On Sunday, November 29
By Jack Kohler
Born into a challenging world and rising music scene, “King Yellowman” (Winston Foster) soared to the top of the Jamaican dancehall reggae scene as an esteemed deejay and performer. He was raised in several orphanages and took pride in the uniqueness of his personal situation. Yellowman’s identity as an albino reggae artist combined with a later life facial disfiguration (due to cancer of the mouth) proved to be obstacles but were overcome by his distinct clever tongue in cheek lyrics and a set of successful singles. After signing to major record label CBS records, Yellowman had high stakes to prove and encountered difficult times when his record sales declined. Aside from the hardships of personal health battles, (skin, facial cancer), Yellowman’s style was often harshly criticized and argued about because of its overtly sexual and questionable references to women and sexuality. Still, Yellowman continued in his own edgy style and ruled the dancehall scene for years. Here’s what he has to say:
Jack Kohler: Your song styles and lyricism has been coined “slackness” because of its sharp and playful approach, what is your opinion of your own personal style and delivery?
Yellowman: Well my good brother, I’m trying to find out why they call it slackness for because I don’t know, is it sex or making love? I don’t know, what do you call sexual healing by Marvin Gaye? My personal style is reggae dancehall!
JK: Describe your jump from unsigned artist to major label?
YM: Signing to a major label for me was the biggest blessing because I was the first dancehall artist who’d ever signed to a major label at that time. I was truly grateful.
JK: What was your greatest difficulty during your career, how did you deal with the hardships of cancer?
YM: Well, it was very, VERY hard for me and my family to adjust, but by the powers of the almighty along with my fans and family I overcame cancer, it is possible for everyone and I am cancer free now. I give thanks to everyone because now I am firm and strong.
JK: Do you think you were received differently post-surgery, considering the added positivity and aspect of spiritualism in your songs?
YM: I don’t think anything changed much apart from a little removal from my draw.
JK: How do you feel about your stop off in the Coachella Valley during your tour? Do you prefer a more intimate show setting or larger festivals?
YM: I feel great about performing there. I’m looking forward to giving a good performance and will always give the same energetic performance for the people and fans no matter if it’s a festival or a club!
JK: What words or advice would you give aspiring artists in today’s music world?
YM: I think it’s important for the artist whether young or veterans to start to make the right music and say the right things in their songs, especially about peace and love.
Yellowman will be performing live at Schmidy’s Tavern on Sunday, November 29th with local bands Tribe-O and Irie Junctions, doors at 8pm, $15, 21+.