Every week, a different FADER editor compiles a playlist to highlight a new release and give you a guide to that artist’s web of influences and peers. These Staff Selects live in our Spotify app, alongside GEN Fs from our archives and playlists for each issue. This week, it’s Felipe Delerme on the dearly missed Vybz Kartel.
The last time I was in Jamaica, I met a jerk chicken cook named Piggy, who upon finding out we were looking for a strip club called Shades, shouted for his friend Bling, who appeared seemingly out of nowhere and hopped in the car (open Red Stripe in hand) to lead us to the promised land. When we walked in, the selector was knee deep in a pop R&B set (Neyo, Usher, Keri Hilson, etc), something I wouldn’t have minded at say, a church picnic, but not what I wanna hear when I’m watching naked girls wine fi di don. I put some loose cash in the selector’s hand and asked him to play some Vybz Kartel. He let whatever sappy love song he was playing finish, shouted me out on the mic and proceeded to unleash an onslaught of dancehall rapture I hadn’t known prior and have yet to experience since. I’ve loved Vybz since he was shouting “up to di time” on all his verses and even more so through his beef with Mavado, mostly because Vybz seemed like a genuine psychopath, and anyone who knows me knows I have a soft spot in my heart for psychos. It’d be unfair and uninformed to say that dancehall hasn’t had the same electricity since Kartel went to the hoosegow, but there was a time not long ago when Vybz Kartel was dancehall’s weirdest and most exciting personality. This playlist isn’t technically a “best-of,” because at some 25 tracks deep, it’s not even long enough, but it’s a bunch of my favorite Kartel songs, from the whole of his career, just in time for backyard bashment season. Free World Boss mi say! Jump straight to the playlist here, or listen in The FADER Spotify app.
For more on Vybz Kartel, read his 2011 FADER cover story.