Besides Sean Paul, who maintained a strong presence in the dancehalls and achieved superstar status on the international (pop) market, the dancehall scene in the year 2003 has been dominated by Elephant Man. However, it's Vybz Kartel, the latest deejay sensation from Jamaica, who emerged as a serious contender for the dancehall's crown. Vybz Kartel (real name Adidja Palmer), one of six siblings, grew up in the Portmore district Waterford in the parish St Catherine. At the tender age of 10, Vybz began writing his own lyrics, which he went on to show at a weekly talent show called Gong in Kingston's now defunct Coney Amusement Park. Gong followed the concept of the famous Apollo theatre, New York. Unfortunately Adidja was continuously gonged off! Totally unfazed by his attempt to impress at the talent show Adidja, now 12 years old, went on to record his debut single "Fat Women". Alvin Reid produced the song on the "One Heart" label. Adidja used the name Adi Banton, using the surname of one of his heroes Buju Banton. The song failed to garner any real interest but Adidja was undeterred and determined to continue his struggle of making it within the music business. In 1996 Adidja along with his friends Mr Lee and Escobar formed a group and called it Vybz Cartel. They took their name from a movie about a gangster called Pablo Escobar and his drug cartel. Unfortunately cracks began to appear in the group due to internal frictions. The group soon split leaving Adidja again to continue alone. Adidja chose to keep the name of the group changing the C to K in Kartel and hence the artist we know as Vybz Kartel was born.
In 1998, Vybz Kartel appeared at the Champions In Action stage show, held in his hometown Portmore. He gave an outstanding performance showing many his raw talent as a deejay in the making. It was at this show that Bounty Killer noticed the young artist with a lot of potential. Rohan Butler, Vybz's manager, introduced him to the Warlord and a mutual respect was immediately forged. He started to pen lyrics for Bounty Killer including such hits as "High Grade Forever", "Warlord Rule The World" and "Gal Clown". With the help of Bounty Killer, Vybz was ready to really start making a name for himself. In 2001 he started to appear and impress on popular riddims like "Scarecrow" ("Da Rolling") and the "Bun Bun" ("Woman A Cry"). But it was his notable collaboration from earlier this year with fellow dancehall singer Wayne Marshall on "New Millennium" and "Why You Doing It?" that suddenly catapulted his career in high gear.
Now here's Vybz Kartel's much talked about debut album "Up 2 Di Time", which is predominantly produced by Dononan "Vendetta" Bennett, the young musician/producer whose "Don Corleon" label is responsible for Kartel's biggest hits so far. Further contributions on the production side come from Steven "Lenky" Marsden, Trevor "Baby G" James, DJ Wayne, Renaissance Crew and Vybz Kartel himself. Here you'll find 18 solid to excellent tracks that display the talents of one of the fastest rising stars in the Jamaican and international dancehall scene. Kartel delivers his lyrics over hardcore dark dancehall riddims and hip-hop laced beats fully showing that he's blessed with an amazing lyrical flow and prowess. The only comment you can make is about the themes of his songs, which largely deal with masculinity and homophobia. The album includes some of his biggest hits this year such as "New Millennium", "Sweet To The Belly", "Why You Doing It?" and "Sen On", performed over this year's hottest riddims such as "Mad Ants", Egyptian, "Krazy" and "Time Travel". The rest of this above par album consists of a few current 7" singles like e.g. the Rennaissance produced "Buss It Off" and "Tattoo". Furthermore we're treated to a number of new songs, a couple of them underpinned by hip-hop fueled riddims. As an extra feature, the first press of "Up 2 Di Time" comes with a limited bonus cd, containing freestyles of Vybz Kartel over some of the hottest Don Corleon riddims.
The 24-years old deejay with a lust for wordplay has delivered a worthwhile debut set on which he shows that it only can be a matter of time before he achieves his huge breakthrough on an international level.
Teacher & Mr. T.