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The XTERMINATOR label came to be in 1987 when Vena Recordings changed it's name to Kings & Lions. This name remained for a few years in the middle of the 1980's and then was changed again to Exterminator. In time Exterminator records dropped the"E"from the title to leave the present day label, XTERMINATOR. Phillip"Fattis"Burrell is the producer of XTERMINATOR records and is responsible for the success the label has seen thus far. All musicians that have worked with"Fattis"have spoken very highly of him and his dedication to the production of reggae music."The seriousness and zeal that ëFattis' has is so compatible to mine that we pull in tandem like a sculling boat team,"said Luciano after working with"Fatis"on his hit song"It's Me Again Jah".
The"XTERMINATOR Family"consists of Luciano, Mikey General, Sizzla, Dean Fraser, and the Firehouse Family (which consists of ex-Third World guitarist, Steven"Cat"Coore, multi-instrumentalist Donald"Danny"Dennis, keyboardist Robbie Lyn and master drummer Sly Dunbar). This"family"tours together, with Luciano as the headliner and Mikey General and Sizzla opening the show. Dean Fraser plays the saxophone (the third best in the world as of last year) and sings back up vocals. While the Firehouse crew provides the backing for the vocals. It is not hard to see why the XTERMINATOR label has been so successful in the last few years. Since the early 1990's the XTERMINATOR label has been recruiting new talent for their label with fire and compassion."Fattis"is not afraid to work with young artists who show raw talent and potential. This is the primary reason that he and the XTERMINATOR label have seen such a jump in popularity and profits in the early to mid 1990's. Also with Dean Fraser as the Musical Director of XTERMINATOR Records a small load was lifted off"Fattis's"shoulders. (1. Barrow, Steve)
Jepther McClymont (Luciano) born December 20, 1964 was raised in Davey Town in the parish of Manchester, Jamaica. His father being musically inclined had built his own guitar and used to play it frequently. Jepther took a liking to his father's guitar and began to learn how to play the instrument. His father left his mother and his eight other siblings to fend for themselves when he was a mere eleven years of age. Jepther's first public singing came in a local church quire at quite a young age. His mother had no trade to earn them money, but they survived as best they could. Jepther graduated Manchester High School with three subjects, math, English and biology. He thought he was ready for the world, and would have no trouble finding work. From here Jepther moved to Central Village in Kingston where he began selling oranges on the street. He realized that this was not going to make a living for him, at least not one that he wanted. So he began working as an upholsterer in the daytime, while at night singing on the sound systems in the area. Singing on sound systems is like an apprenticeship to becoming a musical artist. (3. Foster, Chuck)
In 1992, Jepther recorded his debut song"Ebony and Ivory"on the Aquarius label for shop owner Earl Haynes. By now Jepther had been renamed"Luciana", because all singers must have a name suitable for the crowd to yell out when they are on stage. Now dubbed Luciana he was ready for the big time. Luciana now endowed with a solid title was ready to hit the world with his majestic voice. His next venture would be half an album with Pressley for H.K.R. Henry of Sky High records. Sky High said of Luciana"This youth called Luciana- from I start producing him, I know he was ready for the world."No one else doubted"Lucky Luciano"and his desire to sing to the world. He next went to Castro Brown's New Name studio and recorded his first hit"Give My Love a Try"in 1993. (3. Foster, Chuck; 6. Masouri, John; 5. Maeda, Keita)
After Luciana had his first hit under his belt he began to attract more attention to himself. Luciana met up with Freddie McGregor in New Name studios and began writing and singing for Freddie and Dalton Browne's Big Ship label. During this time he also met up with Phillip"Fattis"Burrell whom he started voicing for and made two hit singles with,"Chant Out"and"Poor and Simple."XTERMINATOR then put out his first solo album Moving Up. (Luciana would later join"Fattis"and the XTERMINATOR label for good.) Later in 1993 Luciana recorded"Shake It Up Tonight"on the Big Ship label, which would become a number one reggae hit in the UK. He also put out an album entitled Shake It Up Tonight which was also met with much success in the UK. Luciana had now made it big on the international market, he was singing songs to the world, but still didn't have the message that his later albums possessed (3. Foster, Chuck; 6. Masouri, John)
