Capleton releases “ITERNAL FIRE” albumAuthor: webmaste | Filed under: News
Capleton I-Ternal Fire Bio
For more than 20 years Capleton’s music has intertwined strands of African history, social awareness and spiritual identity with an authoritative blaze that is seemingly ordained to burn evil forces. On “I-Ternal Fire” the first one drop album of Capleton’s consistently scorching career, his signature rapid-fire chanting morphs into smoldering, beautifully nuanced sung vocals that are perfectly paired with organically crafted roots reggae riddims; despite the stylistic shift, the signature incendiary verse of the artist also known as the Fireman still rages red hot. “I don’t want people to get it twisted: when I say fire, it is not in a destructive way,” remarks Capleton. “I was born under a fire sign (Aries) so when I say fire, it is all about equal rights and justice, all about being yourself and standing up for righteousness, for unity and for strength. It is not like we are saying we are going out there to burn up or murder people; fire is to preserve you, to preserve humanity and to keep you connected to the Almighty.”
Capleton describes “I-Ternal Fire” as emphasizing his “soul side”, which he ably displays through the impassioned, dulcet vocals heard on the hopeful “Some Day”, produced by Selvin McCrae, “Same Old Story”, which achingly recounts the broken promises made by politicians and other leaders, produced by Kemar “Flava” McGregor and “When I Came To Town”, produced by veteran Clive Hunt, an outline of the artist’s professional objectives: “have to burn these fire and flames when I came to town…when I came to town I came here ‘pon a mission, had to burn fire ‘pon all the wicked politician/let them know straight it’s a time bomb dem sit on.” Whether he is tenderly singing “Mama You Strong” (produced by James Peart), crooning the romantic “I’m In Love” (produced by Norman “Bulpus” Bryan) or deejaying with the breathtaking fury that has earned him legions of fans worldwide, I-Ternal Fire offers the uncompromising declarations that have characterized Capleton’s lyrics for the past two decades. “Every singer I have met from Beres Hammond to Luciano, Freddie McGregor, Dennis Brown, even Alton Ellis, whenever they hear my voice they say, yo, sing,” Capleton recalls. “So the melody might change but it is the same message.”
Capleton was born Clifton George Bailey on April 13, 1967 in the rural Islington area of Jamaica’s garden parish St. Mary; as a young teenager his persuasive argument skills earned him comparisons to the community’s most esteemed lawyer, Capleton, and the moniker has remained in place ever since. At 18 years old Capleton came to town,
Kingston, eager to pursue his musical aspirations. Amidst the hustle of the capital city, the hopeful deejay toiled at various odd jobs during the day while at night he refined his vocal skills working out with a variety of sound systems. In 1986 he secured a gig with Stuart Brown’s African Star sound, which regularly traveled between Jamaica and Toronto. Brown believed in Capleton’s potential so he brought the then unknown artist to Toronto for his debut Canadian appearance. Capleton’s dazzling mic skills eclipsed the performances of better-known acts, including the formidable Ninja Man and when word of his victorious performance spread to Jamaica, the fledgling artist’s career took flight. The following year Capleton recorded the expletive laden, sexually explicit single “Bumbo Red” for renowned producer Phillip “Fattis” Burrell, which generated further interest in the deejay on the dancehall circuit. Following “Bumbo’s” tremendous success at a time when slackness (x-rated) and gun lyrics ruled the dancehall, it was expected Capleton would continue along that established path. However with his acceptance of the Rastafarian way of life (which exalts Ethiopian emperor Haile Selassie as Lord and Savior and derives much of its Afro-centric ideology from the teachings of Jamaican National Hero Marcus Garvey) Capleton instead chose an enlightened lyrical approach, as heard in songs like “Almshouse”, a plea for unification in the dancehall, and the visionary “Prophet” a name by which he is also known.
