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KING JAMMY: MOST SUCCESSFUL PRODUCER OF DANCEHALL’S DIGITAL AGE!

BY SIMONE MORGAN
Observer reporter

 

A protégé of legendary dub pioneer and producer Osbourne “King Tubby” Ruddock, Lloyd “King Jammy” James worked with and mentored some of dancehall’s biggest artists. He was the most successful producer of the genre’s digital age.

King Jammy

King Jammy

Jammy produced Wayne Smith’s Under Mi Sleng Teng, a 1985 song that announced computer beats to dancehall. That rhythm drove a number of hit songs including Pumpkin Belly by Tenor Saw.

During the 1980s, Jammy’s Waterhouse studio was the place to be. He produced numerous hits including Two Year Old and Punaany (Admiral Bailey), Agony (Pinchers), Water Pumping (Johnny Osbourne), Serious Time (Admiral Time), and Peenie Peenie by Shabba Ranks.

Born in Montego Bay, Lloyd James relocated to Kingston as a child. Growing up in Waterhouse, he made a living as an engineer, building amplifiers and repairing electrical equipment at his mother’s house.

Jammy produced Wayne Smith's Under Mi Sleng Teng

Jammy produced Wayne Smith’s Under Mi Sleng Teng

Shortly after, he started a sound system, but in the early 1970s James migrated to Canada. He returned in 1976, built a recording studio in Waterhouse and worked as an understudy with King Tubby.

While he is known for the uptempo techno beats, King Jammy produced one of the outstanding albums of the roots-reggae era — Black Uhuru’s debut, Love Crisis in 1977.

Under Me Sleng Teng was his game-changer. Co-composed by Smith and musician Noel Davey on an inexpensive Casio keyboard, it was first played at dances by Jammy’s sound system.

Lloyd “King Jammy” James was awarded an Order of Distinction by the Jamaican government in 2006 for his contribution to music.

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