General Trees

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General Trees
Birth name Amos Edwards
Origin Kingston, Jamaica
Genres Reggae
Instruments Vocals

General Trees (born Amos Edwards, Drews Land, Kingston, Jamaica, c.1960)[1][2][3][4] was one of the most popular Jamaican dancehall deejays of the 1980s, best known for his hits in the latter half of the decade.

Biography[edit]

General Trees is widely regarded as the best Jamaican speed rapper of his era, the "fast style" of delivery commonly accepted as arriving in Jamaica from the UK, through London-born Phillip Papa Levi.[5] After working as a shoemaker in his father's shop, he first found fame as a sound system star, working on Maurice Johnson's Black Scorpio system, which he had followed since the 1970s, his brother having preceded him as a deejay on the system.[1][2][6] His name was given to him by Barry G, who thought he sounded like "a General with three voices in one".[7] His fellow deejay Lord Sassafrass was known as "The Horseman", with the Black Scorpio system also known as the "Horseman" sound system, and when Trees joined he was known as "the younger horseman" and dressed as a jockey to perform.[6]

When Johnson opened his own studio, also named Black Scorpio, he began producing recordings, including those by artists that had performed with his sound system, including Trees and Lord Sassafrass.[1] General Trees' debut single, "Mi God Mi King", topped the Jamaican singles chart, and a string of hits followed, including "Heel And Toe", "Monkey And Ape", "Ghost Rider", and "Crucifixion", although his best-remembered song is "Mini Bus", which lamented the demise of the "jolly bus",[8] and which was awarded the title "Song Of The Year" in 1986 from the Jamaica Broadcasting Corporation.[5] The award raised his profile and he went on to record for a variety of producers in Jamaica.

Further hits followed with "Gone A Negril" (#2 in 1986)[9] and "Calling All Higglers", and he contributed to a "clash" album, Battle Of The Generals, that featured versions of "Lambada" and "Think Twice".[5] Trees also recorded combination hits including "Coke Pipe" with Fancy Black, and "Nightmare" with Little John. In the early 1990s he again worked with Johnson, who also acted as his manager,[5] but a falling-out between the two led Trees to work for other producers.[2] Although he never repeated his earlier popularity, he had some success with "Eye Nah See", "Great Jamaican Jockeys" and "Goodie Goodie".[5] He was less active during the late 1990s, although he recorded "Lik Him But Nuh Kill Him" for Linval Edwards in 1999.[2] After that he was largely silent until he reunited again with Johnson in 2005, recording new songs including "Run di Place Again", "Mother of the Land", and "She Says She Loves Me".[2] A tour of Europe with the Black Scorpio sound system followed in December 2005.[2] He then began working with the Stur-Gav sound system.[7]

During breaks in his career, Edwards fell back on his other trade of shoe-making.[2]

Discography[edit]

  • Heart, Mind & Soul (1985)
  • Ghost Rider (1985) Sunset
  • The Younger Horseman (1985) Sunset
  • Nuff Respect (1987) Shanachie
  • Battle Of The Generals (1987) King Dragon
  • A Reggae Calypso Encounter (1987) Rohit
  • Ragga Ragga Raggamuffin (1988) JA
  • Everything So So (1990) World
  • Reggae Calypso Encounter (1990) Rohit (Yellowman & General Trees)

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c Steve Barrow and Peter Dalton (2004) The Rough Guide to Reggae, 3rd edn, Rough Guides, ISBN 1-84353-329-4, p. 284.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g Patrick Foster (2005) "General Trees back on the local bus", Jamaica Observer, 16 December 2005.
  3. ^ David V. Moskowitz (2006) Caribbean Popular Music: An Encyclopedia of Reggae,Mento, Ska, Rock Steady, and Dancehall, Greenwood Press, ISBN 0-313-33158-8, p. 120.
  4. ^ Other sources, e.g. the Encyclopedia of Popular Music and Moskowitz, state that his real name is Anthony Edwards.
  5. ^ a b c d e Colin Larkin The Encyclopedia of Popular Music, Muze Ltd.
  6. ^ a b Lesser, Beth (2008) Dancehall: The Rise of Jamaican Dancehall Culture, Soul Jazz, ISBN 978-0-9554817-1-0, p. 81.
  7. ^ a b Krista Henry (2007) "GLORY DAYS: General Trees pulls music from the deck", Jamaica Gleaner, 9 September 2007,
  8. ^ Mel Cooke (2008) "General Trees makes, marks history with 'Minibus'", Jamaica Gleaner, 23 November 2008.
  9. ^ Mel Cooke (2008), "Story of the song: General Trees' 'Gone a Negril'", Jamaica Gleaner, 30 November 2008.