‘I interviewed Sugar just a few months before his death, at his recording studio compound in Kingston, Jamaica. When we entered the empty cement room that was to be the guesthouse at his studio yard, Sugar grabbed my recorder and squatted on a milk crate to deliver a well-rehearsed spiel: “Yeah I’m here, Sugar Minott, Black Roots Production, original Dancehall, original Lover’s Rock, original Reggae, you know? Comin’ from way back when.” Much of what he said during our interview felt like a dancehall toast; a healthy dose of bravado tempered by a steady pour of “big ups,” or shout outs, to Sugar’s contemporaries, his mentors, his protègès.’
Suagr is credited with bringing “versioning” to the studio, whereby new lyrics are sung over “riddim sides” of old hit songs. Such a practice then became ‘the cornerstone of the emerging dancehall style.’ Sugar took pride in such musical homage:
“When it’s a classic riddim that you bring back from memory, it’s nice, because people that are giving up on the music, say ‘Oh, this is something I can relate to.’ And then it’s modern enough that the kids can relate to it; it’s more stepping up.”
I spent a good part of my childhood at home staring outside my bedroom window, following the trail of planes approaching the nearby Paris airport in the sky from my banlieue. I envied the passengers...