Mega Banton’s Sound Boy Killing turns 30
Dancehall artiste Mega Banton remembers the first time that he heard Sound Boy Killing on the radio.
“I was listening to Irie FM and GT Taylor was working the shift. He played it like eight times that night. Him hype up the song and when I heard it I was like, “Yow, the song gone.’ It was like a different level of feelings. It felt great,” Mega Banton recalled.
Sound Boy Killing, his first hit single, produced by Maurice “Jack Scorpio” Johnson for Black Scorpio Records, was released in the summer of 1993. The song spent four weeks at #1 on the RJR Top 40 chart. It ranked at #3 for the year on the station’s Top 100 songs survey.
Taylor, who still works at Irie FM, said he was drawn to Mega Banton’s energy and style which prompted him to play the song.
“It was about his energy and his style, and also I saw great potential in him. That song I had a gut feeling that it was gonna be one of the songs that was gonna be lasting,” Taylor shared in an interview with the Jamaica Observer on Wednesday.
Taylor added: “Mega Banton was one of those artistes that had great talent that I think should be heard. That song was definitely a gem.”
Sound Boy Killing‘s success locally was later felt in the urban market in the United States, where it was released by VP Records. It’s impact drew the attention of Relativity Records, an affiliate label of Sony Music, which signed the deejay to an album deal.
The song reached #94 on the Billboard R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart and it also made the Dance chart at #19.
“Is a whole heap of doors that song open fi mi career. VP [Records] was responsible for the album First Position, [Sound Boy Killing was included on the album], and the song started creeping up on the international scene. Salaam Remi did a remix and it started to play in the hip hop clubs and on BET, then I was performing in venues that only hip hop artistes performed in. I started hanging out with rap artistes and I even did collaborations with some of them, because of how big the song was,” Mega Banton recalled, adding that he is grateful for what the song had done for his career and the love that it still receives today.
When Sound Boy Killing took off, Mega Banton was a student at the St Andrew Technical High School (STATHS).
“I was going to STATHS at the time, but I ended up leaving because I decided to choose music,” he said.
His mother wasn’t pleased with his career choice, as she had hoped he would have entered medicine.
“My mother didn’t want me to do music. She wanted me to become a doctor, but sometimes you have to find your own talent. My father had a passion for music because he had a little sound system that I used to DJ on. He had more of an idea of what I wanted to do,” said Mega Banton.
After 30 years, Sound Boy Killing continues to enjoy rotation at retro parties.
“It’s always a good feeling to know that yuh put een the work and up to this day people still appreciate and love the energy. Sound Boy Killing is not just a hit song; it’s a classical hit song that years and, decades later, people can still appreciate and love it,” Mega Banton disclosed.
He recalled the recording session for the song at Johnson’s Black Scorpio Recording Studio situated in the Drewsland community in Kingston.
“Every Mega Banton recording session is exciting. The vibes were high energy because, at the time, I was just coming up and Scorpio believed in me. I used to leave school and go to the studio to record songs. Everybody was into the song while I was recording it. The studio was in a frenzy; people were bussing blanks and a say, ‘Da song ya gone,’ ” said Mega Banton.
Sound Boy Killing is a salute to the sound system culture. The song took the melody from Buju Banton’s Red Rose, which was produced by Donovan Germain.
“The inspiration for the song’s melody came from a Buju Banton song. Stone Love had the dub plate and I was going to dances and I used to hear Wee Pow (Winston Powell) play it and mi say, ‘Da song deh bad.’ And mi use the melody. Mi fall in love with sound system culture from dem time deh. I just flip the melody to do a song for the sound systems, weh all a dem can play it like dem anthem,” Mega Banton shared.
He added: “The song changed mi life and how mi look at life, and how people look at you. Me start have money at a young age, mi coulda buy weh mi want, dub plate a come een, mi start fly go farin. Music changed mi life in many ways.”
Today, Mega Banton resides between Waterford in Portmore, St Catherine; as well as New York and Oakland, California, in the US.
He continues to release music.