Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Devon House

At the corner of Waterloo and Hope Road sits a brief glimpse into our past. Devon House is a place most Jamaican’s associate with smooth creamy and mostly indigenous ice cream flavours, nice wedding photos and randy teenagers looking for a private space to steal secret moments. However the space is an important landmark in the annals of Jamaican history. Commissioned by George Stiebel in 1881, on lands formerly known as Devon Pen the original property stretched from present day Lady Musgrave Road to the St. Andrew Parish Church and back to what is now the Canadian Embassy. Constructed of brick and timber it was the most impressive piece of local architecture built in this period, no other buildings could compare to its scale and style in all the island. So impressive was the house that it was rumoured that the then Governor’s wife the good Lady Musgrave could not stand to be so insulted by a building of such splendour and grandeur and know it was owned by a black man that she had her husband make her a road which would bypass Devon House, which is known today as Lady Musgrave Road.

Not much is known of George Stiebel, what is known is while in Jamaica he was an apprentice carpenter and shipwright. Later he migrated to Venezuela and other parts of South America. It is believed he made his fortunes when he either discovered and or invested in a gold mine. After some time abroad he returned to Jamaica as its first black millionaire. Honoured by Queen Victoria with the C. M. G., a true philanthropist at heart Stiebel headed and donated generously to a number of distinguished civic and charitable bodies. At the time of his death in 1896 Stiebel acted in the capacity of Custos for St. Andrew.

The house then passed to his only daughter Theresa Stiebel Jackson. In 1922 the property was sold to the Melhado family and was later passed to the Lindos. It remained the Lindo family residence until 1967 where plans were made to demolish the house and sub-divide the property. However at the last minute it was saved from destruction from the then Minister of Development and Welfare the Rt. Hon. Edward Seaga. It was decided that the house would serve a greater purpose if used as a showcase for the excellence of craftsmen and cabinet makers, from the fledgling government agency Things Jamaican. Hence it was decided to create room settings from different periods of Jamaica’s history. It was hoped that this venture would stimulate the development of local craftsmanship and demonstrate that the manufacturing of fine furniture was a viable new business.

The structural restoration of the house began in 1969, and as much as possible the original character of the house was maintained. Things Jamaica provided the reproductions of pieces synonymous with the period, this includes early Cromwellian pieces, Charles II, William and Mary, Queen Ann and the America Duncan Fyffe styles. Along with the gate-legged tables and Chippendale chairs and dining room set, some rooms display Jamaican antiques donated by generous citizens and prints paintings and other artifacts on loan from that Institute of Jamaica.
There are so many things of beauty in the house, but the two that are bound to leave a lasting impression on visitors are the Murano glass chandelier, a style popular in the 17th century Italian baroque which is not original to the house and the second is the ball room, the crystal chandelier is one of the few surviving occupants of the house, and while impressive it is the actual ceiling which will blow your mind. It’s a round bas-relief decoration of cherubs made from plaster. It is a waste of time to describe, it’s just better to see it as words doesn’t do justice.

The Devon House Heritage Site is a wonderful experience not only reserved for tourists. The house is open from Monday to Saturday between the hours of 9:30 AM to 5:00 PM. However the last tour starts at 4:30 PM. At the time of writing, the cost for locals was JA$300, not exactly sure how much visitors pay. Now you know so there is absolutely no reason not to check it out now.

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Thursday, June 18, 2009


Big ups to our girl Natalie Storm her single “Dip & Fall Back” was in rotation at a recent Stella McCartney's Fall / Winter 2009 fashion show. Keep up the good work babe.

Hit Me with Music

This may result in another American Black Film Festival nod in the making for Nice Time Productions. Tentatively titled Hit Me With Music here is a sneak peak at what what’s next from the people who brought you Why Do Jamaicans Run So Fast?

Sunday, June 14, 2009

LA Lewis Evicted

Lord, my mommy always say trouble nuh set like rain and right now the Seven-star General LA Lewis can attest to that. The DJ who is more known for his all island graffiti work, shameless self-promotion and apparent iron balloon status was remanded Tuesday (June 9, 2009) by Resident Magistrate Judith Pusey. Lewis had appeared to answer to charges of housebreaking and larceny and assault in relation to allegations that he broke into the house of a former business associate and robbed her.
Not long after he was given a new date to return to court, the artiste returned after the complainant told police that he attempted to kiss her and had stood in her way outside of court. RM Pusey then ordered that he be taken to the holding area to see that the court was not a 'poppy show'. He was kept there until Friday June 12, 2009.

Lewis returned to find scores of spectators gathered outside his LA Lewis Enterprise Limited (24 Burlington Avenue in St Andrew), witnessing the removal of his furniture and equipment. While the rain fell, his belongings were being placed on either the sidewalk or in a truck parked a few metres away.

