ESSENTIAL RED FOX
Red tells the stories behind his most essential recordings
Down in Jamaica (with Naturalee) (1989)
I did “Down in Jamaica” in ’88. I was still going to Utrecht but I was recording and by now I’m getting a little popular within the local scene, girls are coming for me, so I kind of started checking out of high school.
It’s not a big record in Jamaica. We had a strong little community within New York to break records here and Jamaica was a whole different marketing strategy. My song actually came out before Aswad’s song. I heard the Aswad song after. I just came to New York and I didn’t like New York and I was trying to [tell] my friends in Jamaica that this [place] is not how you think it is. If you listen to the lyrics, I’m talking about how cold it is, how people have to get up early and go to work, how they tax your money… Then I went to do a dub for LP and Naturalee did a dubplate singing [the “Down in Jamaica” line from Stephen Bishop’s “On and On”] and we put the two together.
Naturalee used to sing songs from LiteFM, he was singing nothing but those types of songs, and that’s where he got it from. [The record] really got hot after I began performing at the Underground in Manhattan. When I’m performing the song, I do this jog and it developed into something massive. When everyone heard the song, they would wait for my part to come in to start doing this run that I do on stage and that’s when the record really turned. [Years later] Bounty Killer went on it, and the riddim got hot again, and they re-released the record, and that’s when the riddim got the name Sick. When it went to Jamaica they said this riddim is sick.
Crab Louse (1992)
I did a record called “Crab Louse Man” for Philip Smart. [Then] I did it over. When Shaggy did “Oh Carolina,” I was like the guy at Signet [Records] and they would bring the track to me, and I didn’t like [the riddim]. If you notice] [I[ wasn’t on the riddim. Sting [International] made something similar and I did the song called “Jessica,” and “Crab Louse” over. Actually, the melody came from this song [sings] Long haired freaky people need not apply, No wan’ no Rastafari. I took the melody and started singing about a crab louse. So it’s not that I got [crabs], those days were just about those types of lyrics, comedy-type stuff.
Pose Off (with Screechy Dan) (1993)
It was Eastern Parkway where we string up the sound on Rogers and President at Crown Heights, the girls were walking by in their little pum-pum shorts and that Spanish song [“Lambada”] was hot at the time so Screechy was just mimicking the melody and singing about these girls. I [played] back the cassette of what we did for the day and I heard Screechy just playing around with the melody. I saw Screechy in Biltmore [Ballroom] and I was like Screechy, remember that little thing you was joking around with? Well I got something for it.
The producer Philip Smart didn’t necessarily like Screechy singing the record, he thought it needed some voice like Wayne Wonder. Sting [International] was the DJ on KissFM every Sunday, and when he played it, everybody was at SuperPower record shop the next day looking for it. [Smart] had to put it out because it was an instant hit.
I gotta big up John “Gungie” Rivera because he started to promote me in the Latin clubs like Florida in Spanish Harlem, Octagon in Manhattan. He took me to Puerto Rico and I started doing all these Latino clubs because of “Pose Off.” “Pose Off” is probably one of the biggest reggae songs in the Latino market. When I go to sing that song, just because of the [hums melody of “Pose Off”), the drum track is right up their alley. Jennifer Lopez came out with [“On The Floor”] and people were calling off my phone like Yow! Jennifer Lopez touch your song, and I’m like, its not our melody.
Bashment Party (with Rayvon) (1996)
Before I did “Bashment Party” on the Showtime riddim with Dave Kelly, he produced two songs on my album, As a Matter of Fox, “Ghetto Gospel” and “Born Again Black Man.” I requested him because at the time he was hot with Buju and Terror Fabulous, Wayne Wonder, all dem, so I requested to go and work with him in Jamaica and we did two tracks and, maybe five years after, we did “Bashment Party.”