Three of the most important figures in early dancehall reggae hit town this week, paying tribute to the time when "consciousness" and dancehall didn't seem like an oxymoron.
Sugar Minott cut his teeth with the criminally underrated African Brothers vocal trio in the early '70s, later linking with producer Coxsone Dodd from Jamaica's infamous Studio One. By applying fresh vocals and conscious lyrics over Dodd's best known riddims from the previous decade, Minott not only created masterpieces such as "Vanity," but also started a trend that remains popular today. Johnny Osborn chalked up a handful of Jamaican hits in the '60s as a member of the Sensations. Later, he also began working with Dodd, using the same stockpile of classic riddims as Minott.
Frankie Paul is Jamaica's own Stevie Wonder. Not only do they possess similar vocal styles, but both are blind multi-intrumentalists. A dancehall staple since the early '80s, Paul is perhaps best known for the awesome herb-smoking anthem "Pass the Kushengpeng." If any of the three artists has fallen out of favor with Jamaican audiences, it's because the sincerity they possess lies at odds with current dancehall's hypermasculine facade. Special guests include vocalist Pam Hall and Cleveland's own Sunshade.