunday night for the weekly Kingston Rock, duly gave a blue basketball outfit-clad Yellowman an honourable welcome and seemed forgiving of the less than stellar power and clarity of voice.
The songs Yellowman did, in a surprisingly brief showing, have the impact of time-honoured favourites, many of them interrupted by the cheers that demanded a restart in the sound system-style delivery.
The first two songs Zungguzungguguzunguzeng and I'm Getting Married, which he dedicated to Ce'Cile who was in the audience received that treatment, Yellowman doing the flip side of nuptials with "I'm getting divorced in the evening".
The strong start continued with the observation "a lot of man nah get no woman tonight", which the ladies heartily agreed to. It was the start of a run of sensual songs, the women cheering as Yellowman deejayed, "she want de ring ding a ding inna har ting" and giving "thanks for the breeze that blowses/and blows through the treeses/and lift up the young girls dresses/and blows it above their kneeses".
"I don't call it slackness. I call it entertainment," Yellowman said.
Yellowman came up to more recent dancehall times with Orphan, which documents his early years of rejection, rode the 'Taxi' rhythm with Bam Bam, cracked a couple jokes (one of which fell flat) and declared his uniqueness with "one Yellowman in the world".
The pair of Blueberry Hill and Three Nights a Week lifted the crowd's enthusiasm several notches, back into 'forward' territory. And Yellowman was not unmindful of memories. "Oonnu remember. Me grateful," he said after the howls for Blueberry Hill. He pointed out that he is touring all over the world, even though he does not do many shows in Jamaica.
"Some media them don't know. Them in a little box. Them no know sey a me a one of the first go Israel, as a dancehall artiste," Yellowman said.
There was applause when Yellowman said he toured East Germany before the Berlin Wall came down and cheers when he spoke about being escorted by Scotland Yard.
"Me a the only dancehall artiste in the Guinness Book of Records," he claimed.
Yellowman closed by adjusting a line of Three Nights a Week to "me gone". His return was demanded and he did go back to the stage, but it was only to dispense some advice about being good, careful and nice, then the King was off the stage again.