The boxed set Down In Jamaica: 40 Years Of VP Records is scheduled to be released October 25, 2019. The reggae and dancehall anthology includes 94-tracks. It is a multi-format limited edition (2,000 run) box with a 24-page booklet and art cards detailing the hits, the rarities, and the history of the world’s largest reggae label.
Down In Jamaica: 40 Years Of VP Records features 101 different artists. It tells the story in detail through a chronological survey of the key recordings that helped define the company, from early singles on obscure sublabels (Roots From The Yard, Jah Guidance, and Love) to the well-known VP Records brand that brought Beenie Man, Sean Paul, Wayne Wonder, and others into the international mainstream.
Compiled by DJ, writer, and VP Records Director of Catalog Development Carter Van Pelt, the set contains four 7-inch singles, four 12-inch singles, and four CDs, the first configuration of its kind for a box set package. The CDs include the chronology of hit songs, and the vinyl pieces bring back rare titles long out of print. The initial release is in the physical format only, with a digital release of the CD portion of the set on all streaming platforms in late November.
The singles format was the dominant vehicle for Jamaican music from its inception, and the collection tells the company’s story almost entirely from singles, taking its name from Red Fox and Naturalee’s 1989 hit.
“The goal is to tell the story of a continually owned and operated family business at the heart of the global growth of reggae, dancehall, and Caribbean music” said Van Pelt. “As a distributor and manufacturer, the company has brought some of reggae and dancehall’s most recognizable hits to the public over 40 years. This set ties that story together with some lost treasures in the form of vinyl rarities.”
Founded by Vincent and Patricia Chin as the US distribution arm of Randy’s Records from Kingston, Jamaica, Randy’s had been at the center of the Jamaican music industry since its inception. The VP chapter began in New York as reggae was on the verge of a major transition from Bob Marley’s era to the dancehall era of Yellowman, Chaka Demus, Shabba Ranks, Ninja Man, Beenie Man, and Bounty Killer.
Highlights from the set include Sean Paul & Sasha’s “I’m Still In Love With You,” Wayne Wonder’s “No Letting Go,” Beenie Man’s “Who Am I” and classics from Yellowman, Barrington Levy, Gregory Isaacs, and Dennis Brown and dozens of others. The vinyl selections include rare sides by Echo Minott, Freddie McKay, Junior Reid, Tenor Saw, and others, most available for the first time since their original pressings.
“We’re excited about the box set and the re-telling of our story,” said Randy Chin, President of VP Records, “It’s a great way to complete our 40th anniversary celebrations.”
Maxi Priest (born Max Alfred Elliott on June 1, 196) is a favorite among reggae lovers. Of West Indian descent and the second youngest of nine children he was born in Lewisham, London. His musical journey began as a young child who listened to a variety of musical genres ranging from gospel to reggae and pop.
Priest gained entry into the music world in the mid-1980s when he was given the opportunity to sing over live dancehall sessions with artists like Smiley Culture. In 1984 he became well-known after co-producing Philip Levi’s ‘Mi God Mi King ‘ with Paul ‘Barry Boom’ Robinson which was the first UK reggae song to hit number one in Jamaica.
His 1988 album Maxi gained him worldwide recognition. Priest recorded the album in Jamaica and worked with legendary artists Sly Dunbar, Robbie Shakespeare and Willie London and was released in the United States by Virgin Records. Maxi gained his first U.S. smash hit with ‘Some Guys Have All the Luck,’ a cover of Cat Steven’s classic ‘Wild World.’
In 1990 Priest released Bonafide. It went gold and contained the single ‘Close To You’ that was number one on the Billboard Hot 100 singles and number two on the Hot R&B Singles chart.
1991 was a great year for Maxi Priest. He did collaborations with Roberta Flack, ‘Set The Night To Music’ and with Shabba Ranks. He ended the year with the release of a compilation CD titled Best of Me combining songs from his four previous albums.
In 1996 Maxi released Man with the Fun which contained ‘That Girl’ a duet with Shaggy that went on to become a Grammy Nominated track and the accompanying video, directed by Hype Williams became an MTV favorite.
CombiNation released in 1999 crossed multiple genres and had numerous artists and producers such as Sly & Robbie, Robert Livingston Simon Law, and Joe. The album even featured Red Rat and Degree in ‘She Wants to Dance ‘ which added a mix of dancehall flavor to the CD.
His album 2 the Max (2005) includes dancehall hits like ‘Full Hundred’ and ‘Sweat A Go Buss.’
Maxi Priest is one the most successful solo reggae artists in the world.
You’re Safe (Charisma, 1985)
Intentions (EMI, 1986)
Maxi (Virgin, 1988) Bonafide (Charisma, 1990)
Fe Real (Charisma, 1992)
Man with the Fun (Virgin, 1996)
CombiNation (Virgin, 1999)
2 the Max (Relentless, 2005)
Refused (Peppermint Jam, 2007) Easy to Love (VP Record, 2014)
Singer-songwriter Adassa combines dancehall, reggaeton, and r&b, and hip hop captivating the public’s ear with unabashed and up front lyrics as well as fiery club bangers.
