Words by Jesse Serwer
When you think of kids carrying on their father’s musical legacy, the Marley family is, rightfully, probably the first to come to mind. And if you’re talking about current reggae/dancehall music, you have to acknowledge the McGregor clan, with siblings Stephen, Chino and Shema all carrying on the Big Ship banner begun by their still-active father, Freddie McGregor. With Father’s Day coming up this Sunday, it got us wondering: who are some of the other current Caribbean artists and producers with influential musical fathers behind them? As many “mama” tunes as there are in reggae, dancehall and other genres, tributes to fathers are rare. Here’s 10 names we’re guessing you may know, and 10 reasons why you should also know their fathers–if you’re not up on the connections already.
Child: Tarrus Riley
Why You Know Him: One of the most prominent and successful reggae crooners of the last half-decade, the Bronx-born, Jamaica- and Florida-raised Riley scored his big breakthrough in 2006 with the single “She’s Royal.”
Father: Jimmy Riley
Why You Should Know Him: Beginning his career as a member of ’60s vocal harmony group the Sensations during the rocksteady era, Riley later joined the Uniques and recorded as a solo artist for Sly & Robbie’s Taxi label, scoring hits with 1982′s “Love & Devotion” and a cover of Marvin Gaye’s “Sexual Healing.”
Child: Queen Ifrica
Why You Know Her: As both a singer and a deejay, Ifrika has been among reggae/dancehall’s most consistent female performers in recent years, drawing critical praise for her life-affirming and hard-hitting lyrics.
Father: Derrick Morgan
Why You Should Know Him: A ska pioneer and Prince Buster’s primary rival during the genre’s formative years, Morgan was one of the biggest Jamaican hitmakers of the 1960s. His cover of Ben E. King’s “Seven Letters” is sometimes cited as the first true reggae song. As a producer, he took a young Garnet Silk under his wing in the late ’80s, convincing the then-aspiring deejay to take up singing.
Child: Craig “Leftside” Parks
Why You Know Him: First coming to prominence as one-half of the duo Leftside & Esco, Parks is one of dancehall’s most colorful and entertaining personalities. A comedian just as much as an artist and a producer, he’s almost as well known as “Dr. Evil,” an alter ego inspired by the Austin Powers character.
Father: Lloyd Parks
Why You Should Know Him: A vocalist and bassist, Parks has been a member, and leader, of some of Jamaica’s most famed bands including the Professionals, the Revolutionaries and the long-running We the People Band, which gave a young Leftside his start (as a drummer). As a solo act, Parks’ own material has often celebrated working class life, as on the under-rated, hard-hitting “We’ll Get Over It.” (below)
Child: Salaam Remi
Why You Know Him: One of the top hip-hop and R&B producers of the last two decades, Remi has played a major role in the careers of the Fugees, Amy Winehouse, Nas, Jazmine Sullivan and Miguel, just to name a few. In the ’90s he broke ground for hip-hop dancehall fusion with his remixes of tunes like Supercat’s “Ghetto Red Hot,” memorably sampling his own father’s arrangement for Taana Gardner’s “Heartbeat” to make Ini Kamoze’s ’95 smash “Here Comes the Hotstepper.”
Father: Van Gibbs
Why You Should Know Him: A Barbados-born studio musician who arranged and performed on numerous disco, R&B and rap records in the ’80s, Gibbs has been a key promoter of Caribbean music in New York City and currently manages soca star Alison Hinds.
Children: Morgan Heritage and LMS
Why You Know Them: Morgan Heritage, the five-piece band consisting of Una, Gramps, Peter, Lukes and Memo Morgan (AKA “Mr. Mojo”), have recorded something like a dozen albums since their 1994 MCA debut, Miracles. The family is so big that it also spawned a second all-sibling group LMS, whose Laza Morgan recently launched a solo career.
Father: Denroy Morgan
Why You Should Know Him: The patriarch of the massive Morgan family might be Jamaican but he’s best known for the disco/roller-boogie classic “I’ll Do Anything For You.”
Children: Roberto and Reynaldo Martino of T-Vice
Why You Know Them: Led by Roberto (guitar and vocals) and Reynaldo Martino (vocals), Miami-based T-Vice are among the biggest kompas bands in Haiti and its diaspora. Non-Haitians may also know them from Wyclef’s “Party By The Sea,” on which they featured alongside Buju Banton.
Father: Robert Martino
Why You Should Know Him: Martino was the leader of pioneering kompa group Top Vice, who were basically T-Vice 1.0.
Child: Matthew “Esco” Thompson
Why You Know Him: Leftside’s deep-voiced partner in Leftside & Esco, Thompson, whose mother is reggae queen Marcia Griffiths, also comes from a music family.
Father: Errol “E.T.” Thompson
Why You Should Know Him: A dub pioneer whose early bass-and-drum experiments coincided with those of King Tubby, “E.T.” had his hands on the controls during the recording of countless ’70s reggae classics, from Burning Spear’s “Marcus Garvey” to Althea & Donna’s “Uptown Top Ranking,” the lyrics to which he co-wrote.
Kid: Fay Ann Lyons
Why You Know Her: Lyons is Trinidad & Tobago’s best known female soca artist, with multiple victories in the Carnival Road March and International Soca Monarch competitions, and the wife of Bunji Garlin.
Pops: Austin “Superblue” Lyons
Why You Should Know Him: Trinidad’s first ever “Soca Monarch” is the only calypsonian to have appeared on Sesame Street, and once toured with Michael Jackson and Paul McCartney.
Child: Shane “Jukeboxx” Brown
Why You Know Him: His production work for Foxy Brown, Busy Signal, Demarco, Morgan Heritage and others.
Father: Errol Brown
Why You Should Know Him: Not to be confused with Jamaican-born Errol Brown of Hot Chocolate fame, the nephew of pioneering Jamaican producer Duke Reid helped give Bob Marley his sound as the engineer at Tuff Gong Studios.
Why You Know Him: The Sean Paul combination “Always On My Mind”; “This Time,” “Can’t Get Over You” and other reggae-lite singles from the mid 2000s.
Father: Jah Thomas
Why You Know Him: The killer deejay tunes he recorded in the late ’70s and early ’80s like “Stop Yuh Loafin” before moving behind the scenes as a producer.