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King Jammy’s Dynasty - The Next Generation

King Jammy’s Dynasty - The Next Generation

King Jammy’s Dynasty - The Next Generation

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Discover the sons of King Jammy, John John, Baby G and Jam 2.


What must it be like growing up in Waterhouse, Kingston 11, across the street from one of most highly respected studios in Jamaica?  For a start, you probably didn’t hang out playing video games or watching tv after school; you were usually in that very studio, watching and listening to everything that was going on around you as literally thousands of hit records were created. Or at least that’s how I imagined it and it turns out to be true.

King Jammy

Apparently the result was three equally talented sons of the legendary King Jammy and Iris James: Lloyd ‘John John’ James Jr., Trevor ‘Baby G‘ James Jr. and Jammy ‘Jam 2’ James. (Actually, son #4, Christopher ‘CJ’ James is also a producer living in Canada.) It’s definitely a family business these days, as the ‘James Gang’ alternate late nights in the studio. Name any of the great dancehall artists and 99 times out of 100, John John has produced them. Baby G, in addition to co-producing tracks with Junior Gong, just released the Captain Riddim, complete with video mix on youtube. Jam 2 and Camar Doyles comprise Jam2 Productions (and sometimes Block 17 Productions), producing artists such as Gyptian, Jah Cure and KipRich, just to name a few. Earlier in his career, Jam 2 was known for dancehall anthems such as 'Beyonce Wine' by Vybz Kartel. I guess it’s just in the genes.

And with the completion of a second studio, general upgrades all around the Jammys complex and an innovative studio package in the works, the James Gang are still busy turning out new hits around the clock. You can record either analog or digital or both here, unusual in this day and age, but those Otari 32-track track machines have churned out some great sounds over the years, while the full ProTools suite is utilized as well and those huge Tannoy speakers bring out every nuance of sound.

Josh Chamberlain aka Soul of the Lion recently visited with the family at Jammy’s St. Lucia Road studio to record a radio documentary on Jammy’s, the next generation, with a special emphasis on sound systems, as he is writing his doctoral thesis on that topic. In their conversation, King Jammy noted that sound systems used to be the main promotional vehicle for new songs, whereas now music goes straight to radio and digital release. However, King is bringing back his sound system because people seem to want the clashes again. In a sentiment echoed by each of his children, he maintained that keeping the studio in Waterhouse is crucial to the music, that this is where their roots are. He said he has no plans for retirement and is proud that his children are in music full time as well.

John john, Sizzla and King Jammy

John John is the oldest and was the first to work the sound system with his father. Photos of their early clash victories can be seen around the studio. His most recent project is Sizzla’s critically acclaimed 'The Scriptures' album. He told Josh his name comes from a man named Flingfoot, no real idea why, but it stuck. He admits to teaching Bobby Digital how to cut dubs on a lathe but insisted he learned much from Bobby as well as King Tubby. His first hit, I’m in the Middle by Johnny P and Foxy Brown,came out on the Father and Son label but he later felt the need to establish his own label, John John Records. He said he really enjoys working with Sanchez, Bounty Killer, Terror Fabulous and Sizzla. He has Sanchez, Michael Rose and Tony Curtis albums in the works and is excited by a new female artist he’s recording, Tazurdee.

Baby G was born in the U.S. but grew up in Jamaica before migrating to Canada to work for a time, then returning to the family studio. He first began working with Wayne Marshall who lived 3 houses down from the James family. Bounty Killer gave him the name Baby Giant as a child because he was so tall but it was shortened to Baby G as he grew up to the name, which he jokes can stand for gangster, genius, sort of an open ended moniker. In 1998 he hooked up a small studio with equipment his father wasn’t using to start recording with Wayne. When asked what tune put Baby G on the map, he replied Mavado’s On the Rock, done on the Mission Riddim first recorded for Stephen and Damian Marley. He feels like Jamaica is lacking in quality control right now and needs to step up to quality mixing and mastering. Baby G is currently working with Patexxx, part of the Alliance next generation. An album is in the works and plans are being made for touring. He also continues to co-produce with Damian Marley.

Jam 2Jammy James, pka Jam 2, is the youngest son but he’s already fully into the music as well, usually with his production partner Camar Doyles, who’s also a recording artist. They are working on an album with Lisa Hype and another with Dre Island, a new conscious artist. Jam 2 says his father taught him everything he knows, that he’s the person he looks up to. Although he considers his sound unique, he admits to tapping into the King’s bass frequencies. At heart he’s a music lover, all types of music (“except stupid music”). I was fortunate to be there for his first weekly party held in the yard, Nipples Tuesday (sounds titillating, sic). His two young sons can frequently be found at the studio as well so I can only speculate that they will be part of the third generation of the Jammy’s dynasty.

Upstairs, in addition to the newly built second studio, is the beginning of what will either become suites for the use of clients of the studio or a nightclub. There is talk of an all inclusive recording experience whereby producers and artists could fly into Kingston, be assured of a prompt and safe ride from one of the Jammys staff, work any and all hours in the studio and keep the vibe going. Right across the street they could eat breakfast, lunch and dinner or have a few Red Stripes at the former James home, now being refurbished as a restaurant/bar. The complete package is still in the planning stages but both top of the line studios are open for business and clients can be housed at nearby hotels.

Come and check out the history and future of reggae/dancehall music for yourself.

King Jammy studio

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Read comments (1)

Posted by Ansel Thompson on 01.17.2013
Today is a great day for me seeing these faces , some I have never seen before .My mother is Mathilther James , the sister of Lloyd's father .I just saw some news about his health , I have shared it on facebook , I will now go back and read it .

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