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» GUEST RUNDOWNS » THE 1980’s DEEJAY RAPPA ROBERT, RETURNS AS SINGER MUSICAL SNIPER!

THE 1980’s DEEJAY RAPPA ROBERT, RETURNS AS SINGER MUSICAL SNIPER!

By Howard Campbell–

 Musical Sniper formerly known as Rappa Roberts—

DURING the late 1980’s, the deejay duo of Rappa Robert and Tippa Lee fit in with their pastel outfits and ‘fade’ hairstyles. In Nuh Trouble We, they had one of the period’s biggest hit songs.

Longtime fans still refer to him as Rappa Robert, but for over a decade the lanky artiste has recorded as singer Musical Sniper.

Since 2004, he has lived in Toronto, cutting a number of roots-reggae songs that have given him a profile in Canada’s second largest city.

Musical Sniper’s latest singles are Tables Turning and Gone, which he co-produced for Rootstime Production with Jason ‘Jahson’ Murphy who operates out of Hawaii.

“Wi jus’ stepping up right now with the real reggae music an’ a couldn’t feel more comfortable,” he told the Observer by phone from Toronto.

Musical Sniper added that even when he was deejaying with Tippa Lee, singing was what he preferred.

“I love harmony, that’s me. It’s what I always wanted to do,” he said. “I’ve been singing a long time but a lot of the songs were neglected.”

After Tippa Lee migrated to the United States in the 1990s, Rappa Robert’s life and music took a different course. He became a Rastafarian and began recording as a roots artist.

 

Rappa Robert back in the 1980's

Rappa Robert back in the 1980’s

His first major solo project was Rough Upbringing, an album done for UB40’s Oracabessa Records in 2001. It featured a strong cast of musicians including bassist Robbie Shakespeare and Monty Alexander on piano.

According to Sniper, the album was not properly promoted. He said that was the case with subsequent songs for Jamaican producers and he decided to settle in Canada.

“Mi jus’ get a raw deal wid the producer dem inna Jamaica.”

Rappa Robert aka Musical Sniper was born Robert Wilson in Bamboo, St Ann, but grew up in the Maxfield Avenue area of Kingston, where he was exposed to the sound system culture.

His introduction to live performing came through appearances on the popular Radio Jamaica weekly program, The Colgate Cavity Fighters Club, hosted by Marie Garth and Neville Willoughby.

He went on to record a number of songs as a singer for different producers but it was his partnership with the diminutive Tippa Lee, that gave him the breakthrough.

In 1988, they hit pay dirt with Nuh Trouble We, produced by Hugh ‘Redman’ James, one of the hottest producers of the time.

TippaLeeRappaRobert

Though he considers Rough Upbringing a solid effort, Musical Sniper admits his expectations for the set ‘were a bit too high’.

Settling into a more conventional routine since moving to Canada, he is satisfied songs like Tables Turning have done well on regional charts and radio in that country.

“There’s a goodness in the music so wi won’t water it down like some people. Wi compelled to put out quality,” he said.

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