Ini Kamoze - Reggae Poet
“Woman I feel your love, descend on me like a dove, and like a mountain breeze,setting my mind at ease, just like a flowing river, your love is a cooling water. I want you to be my wife, put a little sugar in my life.” ~ Ini Kamoze, from “Settle with Me”
Hey, hey… My favorite poet of Jamaican reggae music, Ini Kamoze, my “lyrical gangsta”, was born Cecil Campbell in 1957 in Port Maria, Saint Mary, Jamaica. This man is truly a WICKED lyrical genius.
Ini Kamoze’s recording debut was "Trouble You a Trouble Me" in the early '80s. As competent a songwriter as Bob Marley with a masterful talent for social commentary, his catchy hooks and sly wittiness set him up to be the greatest reggae artist since Marley. But Mr. Kamoze marched to his own drummer, refused to be categorized by the music industry, made a few questionable career choices and reportedly did a short prison stint in the 1990s.
While he hasn’t benefitted from huge popularity outside Jamaica, his signature song “Here Comes the Hotstepper” (1993/1994) made Ini Kamoze a household name and became one of dancehall’s most well-known hits. He later adopted the nickname “Hotstepper”, from Jamaican Patois meaning a man on the run from the law. This song remains his only U.S. #1 hit.
With his trademark “hey, hey…” Ini Kamoze will always be one of my all-time favorite reggae artists. He is a powerhouse of talent for fresh and significant conscious lyrics, influenced greatly by R&B, rap and hip-hop. He speaks directly to my soul – like an electrical current – and is never boring.
Mr. Kamoze does not condone random acts of violence but is an advocate for constructive change. Twenty years ago, in “Gunshot (Respect Not)” he chastised Jamaica’s corrupt leaders and politicians for condoning gun violence, thus forcing poor kids to kill each other senselessly. Sadly, his message is still quite relevant today as Jamaica suffers from far too many pointless gun-related deaths.
Ini Kamoze’s songs are arrogant, cocky and defiant, yet, at the same time, eloquent and graceful with a keen sense of wit. His unmatched lyrical mastery helps him produce some of the most interesting lyrics in all of reggae music. And he can write some darn fine lovers' lyrics as well, as evidenced by the "Settle with Me" above. He has collaborated with the greats, like Sly Dunbar & Robbie Shakespeare, and I am certain he has some potent reggae left in him!
If Ini Kamoze’s music interests you, try to find his debut album from 1984, “Ini Kamoze”, which has now been remastered from the vinyl, or pick up “Debut”, the double CD compilation album released on his own 9 Sound Clik label and features re-recordings of his early hits. “Listen im tic”! Although the songs suffer just a little bit due to the lack of the Sly & Robbie productions, the poetic lyrics remain the same. Your soul will thank you.
His most recent album release is 2009's "51 50 Rule', which I consider one of his masterpieces in terms of writing (and, of course, that voice!). The album includes tracks such as "Rapunzel" (feat. Maya Azucena) and "Hungry Daze". There are guest features from Sizzla ("R.A.W"), and Busy Signal ("Ta Da Bang"). This was his second release on the 9 Sound Clik label.
Visit Ini Kamoze’s MySpace site for great information, music, and insight into this cryptic but charismatic personality: http://www.myspace.com/inikamoze.
And keep an eye on Ini’s official website at: http://www.inikamoze.com/ for news about what he's working on, and follow him on Twitter (@iNi_Kamoze). While his career has certainly been erratic, Mr. Kamoze has thankfully not disappeared from the music scene. Apparently Mr. Kamoze has also written a book about Port Royal. If anyone knows about this book, PLEASE send me the details in the comments below. I hold my breath in anticipation of great new things and MORE WICKED MUSIC!
“I am the voice of my people. In my songs I cover every angle of life from Babylon and disease to Jah and the whole man..... I am reggae… the pulse of the people, feel it and live.” ~Ini Kamoze