Yellowman (born Winston Foster) was a transitional figure in Jamaican music, solidifying the reggae emcee’s rise to preeminence in the Jamaican dance in the early 1980s and foreshadowing the deejay tsunami to come. He was one of reggae and dancehall’s most prominent stars of that decade. Yellowman’s lyrics were clever, unrestrained and boastful in a way that resonated in the early 1980s and continue to the present.
VP Records, through its Jah Guidance imprint, would release two of Yellowman’s first LPs, Duppy Or Gunman and Just Cool, both in 1982, including several of his earliest and most influential singles, “I’m Getting Married” and “Mr. Chin.” (The cover photo for the Duppy Or Gunman LP was taken in front of Randy’s on 17 North Parade in Kingston.)
Producer Henry “Junjo” Lawes was the top producer of that era, and Yellowman quickly became his top artist, only rivaled by label mate Barrington Levy. VP released the emcee’s most enduring, recognizable, and difficult to spell track on the Reggae Sound imprint in 1984, none other than “Zungguzungguguzungguzeng.” His prominence earned a deal with CBS and resulted in the album King Yellowman in 1984, nominated for reggae’s first Grammy Award.
Yellowman would record 34 albums worth of material in the 1980s alone and 25 in the years that followed, including two Grammy nominations. Greensleeves Records would release the LPs Mister Yellowman (same as VP’s Duppy Or Gunman); Two Giants Clash (with Josey Wales); Zungguzungguguzungguzeng; Galong Galong Galong; Blueberry Hill; In Bed With Yellowman; and Yellowman’s Good Sex Guide.
His stagecraft has never faded in his four-decade career, and his shows with the Sagittarius Band are a must see. He is solidly placed among reggae and dancehall’s iconic figures.