Jammy, the all-rounderTuesday, February 25, 2020
BY BRIAN BONITTO
ARGUABLY Jamaica's greatest dancehall music producer, Lloyd “King Jammy” James describes himself as an “all-round sports man”.
“Mi use to play fi Waterhouse [Football] Club. Only di people a Waterhouse know, nuh body else nuh know because dem never used to establish dem ting deh big. Yuh never used to have di coverage like now, where you have a lot of media coverage,” James told the Jamaica Observer.
“It was from '67 going up to the '70s. Mi use to play right wing, an' centre forward... in Major League and Division One,” he continued.
According to the producer, he established himself in other sports, including swimming, table tennis, cricket, and high jump.
“Mi captain Jamaica All 4-H cricket team. Mi use to skipper my side — Cockburn Pen School...a Coburn Gardens dem call it now. Mi use to skipper all St Patrick Catholic Church side on Bay Farm Road,” he recounted.
James is one of two people being honoured at the 39th Bob Marley One Love Football Match, scheduled for Harbour View Mini-Stadium in Kingston, tomorrow.
The other is veteran deejay Papa Michigan.
James is pleased with the acknowledgement.
“Getting an award, any award, is a beautiful thing. Dat mean people recognise you for di work that you've done in di business. It's a wonderful thing,” he said.
A protégé of legendary dub pioneer and producer Osbourne “King Tubby” Ruddock, James worked with and mentored some of dancehall's biggest artistes. He was the most successful producer of the genre's digital age.
Born in Montego Bay, Lloyd James relocated to Kingston as a child. Growing up in Waterhouse, he made a living as an engineer, building amplifiers and repairing electrical equipment at his mother's house.
Shortly after, he started a sound system, but in the early 1970s James migrated to Canada. He returned in 1976, built a recording studio in Waterhouse, and worked as an understudy to King Tubby.
James produced Wayne Smith's Under Mi Sleng Teng, a 1985 song that announced computer beats to dancehall. That rhythm drove a number of hit songs including Pumpkin Belly by Tenor Saw.
During the 1980s, Jammy's Waterhouse studio was the place to be. He produced numerous hits including Two Year Old and Punaany (Admiral Bailey), Agony (Pinchers), Water Pumping (Johnny Osbourne), Serious Time (Admiral Time), and P eenie Peenie by Shabba Ranks.
“A me buss everybody. Shabba Ranks, Bounty Killer, [producer] Mikey Bennett, [producer] Bobby Digital, [producer] Steely and Clevie... Di whole a dem, a me buss dem... A me rule di producing thing fi di longest. Mi win Producer of The Year fi 'bout seven year straight,” he boasted.
While he is known for uptempo techno beats, James produced one of the outstanding albums of the roots-reggae era — Black Uhuru's debut, Love Crisis in 1977.
He was awarded an Order of Distinction by the Jamaican Government in 2006 for his contribution to music.
King Jammy had some advice for aspiring producers.
“Producers are an integral part of the whole business. I would advise di man dem who want turn a producer fi know di business side a di whole thing first. After you know di business side, then yuh know di musical side. Because if you go into a business weh yuh don't know much 'bout, yuh nah go contribute nutten an' yuh nah go get nutten outa it,” he said.