||This biographical article needs additional citations for verification. (December 2012)|
Yellowman performing in 2007
|Birth name||Christian Winston Foster|
|Also known as||King Yellowman|
15 January 1957 |
|Occupation(s)||Musician, songwriter, deejay|
|Labels||Columbia Records, CBS Records, Greensleeves, Artist Only, VP Records, RAS Records|
|Associated acts||Fathead, John Paul Larkin|
Yellowman (born Winston Foster, 15 January 1956, Kingston, Jamaica) is a Jamaican reggae (rub-a-dub) and dancehall deejay, widely known as King Yellowman. He was popular in Jamaica in the 1980s, coming to prominence with a series of singles that established his reputation.
Winston Foster grew up in a Catholic orphanage called Alpha Boys School in Kingston, and was shunned due to having albinism, which was usually not socially accepted in Jamaica. Alpha Boys School was known for its musical alumni. In the late 1970s Yellowman first gained wide attention when he won a contest event in Kingston, Jamaica called "The Tastee Talent Contest" where deejays would perform toasting. Like many Jamaican deejays, he honed his talents by frequently performing at outdoor sound-system dances. In 1981, after becoming significantly popular throughout Jamaica, Yellowman became the first dancehall artist to be signed to a major American label (Columbia Records). One reviewer of Yellowman was quoted as saying "Listening to Yellowman sing is like watching Michael Jordan play basketball. He knows he's got it, you know he's got it, and it's a trip just experiencing him perform."
His first album release was in 1982 entitled Mister Yellowman followed by Zungguzungguguzungguzeng in 1983 earning instant success. Yellowman's sexually explicit lyrics in popular songs such as "Them a Mad Over Me" boasted of his sexual prowess, like those of other reggae singers/deejays, earned Yellowman criticism in the mid-1980s. Yellowman appeared in Jamaican Dancehall Volcano Hi-power 1983 which featured other major dancehall musicians such as Massive Dread, Josey Wales, Burro Banton and Eek-A-Mouse.
Yellowman has had a substantial influence on the world of hip hop. He is widely credited for leading the way for the succession of reggae artists that were embraced by the growing hip-hop community in America during the 1980s. Eazy-E used a sample of his voice from his recording "Nobody Move, Nobody Get Hurt", which also became a major hit by Eazy-E with the same title. The basic rhythm of his hit "Zungguzungguguzungguzeng" can be traced throughout the hip hop scene as it was reused by such hip hop giants as KRS-One, Sublime, Notorious B.I.G., Tupac Shakur, and Blackstar, formed by Mos Def and Talib Kweli. The rhythm borrowed by Yellowman in this song was referred to by him as "mad mad", as the rhythm was originally cut by Alton Ellis in 1967 at Studio One as "Mad Mad Mad". There has been a constant renaming of this signature rhythm (or riddim), such as "Diseases" (after the popular version of the tune by Papa Michigan and General Smiley). Yellowman changed the melodic phrasing of this rhythm from AA to AB, when he began ending the second line in the chorus on a higher note. Many of the previously mentioned artists composing songs based on Yellowman's original riddim differed in their choice of using either the AA or AB pattern. However, this riddim has little to do with Yellowman's talent, as it was most likely written by the Roots Radics band, also responsible for countless other reggae riddims recorded at the time. Where Yellowman's real talent can be shown is in his ability to ride a riddim like no other DJ at that time. He was the undisputed King of the Dancehall – the top-selling artist in Jamaica and abroad, and also of a new ruler of a nastier, ruder form of DJ style of lyrics knows as "slackness". As Shabba Ranks later said in one of his hit songs: "Where does Slackness come from, some blame slackness 'pon Yellowman..."
Yellowman proclaimed, "I never know why they call it slackness. I talk about sex, but it's just what happens behind closed doors. What I talk is reality".
By the mid-1990s however, Yellowman released socially conscious material, rising to international fame along with singers such as Buju Banton. Yellowman became the island's most popular deejay. During the early 1980s, Yellowman had over 40 singles and produced up to five albums per year.
Battle with Cancer
In 1982, Yellowman was diagnosed with skin cancer and was initially told that he only had three more years to live. However, this prognosis proved to be inaccurate, and after several surgeries Yellowman was able to continue his career. The cancer went into apparent remission during this time. It was not until 1986 that it was diagnosed that the cancer had spread to his jaw. Yellowman was forced to undergo a very invasive jaw surgery to remove the malignant tumor that had formed. This surgery permanently disfigured Yellowman's face, as a large portion of the left side of his lower jaw had to be removed to successfully extract the tumor.
Return to Music
He re-invented himself with his 1994 album Prayer, which stepped away from the slackness that gave him his initial fame. His latest albums are New York (2003) and Round 1 (2005). Yellowman was also a featured guest vocalist on the Run-DMC track "Roots Rap Reggae". Yellowman continues to perform internationally with his Sagittarius Band, and has toured through places such as Nigeria where he retains a following of fans, as well as Spain, Peru, Sweden, Italy, Germany, England, France, Kenya, the United States and Canada. He also featured on OPM's 2004 album, Forthemasses.
In Popular Culture
Foster's daughter Kareema followed him into a career in music.
He has spoken against violence, in the Montreal Mirror in 2005 he said, “Now it’s not your entertainment or teaching. If you notice the hip hop and dancehall artists today, all they do they sing about drugs, clothes, car, house—when they can’t get it, they start get violent. ... I know what violence is like and what it contain and what it can do. I’m glad that the roots is coming back.” The slackness style with which Yellowman is associated sometimes has homophobic lyrics. However, in the same Montreal Mirror article he spoke against it. “Everybody listen to me ... I don’t do songs against gay people, I don’t do violent lyric against gay people. If you don’t like a person or you don’t like a thing, you don’t talk about it. You don’t come on stage and say kill them or burn them because everybody have a right to live.”
The melody for Yellowman's 1982 "Zungguzungguguzungguzeng", the "Diseases" riddim by "Junjo" Lawes, has been sampled and imitated repeatedly since its original release in 1967. Coxsone Dodd had already released two dub cuts, "Talking Dub" and "Lusaka", plus a 1980 cut by Jennifer Lara, "Hurt So Good", while Sly and Robbie's "Johnny Dollar" by Roland Burrell was also voiced by Yellowman as "Soldier Take Over".
- Bonehead, "Zungguzungguguzungguzeng" (see also, Live at Aces version, w/ Fathead) (1982)
- Sister Nancy, "Coward of the Country" (1982)
- Frankie Paul, "Alesha" (1984)
- Toyan, "Hot Bubble Gum" (1984)
- Cocoa Tea, "I Lost My Sonia" (1985)
- Super Cat, "Boops" (1985)
- BDP, "Remix For P Is Free" (1987)
- BDP, "Tcha Tcha" (1988)
- Nice & Smooth, "Nice & Smooth" (1989)
- Nice & Smooth, "Dope on a Rope" (1989)
- K7, "Zunga Zeng" (1993)
- KRS-One, "P Is Still Free" (1993)
- Us3, "I Got It Goin' On" (1993)
- Buju Banton, "Big It Up" (1993)
- Ninjaman, "Funeral Again" (1994)
- Bounty Killer, "Kill Or Be Killed" (1994)
- Sublime, "Greatest Hits" (1994)
- Buju Banton, "Man a Look Yu" (1995)
- Junior M.A.F.I.A. (feat. The Notorious B.I.G.), "Player's Anthem" (1995)
- Sublime, "Roots of Creation" (1995)
- 2Pac, "Hit 'Em Up" (1996)
- Black Star, "Definition" (1998)
- Mr. Notty, "Sentencia de Muerte" (1998)
- Dead Prez, "It's Bigger than Hip-Hop" (2000)
- Beenie Man, featuring Wyclef Jean, "Love Me Now" (2000)
- Nejo, track 14 (DJ Joe's Fatal Fantassy 1)(2001)
- Joe Budden, "Pump It Up" (2003)
- Tego Calderón, "Bonsai" (2003)
- Jin, "Learn Chinese" (2004)
- Vybz Kartel, "Tight Pussy Gyal" (2004)
- P.O.D., featuring Matisyahu, "Roots in Stereo" (2006)
- White Rappers, "One Night Stand" (2007)
- Mister Yellowman (1982) Greensleeves Records
- King Mellow Yellow Meets Yellowman (1982) Jam Rock (with King mellow yellow)
- Superstar Yellowman Has Arrived With Toyan (1982) Joe Gibbs (with Toyan and Johnny Ringo)
- Duppy Or Gunman (1982) Volcano
- Jack Sprat (1982) GG's
- Just Cool (1982) Jah Guidance
- Live At Reggae Sunsplash (1982) Sunsplash
- Them A Mad Over Me (1982) J&L
- Bad Boy Skanking (1982) Greensleeves (with Fathead)
- For Your Eyes Only (1982) Arrival (with Fathead)
- Live At Aces (1982) VP (with Fathead)
- One Yellowman (1982) Hitbound (with Fathead)
- Supermix (1982) Volcano (with Fathead)
- The Yellow, The Purple & The Nancy (1982) Greensleeves (with Purpleman and Sister Nancy)
