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Vybz Kartel Biography

Vybz Kartel Biography

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Adidja Azim Palmer (born 7 January 1976)better known as Vybz Kartel, is a Jamaican dancehall reggae artist, songwriter, businessman, and convicted murderer. Some of his singles include “Clarks”, “Romping Shop”, “Poor People Land”, “Tell You Say”, “Summertime”, “Dancehall Hero” “Like Christmas” and Major Lazer collab “Pon De Floor”.

Kartel is now serving life imprisonment for murder. He was sentenced on 3 April 2014.

 

Biography

Vybz Kartel started his career as a teenager in 1993 with his first recording “Love Fat Woman”, released on Alvin Reid‘s label “One Heart”, using the moniker “Adi Banton”, an homage to Buju Banton.[5] Palmer was later part of the three-member group “Vybez Kartel”, keeping the slightly altered name after group split up, and became a protege of Bounty Killer, for whom he claims to have written nearly 30 songs, including “Gal Clown”.[6]

Vybz Kartel rose to prominence in 2003 after a string of hits in Jamaica. The year culminated in a pre-planned on-stage clash with Ninjaman at the annual dancehall festival Sting in Kartel’s hometown of Portmore. The clash turned violent when Kartel’s crewmembers, as well as Kartel himself, threw punches and assaulted Ninjaman onstage.[7] While Kartel’s manager initially blamed Ninjaman for the fracas,[7] Kartel himself quickly apologised to Ninjaman and Sting organizers for the fracas.[8] Four days after the incident, the two artists appeared before the press to announce a settlement of their differences and to end any animosity.[9]

He established his own label Adidjahiem/Notnice Records with his business partner and producer Ainsley “Notnice” Morris.[10] In 2010, he released his album Pon Di Gaza 2.0 on Adidjahiem/Notnice Records in collaboration with Tads Record Inc.[11] In Spring 2011, Vybz Kartel released an album entitled ‘Kingston Story’ with Brooklyn hip hop/electro producer Dre Skull.[12]

Kartel has worked on collaborations and remixes with hip hop and R&B musicians Jay-Z, Rihanna, Missy Elliott, Busta Rhymes, M.I.A, Pharrell Williams, Kardinal Offishall, Akon, Jim Jones, Lil Wayne and Eminem.

In 2009 his song featuring female Jamaican deejay ‘Spice’, “Ramping Shop”, debuted on the Billboard Top 100 Singles charts,[13] and “Dollar Sign” being in regular rotation on urban radio stations in the US.[14] His 2010 single “Clarks” was one of his biggest international successes, remaining in the top 3 Reggae Singles gaining the most radio plays in North America for 40 weeks.[15] “Clarks” was also featured on the TV series So You Think You Can Dance Canada,[16] and on a CNN segment on dancehall dance.[17] MTV’s Vice Guide to Dancehall featured Kartel at his weekly dance party, Street Vybz Thursday.[18]

After splitting with Bounty Killer-led Alliance in 2006, Kartel founded the Portmore Empire, a group of dancehall DJ’s and singers from his Portmore neighborhood that he signed to his newly founded Adidjahiem/Notnice Records. Members of the group as of 2011 were: Popcaan, Gaza Slim, Shawn Storm, Sheba, Gaza Indu, Tommy Lee, Singing Maxwell, Singa Blinga, Lenny Mattic. Former members include Lisa Hype,[19] Gaza Kim,[20] Blak Ryno,[21] Jah Vinci, Dosa Medicine and Merital Family.[22]

Feud with Mavado

Towards the end of 2006, Vybz Kartel left The Alliance. Tensions arose following Kartel’s continued association with Bounty Killer’s longtime enemy, Beenie Man, including Kartel attending Beenie Man’s wedding to Bounty Killer’s ex-girlfriend D’Angel.[23] Due to Kartel’s defection from The Alliance and his ‘parring’ (fraternising) with Beenie Man, a series of songs and counteraction songs ensued – the main proponents being Kartel and Mavado.

A very public feud between Vybz Kartel and former collaborator Mavado arose towards the end of 2006, stemming from Vybz’ much publicized departure from the dancehall conglomerate group The Alliance. The feud resulted in numerous diss tracks released, in which each artist dissed the other and their associates over popular dancehall rhythms.[24] In a police-overseen press conference in March 2007, both Mavado and Vybz Kartel publicly announced an end to hostilities and apologized to fans.[25]

However, by the summer of 2008, tensions flared with a renewal of “diss tracks” from each artist, and a lyrical clash between the two at Sting 2008 left mixed views as to the “winner”.[26][27] Most of 2009 saw a continuation of the public feud, which dominated Jamaican media and, to a certain extent, Jamaican culture, with the two artists’ factions, Gaza (Kartel) and Gully (Mavado), being adopted by Jamaican youth, in some cases leading to street violence.[28][29]

