BY RICHARD JOHNSON—-
IN the 1990s, deejay Spragga Benz was one of the hottest dancehall artists, with hits such as A-1 Lover, Jack It Up, Machine Gun Kelly, Tings A Gwan and She Nuh Ready Yet.
In recent years, he has played a driver role for his production house and label Red Square, pushing younger charges. Now 47 years-old, the deejay has renewed energy and is preparing to take up the ‘mike’ again.
“I was never really gone, but mi just never inna dat vibe to produce my type an’ brand of music,” he told Splash during a telephone interview.
“My type an’ brand of dancehall music must have substance along with ‘danceability’ an’ ‘listenability’, an’ most of the music I was hearing lacked di substance I was looking for. It was just all about sex or dancing or shooting, an’ there was just something missing.”
“I am really proud of this work as well as what I am doing with di youths from Red Square. I always have new music. I just completed some work with Sting International, so when I am ready I am sure we put together 11 or so strong tracks for an album, but that is not in my immediate plan,” he said.
A lot of that music is from the Red Square ‘family’ including Amlak Red Square’s album, Book of Judges, and Xyclone’s From The Basement To The Big League.
In 2008, Spragga Benz suffered personal loss when his son Carlton ‘Carlyle’ Grant Jr was gunned down.
“My son dying has been more of an inspiration rather than a negative. Every year since his death I have released at least one track dedicated to Carlyle. Songs such as Shotta Culture was done in his memory so I have pulled the positives from this experience,” he said.
Recently, the issue of dancehall music’s influence on crime and violence has come up. Spragga has his take on the discussion.
“Politicians a look a scapegoat an’ point out di usual suspects in order to cover their shortcomings. Is a whole heap a tings influence di crime an’ violence, an’ mi never hear somebody saying, ‘mi jus listen some music and mi a go rob a man’ is more ‘mi hungry’ or something like dat which cause a man to turn to crime an’ violence. Music, especially reggae an’ dancehall, is a means of release. It gives a voice to these same youths to release pent-up tensions. I never hear it influence anybody to go an’ do stupidness.”
He is calling for increased social programmes to give hope to youth who might turn to crime.
“Government finds money to spend on other things, but we really need social programs as these youths have no hope. Ingenious ways have to be found to create opportunities for them or they will always be pointing a finger,” he reasoned.