THE MC WHO BECAME A SINGER
The year 2016 is another significant one for lovers of the unique cultural expression that is Spicemas and Grenada’s music.
2016 will be 35 years since Carnival was moved to August, while the 25th anniversary of the release of the Road March winning composition, Jambalasie Rule, will also be commemorated in 2016.
Made In Grenada is undertaking an initiative, along with the Charles Family to chronicle (by way of a video documentary) the events and personalities surrounding the production, recording and release of the iconic and pioneering Jambalasie Rule. As part of the build up to the release of the documentary a series of articles highlighting the advent of the hit tune will be released.
In the first article the spot highlight falls on the Lennox Douglas, popularly known as Singing MC. The distinct voice on the transformative song belongs to an immensely talented son of Labaye with a most interesting story about what is considered by many as the golden era of Grenada’s music.
The drive up Cook Hill is filled with anticipation and would be for any fan of Grenada’s music knowing that it is just a matter of minutes before one would be in the presence of one of the most revered figures of Grenada’s musical history.
Singing MC is a prototypical Labaye personality, very welcoming, extremely enthusiastic and energetic with signs of creativity in every movement and expression.
A GBSS Old Boy, MC’s formative years certainly laid the foundation for what was to come. His father was a musician and he himself went on to play the saxophone and clarinet as part of the Police Cadet. He also won the Lions Club Junior Calypso title.
MC’s emphasizes the community spirit around Grenville and surrounding Villages, which led to a constant bevy of ideas and expressions – through song or carnival, especially J’ouvert.
It was that communal spirit that led MC to the Charles Brothers and their exploits with music, a calypso tent and a recording studio and one of Grenada’s most successful bands
Singing MC joined the Kalypso Kastle tent in 1981 as a part-time MC and began singing in 1983 when as MC he was incorporated into the program as part of the nightly entertainment.
A series of events led to an even brighter focus on Grenville as a bastion of cultural expression. The move of the airport from Pearls to Point Salines, the collapse of the revolution and the subsequent voids economic and otherwise allowed for the advent of Rainbow City Festival and an explosion of Labaye culture fueled by the music of Moss International and the services provided by the genius of the Late Don Charles. The Late Mr. D, Darrius, the Late Timpo, Squeezy and Randy Isaac are just a few of those who propelled the musical movement in Labaye during the 1980’s and early 1990’s.
The Studio, as described by MC was more than just a place to make music but also served as a social centre of sorts where issues outside of music were discussed and debated.
About the 1991 Road March song, Singing MC posits that it was a series of ideas that gave birth to the megahit. With the Jab Jab bands of La Fillette, Paradise and Mirabeau, the traditional aspect of Carnival formed a crucial part of all cultural expressions in La Baye. MC brought the idea to Don to do some music incorporating the specific creativity of Jab Jab and J’Ouvert. Elements of Jab are featured in the song, including the notorious Jab spelling, and for the first time ever the use of a live conch shell in recorded music (which was blown by MC).
Not all of the Band members agreed on what was at the time a major musical experiment that drastically diverted form the established direction of Moss International’s musical journey.
The finalized records of the song were delayed in Barbados and only got to Grenada about one week before Carnival. That delay did not in any way affect patrons’ appetite for the new sound developed by Moss International and Jambalasie Rule went on to win the 1991 Road March title quite easily.
The Labaye musical experiment, the idea of the man formerly known as Guana (as a Calypsonian) before people started referring to him as the MC who sings, hence Singing MC, that idea gave the world the sub-genre now known as Jab music, that idea has also given Grenada a distinct musical identity that has been immensely beneficial to Grenada and Grenadian recording Artistes.
A quote from Singing MC typifies the expectation of those making Jab music and ultimately the effects of a properly produced jab tune. MC explains, ‘I can’t set up all night to write, sing and record and then have to come and dance it for you too. I make it for you to dance.’
As the 25th anniversary of Jambalasie Rule and by extension Jab music begins in earnest more research, more interviews and certainly more information will be dispensed by Made In Grenada.