Whether you’re coming from a poor home or a middle-class home, you can relate to the daily struggle to survive and succeed.” -Baby Cham
With carnival season upon us Jamaica‘s premier up and coming dancehall talent and bard from the hood Baby Cham talks to F Magazine about the ‘Ghetto Story’ story phenomena.
Listen to 3 full choice tracks from Baby Cham’s ‘Ghetto Story’ in Fmagazines Reggae/Dancehall section:
In ‘Ghetto Story’ you talk about some of the hardships of growing up in a ghetto community in Kingston. What are the advantages?
“The strength it gives you. A ghetto person is ten times stronger than an average Jamaican. It’s given me a fighting spirit I’ll never give up. I believe that spirit is something that can’t be taught.”
What was one of the hardest aspects of your childhood?
“Watching my mum do what she had to do to make five of us go to school. She worked two jobs, one in a garment factory and another selling peanuts. She played mum and dad role at the same time. We lost our father when I was 12 but he wasn’t living up to his responsibilities anyway. Mummys enjoying herself now. She’s kicking back watching TV and reading her bible.”
Share with us one of your fondest ghetto stories.
“As a youth in summer holidays, I’d get up 8.30am and play football with my friends. When we couldn’t run no more, we’d collect empty bottles to sell to buy food so we could ‘run a boat’ – that’s a big cook-up. Walking to the store we held the bags tight so the bottles didn’t rattle. Girls looked down on you if you had to sell bottles to eat so you had to be quiet. We cooked the same meal every day – curry chicken and dumpling. I can knead so I made the dumpling and my friend would season the chicken. Good times those. Going to football matches were always fun too.
Tell us about football matches in Jamaica?
“A football match downtown is like a stage show. Everyone behaves wild. We used to take slingshots to the games so when the linesman made a bad call, we’d shot him. At half time a soundsystem plays and when the Ref comes off he gets bottled if he has to pass the spectators from the loosing side.”
What do you think are the main reasons for the continuing existence of shantytown and dump communities in Jamaica?
“It’s politicians. They don’t share the wealth. They borrow money to set up community businesses and services and it goes in their pocket. I bet the Jamaican Prime Ministers salaries bigger than the US Prime Ministers. Poor people have to pay high for everything – rent, school fees, food. There isn’t one free school bus in Jamaica. If the government spent the nations budget directly on the population, the situation would improve and you’d have ghetto’s like in the US where people have cars and cable TV.”
Why do you think ‘Ghetto Story’ has crossed into the mainstream?
“It’s so real. Whether you’re coming from a poor home or a middle-class home, you can relate to the daily struggle to survive and succeed.”
How did the remix with Alicia Keyes come about?
“Her people approached us to do the remix because she liked the song so much which was amazing. She’s the coolest superstar ever. It’s all about the music for her. When we shot the video downtown she was so humble and cool with the fans.”
What do you think of YT’s ‘England Story’?
“I like it. It’s his story. His experience of London.”
And how about Spice’s ‘Virgin Story’?
“Spice is my little sister – musically speaking. She can take whatever she wants of mine and do it over. She’s working with Dave Kelly. She’s crazy talented – in due time the world will know. I love her for the fact she writes songs about what females really talk about but never speak about on records. The women in Jamaica go wild when she sings ‘Virgin Story’.”
There’s a lot of competition between up and coming deejays in Jamaica. Who gave you your first break?
“The producer Dave Kelly. He put out my early records and showed me the difference between being a good deejay and being an artist with professional delivery technique. Wayne Wonder broke all the musical terms down for me like being flat or off-key. The competition in dancehall is tough. I’ve been making hits since I was 21 (h’s now 28) and I’ve only just got a deal.”
You’re doing a lot of UK gigs over bank holiday weekend and US gigs in September. What can we expect?
“A joyride. I’m at my best on stage. I don’t make ‘dancing’ records specifically but I’ll get everyone going wild and doing the ‘Bad Man Forward’ and all the other latest moves.”
What inspired you to go into music?
“Watching Super Cat perform at a little community talent contest in Waterhouse. I was 6 and Super Cat performed as a surprise guest and he blew me away. The attention he got and the way he held the mic and rocked the crowd that day stayed with me forever.”
What’s your life philosophy?
“Live everyday like it’s your last day. Honour your mother and family. Love your friends, family and God. That’s me.”
Interview by Sarah Bentley – Reggae/Dancehall Editor: firstname.lastname@example.org / email@example.com
Baby Cham’s ‘Ghetto Story’ (including Alicia Keys) single is out Monday 28th August. ‘Ghetto Story’ album drops September 4th on Atlantic.
Catch Baby Cham performing at:
Sep 1 2006 8:00P – HAMMERSTEIN BALL ROOM NEW YORK
Sep 3 2006 8:00P – IRIE JAMBOREE PARK SHOW QUEENS NY
Sep 6 2006 8:00P -TRINIDAD PORT OF SPAIN
Sep 8 2006 8:00P – CARIB NY NEW ROCHELLE, NY
Sep 9 2006 8:00P – FUNK FLEX CAR SHOW ATLANTIC CITY, NJ
Sep 15 2006 8:00P – SAN FRANCISCO-KMEL SAN FRANSCISCO
Sep 16 2006 8:00P – KBMB SHOW SACRAMENTO, CA