The name Luciana would not hold for this young singer who was becoming more conscious of the message he put forth to his crowd. He researched the origins of the name he was currently using and found that the prefix Luci- means light and that the name Luciano means"bearer of light."The young Luciano took this to heart. This was the message he wanted to send to the people for which he was singing. Shake It Up Tonight ended Luciano's relationship with Big Ship records because of Freddie McGregor's hectic touring schedule. With Castro Brown he found the same problem, the producers were to busy with their bigger more important clients to spend the time on Luciano that he desired. At this point he joined up with"Fattis"and the XTERMINATOR label. He found that"Fattis"would give him the time, attention and the freedom to experiment and grow into his music. (3. Foster, Chuck; 6. Masouri, John; 5. Maede, Keita)
In 1994 Luciano explode onto the music scene with his two albums and uncountable singles. He recorded a duet with Josey Wales and Charley Chaplin entitled"Rebel With a Cause"on the XTERMINATOR label. XTERMINATOR also put out two albums entitled Back To Africa, which included hits like"Neighbourhood Watch","Wicked Haffe Run Away","Bounty Lover", and"Time Is The Master."His second album of 1994 was One Way Ticket which contained such hits as"Chant Down Babylon","Raggamuffin", and the UK hit"One Way Ticket."In this second album of 1994 Luciano began to throw out more spiritual lyrics, as well as those that appeased the black mans struggle throughout the years. Using these fresh ideas rather than the common lyrics of sex, guns, women and the occasional love song that seemed to dominate the time Luciano gained a new following. He seemed to realize his calling, to preach the words of ëJah' to the people of the world. Luciano was happier with XTERMINATOR than he had been with any other label and could not say enough good things about"Fattis."(6. Masouri, John; 5. Maede, Keita)
"Fattis motivated me to push on more seriously with the culture. I've always had material available, but didn't get the chance to really express my ideas before. Now I'm writing international songs; songs I think will be in the interests of humanity"Luciano (6. Masouri, John)
In 1995 Luciano and Beenie Man collaborated and covered a Bob Marley tune,"Crazy Baldheads"which was produced by Sly & Robbie on their Taxi label. Also in 1995 Luciano and"Fattis"worked together with Island Jamaica on a two new songs,"Its Me Again Jah"and"Your World and Mine."These two songs exploded onto the charts as soon as Island Jamaica released them as his debut under their label. Luciano again with Island Jamaica and"Fattis"put out his next album Where There is Life. This is Luciano's most accomplished album and it is not hard to see why. With this album he hits home in the hearts of many Jamaicans with his spiritual lyrics, as well as those that sympathize with the lifestyle of Jamaicans today."It's Me Again Jah"appears as the first song on this album, of which Luciano says, (5. Maeda, Keita)
"Often when I sing my songs, I'm singing for the man who's down in the ghetto suffering; I've realized that many of the youths have forgotten how to pray. The inspiration for ëIt's Me Again Jah' came when I said to myself ëMaybe I can instigate spiritually in the man who has given up on life if I just offer him an alternative.'"
Where There is Life contains many other hits such as"Lord Give Me Strength","Your World and Mine", and"Good God."Also"Where There is Life"(the song not the album) really speaks to the heart of the Jamaican people, giving them strength and the power to keep looking to the future. After finishing his first album with Island Jamaica Luciano took a break from the hectic studio life and retreated to the hills from which he came. This respite from the music business was a way for Luciano to cleanse his thoughts and once again find ëJah' within himself.
With his fame and number of fans growing by the day followers were anticipating Luciano's next release. It came in 1996; the second of his albums with Island Jamaica was to be called Messenger. Once again produced by"Fattis"the new album was a huge success and exploded onto the charts in Jamaica. Messenger contained such hits as"How Can You"which hit the top of reggae charts worldwide the previous year. Also this album contains songs like"Mama"which pays tribute to mothers around the world as well as his own mother."Never Give Up My Pride"is another song that seems to give to the people a sense of hope and something to relate to.