A trio of hits released in 1994 “Wings of the Morning”, “Chalice” and the immensely popular “Tour”, written shortly after the slaying of fellow deejays Panhead and Dirtsman, elevated Capleton to Jamaican superstar status and inspired other dancehall deejays to redirect livelihoods built upon slackness. A hip-hop remix of “Tour” peaked at No. 42 on Billboard’s Hot R&B Singles chart and introduced Capleton’s talents to an entirely new fan base, as did the two albums he released for Def Jam Records, “Prophecy” and “I Testament”. However, the majority of Capleton’s 19 albums including “More Fire”, named one of the Top 20 Albums of 2000 by Spin Magazine, and the 2003 Grammy nominated “Still Blazing” have been released by VP Records.
Capleton’s profound transition from slack newcomer to a conscious young adult artist engendered dramatic shifts in dancehall lyrics throughout the 90s and 00s; with the arrival of a new decade, his unswerving commitment towards creating empowering, edifying songs is magnificently represented on “I-ternal Fire”. “It’s culture me deh ‘pon right now, that’s why we decided to do this album,” Capleton explains. “We travel all over and we know the kind of music and message the people take to, the kind of sound, the kind of beat so I am very excited about this album.”
Capleton chose to work with a varied cast of producers from veteran hit makers to rising young talents, each of whom plays a crucial role in providing the deeply evocative drum and bass driven reggae beats that support uplifting messages inspired by Rastafarian principles. “From the day I found Rastafari, my life change and evolve to a different level, in terms of culture and my philosophy and it never drop,” says Capleton who reaffirms that conviction with the scriptural lyrics of “Call I”, (“from the day Rasta call I, I been standing tall I, no evil can befall I”) produced by Craig Thelwell; Rastafari teachings are commended for the guidance they provide to the youth on “Long Way”, produced by Colin Llewellyn and Stephen Andrews; the reverentially sung “Blessing”, produced by Edward Harris, is a reminder that Jah exalts those who do positive work, while the Rastaman’s sacred herb is celebrated over a rolling bass line and stabbing organ riffs on “Acres”, produced by Shane Brown.
Capleton’s displays his proficiency as insightful social commentator with “It’s On”, detailing the repercussions of global warming and biological warfare, and “Them Get Corel”, a fire and brimstone offering of militant rhymes (“this is for the bold and the brave, for the warrior dem who refuse to be a slave/stand up on the battle field not afraid to defend the rights of the people, make sure they get paid”) over an acoustic riddim accented by flamenco-styled guitar flourishes; both tracks were produced by Elvis “Flego” Grant.
The Prophet delivers foreboding verse depicting an inevitable Armageddon on “Global War” over a robust one-drop beat produced by veteran hit maker Bobby Digital. The fall of Babylon due to greed and folly is portrayed on “Babylon Go Down”, produced by Richard Brown, and the significance of that sentiment is echoed on “All Is Well” produced by Frenchie. “Babylon too cruel, for real,” states Capleton. “We write these songs because of the iniquities that take place, the exploitation, the sufferation and the poverty; they give the youths dem guns, killing off each other so these songs are basically telling the youths to keep dem focus and stay motivated.
In the tradition of the revered west African griot who dispenses the history of his people to the younger generation, the wisdom in Capleton’s words, culled from the teachings of Marcus Garvey, His Majesty Haile Selassie and other visionaries from the African Diaspora, has earned him the Yoruban title King Shango, which means Lion Fire; this is a particularly apt designation as he imparts the historical atrocities endured by Africans on “400 Years”, produced by Andre Daley: “400 years, blood sweat and tears, working so hard never get no pay…we need our ancestry pension, where de money spend ‘pon?” “We have seen our ancestors fighting for liberation, go through the struggle and feel the pain,” Capleton reflects. “So we give thanks because it is a great privilege within I to exalt that message.”
Capleton’s profound, provocative lyrics, paired with his combustible, charismatic delivery have made him one of Jamaica’s most enduringly popular artists. With “I-Ternal Fire” he blazes into a new decade with the ignited ambitions of a newcomer and the focused yet fiery word power only a true dancehall griot could convey. “I have seen the impact of these message among different nations; I travel to Africa, the Caribbean, even Europe, people gravitate to the music if it is positive because they have that need for positivity within themselves,” he observes. “This is a sound other people take to, to be strong, to fight for their rights, know what I mean? This is a sound they are looking for.”