HIS OWN IMAGE: Is this man the Jay Z of Jamaica?
Does the Adidja Palmer publicity machine ever pause for a breather? The uber-popular dancehall star may court contention locally with his brow-raising remarks and ‘evolutionary’ personal style, but it’s all just providing fodder for the international press. Nothing is more obvious.
On the heels of a profound piece by Vibe’s Rob Kenner last week in the New York Times, mainly exploring people’s unyielding fascination with the artist, both Fader and Rolling Stone, two noted entertainment publications, have scored full-length feature interviews with the star. Representing Fader, photographer Michael Schmelling and writer Eddie “Stats” Houghton flew down to the island for info on Kartel’s new album and to get the straight story behind his skin bleaching and body modification obsession. The mag’s description of the 35-year-old entertainer: “Vybz Kartel is one of the most famous men in Jamaica, a prominent, powerful artist with steadily brewing controversy.”
Meanwhile, here are choice quotes from Kartel's June 13 Rolling Stone feature:
On the book he is writing:
It's almost finished. It's social commentary on ghetto life as seen through the eyes of Vybz Kartel. Trust me, this is going to be very detrimental to Vybz Kartel's freedom because it's a no-holds barred book, looking into taboo topics like political corruption, abortion, extrajudicial killings, how religion is used to keep ghetto youth under mental bondage. It's called Voice of the Jamaican Ghetto (Or Gaza, If You Prefer). Each chapter is named for a social commentary track that I recorded – and it will remind people of how many so-called conscious tunes I do.
On the reality TV show he has in development:
This will be another first for dancehall music: a reality show similar to Flavor of Love. Twenty girls from all over the world, vying for the quote-unquote love of Vybz Kartel, vying for my heart. Wherever that is.
On the hip-hop artiste he compares himself to:
Jay-Z, because I am a lyrical prodigy and I am also an astute businessman. I have done things business-wise that no other dancehall deejay has even tried to do.
In truth, Vybz Kartel doesn't rank close to Jay Z's money, power and respect, even in a Jamaican context. Still, you can’t come between a man and his vision…