This new album that everyone was anticipating did not live up to the standard of Where There Is Life. All were expecting the newly dubbed"Messenger"to produce an album that would top his former, as is the case with any expecting fan no matter who the musician. The reviews would not allow it to be. Most of the songs on the album had already been released as singles, so there wasn't many songs off the album that hadn't already been released on 7's. Some of the songs had even been released the previous year.
Once again on completing the Messenger album Luciano retreated to the hills of Jamaica to get away and clear his mind of all the material garbage that was cluttering his thoughts. While in the hills it was also said that he was writing and working on new material for an upcoming album. Upon coming down from the hills he began his Messenger tour through the eastern portion of the United States. I had just started listening to Luciano at the time and had taken a shine to Where There Is Life. I had been in Jamaica the February before his tour started and was introduced to Messenger, since it would not be released in the United States until sometime later that year. Unlike the Jamaican public who hears the songs as soon as they come out on 7's, I had not heard any of Messenger and was overjoyed with the new album. I listened to the new album my entire trip, which was not hard because most of the time I heard it blasting over the radio. Upon returning home I found out from a friend that Luciano was to be in Montreal sometime in March. Upon hearing this I ordered tickets and tried to prepare myself for the show. There was nothing that could prepare me for what I experienced in Montreal. I have been to a number of outstanding shows, but none that could compare to the energy and power that came from that man's voice and the Firehouse Crew's instruments. Even though I had no idea as to who the opening acts were and had never heard any of their songs at the time I thoroughly enjoyed the wait till the"Messenger"came upon the stage. Jah was inside me, and the"Messenger"made that possible. His songs are filled with such meaning and truth that they cannot be denied and must be taken to heart.
Miguel Collins (Sizzla) grew up in August town one of Jamaica's up town ghettos. The soon to be Sizzla was planning on following in his father's footsteps, down the path that led to mechanics (this would not be the case, for which all reggae lovers are thankful). Miguel was in high school when he realized that he could not be a mechanic without going to a different high school which taught trades. He tried to transfer to one of these schools, but found it impossible to do so. So he was forced to go back to pre-high school and then apply to a high school that taught trades. Lucky for the reggae music that he did, because in Dunoon High School where he was studying mechanical engineering he made acquaintances with Shabba Ranks and Lady G (some of the best DJ's from the city). Dunoon High School had a reputation of being associated with some of the best deejays from the city. So it is no surprise that while there, Miguel dabbled in recording music from time to time. (6. Masouri, John)
Jamstyle producer Homer Harris found Sizzla one day and introduced him to Dean Fraser, who happens to be Musical Director for Phillip"Fattis"Burrell's XTERMINATOR label. Burrell was delighted with the talent and promise that Sizzla showed, so he decided to record him. This was one of the best decisions that"Fattis"ever made. In 1995 Sizzla recorded a couple of singles that didn't pan out too much in terms of public response,"Blasphine"and"The Gun."(6. Masouri, John; 5. Maeda, Keita)
In 1996 he kept pressing on and recorded many more singles such as,"Dem a Wonder","Did You Ever","No One Like Jah", and his soon to be smash hit"Praise Ye Jah". He also recorded a couple of songs with Ninja Man and Lady G later in 1996. (5. Maeda, Keita)
1997 was the year of Sizzla in the reggae world. He gained popularity and fame so quickly he is a phenomenon in the reggae music scene. He put out three wicked 45's with the Firehouse Crew that took Jamaica by storm,"Like Mountain","Babylon Cowboy", and"Kings of the Earth"for the XTERMINATOR label. After establishing his presence in the reggae scene he put out two albums over the summer of 1997. The first of these two albums was"Praise Ye Jah", which featured the hit single, which is also the title of the album. The second album is entitled"Black Woman and Child"which was met with great praise by the public. One local reporter wrote of him, (5. Maeda, Keita)
"He is the most elegant artiste, in both delivery and content, to have emerged on the local music scene for many a year. Some of his songs, most notably ëBlack Women and Child', should the musical accompaniment be removed, are sheer poetry. His phrasing is precise and his delivery distinctively unusual and expressive, setting him apart from the pack."(Mel, The Star, August 1997)
