Entertainment

Roberts earns the O D

BY BALFORD HENRY
Observer senior reporter
balfordh@jamaicaobserver.com

Monday, October 21, 2019

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Losing his job as a technician at Stax Electronics in Kingston 34 years ago was perhaps the best thing that could have happened to Patrick Leroy Roberts.

In his search to earn a living, Roberts called on the skills he learnt while at Stax to create the Shocking Vibes Crew, which defined inner-city dancehall music and became one of the genre's most powerful labels.

Roberts' original cast included Beenie Man and his protégé Little Kirk. But things really kicked off for the fledgling company in 1989 when Little Lenny, a 17-year-old Kingston College student, made them a household name with his risqué hit song, Gun Inna Baggy.

Since then, Roberts has made an indelible impression on Jamaican culture through music and social intervention. He has been president of Arnett Gardens Football Club, and organised Ghetto Splash, an annual free concert that started in his native Craig Town.

Roberts extended his efforts to the Molynes Gardens community where he was elected councillor and later became candidate for the People's National Party (PNP) for St Andrew West Central, where he lost to current Prime Minister Andrew Holness in the general elections of 2011 and 2016.

Interestingly, it is during Holness' tenure that Roberts is being honoured today with the Order of Distinction, Jamaica's sixth-highest honour, during the annual National Honours and Awards ceremony at King's House.

“Despite the fact that we represent different political parties, I think we still have a very good relationship and I hope it stays that way,” Roberts told the Jamaica Observer.

With a discography loaded with hits including Beenie Man's Who Am I? (Sim Simma), World Dance, Girls Dem Sugar and Wickedest Slam, Roberts must be ranked among Jamaica's most successful music producers.

At their peak in the 1990s, Shocking Vibes recorded top Jamaican artistes including 'Crew' members Tanto Metro and Devonte, Snagga Puss and General B. Dennis Brown, Buju Banton, Lt Stichie, Tiger, Mad Cobra, Capleton, Buccaneer, Sanchez, Wayne Wonder, Richie Stephens, Jack Radics, Lady Saw and Ghost, also did songs for the label.

Shocking Vibes shared premises at Slipe Road in Kingston with Donovan Germain's Penthouse studios, making that property the heart of dancehall music during the 1990s.

In terms of social work, Roberts served as chairman of the Craig Town Youth Organisation, which enabled youth from St Andrew Southern to stage Jamaica's first Inner City Peace Conference in the 1980s.

He also assisted them to start projects like a profitable block factory and a callaloo and pak choi garden. After a successful stint, Roberts gave up presidency of the Arnett Gardens Football Club in 2018.


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