BOUNTY KILLER

ANT

¬†june 12, 1972. Kingston, Jamaica. Trenchtown rocks once more, as Miss Ivy bears her last son, Rodney Basil Price, into its surrounds. Jamaica balances on the edge of another bloody chapter, as war is about to be waged on its streets in the name of politics.One of nine children, Rodney’s destiny would be irrevocably shaped by the landscapes of inner-city Kingston, where tribalism and poverty battle for the morals of the hungry and the desperate.

Leaving Trenchtown soon after, Miss Ivy relocates her family to Riverton City, a community founded on the Kingston City dump. Once known as ‘Dungle,’ the sprawling rubbish heap is a vital resource to many of its inhabitants.

Clothed just by ‘tear-up-batty’ pants, Rodney would sneak out late at night to hear the music thundering from speaker boxes strung up in the community, belonging to the sound system owned by his Father, affectionately known as Breezer.

Rodney’s first lyrics strained over a raw, monotone melody, but the topic mapped out the conscious vein that wouldpulse through his music in the years ahead; a map that would lead his people to crown him the Poor People’s Governor. “When I was a yute I lived down in the gully, inna mi tear-up pants people used to laugh after me” he chanted. Young Rodney had become the Bounty Hunter.

Rodney’s preteen years saw another family relocation, a little further along Kingston’s Spanish Town Rd, to the housing scheme of Seaview Gardens, where neighbourhoods are divided into areas such as ‘Shotgun’ and ‘Vietnam.’ Jamaica’s recent history has been littered by politically-motivated gunplay, and in the mid-80’s gunshot regularly cracked across the political divide between warring factions operating in the locale.

Whilst continuing to hustle wall plates and figurines with Ballie Ballie, Rodney and fellow Seaview-ites (and future Scare Dem Crew members) Nitty Kutchie and Boom Dandemite increased their efforts to break into the world of Reggae. They began venturing further afield, to dances and shows staged in the cool interior and rolling verdancy of the Jamaican countryside. The positive response they received further encouraged their burgeoning talents.

At the hub of the Reggae revolution in the 80’s and early 90’s was record producer King Jammy, whose 1985 timeless ‘Sleng-Teng’ riddim heralded the arrival of digital Dancehall.

By the time young Bounty arrived at King Jammy’s, Boom Dandimite had already begun to garner moderate success from the studio. The fact that Boom had a tune playing on the radio was all the inspiration Bounty needed. Day after day, month after month, the crew would make that journey up to the St Lucia Rd recording studio, awaiting the chance to jump on the next riddim being formulated in the Jammy’s sound lab. Bounty and his crew would be designing lyrics and constructing their flow into the early hours, often having to borrow bicycles from Waterhouse allies to return safely to Seaview under cover of darkness.

It was Bounty’s vocal jack-in-the-box rhyming intros that first drew attention - initially from sound system operators and then from the thousands of Dancehall fans around the world listening to the audio tapes of live sessions, intrigued by the unique voice-pattern introducing custom-built songs played by sound systems like Metromedia and Bodyguard. Bounty’s sound system clash classic - ‘Dub Fi Dub’ - changed the way in which sound system selectors approached their task. Bounty’s impact on sound system culture has been immeasurable.

When the time came to voice at Jammy’s, Bounty opted for a song that reflected his life experiences; ‘Coppershot’ was the self-explanatory title, but at that time King Jammy was trying to steer his label clear of songs that paid homage to guns, and passed on the record. However, Uncle T - Jammy’s brother - realised the potential and quickly ushered Bounty under his own wing. ‘Coppershot’ was heard by New York-based Johnny Wonder, a pivotal figure in North American Dancehall Reggae, who went crazy when he heard it, instantly recognizing the potential of its hardcore appeal to the urban markets Stateside. Ironically ‘Coppershot’ became an underground hit in New York before taking off in Jamaica. It’s popularity ensured that Bounty is forever endeared to the Boroughs of New York.

Bounty Killer has navigated the globe with his musical Xperience, touring the world with his uniquely engaging and explosive stage performance. Whether the listener is Japanese, Nigerian, Colombian or European, Bounty’s point-blank message transcends barriers of race, culture and language. Controversy has shadowed Bounty Killer’s career since he first fired ‘Coppershot’ back in 92, intensifying over the years. His lyrical content has often been too-close-to-the-bone for “polluticians” trying to conceal truths and rights from those they’re supposed to serve. The reactionary government of Jamaica banned such songs of freedom from Bounty as ‘Fed Up,’ ‘Can’t Believe Mi Eyes,’ ‘Look’ and ‘Anytime.’ Newspapers and radio talkshows are often flooded with debates over Bounty’s lyrical content. The last three of those songs were penned in conjunction with Dancehall producer Dave Kelly - a singer/songwriter partnership permanently etched into the annals of music history, not just Reggae. Renowned as a sagacious and intensely perceptive orator, Bounty Killer can just as easily hold an audience with his reasonings as he can with his musical performances.

 

Look into any ghetto and you will see tragedies and triumphs, lives lost and fortunes won, epic struggles that play out every day, invisible to most prosperous citizens. Yes, there are a million stories in the ghetto. And Cham recognizes how important it is that the Ghetto Story be heard. You have so many kids in the ghetto who want to tell their stories, says the DJ. And we have a medium, so its our point of duty to tell that story and let that story be hea

 



 

 

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