Mars Landing

February 13, 2007

Dancehall selector-turned-microphone superstar Tony Matterhorn finally got his visa straightened out this month, freeing him to return to New York tonight at nightclub TNY (West 52nd St between 8th and Broadway). Quoth the promoters: "Tony 'Mentally Ill to Bloodclot Kill' Matterhorn is coming to TNY Tues Feb 13th to host a night of Enneeergy. This will be Matterhorn's first appearance to the US in OVER three years. Come ready to dance, dutty wine, show off the goddas fi dem and celebrate this moment in history." Check out our Gen F on the man behind "Man From Mars," "Dutty Wine" and more bashment smashes after the jump, and be sure to spend at least a few minutes today perusing YouTube's fine selection of dutty wine videos, including Tony's official single.

Fine Wine

Tony Matterhorn turns mental illness into a craze

By Edwin “Stats” Houghton

“I been doin recording for the longest, just on dub plates. So it was predestined to be, you know?” So Tony Matterhorn, undisputed king of dancehall selectors, describes his transformation from champion disc jock into chart-topping vocalist. He’s been manning the decks at soundsystem dances from “ever since”—ie age 16 when he linked with Kingston sound Inner City Disco. But he gained true notoriety around 1994 with a move to New York to select for King Addy’s in Brooklyn. It was there that Matterhorn first stretched his vocal chords with one-off dubs for local BK systems like King Fila, meanwhile making Addy’s the sound to beat with his trademark “mentally ill” approach, intro-ing each tune with spontaneous smack-talking tirades and throwing dancers off their guard by dropping a techno or country song into a hardcore bashment set at the most deliciously inopportune moment. He is the instigator of a certain energy that has recently dominated Jamaican music with a vocabulary of aggressive juggling, frequent rewinds and shouted exhortations, and his is the rasping voice that can be heard screaming ‘G—G-Government!’ over the intro to Sean Paul’s Trinity LP.

So the most surprising thing about his monster hit “Dutty Wine” is not that it has become the inescapable dancehall cut of 2006, but that it’s so damn harmonious—it’s not just the call and response of dance steps or the interjections of Lawwwwd! Rae! Whoy! you would expect from the king of hype men. Don’t misunderstand; the ‘Lawds’ are still there, and by summertime Dutty Wine as a dance craze—winding the waist while simultaneously whipping long hair (or weave) around helicopter-style—was so frenzied in the Caribbean that doctors in Trinidad were issuing warnings about possible neck injuries. But, as Matterhorn explains, “The melody is the key ingredient that catch the people and make the dance…” and then he demonstrates with a quick rendition of the Macarena (“bla bla bla buh-bla… Macarena!”).

Although in conversation Matterhorn seems slightly mellower than his manic dancehall persona as he chats contentedly with his three kids (Kadim, Paris and Tiana), these frequent musical non sequiturs make it easy to see that his success on the decks and his surprisingly natural riffs off the melodic phrases of producer Supa Hype’s “Smash” riddim stem from the same source—an uncontrollable impulse to jump in whenever music is played. “As a selector I always harmonize with whatever the artist put on wax, as a habit,” he says. “Like the Beenie Man song that used to say ‘I am goin home on the de gal dem train…’ I would add in: ‘Me an’ de whole a dem!’”

Posted: February 13, 2007
Mars Landing