Born in Miami, Florida, February 5th, she is daughter to Colombian parents. Raised in St. Croix, Virgin Islands, she represents the new multicultural generation dominating both the English and Spanish language.
As a child, her first taste of the stage was at the age of 4, when she sang with her mother in Church. “ I remember begging my Mom to teach me the hymn, since I was to little to read, and give me a chance to go on stage with her. While on stage I knew at that moment, I wanted to be a singer.” From that moment on she started experimenting with colorful vocal techniques and harmonies studying musical theory and opera, expanding her vocal range.
Propelled by her overwhelming passion for self-expression, from a very young age she received many awards not only as a singer, but as a writer as well. Many of her poems were published as early as the age of 10, moment in time in which she wrote a poem dedicated to Martin Luther King Jr. At 14, she published another titled “The Rose” and “Who am I”. To this day Adassa continues writing poetry, although in anonymous fashion, solely for the need to be heard.
At the age of 15 was the first time she stepped into a recording studio alongside her mother, to record a Christian Album. Although, it wasn’t until she was 17 that she got her big break and was able to prove what she was capable of. Her brother and musical promoter Chuly, invited her to form part of a group named Xtasy, opportunity which drove her to move to Houston, Texas. The immediate musical bond she made with heavy hitter Don Candiani, producer and songwriter for the group, was evident. It was at this precise moment in which she flourished as a songwriter and subsequently landed her first record deal alongside the group, with Caiman Records. “Even though I had already recorded a Christian album, it was with Xtasy that I had a chance to work with a notorious producer and write my own songs.” she remembers.
Once the album was finished, she made the life changing decision to leave the group and take the long road to success as a solo artist. “I left the group before the album dropped. They removed my image, but kept my vocals on the production.” She comments with no regret. Determined to quench her thirst for the stage and self-expression, she packed her bangs and moved to Monterrey, Mexico. This is where she learned the magic of being a true performer. “I had to memorize forty to fifty songs per week along with different choreographies and a live band. I learned that this career is not based on just being an artist, it’s about entertaining the public.” She toured through the borders of the U.S. and Mexico from Monterrey, Tampico, Saltillo, to Laredo, Reynosa and McAllen, Texas just to name a few cities. “It was here where I grew musically and as a performer.” she comments.
With tenacity and developed musical talent, she decided to move back to the U.S. determined to establish herself as a solo artist. It is while living in McAllen, Texas that she became part of the underground Hip- Hop movement releasing her first album Down South, a backpack out-of-the trunk distributed album. With no limitations and all sincerity, Adassa let it all out in this album with sexy, aggressive rhymes and themes from happiness, deep emotion, to domestic violence and everything in between. “Down South was a real emotional album for me that?s why I can’t leave it behind. It was the first time I expressed myself without holding back. I think it’s important to show your colors, as dark or as bright as they may be. Music should be a form of release, a musical diary in which you can unleash yourself with no remorse.”
She succeeded in creating a buzz, yet she hungered for more which lead her back to Houston, Texas, where she recorded her second underground self-titled album distributed through Hoodlum Records, an independent label. It showcased her aggressive, yet sexy and playful side and was well received in the clubs and even leaked into local radio stations. Riding on the growing buzz and underground success of these albums, she moved to Miami where she released On the Floor and gained national distribution.
With her musical career on the rise, Adassa had the opportunity to tour with artists such as Daddy Yankee, Lil’ Flip, Pitbull, Ivy Queen, Don Omar, Lil’ John, Vico C., Baby Rasta y Gringo, Sasha, Baby Bash and Juvenile among others. She also made high-profile cameo appearances with Ciara and Missy Elliott on “1,2 Step” Don Candiani Reggaeton Remix, with Pitbull on the title track record off of her album Kamasutra, and alongside Tego Calderon and Roselyn Sanchez to name a few.
Her hotly anticipated new CD Kamasutra, released through Universal Latino, is proof that perseverance and talent are rewarded. This opinionated, seductive, yet lyrically flirtatious album includes 15 completely bilingual sharp tracks produced by heavy hitter Don Candiani, in which Adassa proves her versatility not only lyrically, but vocally as well. Every song has its own identity from “Kamasutra” which is an Indian laced sensual Hip Hop track, to “Bang, Bang” a high voltage Reggaeton which has already become a record pool chart topper along with “De Tra” another high-energy cut.
This album is a reflection of the musical influences she had growing up. She was exposed to a musical array of artists from the Dance Hall and Reggaeton of Bennie Man, Patra, Shabba Ranks, Elephant Man, Lady Saw, Shaggy, El General and Vico C., to the Hip Hop and R&B from artists such as Missy Elliott, Bone Thugs n’ Harmony, TuPac, Mary J. Blige, Mariah Carey and Boys 2 Men. “I think this album represents who I am – my passion, my sensuality, my maturity, my playfulness, and my sexual aggression. There are songs I feel more in English others in Spanish, there are even some cuts in Spanglish.”