Pinchers takes 'don' from street to studio
Mel Cooke, Sunday Gleaner Writer
The term 'don' was well established by the time Pinchers declared I'm a Don on the King Jammy's label at the end of 1987. Not only had the first two films in the Godfather trilogy, released in 1972 and 1974 respectively, enshrined Don Corleone (first Vito, played by Marlon Brando and then Micheal, played by Al Pacino) in popular culture, but Edward Seaga's 'One Don' persona was also well established by an opposition determined to show a lack of democracy in the governing Jamaica Labour Party.
Plus, the euphemistic 'area leader' terminology had already given way to the titular 'don' for those of larger-than-corner-control status.
However, Pinchers tells The Sunday Gleaner that he was not looking at the headlines when he wrote I'm a Don and recorded it at King Jammy's Studio in Waterhouse, St Andrew. He was listening to the streets.
"Them time when it come out, it was the street talk. 'Yow me don! Easy no me don!' It was not a man who a run off a area or a place. It was a title you could call any man ... Is a good rhyme. A man have four girl say him is a don," Pinchers said.
So he claimed his musical donship, after a series of hits that began with Lift It Up Again, continued with Champion Bubbler and hit a sexual high for the ladies with Siddung Pon It - innuendo and all. Pinchers sang:
"I'm a don
Then a who is Donovan if I'm a don?
No dance nah ram until the Pinchers on the mic
Sing 'Lif' it up Again', 'Joker Lover'
So we have the dance under fire
Ram it in the east, we ram it on the west
Singing on the mic and it is no contest
I'm singing just because of your request"
Pinchers said he did I'm a Don "on all the sounds in Kingston 13 surroundings". That included Sugar Minott's Youthman Promotion, Afro Bean Lawn on Waltham Park Road, one of the many venues where Pinchers announced his donship in song before committing it to record.
That foundation paid off, as he tells The Sunday Gleaner "when it record the fans take on to it and give me forward".
Pinchers had to work his way up to don status, as he points out that in his early days "me a look up to Michael Prophet and Michael Palmer and Junior Reid. Them was the big artiste. Me look up to them lad to know me work the mic after them and get a forward".
Recording A hit
I'm a Don was recorded in the midday hours "when the business ripe up, dub plate a ripe up. If we do anything else we do it in the morning, then is business at Jammy's. With Jammy's we never used to take the rhythm and carry home. We used to go and hear a thing and say this can fit on the rhythm. Or the rhythm tell you".
And when he recorded I'm a Don, Pinchers knew he had a hit on his hands. "You see, you going to have a whole heap of yes man. But certain time you see the expression and you know the gesture genuine. We feel it too, to how it and the rhythm merge and how long them play it back in the studio. And how much time you have to play it," he said.
"You know you have a hit when the song too short when you play it. You have to rewind it, because you jus' inna it," Pinchers said.
I'm a Don duly hit the top of the charts and Pinchers says with casual confidence "in that time me a run the place. So that was one of the number one".
He also uses another yardstick to measure how much of a hit a song is - "when you do a song and people start give you a name off it, people start call you don". So it was common to hear commercials for concerts announcing 'Pinchers the Don'.
And Pinchers says I'm a Don "help me to stabilise me ranking in the business, categorise me in me own little settings. People look at me because of the rest of things and don fit the purpose. Even my dress code make me stand out".
"Me stand out over many things due to my presentation," Pinchers said.