SPRAGGA BENZ

 

Just like his luxury automotive namesake, Spragga Benz has achieved Spragga Benz by IonePicsa level of lyrical distinction unattainable by most performers traveling along the dancehall freeway. With the release of his third album "Fully Loaded" (VP Records) Spragga's on target rhymes and precision timing position him comfortably in the drivers seat, ensuring a continuous ride in the accelerated lane headed towards musical success.

Born Carlton Grant in 1969 in the Dunkirk area of Kingston, Jamaica, Spragga Benz began deejaying (the Jamaican equivalent of rapping) eight years ago as a dare from Buju Banton. At the time, Carlton (who's slender build earned him the nickname "Spaghetti", later shortened to Spragga) lived near Ricky Villa, owner of the La Benz sound system and did him the favor of picking up "specials" (recordings lauding a specific sound system) voiced by various artists for the La Benz set. Watching Buju record specials for La Benz, Spragga became inspired to record a few specials of his own. "While Buju was doing it, I kept saying 'mi cyan deejay too…. Run di riddim', " he laughingly recalls. "Mi chat foolishness at first but I had to keep doing it just to show them I could.

Since his modest entry into Jamaica's dancehall fraternity, Spragga has become one of reggae's most in demand deejay. His first single (officially) "Could A Deal" did extremely well in Jamaica, but it was his second single, the X-rated "Jack It Up" established Spragga as a bonafide dancehall sensation. More hits followed including "Girls Hooray", "Things A Gwaan" and "Jump Up and Swear" for the dancehall queens, with "Mark Death", "Who's Next" and "No Fun Thing" for the (rude) boys, all included on Spragga's 1994 debut album "Jack It Up" (VP Records).

Spragga made even greater strides with his signing to Capital Records in A side profile of the BenzAugust 1994. His 1995 debut album for the label, "Uncommonly Smooth" featured more chart topping songs including "A-1 Lover", a duet with Chevelle Franklyn, and a remake of "Spanish Harlem" featuring the song's original vocalist, R&B legend Ben E. King.

Since then, Spragga has contributed songs to the soundtracks for the films "Free Willy 2" and "Race The Sun" starring Halle Berry. He has collaborated with R&B trio Brownstone, KRS-ONE, pop group Charles & Eddie and renown producer Wyclef Jean on a remix for the track "All The Girlies". He's worked with the artist Ruffa on the single "I Know A Place" for MCA Records and along with Beenie Man contributed 12 cuts to the awesome CD "Two Bad DJ's" (VP Records). Spragga earned the admiration of many Jamaicans when he founded the "Stay In School" campaign, encouraging young people to prioritize their education while providing uniforms and school supplies to underprivileged students. His appearances are constantly requested at all major Reggae concerts both in Jamaica and overseas. He's extensively toured throughout the Caribbean, America and Europe.

As it's title suggests, Spragga's third album is a smoking collection, "Fully Loaded" with 21 lethal Reggae shots, utilizing the varied talents of dancehall's finest producers including Dave Kelly, Andre "Rookie" Tyrel, John John, Danny Browne, Richard Browne, Bobby Digital and Richard "Richie D" Martin. Even international house producer Todd Terry lends his expertise. "Fully Loaded's" first single is "Wey Ya Say Star". Produced by remix master Salaam Remi, the song showcases Spragga's devasting speed-of-light lyrical delivery ("tell them we a star, born to be a star…. Nah mix up in idiot war"). The accompanying video, filmed in Brooklyn, features hip hop and reggae stars including Lady Saw, Shinehead, Rayvon, Noreaga, Pras, Junior Demus and rapper Foxy Brown who also exchanges sexual skewers with Spragga on the single, "Too Stoosh".

Spragga's good looks and athletic physique have made him a phenomenon among the ladies. He shows them love with "Push It Up" and "Heaven Sent", anthems of self sufficiency and empowerment expressed in a distinctive and colorful dancehall vernacular while his 1999 #1 single "She No Ready Yet (Hype Up)" urges women to maintain high standards: "no let no man take you for a Chevrolet, you want a passenger plane not a value jet". He reinforces his position as Dancehall's "A-1 Lover" with the explicit "Backshot" (featuring a peak performance from a totally raw Lady Saw), the strenuous workouts depicted in "Harder" and "Mur-Da-Rah" and the warrior chant proclaimed throughout "Pum Pum Conqueror", "Conqueror's" Ska embellished rhythm, enhanced by an array of noises could have been resurrected from the ashes of legendary Jamaican producer Lee "Scratch" Perry's Black Ark Studios! Spragga's vocal elasticity wraps tightly around Dave Kelly's sparse "Showtime" rhythm on "We Nuh Like", a frenetically paced laundry list of (sexual) aversions and preferences. Always responsible, Spragga implores the use of condoms in "Sex Abuse".

Spragga has also earned credibility and approval among dancehall "shottas" by bluntly addressing hard-core ghetto "runnings"; amidst crackling gunfire, he draws for intimidating lyrical weaponry on "Badman Anthem" (with singer Sugar Slik): "Badman, let me see your gun, from you know out a road from a boy you no run". "People show respect to me because of the way I do a gun song," says Spragga, "Because I tell them guys are no joke. It's a very serious thing and I make these songs to open people's eyes. It's reality and it's not promoting anything." "Peace" urges unity among Jamaica's warring political factions who often live among crews "that don't play", boasting cars, cash and girls on the Hip-Hop flavored "Suppose To Know".

Producer Danny Browne's gleaming "Heavy Metal" rhythm enhances the tough edge warnings given in "Some Bwoy", contrasting Rookie Productions' "Show Me Love", pairing an infectious R&B refrain ("show me love, turn me on, be my baby") with Spragga's uncommonly smooth deejay approach.

Attributing all his success in the music industry as the works of God, Spragga offers "Praise", glorifying "The Father, The Son, mi mother, mi dad, mi woman and the kids that mi have". The heartfelt "Sleep With Angels" commemorates those who have passed on, "although the judgement might seem too hard, we can't question the works of the Lore" while the wisdom imparted in the "Call Upon Jah Name" delivers "Fully Loaded's" most significant sentiment: "what is harder to attain, is harder to maintain, whenever you live a life that cause you strain, it no make no sense the world you gain, then reduce to shame so call upon Jah name".

"My work is the force of the Father," Spragga conveys, "and I know the credit has to go to Him because it wasn't something I was planning on doing. So no matter how big I become in the music fraternity, I won't be floating above the clouds because if the bubble should burst, you have a long fall down."

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