Happy birthday, Godfather of Dancehall Sugar Minott
It was on the eve of the birthday of Sugar Minott, the Godfather of Dancehall, that the highly anticipated Verzus clash featuring dancehall gladiators Beenie Man and Bounty Killer, splendidly showed off Jamaica to the nearly half a million persons tuned in on Instagram to watch, and Sugar’s widow, Maxine Stowe, is bursting with pride. She noted that with the Swizz Beats-Timbaland-conceptualised Verzus narrative now trending, and the subsequent uptick in referencing dancehall, Sugar’s legacy in that space takes on even greater significance.
“On Saturday night, dancehall excelled amongst a hip-hop platform,” she enthused about this history-making event. “Sugar had collaborations with both Beenie Man ( Tune In) and Bounty Killer ( Buy Out the Bar) and, of course, his background as a selector and sound system operator ties neatly into all of this. The creation of a dancehall museum becomes even more imperative,” Stowe said.
The original diamond in the rough, Sugar Minott, as a youth from Maxfield Park, emerged as a selector for the Sound Of Silence sound system, the springboard from which he would go on to make dancehall history. “He played a vital role in Studio One with the rhythm do-overs that became a basis for the dancehall history and for Studio One regaining a competitive edge with Channel One. Sugar established his own Black Roots Sound System, and then Youthman Promotions and his own recording studio. The plan is to the develop that space as a solid history of the role of the sound system in Jamaican music, from dancehall the place to dancehall the genre,” Stowe told The Gleaner.
Lincoln Barrington ‘Sugar’ Minott would have turned 64 today, and it marks the culmination of three days of celebration which kicked off on Saturday with a sound system marathon. Starting at 2 p.m. today, his family and business well-wishers, along with the Youthman Promotions teams, will host various tributes and interviews on Zoom. There will be both live and pre-recorded inputs from persons such as The African Brothers (Eric Bubbles/Tony Tuff), Sly Dunbar, Donovan Germain, Tony Rebel and Queen Ifrica, Lloyd ‘Bullwackies’ Barnes, The Wailers Trio, and other personalities from the sound system marathon.
There will be a special interview with Beth Lessor, author of the book The Legend of Sugar Minott & Youth Promotion, and Stowe will explore Sugar Minott’s legacy and the strategies to develop and monetise his assets. Other activities include a special live mixtape preview of Sugar Minott’s last album for the Studio One label recorded at Coxsone’s Music City, interspersed with a range of children and grandchildren giving their tributes with a virtual cake-cutting experience. His daughter Swnkah will premiere her first Jamaican single, Tek It To Dem.
Sugar Minott, who possessed a voice that smoothly fit all styles of reggae and dancehall, chose themes that ranged from his love affair with ganja – think anthems such as Herbsman Hustling and Mr DC – to his relationships with the opposite sex. Obviously as sweet as the condiment after which he is named, Sugar was certainly not shy when it came to singing about his ability to attract women to himself, just like bees to honey.
Stowe, when asked about the stuff that made the late, legendary singer, sound system owner and producer so special, alluded to this very trait, among others. She shared a quote from a book about Sugar being a romantic. “As he states in his early hit, Lover’s Race, Sugar had ‘more than one woman’ in his life, and lived with all the complications such an arrangement can bring. A born romantic, the only thing Sugar loved as much as music was being in love, and he frequently was in love.” In the mentioned single, Lovers Race, one of his hit songs, Sugar croons seductively, “More than one woman in my life, everyone a dem a fight fi be my wife … I’ve got enough love for everyone, yeah, only jealousy just a spoil up mi plan.”
Happy birthday, Godfather of Dancehall.