Listen: Massacre / Nigger Kojak Massacre.mp3
Listen: Jamming So / Madoo JammingSo.mp3
In 1978, I first heard ‘Massacre’ standing at the counter of Roots Rock Records, on Genessee Street on the funky side of my home town, Rochester, NY. If you were a regular, as I’d become, Jah Earl would play 30 seconds each of all the latest singles, as he stood with his back facing you, shuffling thru the vinyl and flipping them onto the turntables. He’d give each single 10-15 seconds and then he’d glance over his shoulder in your direction. If you seemed to be listening attentively he’d let it play a little longer, until he saw a reaction. If you seemed disinterested, he’d immediately flip to the second turntable and play the next record. If you were into to it, he’d slide a copy onto the pile he was building for you. He was also a sound system DJ so he had one of his huge bass cabinets with a blaring metal horn atop it sitting in the middle of the tiny shop and he’d crank it up until you felt it deep inside your rib cage. That was a real sales tool, since even records I didn’t care for sounded great in there. He kept a big open box of herb on the floor behind the counter, and the street youth would come in, give him $10, and he’d grab a handful, drop it on a copy of his store top ten chart, and fold it up for them.
‘Massacre’ is one of those singles that hit me immediately in that store, and still sounded good on my stereo when I got it home. Joe Gibbs house engineer Errol Thompson knew more about the important relationship between kick drum and bass guitar than any other reggae producer I’ve heard. The single was my introduction to Nigger Kojak, who also recorded a handful of other great gems for Gibbs in that period. A classic that springs to mind is ‘Hole In The Bucket’ which was edited into the Dennis Brown 12″, ‘Aint That Loving You’. Kojak knew how to ride a riddim with authority.
‘Massacre’ also tells the oft repeated story of the Greenbay Killing, a current event at that time which was mentioned in a number of records. An old timer retold the story to me about 10 years ago, and if I recall it correctly it is this: The Jamaican police had a top secret squad that was in charge of undercover narcotics investigation. This squad, posing as drug lords, arranged a midnite meeting of the leaders of all the drug gangs in an abandoned warehouse. When they showed up, the police squad killed them all and made it look like a gang shoot-out. It was all found out and became a scandal. “Greenbay killing a murder… Oh, Lord.”
It proved to be a popular riddim for obvious reasons – it’s great. In 1979, Gibbs halted a session with Dennis Brown to record an upcoming singer he’d just discovered over it. That singer was Madoo and this was his debut single, called ‘Jamming So’. Madoo was an early innovator who helped create the dancehall style of the coming 80′s. He walked that line between singing and toasting more gracefully than those before him, and his style was quickly embraced. He had great onstage DJ sparring matches with another rising dancehall star, General Echo, who was tragically murdered in 1980. After the death of his friend, Madoo drifted away from the DJ scene and into obscurity.