Ini Kamoze – Pirate
Astounding Debut Album
Cecil Campbell better known as Ini Kamoze made his recording debut in 1980/81 with three singles on the Mogho Naba label – “World Affair”, Trainers, and “Mer Ter Ler”. About two years later he began to work with Sly & Robbie, who started recording tunes with him at the famed Channel One Recording Studio, located at 29 Maxfield Avenue in the heart of west Kingston. In 1983, they put out the 7″ singles “World A Music” and “Trouble You A Trouble Me” on their own Taxi label. After he’d been signed to Island Records, Sly & Robbie produced Ini Kamoze’s first three albums, “Ini Kamoze” (1984), “Statement” (1984) and “Pirate” (1986). His astounding debut album, with six vocal cuts followed by their dub versions, was Sly & Robbie’s best shot in reply to the then dominant Roots Radics sound.
After Island Records had released Ini Kamoze’s highly successful eponymous debut album, the record company got it a litle wrong when they tried to present him to a broader audience as a poetic singer/songwriter: rather, Ini Kamoze was as concerned as anyone with the usual dancehall topics, but addresed them with lyrics that were a little more distanced than those of his contemporaries. Besides that Sly & Robbie’s production style became very similar to their heavily synthesized formula heard on Black Uhuru’s recordings from the same period, which actually wasn’t the approach the Ini Kamoze had intended for his music.
Sly & Robbie
In an interview with reggae journalist John Masouri he stated: “The production was geared to feature Sly & Robbie, that was part of Island’s plan all along. It wasn’t based on anything artistic, but was intended to highlight the sound they created with a lot of synthesizers an’ t’íng.” Even though he had a contract to do another couple of albums, he decided to stop working with the Riddim Twins and Island Records, so “Pirate” was the last one he did with them.
Arguably, the largely overproduced 8-track “Pirate” album is the least of Ini Kamoze’s first three albums. At the time of its release the album received mixed reactions from connoisseurs and fans alike and wasn’t as successful as his previous two sets. Too often the singer’s signature mantra-like voice drowns in synthesizer-drenched backdrops. In particular of interest here are the lyrics of the songs like for example in the idiosyncratic tune “Betty Brown’s Mother” and the album’s title track, which deals with the singer’s experience with Island Records. “Pirate” details Ini Kamoze’s feelings towards the questionable business practices of Island’s founder Chris Blackwell and his associates.