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REIGN OF FIRE - Capleton still blazes

By GERMAINE SMITH, Staff Reporter

THEY CALL HIM 'King', 'King Shango', 'Dada', 'Prophet', and even 'Almighty'. Many have qualms over these titles people have given him, but Capleton holds a distinct place in the history of Jamaica's dancehall.

Many are uncomfortable with his hard line stance on sexuality, religion, and his fixation on burning anything in his path. Capleton, however, has seemingly managed to maintain a leading presence in the music business since the late '80s despite all the tide which goes against him.

His tour dates now take him away from Jamaica for at least half the year, sound system operators queue by the hundreds to get his dub plates, and his tunes, as debatable as they are in quality, still ride the airwaves. In Jamaica's context, this is a rarity for someone who has plied the dancehall trade since the '80s.

"My secret fi do all a this is just my humility, and I follow the sound of the music," Capleton explains. "The sound and trend of the music is what yu haffi follow. The music is a thing whe have different transition and especially dancehall music whe change regular, yu haffi stay in tune with it."

This humility of which he speaks is boldly challenged by the public, as he is constantly surrounded by scores of supporters who are just as protective of him as they are passionate about him. This loyalty, he says, is earned because of his approach to those in his circle.

"Yu haffi let people feel loved and feel like them waa fi be around yu," he reasons. "I don't know how some artiste deal with the public like dem untouchable, some a dem need fi improve pon dem public relations. People love me cause I and I never get involved inna no folly, never give no youth no gun, never fight gainst no man."

His purpose

Capleton tells THE STAR that being that way is a part of his purpose here on Earth. "My purpose here a fi help and heal. Every man deh pon the Earth fi something, but mine is to help and heal as much as mi can. Yu have some man who just deh inna the business fi get everything fi themself, yu caa do that. You haffi help people still."

Some have argued that compared to the Capleton of three or four years ago, the quality of his songs has sagged, as he seems to record on any rhythm that producers give to him. Others say he sounds better on live tracks accompanied by horns and trumpets rather than computer generated rhythms. This Capleton defends by saying that his critics are not listening to the music properly.

"They are not paying attention, they are not listening. Yu see if mi do five dancehall tune, I do 10 roots and reality tune. I have to create a balance inna the music, but they don't realize that."

Now at 37, Capleton has been in the business for over 15 years. He says the business is not perfect, and if he had the power to change things, he would change the 'juggling' phenomenon.

"I woulda change the 1000 man pon the same rhythm, cause dat get annoying sometimes. Yu find seh when yu have so much man pon the same rhythm, if a young artiste even get a tune pon the rhythm, him get lost inna the juggling. The selector dem will play Capleton, Bounty, Beenie, and a Elephant Man and the little artiste lost pon the rhythm. The name sell over him."

In offering advice to aspiring artistes, he recommends staying confident despite the odds. "Get humility, tolerance, love, and good management. Yu need that fi mek it."

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May 7, 2004
 

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