Dancehall’s First Podcast Hits #10 In Fine Style
To commemorate the series tenth episode, Man Like Marvin Sparks drew for the decade’s defining producer, Stephen “Di Genius” McGregor. 2016 marks ten years on from his classic breakthrough riddim, Red Bull & Guinness. The riddim boasted voicings from Vybz Kartel, Wayne Marshall and Sizzla to a then-emerging singjay called Mavado. “Weh Dem A Do” went on to become an immovable anthem which still draws gun fingers and pull-ups as it did all those years ago. Audio After The Jump…
Part 1 of 2
Speaking on the riddim’screation, Di Genius said he made it on an MPC XL 2000 in approximately 15-20 minutes while he was still in high school. “I knew that it was different and at the time I was trying to actively create a sound for myself. That’s where my whole dark, hip hop-fused sound came from,” he said of its inspiration. “I came out at a time when all the producers were on fire!” Producers such as Don Corleon, Renaissance, Skatta were a few of the top producers at the time with riddim made for the dancing squads and synchronised dances. This caused Stephen to bring forth a different vibe entirely, a much darker sound. “Me trying to figure out how to get out in the middle of that. That’s where I thought about that whole dark sound.”
As previously mentioned, ‘Weh Dem A Do’ by Mavado (or Movado as he was identified on the Greensleeves riddim compilation) not only helped the riddim soar, it became a song that really cemented his place in the dancehall scene following ‘Real McKoy’ on the Anger Management riddim. “I never knew if that was gonna be the only song on the riddim but I knew for sure that it was gonna be big,” he recalled of the stand out hit. “From the first line ‘Anyway / Gangsta for life’. Just the way his vocal sounded on the beat, I was like yo, this sounds like a totally different thing.” The song went on to get the artist his first spins on New York radio stations like Hot 97.
Another talent Di Genius was really crucial to re-establishing was the dancehall hero, Vybz Kartel. This era saw Kartel lose ground to the melodic anthems from Mavado. McGregor never worked with Kartel directly on Red Bull & Guinness, but first saw Kartel create on the 12 Gauge riddim. It was then that he realised the great talent first-hand. “When Kartel wrote 12 Gauge, I think that was the day for me when I really looked at Kartel and was like ‘Yo, this artist is sick!'” he said. Stephen witnessed Kartel write and record the song within 20 mins with just the name of the riddim as his sole inspiration. “That’s the day when I looked at him like ‘this deejay not normal, for real.'” Sidenote: McGregor saw this whilst wearing his school uniform.
2006 saw the beginnings of the infamous Gully vs Gaza which became one of the biggest rivalries in dancehall history. That year saw Vybz Kartel leave the Bounty Killer-led Alliance of which Mavado was a member. The actual first diss song is unclear, however it is said that the seeds were sown on Di Genius built riddims, After Dark and Powercut. Killer’s protege, Mavado, defended the boss.
McGregor himself was unaware when the problem started on wax. “I remember I did leave [Jamaica[ for a while. When I left, I think Mavado recorded the ‘Songwriter’ song on the [Powercut] riddim,” he said. “I remember I came back and Kartel called me when I was leaving the airport. He asked if I was at the studio. I said ‘I’m going there now’. He said ‘Line up the Powercut riddim by time I reach round.’ At that time I’m not aware of the Mavado song or anything. He came in and just recorded ‘Ay singer, who you a call songwriter?’ I remember just listening to this think Wha’? When did this start?'”
Lock in to find out about his own feeling on 2006, “killed dancehall” claims, Trippple Bounce riddim almost given to a commercial artist, plus interaction with fellow producers Robbie Shakespeare (from Sly & Robbie), Don Corleon, Dave Kelly and Timbaland.
Part 2 of 2
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