Throwback Thursdays: Melodic Yoza on Lt. Stitchie’s “Natty Dread”

Words by Melodic Yoza

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Born in Saint Thomas, Jamaica, raised in New York City, and now based in Toronto, Melodic Yoza specializes in a sound he calls “reggaesoulhop.” The artist, who recently debuted his new project The Parent Trap with us, via their track “Bad Up.” Here, he shares his love for dancehall great Lt. Stitchie, and his classic 1987 video for “Natty Dread.”

Lt. Stitchie’s “Natty Dread” came out back in 1987, just before I left Jamaica in ’88. The video was one of those videos I always remember wanting to see, showing a natty dread, played by the big Jamaican actor Carl Bradshaw, going through different struggles.

Stereo One, which Stitchie started with, was one of those main sound systems I grew up listening to as a youth. They had Wolfman, Ricky Stereo and Stitchie, who was one of those main youths who could just spit. Stitchie, along with Papa San. was a man who always held up dancehall with his lyrics and intelligence and his flow, both on records and on a live off-the-head kind of vibe like no other.

As Stitchie says in the beginning of the song, “This is dedicated to all natty dreadlocks, cause natty dreadlocks different from Rasta man.” It highlights the difference between a Rasta man and a natty dreadlocks, who just has dreads. “Natty Dread” was a controversial song in Jamaica when it dropped— It had an impact on the music industry and Rasta culture and all around on society. It’s a good throwback to remind people of what Rastafarians had to face in Jamaica.

That is the era I grew up from… I look at myself as a scholar to the game. People see me make music that is crossover or commercial but I never leave the authenticness out of it, whether it’s through the wording or music. I’m coming from the dancehall clash days, when you had Stitchie, Papa San,Peter Metro, Admiral Bailey, Tiger, Shabba Ranks, Super Cat, Major Worries, General Trees, Demus, Brigadier Jerry, Josey Wales holding dancehall down. You even had Yami Bolo, Little Kirk, a young Beenie Man, Risto Benji. Those are the people who were holding the game together back then.

I want to salute that whole vibe. Music needs to get back to that authenticness, where it comes from. I’m striving to take what I learned from that era, and be current, but still have that flavor with my reggae soul hop. I feel what i learned from that makes me who I am today. Stitchie is a part of that, and all of those artist. They made big statements we’re still living by.