On 8 December 2009, Kartel and Mavado met with Jamaican Prime Minister Bruce Golding in an attempt to end the feud, which had by that time fueled mob attacks in some of the inner city neighborhoods of Kingston.[30] The two had performed together on-stage the previous night in a sign of goodwill at the West Kingston Jamboree, a concert promoted by drug lord[31] Christopher “Dudus” Coke.[24] After the truce in December 2009, the two artists were scheduled to perform a unity concert in March 2010 in Barbados, which was later cancelled by the prime minister of that country.[32]

Business

In 2008, Vybz Kartel launched his own liquor line; Street Vybz Rum. He hosted a weekly dance party Street Vybz Thursday, at the Building, a Kingston nightclub he managed with Street Vybz Rum business partner, Corey Todd.[33] The rum is officially distributed by Vybz Distillers Limited. The same year, he also released his own condom line, Daggering Condoms.[34] Street Vybz Rum production was stopped in 2011 because of a disagreement between him and Corey Todd. However, the collaboration resumed in 2012 as the two settled their differences, and despite Kartel’s ongoing incarceration.[35] In 2011, he released his own shoe line, named Addi’s, as well as his own line of “cake soap”.[36][37][38]

When his singles “Clarks”, “Clarks 2 (Clarks Again)” and “Clarks 3 (Wear Weh Yuh Have)” featured the British shoe brand Clarks in 2010, its sales numbers and prices in Jamaica increased considerably.[39]

Vybz Kartel has also hosted his own reality television show “Teacha’s Pet” on CVM Jamaica broadcast channel, the first reality television show hosted by a dancehall artist in Jamaica. The premise of “Teacha’s Pet” found 20 women living in a Kingston house vying for the artist’s affection; the show’s lascivious content elicited condemnation of its sponsor, telecommunications company LIME. The show came to a halt with the artist’s arrest on murder charges in September 2011.[40]

Controversies

Whitening (Bleaching)

Kartel has come under controversy over perceived skin whitening, or “bleaching”, leading him to claim the use of “cake soap” to lighten his skin.[41][42] The Blue Power Group, Jamaican manufacturer of the popular cake soap (or “blue soap”), has refuted claims it changes skin color.[43] Kartel then stated the soap used to lighten his skin was his own Company brand, which he intends to release on the local market and to overseas clients.[36]

Airwave ban

In September 2011 the National Communications Network of Guyana banned Vybz Kartel from the airwaves—the first such action against a specific artist. His music contained “obscene lyrics” and brought “nothing positive” to the entertainment industry, said NCN spokesman Martin Goolagong (Wednesday, Sept 21) after a week of internal debate. He said NCN was reviewing the lyrics of other musicians and could ban them as well. In fact the government had no problem with Kartel, its Tourism Ministry inviting him to an August music festival, angering the Tourism Ministry and Guyanese promoters when he failed to show up.[44]

Murder conviction

On 29 September 2011, Kartel was arrested by police for marijuana possession. Jamaica’s Major Investigation Taskforce (MIT) later charged him with the murder of a Jamaican businessman, Barrington Burton, conspiracy to murder and illegal possession of a firearm.[45]

While in prison in 2012, his book The Voice Of The Jamaican Ghetto: Incarcerated but not Silenced, co-written with business associate Michael Dawson, was published.[46]

Though Kartel was granted bail for the Burton murder on 23 March 2012 for JD$3,000,000, he remained in jail in connection with a second murder, of one Clive ‘Lizzard’ Williams.[47] He was also charged, along with two others including Vanessa “Gaza Slim” Saddler, with perverting the course of justice, after Saddler allegedly claimed that Williams had robbed her in order to mislead the police into believing that he was still alive.[48] Kartel’s trial was originally scheduled for 21 January 2013, but had to be postponed due to a lack of jurors, and was rescheduled for 11 July.[49] On 24 July a jury found Kartel not guilty and he was acquitted of the charge of murder of Barrington Burton. However, Kartel remained in custody pending his second murder case.[50] His trial for the murder of Clive Williams started on 18 November 2013 and a verdict was reached on 13 March 2014. Kartel was found guilty by an eleven-member jury (10-1) for murder of 27-year-old Clive ‘Lizard’ Williams, of Waterford, St Catherine.[51][52][53]

On 3 April 2014, Kartel was sentenced to life imprisonment. Justice Lennox Campbell said he would be eligible for parole after serving 35 years. [54][55]

