Howard Campbell, Sunday Gleaner Writer
The gang violence that has gripped Spanish Town for more than a decade has made it one of Jamaica's most volatile areas. Chanter-producer Muscle Emanuel hopes to give youth from the Old Capital an alternative through music with his Afrikan Bump Muzik label.
Several artistes from Spanish Town are featured on two compilation albums produced by Emanuel. One highlights the 'No Slavery' rhythm and the other is a self-titled collection of songs he recorded with established acts such as Gregory Isaacs.
"Wi really want the label rise up an' help the youths dem. It's all about quality music, no hype," Emanuel said.
The dreadlocked vocalist established Afrikan Bump in 2007, shortly after returning from Britain where he lived for five years. Since making his recording debut in the mid-1980s, Emanuel had recorded for high-profile producers including Phillip 'Fattis' Burrell, David 'Tappa Zukie' Sinclair and Richard Bell, but said it was not until he went to Britain that he matured as an artiste.
While in London, he recorded duets with Isaacs (Love Yu Mom) and Little Roy (Weh Yu Dread Fa) which are included on the 10-track Muscle Emanuel.
The No Slavery compilation has songs by big names like Lutan Fyah (Kick Babylon), Tony Rebel (Hi-ly Name) and Michael Rose (Lightning and Thunda), but Emanuel said he is excited about the prospects of Spanish Town-reared acts such as Gary Minott and Hiyah Rems.
wants to set up studio
"It good fi work wid man like Rebel but nuff a the youth dem a my likkle warrior dem. Wi waan set up a studio so the works can manifest even more," he said.
Muscle Emanuel was born Carl Blackwood at Orange Street in downtown Kingston and remembers hanging around that area's music scene as a youth, but he actually got his start as an artiste with the Far West label in Negril.
He moved to Spanish Town in the 1980s and recalls a vibrant sound system circuit there at the time. Sounds like Stereo One helped give deejays Papa San and Lieutenant Stitchie their start and they subsequently put the town's dancehall sound on the map.
Muscle Emanuel hopes to release new material on the Afrikan Bump label this summer.