Despite the fact that he was imprisoned for murder just over one year ago, Vybz Kartel continues to impact the Dancehall scene in a major way.
Tracks including “Pressure”, “Unstoppable”, “Ungrateful”, “Money Me A Look”, “Stop Follow Me”, “Dancehall” and “Party”, have made local and North American Reggae charts.
His latest effort, Mad Dawg, is produced by Dirtworx Records on the Knock Weh Riddim. Since it was uploaded to YouTube on October 23, the song has garnered over 300,000 views in couple days.
“Vybz Kartel really delivered on this track and we are pleased with the finished product. The response has been all positive and if you look at the views on YouTube, the numbers are impressive. The promotional campaign will move into high gear shortly,” said Earl Moodie Jr of Dirtworx.
Knock Weh Riddim is the first project from Dirtworx Records in over five years.
Despite claims that he had recorded numerous previously unreleased songs, the controversial question of whether or not the deejay is recording from prison continues to linger.
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A controversial figure and a superstar in his homeland of Jamaica, Vybz Kartel was hailed as one of the leading new artists to emerge from the dancehall scene following the release of his 2003 debut album, Up 2 Di Time.
Vybz broke out on his own in 2002 with a string of solo hits including “Guns Like Mine,” “Badman,” and “Most High,” along with some collaborative hits with reggae singer Wayne Marshall.
Being crowned 2002 deejay of the year at the Stone Love Sound System’s 30th anniversary party meant the singer had officially arrived amongst the Jamaican dancehall community, but a year later he would break on a worldwide level, releasing his debut Up 2 Di Time to wide acclaim while making headlines thanks to an on-stage clash with Ninjaman during the Sting festival in Kartel’s hometown of Portmore.
The next few years were filled with diss tracks and gossip as young dancehall fans chose sides, declaring themselves Gaza if their allegiance was with Kartel, and Gully if they sided with Mavado.
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A truce was announced in late 2007, but things escalated during 2008, and in 2009 Vybz released his “Live We Living” single as a call for peace.
He also stepped outside his usual genre that year, and partnered with electro producer Diplo for a track on the Major Lazer album ‘Guns Don’t Kill People… Lazers Do’.
Dancehall fans had become so divided into Gaza and Gully camps that gang violence had come into play, prompting Jamaican Prime Minister Bruce Golding to call both artists to the capital for a peace meeting.
In 2010, “Clarks” single became a huge hit for Kartel, spawning two more follow-up singles about the shoe brand that would also climb the charts, while the 2010 album Pon Di Gaza 2.0 produced the hits “Ramping Shop” and “Life Sweet.”
In 2011, he releases the “Kingston Story” album with Brooklyn house music producer Dre Skull handling the beats.
Kartel was arrested in September of that year and charged with the murder of Barrington “Bosie” Burton, a music promoter based in the St. Catherine suburb of Portmore.
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Two months after a notorious rumor surfaced via Hype Life Magazine that the deejay had pulled off a dramatic escape from the New Horizon Adult Remand Centre.
The article went viral on the internet and on social networks that Kartel and seven other inmates held guards hostage at gunpoint minutes after 1:00 AM of November 30th and stole uniforms and a vehicle belonging to the Correctional Services Department before escaping.
Two guards were allegedly injured during the escape, while one is thought to have died of a heart attack during the struggle.
However, Hype Life Magazine head editor, had later confessed that it was just a prank.
In America, the Vice label issued a deluxe version of ‘Kingston Story’ in 2012, and even though Kartel made bail on the Burton murder charge, he remained jailed based on new charges in connection with the murder of alleged gang member Clive “Lizard” Williams.
In early 2014 he was sentenced to life imprisonment.
From time to time, Vybz Kartel gets family visit including his common-law wife Shorty (Tanesha Johnson) and their three sons.
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