Discography

Albums

Title Album details Peak chart positions[56]
US Reggae
Up 2 Di Time
  • Released: 28 October 2003
  • Label: Greensleeves
  • Format: CD, digital
Timeless
  • Released: 23 February 2004
  • Label: Freedom Sounds
  • Format: CD, digital
More Up 2 Di Time
  • Released: 14 September 2004
  • Label: Greensleeves
  • Format: CD, digital
J.M.T.
  • Released: 15 November 2005
  • Label: Greensleeves
  • Format: CD, digital
The Teacher’s Back
  • Released: 18 November 2008
  • Label: JVC/Victor
  • Format: CD, digital
Most Wanted
  • Released: 26 May 2009
  • Label: Greensleeves
  • Format: CD, digital
Pon Di Gaza 2.0
  • Released: 26 February 2010
  • Label: Tad’s
  • Format: CD, digtal
Kingston Story
  • Released: 14 August 2011
  • Label: Mixpak
  • Format: CD, digital, LP
7
The Voice of the Jamaican Ghetto – Incarcerated But Not Silenced
  • Released: 7 July 2013
  • Label: Whirlwind
  • Format: CD, digital
6
Kartel Forever: Trilogy
  • Released: 15 October 2013
  • Label: Tad’s
  • Format: CD, digital
11
Reggae Love Songs
  • Released: 3 June 2014
  • Label: Tad’s
  • Format: CD, digital
“–” indicates album did not chart or was not released in the country

Extended Plays

  • 2009: GAZA
  • 2010: Raw – EP
  • 2011: The Gaza Don
  • 2011: Colouring Book
  • 2012: Stronger We Get
  • 2012: Amsterdam
  • 2012: Mentally Free
  • 2013: Time To Be Free

Singles

List of singles, with selected chart positions
Title Year Peak chart positions Album
US R&B
“Tekk” 2004 111[57] More Up 2 Di Time
“Picture This” 121[58]
“Romping Shop” (featuring Spice) 2009 76[59] Pon di Gaza 2.0
“Life Sweet”
“Go Fi Dem Anyweh”
“Last Man Standing”
“Clarks Again” 2010 Single only
“Know Bout Me”
“Like Xmas”
“All Out” 2011
“Step Up Inna Life”
“Tell You Say”
“Sex & the City”
“Slew Dem Like David”
“Go Go Wine” Kingston Story
“Yuh Love”
“Party Me Say (Me Nice)” 2012 Mentally Free
“Reparation” (featuring Gaza Slim)
“Street Vybz Girl”
“Good Father”/”Mi Sorry” Single only
“Right Now” (featuring Stylish)
“Dweet We a Dweet (Do It)”
“Lip Gloss (Cover Girl)”
“The Cure (Fi Badmind)” (featuring Russian)
“Looking Glass”
“Party Vibes”
“Informer” (featuring Tommy Lee)
“Betray Di Gaza Boss” (featuring Tommy Lee) Unstoppable
“Daddy Devil” Gaza Man Crazy EP
“Love U Baby” 2013 Unstoppable
“Back to Life” Kartel Forever Trilogy
“Look Pon We”
“Ghetto Life”
“Summer Time”
“Bubble Hard”
“Me A Pree”
“Dancehall Hero”
“Badman Sittin” Single only
“—” denotes a title that did not chart, or was not released in that territory.

As featured artist[edit]

List of singles, with selected chart positions
Title Year Peak chart positions Album
US Reggae Digital UK
“Been Around the World” (Zena featuring Vybz Kartel} 2003 44[60] Single only
“Pon de Floor” (Major Lazer featuring Vybz Kartel) 2010 7[61] Guns Don’t Kill People… Lazers Do
“—” denotes a title that did not chart, or was not released in that territory.

Guest appearances[edit]

Year Title Album Artist
2005 “You Don’t Love Me (No, No, No)” (featuring Vybz Kartel) Music of the Sun Rihanna
2005 “Bad Man” (featuring Vybz Kartel and M.I.A.) The Cookbook Missy Elliott
2006 “Descarada (Dance)” (featuring Vybz Kartel) El Mariel Pitbull
2007 “Colors 2007” (Reggae Remix) (featuring Vybz Kartel and Kardinal Official) Sean Kingston Sean Kingston
2009 “Herbs Promotion” (featuring Demarco and Vybz Kartel) Contagious Tarrus Riley
2009 “Pon De Floor” (featuring Vybz Kartel) Guns Don’t Kill People… Lazers Do Major Lazer
2012 “Wine & Go Down” (featuring Vybz Kartel) Year of the Dragon Busta Rhymes

Awards[edit]

Kartel has had several collaborations with international hip hop and pop stars. He has released two albums for the UK/US based label Greensleeves Records. He was also nominated for the Source,[62] VIBE and UK MOBO awards, although his 2004 UK MOBO award nomination was withdrawn amidst controversy over homophobic content of his lyrics.[63]

  • 2003
    • Stone Love‘s 30th Anniversary
      • DJ of the Year 2005
  • 2008
    • CUMA (Caribbean Urban Music Awards)
  • 2009
    • EME Awards[64]
      • Male DJ of the Year
      • Lyricist/Songwriter of the Year
      • Song of the Year (Romping Shop ft. Spice)
  • 2010

 
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