Manley Meadows an under-the-radar entertainment hub

April 27, 2018
Kemar Brown lymes by 'big tree', a popular spot in Manley Meadows.
Darrio Ice says the peace and quiet of Manley Meadows help him to write songs.
Music producer SK talks about the various artistes who pass through his studio in Manley Meadows.

"Meet me at 'big tree'," Kemar Brown, a resident of Manley Meadows, told the WEEKEND STAR team.

Slightly confused and with no sense of direction, the drive to the east Kingston community continues. As the vehicle turns into the scheme, the tree cannot be missed.

Although big tree is a main link-up spot and is the location of the community notice board, parties are not necessarily held there.

Oneil Heath, a party promoter and resident, says events are held all over the scheme instead.

"That is done to get all the residents of various avenues together to interact," said Heath.

Meanwhile, many residents expressed that the neighbourhood is generally peaceful, explaining that the sound of music coming from events is not deafening and sharing a common wall with another resident is not an issue.

"The greatest thing is that we are situated in the centre of what people would call hotspots like Rae Town, Dunkirk and Rockfort. Most of the residents have family from neighbouring communities that support whatever is held inside Manley Meadows," said Brown.

Brown, 28, was especially passionate about giving us the tour of the scheme, which has almost 1,700 units and 23 avenues.

He said maybe the reason for the quiet atmosphere is that the majority of the residents are civil servants.

"When initialised in 1997, mostly nurses, teachers, doctors and police made up the population," Brown said.

However, there are quite a few rising stars living in Manley Meadows, including professional dancer Triple X, Untouchable Squad (who got their stardom through the 2010 Dancin' Dynamites competition), Magnum Kings and Queens of Dancehall 2014 contestant Darrio Ice, and 2009 Digicel Rising Stars top six finalist Angele Smith.

Darrio Ice said that when he first relocated to Manley Meadows as a youth, he thought it was boring, and he would often get lost.

"Nuff time mi get lost after school, couldn't recognise my house. I have grown to like the serenity of the community; it helps with poetry and songwriting," he said.

A music producer and recording studio owner, Kevin 'SK' Smith, also stated that the calmness helps with production.

The studio, located at his home close to the entrance of the scheme since 2007, attracts quite a few artistes, both newcomers and veterans.

"I try to help a lot of the young artistes that show up because a lot of the time, it is not the talent that is the problem, but the promotion of their work and image, so people don't get to know about them," SK told the WEEKEND STAR. "Still, Manley Meadows is hardly at the fore of dancehall music or entertainment. It's never mentioned."

The entertainers all shared the memory of the pool that once existed closer to the south side of Manley Meadows.

There are aspirations to do something memorable for the community centre, which is not properly set up and is not being used as often as it was years ago.

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