Sizzla's militant rasta style is expressed through his affiliation to Prince Emmanuel's priestly Bobo Shanti order. This is a highly religious division of the rastafarian religion. The Bobo rastas can often be recognized by the turbans worn on their heads and also by the white or black robes they wear. Bobo's make brooms to sell to the people they encounter, and depending on how they perceive you (how much money they think you have) they charge a fair price for a broom. The Bobo's live in a small commune nine miles east of Kingston called Bull Bay. In this settlement no material possessions are allowed. Upon entering one must deposit all weapons and money at a guardhouse just inside the gates of the community. The Bobo's regard Prince Emmanuel as God and his Queen Rachel as the mother of Jesus. Because of his highly religious order Miguel got his musical name Sizzla because"his words burn down wickedness wherever it applies."(2. Chevannes, Barry)
"If we want to move on, we have to declare war on negativity! People say that when they hear one of my songs, it's like I'm talking for them. I take the pain from the people and put it in the music and make them feel right."Sizzla (7. Trotman, Annette)
On October 9, 1963 Michael Taylor (Mikey General) was born in London, England. His parents originally from the island of Jamaica brought young Michael there frequently as a child. Michael's earliest musical influences include Barrington Levy, Dennis Brown and the United States superstar Michael Jackson. (6. Masouri, John)
Mikey General moved to Jamaica in 1992 and met up with Luciano at a local recording studio. From that point on they became good friends and Luciano became one of Michael's greatest influences. Upon arriving in Jamaica Mikey General had a car, something that Luciano didn't have. So the two began to go everywhere together and Michael began to adopt some of Luciano's spiritual beliefs. (6. Masouri, John)
"His charisma and his livity-the way he lives-attracted I'n'I to him. For instance, sometimes it was hard for me to be nice to people after they treated me badly. Luciano is a man that believes that if you are seeking perfection in Jah, you've got to have compassion. Luciano was always a compassionate person, so that encouraged me to show more compassion, also."-Mikey General (6. Masouri, John)
Michael began recording for Fashion records and built a solid reputation with them. In 1994 he recorded"Sinner"for the XTERMINATOR label, which was released in the UK, but not right away in Jamaica. (8. Barrow, Steve)
In 1996 Mikey General finally got a couple of hits in Jamaica with his first solo album"Rastaman Stronger."Off this album came"Follow Jah"and"Miss Taylor Boy"two songs that have given Mikey General a name in the Jamaican reggae scene and given him a start to his future career. (6. Masouri, John)
Born Dean Ivanhoe Fraser on August 4, 1957 in Kingston, Jamaica, he first began to play clarinet at the age of twelve. He played with his classmates and soon to be greats Nambo Robinson and Chico Chin. Dean learned to play in the National Volunteers' Youth Organization community club. His Aunt Juanita then brought him to Babe O'Brian the local music teacher in the heart of Trench town. Babe switched Dean to the saxophone when he was about fifteen years of age, from here Dean would not look back. He established his first band, which was called"Sonny Bradshaw 7", which did not pan out to be much, but it was a start. Dean began playing at the Sheraton where he met Jacob Miller who urged him to record a song. (6. Masouri, John)
Dean Fraser did his first album in 1992 for the XTERMINATOR label and helped produce it with Phillip"Fattis"Burrell. The album was entitled"Taking Chances"and was received quite well by the Jamaican public. This album features XTERMINATOR artist such as Sly Dunbar, Donald Dennis, Robbie Lyn and of course Dean Fraser. (6. Maouri, John)
Deans next album was released in 1994 and was entitled"Dean Plays Bob", and includes such Bob Marley classics as"So Jah Say","Pimpers Paradise","Is This Love", and"Small Axe."As Dean wails away on his saxophone he is backed by the same musicians that he used on his first album"Taking Chances", with the exception of Paul"Wrong Move"Crossdale on piano. Dean Fraser with the help of"Fattis"came out with a sequel to his first tribute to Bob Marley entitled"Dean Plays Bob Volume II."In this album Dean does more of Bob's classics and is backed by the same bad as his first tribute to Bob. (6. Masouri, John)
When I first chose my research project for this class it was to be solely on Luciano. After doing some investigative work I soon realized that there would be no way for me to write a fifteen-page paper exclusively on Luciano. So I began to mill over some ideas and thought of incorporating the entire XTERMINATOR family. I had no idea it was to be this great a challenge. Though the XTERMINATOR label has grown considerably over the past decade it was difficult to find any resources on it, especially reliable ones. In these last couple pages of my paper I would like to explain just why I chose to research Luciano, the entire XTERMINATOR label and basically why I love reggae music.
