The Journey

Sound System

Sugar began his career in the sound systems at a very young age as he always had a passion for music growing up. He was working as a selector for the Sound of Silence Keystone outfit, before launching his own Gathering of Youth sound system just as he hit his teens. Through that venture
Sugar singing career as part of The African Brothers in 1969, along with Tony Tuff and Derrick Howard began to arise.

 African Brothers

The three singers met in 1969 when “Bubbles” overheard “Sugar” Minott singing along to “Tony Tuff” playing the guitar. They formed a group, with early influences including The Abyssinians, The Heptones, and The Gaylads, name the African Brothers a reference to their African heritage. Morris was initially the main songwriter, being the most experienced member of the group, with Minott and Howard contributing harmony vocals. They first recorded in 1970 for producer Rupie Edwards, for whom they recorded “Mysterious Nature”, and they also recorded for Clement “Coxsone” Dodd (“No Cup No Broke”), Winston Blake, Duke Thelwell (“Party Night”), and Mike Johnson and Ronnie Burke at Micron Music. They followed these with self-production, including “Torturing”, “Want Some Freedom”, and “Practice What You Preach”, several released on their own Ital label.
In the mid-1970s, the group split up, with Minott going on to work at Studio One before launching a successful solo career, Tony Tuff also becoming a successful solo artist. Howard moved into production.
The US label Easy Star released the album Want Some Freedom in 2001, comprising recordings from between 1970 and 1978. Minott and Tuff reformed the group for a 2004 album, Mysterious Nature, also featuring Triston Palma and Ken Bob.

STUDIO ONE

Minott then teamed up with the producer Clement “Coxsone” Dodd, as studio apprentice at Dodd’s Studio One, working as a singer, guitarist and percussionist, and soon began recording his own singles.  Minott developed a talent for writing new songs to fit over existing rhythms (which at the time was common when singers performed live, but rare in the studio), often proving more popular than the original songs, pioneering an approach that would be central to the emerging dancehall style.  Live Loving, which many credits as the first true dancehall album. would revolutionize the entire Jamaican musical scene. Minott’s follow-up album, 1979’s Showcase, was equally revolutionary and included not just dub versions, but featured the hip new syndrums that would soon rule the dancehalls.”

Jammy’s

The singer scored another major hit with “Never Too Young,” produced by Prince Jammy, who also oversaw Minott’s third album, 1979’s Bitter Sweet.

Ghetto-ology

Minott’s third full-length release that year, the phenomenal Ghetto-ology , a deeply roots album featuring such tracks as “Dreader Than Dread,” “Never Gonna Give Jah Up,” and “Africa Is the Black Man’s Home. The album was the beginning of Minott’s move into a dread sound.A superb dub companion remixed by King Tubby in one of his final projects accompanied the album

Black Roots

Black Roots, its follow-up, picked up precisely where its predecessor
left off and continued down the deep roots path

Roots Lovers

Roots Lovers, also released in 1980, showed a seismic shift in
direction as Minott moved strongly into the lovers rock arena, while still maintaining a
roots approach. Minott’s energy and enthusiasm seemed boundless and this year also
saw the launch of his own labels, Youth Promotion and Black Roots . He debuted his
new labels with the self-produced “Man Hungry” and followed it up with “Hard Time
Pressure.” That latter single was Minott’s British debut and went down a storm. That,
coupled with the success of Roots Lovers in a U.K. in the feverish grip of lovers rock
frenzy, prompted the singer to relocate to London after he played Reggae Sunsplash
that same year.

Good thing Going

Minott may have been on the other side of the Atlantic but this did not put a dent in his release schedule, and new singles continued to appear with amazing regularity. Alvin Ranglin oversaw “Not for Sale,” there was a clutch cut with Linval Thompson including “Run Come” and “Hold On,” while Ranking Dread oversaw “African Girl,” the title track from Minott’s new album. It was Donovan Germain, however, who helped Minott achieve his first U.K. hit with a cover of Michael Jackson’s “Good Thing Going.” This brought a distribution deal with the RCA label for the smash hit follow-up album Good Thing Going. One of the masterpieces of the lover’s rock era, Good Thing was to be Minott’s last new album for two years, given that the market was now being glutted by compilations of older material. In the meantime, the singer released a string of seminal singles, “Lover’s Rock,” a cover of David Gates’ “Make It with You” (a duet with Carroll Thompson), “In a Dis Ya Time,” “Africa,” and many more.

Dancehall Showcase

Jamaica had undergone a dancehall revolution in his
absence and Minott was keen to participate, releasing the Dance Hall Showcase album that same year. The singer was back in top form in 1984, releasing a trio of albums and a string of hit singles. Herbman Hustling was first off the mark and featured a sublime blend of dancehall styles and roots sensibilities, with a touch of lovers rock thrown in for good measure. Slice of the Cake was overshadowed by its predecessor but was still a stellar dancehall record fired by the Roots Radics, while the Lloyd Barnes-produced Wicked Ago Feel It equally embraced both cultural and lovers themes. A fourth album was actually recorded with Sly & Robbie, although it did not appear until 1986.

Sly & Robbie

However, the pairing did produce the single “Rub a Dub Sound
Style,” which predated ragga but certainly heralded the new style’s imminent birth. Another trio of albums, Leader of the Pack, Rydim, and Time Longer Than Rope, arrived in 1985, along with a further string of singles. The latter two albums were both produced by George Phang and boasted the unmistakable rhythms of Sly & Robbie. There was also an excellent clash album with Leroy Smart, Award Winners, and a slew of singles. Somehow, Minott also found time to launch his own sound system, Youth Promotion, with Jah Stitch brought in as a selector. Like his labels, the Youth Promotion outfit was a hands-on concern. Minott gave a host of hopefuls a crack at the big time, going on to record the best on his own labels. Ranking Joe, Captain Sinbad, and Ranking Dread all got their start there, while Abashanti, another artist mentored by the singer, was even brought to Reggae Sunsplash, where he appeared beside Minott in 1985 and 1986. The British label Uptempo’s Presenting the Posse features a host of the sound system’s talent and even adds some dub mixes from Peter Chemist as an added bonus.

Youth Promotion

Youth Promotion Over the years, Minott’s labels released cuts from the likes of Junior Reid, Tenor Saw, and Barry Brown, and while none would equal Minott’s own, the label head gave as much attention to his artists as to himself. Sugar & