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Yellowman performing in 2007
Yellowman performing in 2007
Background information
Birth nameWinston Foster
Also known asKing Yellowman
BornKingston, Jamaica
Years active1974–present
WebsiteOfficial website

Winston Foster OD,[1][2] (1956[3] or 15 January 1959[4]) better known by the stage name Yellowman, is a Jamaican reggae and dancehall deejay, also known as King Yellowman. He first became popular in Jamaica in the 1980s, rising to prominence with a series of singles that established his reputation.

Yellowman is considered to be one of the genre's pioneers[5] and has been credited with "almost single-handedly [creating] the coarse, crude and fearlessly direct sound of today's dancehall."[6] Spearheading the first generation of dancehall deejays, he brought the genre to an international audience.[4]


Winston Foster was abandoned by his parents and grew up in the Maxfield Children's Home and the Catholic orphanage Alpha Boys School in Kingston, the latter known for its musical alumni.[7] He was shunned due to having albinism, which was not typically socially accepted in Jamaica.[1][8] In the late 1970s Yellowman first gained wide attention when he finished second to Nadine Sutherland in the 1978 Tastee Talent Contest,[1] a competition he would go on to win in the following year's edition, launching his professional career.[3] Like many Jamaican deejays, he honed his talents by frequently performing at outdoor sound-system dances, prominently with Aces International.[1][9] He had success as a recording artist, working with producer Henry "Junjo" Lawes during the early 1980s.[1] In 1981, after becoming popular throughout Jamaica, Yellowman became the first dancehall artist to be signed to a major American label (Columbia Records).[10]

His first studio 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 "Mad Over Me", boasting, like other reggae singers/deejays, of his sexual prowess, earned Yellowman criticism in the mid-1980s.[11] In response he has 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."[12]

During his time at Aces, Yellowman would often perform at live shows with Vernon "Fathead" Rainford, whom which he would collaborate in some studio releases over the following years. Overall, the 1980s were Yellowman's most productive decade, going on to release around twenty albums under different labels, such as Mister Yellowman, Duppy or Gunman, Bad Boy Skanking, Zungguzungguguzungguzeng, among others.[3]

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.[11] His 1984 release and debut under the Columbia label proper, Mister Yellowman, was met with negative reception and proved a commercial faliure; Yellowman was persuaded to incorporate elements from rhythm and blues and disco which did not please international dancehall fans. Ultimately, CBS dropped Yellowman, who returned to his classic riddims and slackness, and his career quickly recovered.[13]

He had success in 1987 with a version of "Blueberry Hill", that topped the charts for several weeks in Jamaica. Yellowman had met Fats Domino when the American performed on the island earlier in the decade, and Domino had presented him with a copy of his version.[14]

By the mid-1990s, 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.[11]

Foster re-invented himself with his 1994 album Prayer, which stepped away from the slackness that gave him his initial fame in favour of a more religious theme as a way to thank God for his success in music as well as in surviving cancer.[15] His latest albums are New York (2003), Round 1 (2005), and No More War (2019). Yellowman was also a featured guest vocalist on the Run-DMC track "Roots Rap Reggae".[16] 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, Britain, France, Kenya, the United States and Canada. He also featured on OPM's 2004 album, Forthemasses.[citation needed]

Yellowman has been nominated twice for the Grammy Award for Best Reggae Album; in 1985 for King Yellowman, and in 1998 for Freedom of Speech.[17] He was the first dancehall artist to be nominated for this category.

In 2018, it was announced that he would be awarded the Order of Distinction (Officer Class) by the Jamaican government.[1]

Personal life[edit]

Yellowman and his wife Rosie have been together since the very beginning of his musical career. Together, they have raised multiple children.[4]

Yellowman is a fan of the NBA and attended some games in the mid-1980s. He named one of his sons after Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.[18]

Foster's daughter Kareema followed him into a career in music,[19] and has collaborated with her father in live shows and studio productions.[20]


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."[21] The slackness style with which Yellowman is associated sometimes has homophobic lyrics.[11] 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."[21]


In 1982, Yellowman was diagnosed with skin cancer.[11] After several surgeries, Yellowman was able to continue his career.[22] The cancer went into apparent remission during this time. Between late 1984 and 1986 it was diagnosed that the cancer had spread to his jaw; Yellowman underwent very invasive jaw surgery to remove a malignant tumor. 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 remove the tumor.[1][23] He spent some time in convalescence before returning to music and performing live shows again in 1987.[4]


The instrumental for Yellowman's 1982 "Zungguzungguguzungguzeng", the "Diseases" riddim by "Junjo" Lawes, has been sampled and imitated repeatedly since its original release. The original version of this riddim was performed by Alton Ellis for a song called "Mad, Mad, Mad" produced by Coxsone Dodd in 1967. Coxsone Dodd had already released two dub cuts, "Talking Dub" and "Lusaka", plus a 1980 cut by Jennifer Lara, "Hurt So Good." This riddim came to be known as the 'Diseases' riddim after Michigan and Smiley recorded their song, Diseases, with Henry Junjo Lawes in 1981.

"Zungguzungguguzungguzeng" was remade by Beenie Man and released on 3 July 2020. Yellowman said of the release, "I wish somebody else did do Zungguzungguguzungguzeng, maybe Shaggy or Sean Paul….Me nuh even hear it."[24]

The vocal melody of "Zungguzungguguzungguzeng" has also been sampled heavily in various reggae and hip hop songs.



Studio albums[edit]

Album year Album title
1982 Mister Yellowman / Duppy Or Gunman
1982 King Mellow Yellow Meets Yellowman
1982 Superstar Yellowman Has Arrived With Toyan
1982 Jack Sprat / Life In The Ghetto
1982 Just Cool
1982 Them A Mad Over Me
1982 Bad Boy Skanking
1983 Divorced! (For Your Eyes Only)
1982 One Yellowman And Fathead
1982 The Yellow, The Purple & The Nancy
1982 Yellow Man, Fat Head And The One Peter Metro
1983 Zungguzungguguzungguzeng
1983 Nobody Move (1983) / Nobody Move Nobody Get Hurt (1984)
1984 King Yellowman
1984 Operation Radication / One In A Million
1984 Showdown Vol. 5
1984 Two Giants Clash
1985 Galong, Galong, Galong
1985 Walking Jewellery Store
1986 Girls Them Pet / Rambo
1985 Yellow Man Meets Charlie Chaplin
1986 Going To The Chapel
1987 Yellow Like Cheese
1987 Blueberry Hill
1988 Yellowman Rides Again
1988 Yellowman Sings The Blues
1988 King Of The Dancehall
1988 Don't Burn It Down
1989 Strikes Again
1990 A Feast Of Yellow Dub
1991 Mi Hot
1991 Party
1992 Reggae On The Move
1993 In Bed With Yellowman / Mellow Yellow
1993 A Man You Want
1993 Reggae On Top
1994 Prayer
1995 Good Sex Guide
1995 Kiss Me
1995 Message To The World
1997 Freedom of Speech
1998 A Very, Very Yellow Christmas
1999 Yellow Fever
2003 New York
2019 No More War

Live albums[edit]

Album year Album title
1982 Live At Reggae Sunsplash
1982 Live At Aces
1983 Live At Killamanjaro
1983 Live in London (1983) / Live In England (1992)
1983 Live Stage Show At Ranny Williams Entertainment Center
1987 The Negril Chill Challenge
1994 Best Of Live In Paris
1994 Live In Paris
1998 Live At Maritime Hall


Year Title
1987 A Reggae Calypso Encounter
1991 20 Super Hits
1993 Fantastic Yellowman
1996 Best Of Yellowman
1996 Yellowman Meets The Paragons
1997 RAS Portraits
2001 Look How Me Sexy
2004 Just Cool (Compilation)
2004 Yellow Fever (Compilation)
2006 Reggae Chronicles
2007 Most Wanted
2013 Reggae Anthology: Young, Gifted & Yellow (1981-1985)


Year Title
1998 Yellowman Peace Tour (VHS)
1998 Live In San Francisco (DVD)
2004 Kingston Signals, Vol. 1: 3 The Hard Way (DVD)
2007 Stars in Action, Part 2 (DVD)
2007 Yellowman / Chaka Demus & Pliers: Living Legends In Concert (DVD)


