Welcome to Seaview Gardens
The musical side of Seaview Gardens
This is the first of a 10-part series called Pon Di Ends which we feature communities that have influenced Jamaica's music.
ENTERING the Corporate Area community of Seaview Gardens, the visitor is greeted by a faded sign that reads 'Welcome to Seaview Gardens, Walk, Ride and Drive with Care'.
Like most inner-city communities in Kingston, Seaview Gardens has been plagued by crime and gang violence. But the area is also a nursery for many reggae/dancehall artistes.
It was once home to Bounty Killer, Shabba Ranks, the Scare Dem Crew, Innocent Crew and Ishawna.
Singer Nitty Kutchie is a former member of the Scare Dem Crew, which also included Elephant Man, Boom Dandemite and Harry Toddler.
Now 43, Nitty Kutchie (real name Andrew Reid) makes regular visits to his old stomping ground where his mother still lives.
Splash caught up with the singer yesterday as he chatted with his 'brethren' on Caribbean Sea Drive, a section of Seaview Gardens known to residents as Nitty Gritty.
"Seaview helps me to be the type of 'gangsta' singer I am today. It helps me to be tough, in a positive way, as I sing about what I see and hear. The surroundings helped me a lot," he said. "This was the same corner that I used to sit with my friends, some of who have passed away violently. This block is the inspiration behind some of my singles."
Not far away, his mother Gloria Gordon serves lunches to customers. She has been doing this to support her family for years.
"I had to be tough for her and my sister, but I am not a criminal. One has to be tough with knowledge as most of the brave people I know are in their graves," said Nitty Kutchie, who was actually born in Westmoreland.
He relocated with his family to Seaview Gardens in the 1980s, when he was 13 years old. As a teenager, he worked the sound system circuit and was inspired by singers like Wayne Smith, Michael Buckley and Sanchuz B.
"I was a bit shy to sing around Wayne and Michael as they were better singers than me, but Sanchuz B always encouraged me and told me to do renditions of Dennis Brown's singles," he recalled.
In the 1990s, Nitty Kutchie joined Scare Dem Crew under the mentorship of Bounty Killer. The crew culture dominated the dancehall at the time and Scare Dem hit charts with songs like Many Many, Girls Everyday, Scare Dem Way and Nuh Dress Like Girl.
They disbanded after two successful albums in 1999. Nitty Kutchie went on to release solo singles like Do or Die, Jah Deliver Me, Let Me Love You, Ghetto, Trust God and Who Start the War.
Another resident of Nitty Gritty is veteran deejay Jason 'Sweetness' Clarke who is known for songs like Seen it With my Own Eyes, Party Time (a collaboration with Future Fambo) and Seaview Mi Seh.
His home boasts a studio where he records homegrown artistes.
"One of the aim is to help to establish the careers of upcoming acts as Seaview is full of talent," Sweetness said.
He is not the only operator of a recording studio in Nitty Gritty. Three houses away, up-and-coming deejay Orville 'Spade' Swaby is busy recording tracks in his home studio. His goal is to empower Seaview's youth through music.
"I want to be well-rounded so I invest in a studio. This will benefit the community in the future and help to shine a different light on our community. Seaview is not always about violence, we are striving to make it a major place for entertainment," said Swaby.