in a while.........an artist comes along who challenges convention
the stream roller boundaries. A larger-than-life personality with
the talent to match, Red Rat is a dancehall phenomenon. This
explosive young deejay has been hailed as one of the most
versatile performers to emerge from Jamaica.With the release of
his wicked new album, 'I'm A Big Kid Now', crossover success is
just a whisker away.
Wallace Wilson aka Red Rat was born on the 17th January in the
tourist area of St. Ann's Bay. While many artists claim to have
music in their blood, Red Rat is the real deal. His father played
for both the Vegabonds in England and Bryon and the Dragonnaries.
Three of his brothers also entered the family business; Richard
Barr - a bassist (for Diana King and Jimmy Cliff), selector
Shinehead and drummer, Genius who is now a member of Red Rat's
backing band, M.O.B.
Although part of a large family, Red Rat retained his creative
independence and it would only be a matter of time before he
struck out on his own. Incredibly, his first performance was at
the age of four; "My brothers used to play cabaret shows in
hotels. They called up and I started singing. I think it was a
Michael Jackson song, yeah, 'ABC'!" The audience went wild and Red
Rat was hooked.
Fast-forward eight years, to a fledging schoolboy star Red Rat
could often be found in the studio after school. But with his feet
firmly on the ground, he took his father's advice to complete his
education. After graduating from high school, Red Rat was free to
pursue his dream and he did so with tenacious determination.
Recording under the name MICE, after his school football couch
pointed out the resemblance, he secured himself a guest appearance
with his brother's band KRU, deejaying on their single, "Can't
Live Without You". Spurred on by his first taste of professional
success, Red Rat began searching for a deal. Family connections
proved useful and he orchestrated an introduction to top-flight
procedure and CEO of Main Street Records, Danny Browne.
Immediately impressed with Red Rat's musical flair, h e offered
him the chance to record for the label and he voiced his first
song, "Itsy Bitsy". Red Rat is full of respect for the man he
credits as his mentor; "He's like a father to me. I give Danny
props for showing me the business and teaching me a whole lot." At
the same time, a change of name was suggested by General Degree;
Mice had already been claimed so the mouse became a rat.
1996 witnessed the transformation from small-time talent to
major-league star with his first release. This was the break Red
Rat had been waiting for. A string of singles followed, among them
"Shelly-Ann" and "Dwayne", capitulating him to the top of the
worldwide reggae charts. The buzz surrounding the young deejay was
growing fast; at last here was an artist who brought a much-needed
freshness and vitality to Dancehall. Drawing on musical influences
as diverse as Eminem, Michael Jackson, Alanis Morrisette and Bob
Marley, Red Rat had hit upon a winning formula, combining
dancehall flavours with more commercial sound; "I listen to all
types of music because I don't want to limit myself, but don't
forget where you're coming from. You have to know where you're
coming from to know where you're going." He is equally
down-to-earth when it comes to his image; "it's all about fun. I'm
a fun person to be around. It's not a put on, what you see is what
In 1997 he released his eagerly anticipated debut album, 'Oh No….
It's Red Rat'. It rapidly became one of the biggest selling
records in Greensleeves' history. Universally acclaimed, Red Rat
was credited with redefining his genre. Unashamedly amusing and
catchy, 'Oh No….' dispelled the myth that reggae could not be
accessible. A succession of hit singles taken from the album
including "Big Man Little Yute" (with fellow Main Street artist
Goofy), "Tight Up Skirt", "Wrigleys" and "Cruise" (featured in the
movie 'The Big Hit') had musical youth the world over shaking
Red Rat played a series of worldwide dates that took him as far a
field as Costa Rica, African and most memorably for him London's
Notting Hill Carnival, where he ripped up he Radio One and Kiss
His reputation as dancehall's premier talent has led to musical
collaborations on both sides of the Atlantic. As part of the Main
Street Crew (that included Buccaneer and Goofy) he teamed up with
British rapper Phoebe One, on her Top 25 hit "Doin' Our Thing".
This year has seen Red Rat get down and dirty for some x-rated
antics with US hip-hop act, Next; guesting with Renee Neufville on
"On No No", taken from their album 'Welcome to Nextasy'. On an R&B
tip, he has charmed his way into MOBO award-winning artist Kele Le
Roc's affections, on the soon-to-be-huge Curtis Lynch Jr. track,
"Thinking Of You", a brilliant re-working of the Sister Sledge
classic. Especially close to Red Rat's heart is the forthcoming
posthumous tribute to US rapper Tupac Shakur. "And Still I Love
You" is a love poem originally written by Tupac, arranged and
performed by Red Rat.
Now it's time for Red Rat to take center stage once again, with
the release of his long-awaited second album, "I'm a Big Kid now".
Almost entirely produced by Red Rat himself (not content with
international fame, he is setting up his own production company,
Brat Productions), it is a trilling roller-coaster ride of
wickedly witty lyrics and addictive rhythms. "Island Boy" is a
dexterous collaborations with the mighty Treach, from platinum
selling US hip-hop group Naughty By Nature and the sweet sexy
voice of protégée diva Italee. Red Rat cavorts from track to
track, shooing out the one-liners faster than machine gun. From
the morning-after-the night-before anthem "Spookie" to the story
of a voracious man-hunter in "Buddy She Want", 'I'm A Big Kid Now'
is bursting with potential crossover hits and is set to repeat the
massive success of Red Rat's debut. He may be a big kid, but look
what he can do.
Biography provided by Greensleeves Records.