Thursday, June 9, 2011

Nitty Gritty - Rub-A-Dub A Kill You

This month is twentieth anniversary since Nitty Gritty was gunned down in his prime.
He was born Glen Augustus Holness in 1957, the second of eleven children to devoutly religious parents in the August Town district of Kingston, Jamaica.

His musical career started in the early 1970s when he was part of The Soulites, but it wasn’t until a decade later when in the early 1980s he recorded his first solo single with Sugar Minott handling production duties. From here he went on to the Zodiac sound system and recorded further singles working with George Phang before in 1985 moving on to Prince Jammy, who was soon to be elevated to King. With Jammy at the controls he scored what is probably his biggest hit at the first attempt with his reworking of a Jamaican folk song "Hog Inna Minty" riding on the Tempo riddim. The success of this track in turn gave rise to the classic album ‘Turbo Charged’ which was released the following year through Greensleeves and is regarded as one of the defining albums of the digital dancehall period. The album has stood the test of time well and Nitty Gritty’s voice still remains as distinct and unusual as it did then. Listening to him at time is a bit like taking a rollercoaster ride as his voice wildly undulates between deep baritones and rising to almost touch on a falsetto. The album of course features ‘Hog Inna Minty’ but some of the other great tracks you’ll find on the album include ‘Gimme Some Of Your Something’ on the Things and Time riddim, ‘Rub-A-Dub A Kill You' on Rockfort Rock and ‘Down In The Ghetto’ riding the Satta riddim. To complete a defining year for him he also appeared on the split LP ‘Musical Confrontation’ with fellow up and coming dancehall star King Kong.

Nitty then spent a brief time living in London before relocating to New York City, where he continued to record but less frequently though further albums followed with ‘General Penitentiary’ in 1987, ‘Nitty Gritty’ in 1988 and finally ‘Jah in the Family’ in 1989.

It was also in New York that on June 24th 1991 he was shot dead in front of Super Power Record Shop in Brooklyn at the age of 34. It is alleged that he was killed in a shootout with Super Cat but he was subsequently acquitted of the charges.Nitty Gritty, along with artists like King Kong, Tenor Saw and Anthony Red Rose was way ahead of the pack in the mid to late 80’s and for a short time was almost untouchable in the dancehall arena as he dominated on top of some of the best the digital riddims coming out of Jamaica.

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