Vybz Kartel has been dancehall music’s most popular and hated personality for much of the last decade, inspiring equal levels of adulation and revulsion in Jamaica with his provocative lyrics and controversial antics.
A shameless self-promoter who once launched his own condom line, he’s also an astute social critic with a book in the Princeton University library.
Following a 65-day trial said to be the longest in Jamaica’s history, Kartel, whose real name is Adidjah Palmer, was sentenced in April 2014 to life in prison along with three co-defendants in the August 2011 killing of Clive “Lizard” Williams, an associate killed over missing guns.
The saga of dancehall’s self-proclaimed “Worl’ Boss” is yet to be over. Since his incarceration, Kartel has been gracing his fans with new music every month and has been releasing a lineup of albums to date.
Jamaica’s newest sensation Gully Bop could be as popular as incarcerated dancehall star Vybz Kartel.
In November, the life of the down-and-out deejay named Gully Bop, also commonly known as Country Man, was transformed after a video of him freestyling lyrics to his song, “Dem no Bad Like Me,” went viral.
The 50-year-old artiste, whose given name is Robert Lee Malcom, became an Internet sensation.
The YouTube video was filmed two years ago by New York producer Nikimo Palache. Dem No Bad Like Me was remixed by Claims Records and released last month.
By December, the “Every Gal Want A Wuk Affa Mi” deejay was being booked for shows all across Jamaica including Sting 2014.
Among Gully Bop’s most loyal supporters is his 25-year-old girlfriend/manager Shauna Chin.
“I saw the video of him freestylng and I instantly posted it on social media in September. I saw his potential and I just knew I had to find him, so I took a cab to Grants Pen to locate him,” she recently told media reporters.
After some difficulty, Chin found Gully Bop. After a brief conversation, she realized he was not a ‘madman’ as he was often labelled, but suffering from depression. Having worked with other entertainers including Vybz Kartel and Tommy Lee, Chin said she used her ‘links’ to get him media interviews.
She is not affected by criticisms of the unlikely relationship.
“I have been called a money-grabber and that I was just trying to get fame, but that’s not the case. I love him. We have both been through a lot so we blend well…it’s pure love,” she stated.
It has not been all roses for Gully Bop. In January, Claims Records, the label which produced most of his songs, severed ties with the entertainer, saying he has become disrespectful. But Chin insists this is not the end of his career.
Despite the entertainer’s fast-growing popularity, some say the entertainer is a ridicule and that he will fade quickly. However, the “Run Dem A Run” deejay has only been growing more popular.
In an recent interview Gully Bop, who hails from Southside in Central Kingston and Grants Pen in St Andrew, said that he had been in a ‘dark place’ for some time. Despite his personal problems, he never gave up music.
His comeback started in 2012 when he met Palache who came to Grants Pen hunting artistes to record for his label. To get the producer’s attention, Gully Bops said he went for an old fan and began fixing it while freestyling a few lyrics.
It worked. He said Palache began filming the impromptu performance which has made him a sensation.
With the help of social media and his manager Shauna Chin (now fiancée), Bop is pushing his music career further.
He is determined not to fade away again. After his performance at Sting, Gully Bops hopes to continue his career by recording for willing producers.
Supreme Promotions’ Isaiah Laing, who is part of Gully Bop’s booking team, told reporters that Bop has numerous bookings going as far as July.
So far, he said there is a confirmed booking for the artiste in Barbados and they are in discussions with promoters from Guyana, Trinidad, St Vincent and St Martin.
He added that there have also been calls from Canada, England, the United States and Europe.
These days the artist is fully booked with shows across Jamaica. The deejay’s next step is to take his brand overseas.