Ras Calico doesn't want to be a don
Dancehall artiste Ras Calico knows only too well how violence and gang warfare can crush the spirit and dreams of a community.
He released a song, No Don, as a critique against the hero worshipping of criminals and area leaders because of the long-term negatives of romanticising violence.
"I did the No Don song to teach the nation a lesson. When I was younger, dem used to call me Muta because mi always talk the truth and mi a talk the truth inna mi song. Violence and badness is a lie. All the bad bwoy dem who mi used to hang out with, the whole a dem dead off inna May Pen. When mi go Ocho Rios go par with a next set of bad man, the whole a dem dead off too. Who nuh dead, gone a jail. So mi nuh want no man call mi no don," the artiste, whose real name is Howard Bennett, said.
But Ras Calico didn't start out in music.
After leaving Claude McKay High School in Clarendon, he started selling in the Ocho Rios market with his mother. He also bounced around doing odd jobs, even as a security guard at his former high school, all while honing his musical talent.
Eventually, through a mutual friend, he met DJ Sunshine of IRIE FM, and he recorded a single No Don at the Frenz for Real studio. However, he still didn't get his big break. He returned to the Ocho Rios market to sell 'grabba', seasonings, and other items.
Then as luck would have it, he made a link with a gas station owner Fargo, who decided to sign him. He recorded a single on the '90 Gas' rhythm called Things Coulda Better, and then followed up with Mama.