Ghetto Concerto: Vybz Kartel Interpreted on Piano

Words by Jason “J-Rockaz” Orford

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Despite all the controversy and buzz words that have kept Vybz Kartel’s name in the minds and mouths of media pundits lately, he’s also become an unlikely poster-youth for the phenomenon of dancehall being taken seriously as high culture. On top of making headlines for his guest-lecture on the poetry of deejay-style reggae at UWI, the ubiquity of his music has sparked a wave of dancehall singles re-interpreted for that most classically stush of all musical forms, the solo piano recital. Like a player-piano, Kartel is moving keys with no hands as amateur players cover his hits via YouTube, trading renditions back and forth in a “Vybz gone viral again” domino effect.

Vybz Kartel Piano Medley

Minus his distinctive voice and lyrics, the unmistakeable presence of Kartel’s rap-patois and overall musical genius is haunting in these video renditions, (see “Yuh Love,” “Romping Shop” and “Virginity” after the jump). The spirit of the music transcends hype when you hear his verses transposed onto the pure tones of the ebonies and ivories, isolating the musical qualities that are what we love about the Teacha. Leave it to the streets of the information superhighway to inspire us — and leaving us wondering if Vybz should throw on a mink and coattails and book a show at Lincoln Center, Pavarotti-style. Or maybe it should be Alicia Keys or Elton John, flipping a chune or two of his pon de keyboards dem. Now that’s a vision.

“Virginity”

“Yuh Love”

“Yuh Love” redux

“Romping Shop”

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