The weekend Star report on the incident is as follows:
When contacted after his eviction, LA Lewis confirmed that he was removed from the building. He said, however, that he had been speaking with the landlord's wife for an hour before the men arrived to remove his belongings.
"De lady (landlord's wife) seh mi balance a $60,000. Dem bring some letters and seh I was evicted. From December (2008) me never pay dem no rent, but mi did have a talk with di elder for the building and tell him seh mi a go pay him soon," LA Lewis told THE STAR.
However, Lewis said he paid $50,000 to the landlord a few weeks ago and he had also paid two months' security deposit. The deejay said that he had a five-year rental agreement with the landlord in which he would pay $19,000 each month.
According to the deejay, he was unable to pay his rent because he was losing business as a result of his court case. He said his business was going through a "depression" and he was involved in many different projects.
His eviction has only added to the stress ,and now LA Lewis has been forced to store his belongings in a warehouse. He also said that he does not know where his office will be located next.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Prince Zimboo Done De Place EH

http://vimeo.com/5143554 from Rickards Bros. on Vimeo.

Major Lazer

For those who missed it, uber Club DJs/Producers, Diplo and Switch invaded Quad Night club last night (June 12, 2009) to drop the much anticipated, the totally off the wall, dancehall-oriented Guns Don't Kill People...Lazers Do album. You missed it? Then you missed a hell of a party. Prince Zimbo killed it and to be honest, I can’t believe that the Quad is still standing after these party carnivores were done with it. MHAAADDD^_^ Check out these crazy pics by our own man on the scene Biggy Bigz.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

No Games

Congratulations are in order for Alliance star Serani who has officially dethroned Bob Marley as king of the Reggae downloads in the United States. For some time Serani’s ‘No Games’ flirted with the number one position and finally June 9th saw him bumping ‘Three Little Birds’ to the number two position which was no small feat. To be the best comes with some pressure as on average it requires an approximate 5,500 minimum sales in downloads and ringtones per week. Big shoes for Serani to fill, but here’s hoping this is just one in many more ground breaking success stories for the talented Singjay.

“No Games is actually still gaining in spins across the country," said Serani's manager Julian Jones-Griffith. "This record just won't go away. Its still getting added to playlists in many states across the country every week so it continues to spread."

Look out for the “No Games” Remix Serani did with Universal/Island Records label mate Shontelle, recently done while Serani was on tour in the United Kingdom. A tentative release date is rumoured for July 6th.

Serani still has some work to do in his quest to be king. Presently Bob Marley still reigns supreme, comfortably holding the number one seat in 8 other countries such as Australia, Luxemburg, Italy and Greece according to the iTunes store.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

A Big Ass Pain

Few nights ago I was trawling the Internet on my nightly Internet porn excursions, instead of that I found a leading candidate for the Dumbass Nigga Award. Rapper Faheem Rasheed Najm aka T-Pain apparently didn’t learn his lesson when he got his behind allegedly robbed and allegedly beaten not too long ago. Not one to be outdone with one chain-jacking the rapper went all out with his tempt to future would-be robbers with this 10lbs. 197kts and $410,000 price tag, gaudy monstrosity. Now robbing and beating a Niggah until he learns a lesson IS WRONG so… so… wrong. BUT never in the history of Niggadom has a Nigga needed an epic ass-whopping and jook down is this Nigga right here. I am very sure that Ghandi and Martin Luther King Jr. would look the other way in this case.

Pain's response to his critics is as follows:
10lbs. 197kts. Very very real I don’t know what fake feel like.$410,000. Hola señor recession proof. With 32 cars.Oldest child 5 and already got 4 million in her own account.I dont do dumb shit like this till I know the fams good. So don’t judge me from what I buy.Judge me from what I do.Cuz it’s so many artists that put themself before their family.but thank you

Recently the BIG ASS chain mingled with the likes of our Gully Gangster and other members of the Alliance such as Serani at the Summer Jam Show 2009. Here’s hoping that Movado lives by his word and nuh bother with the ‘Mac and Toasting’. In the sometimes symbiotic relationship between Dancehall and Hip Hop let’s hope that this is one trend Dancehall artistes leave to the Yankees.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Is Dancehall still Dancehall?

