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Chaka Demus’ ‘Original Kuff’ featured in Starz crime drama series

Published:Tuesday | November 16, 2021 | 12:07 AMStephanie Lyew /Gleaner Writer
Chaka Demus says he certainly didn’t expect anyone to unearth his 1980s track ‘Original Kuff’ and use it for something like a crime or drama series.
Chaka Demus says he certainly didn’t expect anyone to unearth his 1980s track ‘Original Kuff’ and use it for something like a crime or drama series.

Ragga dancehall still packs some power, says veteran recording artiste Chaka Demus, whose 1980s single, Original Kuff ,became part of the track list for the Starz crime drama series, Hightown. The series stars Monica Raymund as Jackie Quiñones, a national marine fisheries service agent in Massachusetts who abuses alcohol and drugs. She finds the body of a murdered woman, which launches an investigation by detectives, played by James Badge Dale and Dohn Norwood, into Cape Cod organised crime.

“When I first wrote Original Kuff, it was about clashing in dances, nothing related to what this series is about. The slang ‘kuff’ referred to the power of my lyrics that could, figuratively speaking, knock out any guy that tried to attack,” Chaka Demus told The Gleaner.

“I didn’t expect anyone to unearth this track for something like a crime or drama series and use it,” he continued.

Hightown debuted on the popular American premium cable and satellite television network on May 17, 2020, and was renewed for a second season, which premiered on October 17. Chaka Demus’ single was featured last Sunday in Episode Five, subtitled, Dot Dot Dot.

The track, which was recorded for King Jammy’s, is characterised by having a minor chord bassline and choppy riffs, which made it a popular pick among sound systems he said.

“I remember recording a lot of specials, performing for sound systems worldwide. I performed Original Kuff a lot in the dancehall world in the ‘80s and early ‘90s when I was doing my solo act.

The artiste said that there is much to celebrate as the news of Original Kuff being featured in the crime drama series comes only fa ew weeks after hearing that his reggae compatriot Sister Nancy was also being spotlighted. Her legendary rendition of Bam Bam on one of over 40 tracks added to the Netflix series Maid.

It was inspired by Toots and The Maytals’ song of the same title recorded in 1966. Chaka Demus and Pliers also sampled and covered the song in its entirety for their single Murder She Wrote.

He said: “Chaka Demus and Pliers always give thanks when another artiste is getting the honours. Sister Nancy is an original deejay from dem time deh ‘til now. I have to say, that we, not just me, glad to see the light that is being shined on her and the music. Reggae and dancehall get a whole heap a fight, but we still here pushing it. So from Nancy get highlights, we have to endorse her and bless her up too. That was a great look for Bam Bam.”

Chaka Demus shared that he is looking forward to more of his music being used in future film and television productions but more so, that any music created by our local acts “receives the credits it deserves”.

When asked if the producers have compensated and credited him properly for the use of Original Kuff, he answered to the point:“Yes they have.”

“Jamaica’s music is timeless, but as an industry, we need to promote the positive music and leave out the hype,” Chaka Demus continued.

He is preparing to release a music video on November 26 for his single, Building Bridges, which speaks to promoting positive music and connecting people, which he stated was of “film soundtrack standards, too”.