Words by Martei Korley
Remembering that the birthday of Dennis “Emmanuel” Brown, The Black Crown Prince of Reggae, falls in same week as that of Bob Marley, O.D.(Feb 1st and 6th respectively); it is only befitting to celebrate the life of Bob Marley’s favorite singer with a little walk down memory lane. Dennis Brown catapulted into stardom early, the youngster was a regular on stage shows from the tender age of 8 and has difficulties managing both school and recording career. Endowed with an unusually refined tenor and a deep rooting in Soul/R’nb, Dennis Brown’s earliest effort for Studio One is still chock-full of oldies hits and known by a far wider ranging age group than most child stars. He was simply that good. A natural in every sense of the word, his ability was never hampered by the loss of one lung to TB, rather he succeed in completely mastering a range of musical genres and still putting his unique interpretation of Reggae into his vocals. From lite rock to show tunes, D. Brown did them all(Ol’ Man River, anybody?). However, it is in the delivery of his original material that his true talent shines through.
Many of his songs during his tenure at Joe Gibbs Productions also reflect his Twelve Tribes beliefs; always conveyed with an effortless smoothness of delivery. Few other artist in history have been as adept at both social commentary and Lovers Rock; one of the reasons Reggae fans and Jamaicans in particular hold him dear to their hearts. Below are a few examples of the great talents of Mr. Brown:
Rocking Time: This tune off the Joe Gibbs produced “Yesterday, Today, Tomorrow” stands as a prime example of the slightly muscular brand of Lovers Rock purveyed by Sly & Robbie in the early eighties.
Revolution: Legend has it that Dennis Brown merely heard the riddim in the studio and that everything came together right then and there: When Dennis was ready to record, Sly told him ” Thank you” as in “we go tit already”…
The Promised Land: DB performing live before a Jam-packed Wembley stadium in London England, 1984. Lloyd Parks & We The People Band provide the sound.