Terry Lynn Stephen Mcgregor

By Steven Jackson, Observer writer
Friday, June 05, 2009

After nearly three decades of chart dominance, there is no new musical genre waiting in the wings to dethrone dancehall, yet stakeholders are split on the meaning of its longevity.
Some say the music continues because the society has not evolved since the '80s. Contrastingly, others say dancehall is no longer dancehall and should be retroactively classified as a new genre.
"My son is 25, and dances to the same genre of music as me," quipped Dr Donna Hope, reggae lecturer, highlighting the generational span of the music. Never has any genre of Jamaican music kept local chart dominance and youth relevance for as long as dancehall. Indeed, all the genres of Jamaican music currently co-exist, but the trend prior to dancehall afforded some 10 years of dominance: Mento dominated the '50s, Ska the '60s, rocksteady late '60s early '70s and reggae '70s to '80s. Today, dancehall continues to be the driving force, yet one of its pioneers, Cleveland Brownie - of Steely and Clevie - argues that dancehall is no longer dancehall. He wants millennium dancehall classified under a new name. "I would love it if that happened, because it has changed so much from what I created as dancehall that it probably needs a change of name if it moves any further. But someone will have to name it."
The only thing preventing a name change is that artistes still "consider themselves dancehall artistes".
Brownie, who is also chairman of the Recording Industry Association of Jamaica, argues that his '80s King Jammy's creations were initially called reggae but reclassified as dancehall: "When we were doing what we did the artistes called themselves reggae deejays."
But Dr Hope disagrees with Brownie on the retroactive labelling. "The themes are the same when compared with the dancehall that I was involved with in the '80s. It has not moved away from its central point of its creation. And some of the people who were dominant in the '90s are still around. For instance, Bounty Killa is still a major player today which suggests it the same genre of music."
The 1981 death of Bob Marley symbolically marked the end of the Reggae era and popularity of Yellow Man marked the rise of Dancehall era (even if deejays U-Roy and other Big Youth had stints of hits in the Rocksteady era). Hope argues that dancehall music will remain dominant unless the country transitions into a new societal epoch.
"It says a lot about our society and suggest that our society has not been able over the last 25 years or so to go to the next level. We are still stuck in a mode and dancehall is a part of that dialogue," says Hope, who lectures at the University of the West Indies.Jamaica's GDP has not grown in real terms since the '80s and is now only second to Haiti trailing the region in UN human development indicies. Haiti's excuse is that it has been plagued by coups.
"Since dancehall, it is three decades of the same political and economic system the promotion of money via capitalism and it may be linked to why dancehall is still dominant today," says French reggae scholar Jérémie Kroubo Dagnini who launched his book on the roots of Jamaican music on Tuesday in Kingston.
Dagnini and Hope see mento as tied to post-colonialisation; ska to the independence movement; rocksteady to the search for identity; reggae to black consciousness and socialism; and dancehall to capitalism.
But Ibo Cooper, reggae musician formerly of Third World, argues that dancehall is less tied to politics and more intertwined with our genes.
"Dancehall is built on a West-African beat that is set in Jamaicans DNA. It came across with Atlantic slavery," argues Cooper, who is a senior lecturer in Edna Manley School of Music. "The success of dancehall is that it is party music. And so it has lasted a long time because the people want to have a good time. There was a lot of political strife in Kingston and dancehall represents the release."
Reggae/dancehall producer Mikey Bennett downplays culture and highlights the cross-cultural mix which keeps dancehall current.
"What we call dancehall is more inclusive of other genres . it is not as strict as reggae with the cheke-cheke! It borrows more from other genres it allows for more creativity," he says. "The youth culture do not distinguish so much with the beat, so anything that Mavado or Elephant Man or Beenie Man does is considered dancehall...If you strip a lot of the vocals from dancehall songs they could be called R&B songs or hip-hop songs or pop songs."
Bennett doesn't see a new form of Jamaican music emerging until the vocal deliveries change."Until the vocalist makes a new vocal style you really don't have a new genre of music," Bennett says. "The vocalist have the power to change the art form."
In fact, Bennett doesn't want the music to evolve into a new genre as it offers convenient marketing: "It shouldn't when you think of it, it hasn't happened in America which is the biggest market."New wave dancehall
Bennett was referring to hip-hop not ceding to a new genre. However, it has happened in Europe and the UK argues Chris Edmonds of RebelMix an internet music store, who cites UK jungle which evolved into drum and bass then garage to now dub-step with artistes like Benga Anger and grime ala Dizze Rascal. These genres, developed by Jamaicans in the UK, are a mix of electronica, dancehall and hip-hop.
"It's funny because grime and that stuff is being done by West Indians but it will probably never come to Jamaica,"said Edmonds who admits that urban electonica is filtering into the dancehall via US hip-hop. Just think of Rampin' Shop, Vybz Kartel's and Spice's vocals are robotic and the rhythm is spacey, built by a Norwegiann duo, Stargate which licensed it to US R&B star Ne-Yo, which in turn was mixed by the Kartel camp.
Edmonds cites Jamaican deejay Terry Lyn, Chino and brother Stephen McGregor as experimenters. In the US he cites underground hip-hop artistes such as Cuddy who are achieving mainstream success extending the boundaries of hip-hop which in turn will influence dancehall.
"But as to whether we will call what is going on now another name remains to be seen," he says of dancehall.