Words by DJ Autograph
Growing up in Jamaica, one of the things I always found particularly fascinating was the way that dancehall artists had to cater to their diverse fan base. A well-rounded deejay’s arsenal would have tunes for the girls, the “shottas,” and some culture tunes, so that he wasn’t pigeonholed as one kind of artist. Only a handful of deejays are able to balance all three of these categories successfully. One of the few to successfully generate hit songs in all three of these categories over the years is Spragga Benz. (In case you have any doubts, listen to him go though some of his extensive catalog on the Federation Invasion on East Village Radio when both he and Delly Ranx passed through the studio)
Back in ’94, when I started DJing and actually going to dances (more like sneaking out) to be able to hear tunes that weren’t played on the airwaves, I remember hearing a lot of Spragga tunes that were never played on the radio because of their violent content. One of my personal favorites from that time period is “Good Day” (released in Jamaica as “Chunky”), Spragga’s interpretation of Ice Cube’s “It Was a Good Day.” The original done on the John John imprint would find its way onto Spragga’s second album, 1995’s Uncommonly Smooth.
But “Good Day” was also released as a single, with remixes from Da Mic Profesah and KRS-One. A video was shot for the KRS-One produced version. The video opens with a pre-dreadlocked Spragga coming out of a project building, presumably to get his son back into the apartment, and then goes on to show Spragga on the subway, and walking through the streets of Brooklyn. Some of the footage was shot inside and outside of the legendary Kingston Lounge, located between Bed-Stuy and Crown Heights in Brooklyn. The lounge, a small jazz club opened in 1944, was the site of many legendary jam sessions and performances. The video gives us glimpses of what the now-shuttered club’s interior and exterior was once like.
“Good Day,” along with Super Cat’s “Ghetto Red Hot,” were two of the first “badman” tunes to be accompanied by a video. Both remind me of the good ole days when dancehall stayed dancehall even when the artist attempted to crossover to the mainstream.