Ini Kamoze – Ini Kamoze
Sly & Robbie
Commercially Henry “Junjo” Lawes and Jammy dominated the dancehall era, but arguably the most innovative form of dancehall music was to be found on Sly & Robbie’s Taxi label. In addition to running their own business, the Riddim Twins or Dynamic Duo as they were also called, were involved in countless recording sessions for other producers, offering the one commercially viable alternative to the rulers of the Kingston studios, the Roots Radics and the High Times band. Sly & Robbie particularly shaped the sounds on imprints from other Jamaican producers such as George Phang, Clive Jarrett & Beswick “Bebo” Philip’s, Myrie Lewis & Errol Marshall, and Phillip “Fatis” Burrell, all of which were heavily dependent on the duo’s progressive sound.
After having released popular records by Gregory Isaacs, Junior Delgado, Wailing Souls, The Viceroys, and the Michael Rose-led Black Uhuru, the career of Ini Kamoze – possibly the most progressive singer to emerge in the dancehall era – was also successfully launched by Sly & Robbie with the 1983 hit single “Trouble You A Trouble Me”. Ini Kamoze (real name Cecil Campbell) actually came to Sly & Robbie’s attention through Jimmy Cliff, who had made a demo tape of the six tracks that would make up the artist’s astounding 1984 self-titled debut album, released five years after Henry “Junjo” Lawes and Barrington Levy began the ‘Dancehall Style’. The (mini-)album came out on Island Records, with the people of this major label getting it a little wrong when they tried to present him to a broader audience as a poetic singer-songwriter. However, Ini Kamoze was as concerned as anyone with the usual dancehall topics, but addressed them with lyrics that were a little more distanced than those of his contemporaries.
Opening the 6-track album, which was recorded at the Channel One studio in one hour, is the killer “Trouble You A Trouble Me”, the hit single that established him. The riddim of this piece, and also of the other tracks, has a metallic, almost non-human sound – sometimes also referred to as ‘robotic’ – which anticipated the digital revolution in Jamaica’s popular music. The amazing album opener is matched by the other tracks, which all became major hits and resulted in one of the biggest selling reggae albums of the time – although moneywise the artist himself didn’t benefit from it. “World-A-Music”, the song with the catch phrase “Out on the streets they call it merther (later: murder)” and its infectious riddim, is probably the most appealing and best known song of this timeless collection. However, kudos also have to go to the other pieces included on this platter as they’re all big tunes that have stood the test of time. Listening to both sides of the reissued LP, it’s obvious that this is Sly & Robbie’s best shot in reply to the dominant Roots Radics sound of the time.