  1. ^ a b c d e f g Campbell, Howard (2018) "Gold medal for Yellowman Archived 21 August 2018 at the Wayback Machine", Jamaica Observer, 20 August 2018. Retrieved 21 August 2018
  2. ^ Gardner, Sade (20 December 2018). "Zungguzungguguzungguzeng, the biggest dancehall song in the world - Yellowman". Jamaica Gleaner. Archived from the original on 19 February 2020. Retrieved 19 February 2020.
  3. ^ a b c Moskowitz, David V. (2005). Caribbean Popular Music: An Encyclopedia of Reggae, Mento, Ska, Rock Steady, and Dancehall. Westport: Greenwood Publishing Group. p. 325. ISBN 9780313017629.
  4. ^ a b c d Kenner, Rob (December 2000). "Strong Me Strong". SPIN. New York. pp. 149–156. Retrieved 26 November 2023.
  5. ^ Joseph, Owen (2012). "Historical Influences (musical precursors), Technological influences and the proliferation of dancehall outside Jamaica". Jamaican Dancehall: Misconceptions and Pedagogical Advantages. Bloomington: Booktango. ISBN 9781468903478.
  6. ^ O'Brien Chang, Kevin; Chen, Wayne (1998). "Talking Gleaners". Reggae Routes: The Story of Jamaican Music. Philadelphia: Temple University Press. p. 80. ISBN 1-56639-629-8.
  7. ^ Lowrie-Chin, Jean (2005) "Alpha: the power of one", Jamaica Observer, 18 April 2005, archived version retrieved 24 December 2012
  8. ^ "Body by Yellowman" Archived 18 June 2016 at the Wayback Machine, Jesse Serwer,
  9. ^ Kenner, Rob. "Dancehall", in The Vibe History of Hip-hop, ed. Alan Light, 350-7. 1999
  10. ^ "King Yellowman / Biography". Archived from the original on 6 February 2008. Retrieved 24 December 2012.
  11. ^ a b c d e Huey, Steve. "Yellowman – Music Biography, Credits and Discography". AllMusic. Archived from the original on 13 January 2014. Retrieved 24 December 2012.
  12. ^ Du Noyer, Paul (2003). The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Music (1st ed.). Fulham, London: Flame Tree Publishing. p. 362. ISBN 1-904041-96-5.
  13. ^ Borthwick, Stuart (2022). Positive Vibrations: Politics, Politricks and the Story of Reggae. London: Reaktion Books. p. 174. ISBN 9781789145700.
  14. ^ Campbell, Howard (2017) "Yellowman's tasty serving of Blueberry Hill Archived 3 November 2017 at the Wayback Machine", Jamaica Observer, 31 October 2017. Retrieved 4 November 2017
  15. ^ Himes, Geoffrey (3 February 1995). "YELLOWMAN AIMS TO PLEASE WORLD". The Washington Post. Washington DC. Retrieved 21 November 2023.
  16. ^ "Run-DMC – King of Rock CD Album". 11 September 2003. Retrieved 24 December 2012.
  17. ^ "Artist: Yellowman". Grammy Awards. Retrieved 5 January 2024.
  18. ^ Campbell, Howard (22 March 2021). "Yellowman scores with Mr Chin". Jamaica observer. Kingston. Retrieved 20 November 2023.
  19. ^ Campbell, Howard (2014) "Yellowman's daughter turns to music Archived 10 August 2014 at the Wayback Machine", Jamaica Observer, 8 August 2014. Retrieved 10 August 2014
  20. ^ "Yellowman calls for 'No More War'". Jamaica Star. Kingston. 25 September 2020. Retrieved 20 November 2023.
  21. ^ a b "Gold timers". Montreal Mirror. Archived from the original on 22 July 2005. Retrieved 19 November 2013.
  22. ^ "Yellowman on cancer and crooks – Thursday | February 21, 2002". Jamaica Gleaner. 21 February 2002. Archived from the original on 13 November 2013. Retrieved 24 December 2012.
  23. ^ "Welcome to The Website of DJ Yellowman". Archived from the original on 4 January 2013. Retrieved 24 December 2012.
  24. ^ "Dancehall Veteran Yellowman Is Not Pleased With Beenie Man's Remake Of 'Zungguzungguguzungguzeng'". DancehallMag. 7 July 2020. Archived from the original on 15 July 2020. Retrieved 15 July 2020.
  25. ^ "Follow Me Now: The Zigzagging Zunguzung Meme". 10 May 2007. Archived from the original on 10 January 2010. Retrieved 24 December 2012.

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