After I interviewed Assassin for his recent FADER feature, we reminisced about five of the dancehall star's best songs. Here's Assassin's breakdown, in his own words.
First Name Music (2000)
Assassin: "That was when I was still going to studios in my school uniform. That record is social commentary, in terms of 'Wah Gwaan' meaning 'what is going on,' and that is pretty much what that song is about. What is going on, or what was going on in Jamaica at the time."
"The whole Stepz riddim was just huge. 'Eediat Ting' mean[s] things that idiots would do. In Jamaica, when something that happens that's a bit questionable, we say, 'Ah eediat ting dat.' A man's not taking care of his kids? Eediat ting dat. That's what that record was about. Social commentary again."
Mad House (2005)
"That was my first time working with legendary dancehall producer Dave Kelly. He was one of the people who, throughout high school, in terms of his pitch and his production and his writing, was always a great influence. Working with him was a good experience. We got a real banger out of that. And of course the 85 riddim was massive, even more so because of Baby Cham's ['Ghetto Story']."
"That song was like an up-to-date version of 'Wah Gwaan,' [with] 'Talk How Mi Feel' meaning you're just expressing views in a very candid way. I guess people appreciated that. Songs can be such documentation of history at a certain time. So you might listen to that song in 2060 and say, What's this bleaching? Maybe a quick Google search might give them some results. So it's like this is what's happening around , when this song came out. Songs that deal with reality and life and variables in life will always be relevant."
Victory Squad (2014)
"Now, the industry is so much different from when I just started recording. There's a lot more material to sift through. That record is massive in terms of the work I've done for the last year because of it going to Europe. There is a big soundclash culture going on, and I must have recorded that same dubplate over 1,000 times in the last year. That was one of my favorites, too, because the '80s is when I fell in love with music, and I was able to pretty much time travel and put myself inside the mind of an '80s deejay and try to come up with the sound somebody would use at that time. The type of lyrics and way the lyrics would be constructed [are in an '80s style]. I had fun making that one. Big up to [producer Jah] Snowcone."
Lead image: Wade Rhoden