When I was in seventh grade my family traveled to Jamaica for a week that my brother and I had off for spring break. Before even leaving the United States my mother was being warned how dangerous the island was and how she should not be going there alone with her two young boys (my stepfather had just died the year before). She took heed to the warnings of her friends and of our travel agent (who happens to be a neighbor). She decided to stay in an all- inclusive resort away from the people and culture of Jamaica. We went and had a decent time in the warm Jamaican sun, but for all we knew we could have been on any island in the Carribean.
I was not aware at the time, but soon came to realize the fact that I had held my mother back from the experience she always wanted (being an avid reggae listener since I can recall). She had wanted to go down there to see the culture and talk to the people from which the music she had listened to for so long had come.
As I grew older and began to listen to more reggae music I longed to see the island of Jamaica, as I knew my mother did, in the fullest sense. To stay with the people whom the songs are sung about and for. It did not take much convincing and the next chance the three of us had we went back to Jamaica.
It was the spring of my junior year that I finally made it back to the island. We stayed in Negril, a tourist center yes, but it was off season so we were not hassled as much as the typical"Spring Breakers."While there I met more interesting and kind people than I have in three or four years in living in New Hampshire. Yes, every one was trying to sell me something, but as soon as they realized that was not interested they would still stick around and talk to me. I realized that when any Jamaican saw me walking down the beach with my light skin and light hair they saw a dollar sign walking toward them. At first I thought they were annoying and sometimes rude, but I learned to see through that as I made some close friends who explained why things were the way they were.
In that trip I grew to love Jamaica, it's people and the strong culture they hold so close to their hearts. During this trip I was introduced to Luciano by one of my dear friends Marvelous. The Messenger album had just come out and I listened to it with him for the first time. I had listened to Where There Is Life a few times before, but never really heard the message the way it came to me that day sitting in the Jamaican sunshine.
I associate Luciano with that first real trip to Jamaica and that is probably the reason that I hold him so close to my heart. Luciano means more to me than I can possibly express in words. He and all my friends from Jamaica have made me see Jah's light and for that I will be forever grateful. For this reason I wanted to write about Luciano and all of the XTERMINATOR Family.
"In the stars and the work I see and down the wind, he speaks with majesty, and oh what a wonderful feeling, if only you could see."-Luciano,"How Can You", Messenger.
1) Barrow, Steve and Peter Dalton. Reggae: The Rough Guide. London: Rough Guides Ltd. 1997
2) Chevannes, Barry. The Bobo Dread. OneWorld Magazine Online. America Online. Internet.
Available HYPERLINK http://www.envirolink.org/oneworld/focus/etopia/rasta.html http://www.envirolink.org/oneworld/focus/etopia/rasta.html
3) Foster, Chuck. Luciano: Sending Out A Message. The Beat Vol.
Juceam, Jacquie. Summer Festivals 97. The Beat Vol. 16 #5/6, 1997: 62 63
Maeda, Keita. Luciano Discography Online. America Online. Internet. 20 Apr. 1998
Available HYPERLINK http://incolor.inetnebr.com/cvanpelt/luciano/discography.html http://incolor.inetnebr.com/cvanpelt/luciano/discography.html
6) Masouri, John. Luciano: A Fresh Wind of Change has Swept Through the Grassroots of Reggae. July 1996: Online. America Online. Internet. 17 Apr. 1998
Available HYPERLINK http://www.jamaica-direct.com/ext/biog.html http://www.jamaica-direct.com/ext/biog.html
7) Trotman, Annette. Spotlight. Ringbang Vol. 1 #2 Winter 97/98: 29