infinite deferral

King Stitt. An art of deferred meaning, and in its way a kind of sacred sadness. A belief that the present is by nature fundamentally awake and responsive, open-ended to the risk of new meaning. What is defined is really never a repetition of the past, but its rearticulation; the possibility of an art form expressing an an-original difference in the present. Meaning is constantly deferred, accumulating a sort of cultural resistance that retains its autonomy, affirming the possibility of a plural and dynamic present. King Stitt. King Stitt the artist: violating the symbolic violence of the aesthetic ideology.

---Born Winston Spark, he was called Stitt as a boy due to a stutter in his speech. Because of a facial disfiguration, he named himself The Ugly One, referencing the 1967 spaghetti western "The Good The Bad and the Ugly," which enjoyed immense popularity in Jamaica and had a profound influence upon dancehall culture at that time. Stitt's longstanding association with sound system owner-turned-producer Sir Clement Coxsone Dodd, founder of the venerable Studio One record label, considered the Motown of Jamaica, commenced in 1956. The legendary Count Machuki (b. Winston Cooper), said to be Jamaica's first deejay, worked with Dodd's Downbeat The Ruler sound system at the time when he noticed Stitt's impressive dance moves and gave him an opportunity to flaunt his toasting skills. Crowds adored Stitt and he became the set's lead deejay when Machuki left to join Coxsone's rival, Prince Buster's Voice of the People sound system. Both Machuki and Stitt were pivotal figures in transforming the role of a sound system's deejay from solely selecting records into a vibrant personality whose nimble word play engaged as well as energized the crowd, becoming attractions in their own right. --- Read More:

( see link at end): …”They were playing ‘Beardman Ska’ and one of my friends in the studio made a big spliff,” he recalled. “And I took the spliff from him, and light it, and I just say ‘Smoking is a habit’. And Andy Capp [engineer Lynford Anderson] say, ‘Drag it! Crab it!’. That was how ‘Herbman Shuffle’ was born,”.

These proto-reggae recordings proved particularly popular in Britain with the skinhead market of the early 1970s. Stitt’s skits, though, were soon outdone by U-Roy, Big Youth and I-Roy, whose free-flowing style was more expansive, and he stopped recording.

Stitt lived next door to Studio One in Kingston and renewed his association with Dodd when the producer returned to Jamaica in the 1990s. They made an album, Dance Hall ’63, on which Stitt successfully recreated the heyday of the sound system.

In 2002, he took part in the Legends of Ska concert series in Canada, and “versioned” “The Original Ugly Man” over a dub of Serge Gainsbourg’s “Des Laids Des Laids” for an expanded reissue of the late Frenchman’s Aux Armes Et Caetera album. Stitt participated in The Studio One Story documentary put together by Soul Jazz and continued performing until last October. Read More:


Along with Count Machuki and U-Roy, Stitt adapted the jive talk of the American radio presenters he had heard broadcasting from Miami and New Orleans and pioneered a new style of patois and slang-infused rhyming on the sound systems that dominated Kingston night-life. Known as “toasting” and popularised throughout the late 1960s and well into the ’70s by performers like Stitt, Big Youth and I-Roy, this genre is considered the Jamaican progenitor of rap, while its influence resonates to this day throughout dancehall, R&B, hip-hop and grime.Read More:

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