- Zungguzungguguzungguzeng (1983) Greensleeves/Blue Moon/Arrival
- Live At Kilamanjaro (1983) Hawkeye
- Live In London (1983) Thunder Bolt
- Live At Ranny Williams Entertainment Center (1983) Roots Rockers (with Lord Sassafrass & Peter Metro)
- Nobody Move, Nobody Get Hurt (1984) Greensleeves
- King Yellowman (1984) Columbia
- One In a Million (1984) Joe Gibbs
- Operation Radication (1984) Top 1000
- Showdown Vol 5 (1984) Hitbound (with Fathead and Purpleman)
- Two Giants Clash (1984) Greensleeves (with Josey Wales)
- Galong Galong Galong (1985) Greensleeves/Blue Moon
- Walking Jewellery Store (1985) Power House
- Girls Them Pet (1986) Taxi
- Going To The Chapel (1986) Shanachie/Greensleeves
- Yellow Like Cheese (1987)
- Yellowman Rides Again (1988)
- Yellowman Sings The Blues (1988) Rohit
- Yellow Man Meets Charlie Chaplin (1989) Power House (with Charlie Chaplin)
- A Feast of Yellow Dub (1990)
- Party (1991)
- Mi Hot (1991) Pow Wow
- Reggae on the Move (1992)
- Live in England (1992) Sonic Sounds
- Prayer (1994) RAS
- Blueberry Hill (1994) JA
- Message to the World (1995)
- Divorced! (For Your Eyes Only) (1983) Burning Sounds (with Fathead)
- Freedom of Speech (1997) Black Scorpio
- Yellowman Rides Again (1997) RAS
- Ram Dance Master (1997) Nyam Up
- A Very, Very, Yellow Christmas (1998)
- Stone Wall Rambo (1998) Jamaican Vibes (Sly & Robbie and Yellowman)
- One in a Million (1999) Shanachie
- Chronic (1999) X-Ploit (with Fathead)
- Yellow Like Cheese (1999) RAS
- In Bed With Yellowman (2000) Greensleeves
- Good Sex Guide (2000) Greensleeves
- Yellow Gold (2002) (Yellowman and The Paragons)
- New York (2003) RAS
- Round 1 (2005) Nuff (Yellowman vs. Ninjaman)
- 20 Super Hits (1991) Sonic Sounds
- The Best of Yellowman (1996) Melodie
- RAS Portraits – Yellowman (1997) RAS
- Reggae Anthology: Look How Me Sexy (2001) VP
- Just Cool (2004) Charly
- Yellow Fever (2004) Trojan
- Reggae Chronicles (2006) Hallmark
- Most Wanted (2007) Greensleeves
- Reggae Anthology: Young, Gifted & Yellow (2013) VP
- Yellowman Peace Tour CRS (VHS)
- Live in San Francisco (2003) Music Video Distributors/2B1 (DVD)
- Yellowman/Chaka Demus and Pliers: Living Legends in Concert (2007) Funhouse (DVD)
- Various Artists
- Kingston Signals Vol.1 (2004) Music Video Distributors
- Stars in Action, Part 2 (2007) Island Entertainment
- Huey, Steve. "Yellowman - Music Biography, Credits and Discography". AllMusic. Retrieved 2012-12-24.
- Lowrie-Chin, Jean (2005) "Alpha: the power of one", Jamaica Observer, 18 April 2005, archived version retrieved 24 December 2012
- Kenner, Rob. "Dancehall", in The Vibe History of Hip-hop, ed. Alan Light, 350-7. 1999
- "King Yellowman / Biography". Kingyellowman.com. Retrieved 2012-12-24.
- "Follow Me Now: The Zigzagging Zunguzung Meme". Wayneandwax.com. 2007-05-10. Retrieved 2012-12-24.
- Du Noyer, Paul (2003). The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Music (1st ed.). Fulham, London: Flame Tree Publishing. p. 362. ISBN 1-904041-96-5.
- "Yellowman on cancer and crooks - Thursday | February 21, 2002". Jamaica Gleaner. 2002-02-21. Retrieved 2012-12-24.
- "Welcome to The Website Of DJ Yellowman". Djyellowman.com. Retrieved 2012-12-24.
- "Run-DMC - King Of Rock CD Album". Cduniverse.com. 2003-09-11. Retrieved 2012-12-24.
- Campbell, Howard (2014) "Yellowman's daughter turns to music", Jamaica Observer, 8 August 2014. Retrieved 10 August 2014
- "Gold timers". montreal mirror. Retrieved 2013-11-19.
- "Follow Me Now: The Zigzagging Zunguzung Meme". Wayneandwax.com. 2007-05-10. Retrieved 2012-12-24.
- Love, Bret (1998-11-24). "A Very, Very Yellow Christmas - Yellowman : Songs, Reviews, Credits, Awards". AllMusic. Retrieved 2012-12-24.
- Yellowman at AllMusic
- Yellowman at Wenig-LaMonica Associates
- King Yellowman
- Vital Spot – Yellowman
- Website Of DJ Yellowman