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Yellowman

Page history last edited by Stephanie Ghoston 11 years, 5 months ago

Biography

Yellowman was born Winston Foster on January 15th, 1956 in Kingston, Jamaica. His upbringing was at the Maxfield Home orphanage, Eventide Home and the prestigious Alpha Boys School. The stigma of being poor and an albino (the lack of pigment in skin and also called "dundus") was evident which made Yellowman overcompensate by being as cocky as possible, something that later proved positive as a deejay. He is quoted in 2005 as saying "is only when me come out that people like me started to show up, because them used to hide away from shame. But before the Tastee competition me used to go round to different producers to voice, but them used to run me away because them never believe innah me, or because of my skin colour them feel seh man like me cyaan do nothing."

 

In 1978 he won the talent contest ad Tastee Patties in Kingston and by 1979 Yellowman was playing with the Aces International Sound System. In August of 1981 he won the Festival 81 Deejay Contest held at Skateland (beating Nicodemus, Johnny Ringo and Toyan in the process) and later that year he joined Gemini sound system as a substitute deejay.  In 1982 he featured at the Reggae Sunsplash Festival that catapulted him to reggae stardom that in Jamaica was only second to that of Bob Marley. He released his first full-length album, Them a Mad over Me, recorded for Channel One, in 1981. In 1982, his LP called Mister Yellowman was produced under the U.K label Greensleeves with Henry "Junjo" Lawes. His next highly popular album was Zungguzungguguzungguzeng, released in 1983. After becoming significantly popular throughout Jamaica, Yellowman signed to major the American label CBS Records. His first and only release on that label, King Yellowman, earned a Grammy Award nomination as Best Reggae Recording. At the height of his career, he made five albums per year and flooded the market with forty singles. Yellowman embodied the shift from Roots music to Dancehall more than anyone else during the early dancehall era: his method of toasting was highly popular and he also epitomized dancehall's penchant for "slack" lyrics. He ruled the dancehall from 1981-1984. During this time, he often sparred with the deejay Fat Head, both on set and on record.

 

During the 1980's, Yellowman was diagnosed with terminal skin cancer and wrongly given only six months to live. When the cancer spread to his throat, part of his jaw had to be removed to treat the disease. He went through surgery and stepped back from the music. Fortunately the surgery helped and he could return to the music a couple of years later. While his often violent and sexually explicit lyrics earned him some criticism in the mid-1980s, after his surgery and into the 1990's Yellowman released more socially conscious material, performing with singers like Buju Banton. Yellowman's latest albums are New York (2003) and This is Crucial Reggae (2005). He was nominated for "Most Consistent Entertainer" in 2007 for the International Reggae and Music Awards. He also toured around the world in August and July of 2007. He is currently married to his second wife (Rose) and has six children. 

 

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Comments (4)

Maxine said

at 8:16 pm on Apr 26, 2009

King Yellowman is the true king of Dancehall music.
These days, kids don't even know who King Yellowman is and they listen to all the recent dancehall junk- Tony Matterhorn, Lady Saw, Vybez Kartel etc...
big up yellowman

Maxine said

at 8:17 pm on Apr 26, 2009

ps.- zunguzunguguzunguzunnn

kalcidis said

at 8:51 pm on Apr 27, 2009

Yellowman was so big at the time that in some way people just neglect him nowadays (even I do it sometimes!). Don't know why because everytime I play a Yellowman LP I'm dumbstruck on how great he is!

Nick_Blosch said

at 9:24 am on Apr 28, 2009

Yes - true - love Yellowman I like how he can go from comedy "Big Dick" to political comment in "Government" in the "Good Sex Guide", I only have an issue with "Yellowman - Sings the Blues" which may be the worst LP ever.

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