• Dennis Howard

Those 'Long Tongue', Father Lashie DJs and Rappers

The phenomenon of the long-tongue DJ and rappers has sparked so much interest that I just had to continue on the issue. As we have established, the battle is mainly on two fronts. There’s the friendly and unfriendly rivalry between singers and singers, DJs and DJs, and rappers. Then there’s the tracing which is geared towards attracting the female fans of the dancehall.

Popular artists have been pushed, kicked, boxed, stabbed and “shandy-bottled” in the name of clashing. The Beenie/Bounty feud had its genesis in tracing songs. Beenie kicked things off with the song “Live Inna The Past,” a counter to the Bounty song “Riding West.” After that, all hell broke loose; it was entertaining for the fans at first, but when it got very personal – aided and abetted by opportunistic listener-seeking radio jocks who helped to blow things out of proportion – it became one distasteful cass-cass.

Things were said and done that left fans wondering if they were trapped in an awful soap opera episode. To this day, the stupid behaviour continues. Then there was the Super Cat/Bounty saga and the Bounty/ Merciless showdown, which turned out to be such an anti-climax that after a time, people started to believe that these tracing matches were a means for the artists to jump-start their failing careers.

Then, there was the east coast/west coast beef in the USA, which left two great rappers dead – Tupac and Biggie. Can you imagine young Black kids who were making millions, allowed the establishment media to exploit their petty personal differences so they could sell more newspapers and television programmes to the point where Tupac did a song to diss Biggie? In the said song, Tupac declares that he slept with Biggie’s wife, Faith Evans.

Even before this unfortunate chapter, rappers were tracing each other; there was a big cuss out on record between members of the Campton rap group NWA with Easy E, Dr. Dre and Ice Cube, who did songs to diss each other.

One of the most popular and successful rappers of all time, MC Hammer, was dissed regularly by so-called hardcore rappers who thought Hammer was too commercial, hence a sellout.

Sound systems are probably the main culprits of this cass-cass mentality. From the days of Duke Reid and Coxsone, sound systems have been clashing. In those days, it was a friendly and civil rivalry, for the most part. However, with the broadening of the fan base for sound systems and the increase in the number of popular sound systems, things sunk to undesired levels.

Rival sound systems started to have clashes and confrontations in and out of the dancehall. Peace treaties between sound systems are as abundant as treaties between rival gangs in inner-city communities. Stone Love has been linked with many tracing notables in and out of the dancehall – with such sounds as Inner City, Gemini, Killamanjarro and Travellers.

It got to the point where these sounds were not given a chance to play together. The motivation for most of these confrontations was to try and dethrone Stone Love as the number one sound. Although Stone Love has been the victim of many of these sounds, it still remains the people’s number one choice.

Some dancehallers are of the opinion that Ricky Trooper of Killamanjarro wears the crown as the King of Sound System Tracers. Trooper is renowned for tracing a rival DJ to the point where fans will ask the other sound to stop playing for the rest of the night.

I vividly remember promoting a dance at the famous Circle B in St. Ann, at which two sounds were contracted to play – Killamanjarro and Black Scorpio. In the middle of the dance, Ricky Trooper and one of the Black Scorpio DJs got into one helluva tracing match. They stopped the music and cussed each other for about five minutes. Every imaginable thing came up during this cuss out; sexuality was questioned, suggestions were made as to what and who should be sucked. It was unbelievable. This only stopped after my intervention.

Another famous confrontation was the Killamanjarro/Silver Hawk clash in Skateland some years ago. At that time, Steelie’s Silver Hawk was enjoying some serious popularity. Wherever it went, all of Standpipe, August Town, Papine and Flats followed. Their selector was the king at the time, killing every sound who dared “come test”. At the time, everybody in Skateland, including the expected Silver Hawk, used to diss up little Killamanjarro.

Things looked as if pretty soon, Silver Hawk would deliver the knockout punch and end it all in the early rounds. However, Killamanjarro had other things planned. They soon unleashed Professor Nuts and the King of Tracing, Ninjaman.

These two tore the place up so much that Silver Hawk DJs Major Mackerel and Bingie Man jumped ship and went over to Jarro. Then came the knockout punch from Jarro, a Ninjaman special called “You’re A Dead #@*^&.”

Skateland erupted. Fans knew it would be hard for Silver Hawk to recover from this special. When it was their time to answer, Silver Hawk’s Ballsy, still shell shocked, took time out to cuss out the DJ who had abandoned him earlier. His first song was so tame that fans knew that the Hawk was dead.

“Death In The Arena,” the instrumental just could not cut it again after Ninja’s awesome special.

Silver Hawk was never the same after that.

Taken from Rantin From Inside the Dancehall