New Music From the King Jammy Vault

VP Records celebrates the deep 80s dancehall catalog of producer Lloyd “King Jammy” James with three summer 2023 releases.

The late 80s represent a robust but controversial period in the Jamaican recording industry, as DJs were on the rise with new lyrical approaches, and digital production ruled the day. In the center of the storm was Lloyd James, better known as King Jammy, who is credited for revolutionizing digital production several years earlier with Wayne Smith’s “Under Mi Sleng Teng.” This was the era the term ‘dancehall’ came widely into circulation to describe the new digital sound that came to commonly include slack lyrics and gun themes popular on the street.

Still relevant, the artists from the 1970s were working to redefine themselves in the digital era. Groups like Wailing Souls and Cultural Roots remained active, even if their multi-part harmony vocals might have seemed overly ornate on these new digital backing tracks, replete with drum machines and sparse synthesized chords. Solo singers like Johnny Osbourne, Junior Murvin, and the up-and-coming Cocoa Tea found a place for melody alongside the new crop of emcees.

With the thorough compilation Cries From The Youth, Greensleeves Records’ Chris O’Brien presents the period at King Jammy’s across 32 tracks, alongside two original, out of print albums in their entirety, from Wailing Souls and Cultural Roots.

Cries From The Youth is stridently and defiantly focused on the progress of underclass Jamaicans, recorded in the heart of Kington’s Waterhouse neighborhood at Jammy’s Studio at 38 St. Lucia Avenue. The collection features the work of established artists such as Sugar Minott, Dennis Brown, Johnny Osbourne, and Wailing Souls, alongside the cutting-edge dancehall artists like Super Cat, Cocoa Tea, Nitty Gritty, and King Kong. The material deals with both reality narratives and more aspirational spiritual themes, all of which defined the times in Waterhouse and across the city of Kingston.

Cries From The Youth will be available on CD, digital platforms and a 10-track vinyl LP with stunning period photos by Simon Buckland. The first pressing of the LP package includes a 2′ x 2′ poster of the cover art.  The project will be available on June 9th, 2023.

Stream the best of King Jammy: