Prince Jammy

Lloyd James, also known as King Jammy, was born to King Tubby, an apprentice mixer. His work engineering classic dubs for Yabby You and Bunny Lee was enough to secure his place in reggae history. But, Prince Jammy’s story doesn’t stop there. He worked as a mixer until the 1980s, when dancehall was in full swing. Then he decided to concentrate almost exclusively on production work. Jammy was responsible for a number of releases starting with Black Uhuru’s 1977 debut. Jammy produced Wayne Smith’s 1985 hit “Under Me Sleng Teng”, which sparked a digital revolution within the reggae industry. Nearly every other producer attempted to replicate the new sound. Jammy was a pivotal figure in three major stylistic eras of reggae. Lloyd James was born in Montego Bay in Jamaica in 1947. He eventually settled in Kingston, which would become the epicenter of reggae. Like his mentor Osbourne Ruddock (aka King Tubby), Lloyd James was a keen musician from a young age. He also had a good understanding of electronics and was able to create his own sound system using custom-made equipment. Jammy was a popular member of the local Waterhouse scene. Tubby also took notice and began to hire his services. Jammy returned to Jamaica after a short stint in Canada. He replaced Prince Philip Smart at Tubby’s Waterhouse studio in 1976 when Smart left for New York. Jammy was given a new position that allowed him to access some of the best roots reggae music of the era. He mixed classic rhythms by Vivian “Yabby You”, Jackson, and Bunny “Striker” Lee. The results were often reissued as versions of 45s. Jammy was mixing the majority of the rhythms that passed through the Tubby studio at 18 Dromilly Avenue just a year later. Bunny Lee was especially impressed by Jammy’s ability to master the equipment and used the young engineer almost exclusively. Jammy was asked to mix the dub version of “In the Light”, Everton DaSilva’s iconic production for Horace Andy in 1977. Jammy’s versions proved that he was proficient in Tubby’s techniques and had developed his own mixing voice. He also recorded Black Uhuru’s debut album, a young Kingston vocal trio. Both parties saw a breakthrough with the resulting Love Crisis and its remixed version, Black Sounds of Freedom. Jammy continued his dub explorations by mixing most of the Black Uhuru songs for his Jammy’s In Lion Dub Style set. Additional productions followed, including hit singles and albums for emerging dancehall artists such as Half Pint (Money Man Skank, One in a Million), and Junior Reid (Boom Shack a Lack). Greensleeves launched the Big Showdown set as a fictional dub battle between Tubby and Jammy in the 1980s. Jammy made his greatest contribution to music in 1985. His Super Power sound system was challenged by the Black Scorpio set in a highly public sound clash. Jammy performed his piece in the heat of battle. Except for Wayne Smith’s dancehall vocals, all elements of the epic “Under Me Sleng Teng” were digital. It was the last blow that changed the direction of reggae. Producers rushed to make their own versions in order to capitalize on the success, and the ragga revolution had begun. Jammy, in keeping with the trend of one-rhythm albums, released a complete set of “Sleng Teng” versions on his own label called Sleng Teng Extremevaganza. Jammy also released similar one-rhythm albums, reworking single tracks on Ten to One (“Tempo”) and DJ Confrontation (“Agony”) and Further East, Vol. Superstar Hit Parade (“Come Again”) and 1 (“Tune In”) followed by similar one-rhythm collections. Jammy continued to record and produce music into the 1990s. This decade would see John John emerge as a successful record producer. Jammy’s original mixing work was also reissued in the 1990s. London’s Blood and Fire produced Dub Gone Crazy and Dub Gone 2 Crazy. The Waterhouse team (Tubby and Scientist) created the mixes for Bunny Lee in the late ’70s. Pressure Sounds’ The Crowning of Prince Jammy was based on the same period. RAS Records’ three volume A Man and His Music series, which featured the 1980s, was a focus on the former Prince Jammy. These sets, which were long overdue, cemented the Prince Jammy heritage. Allmusic

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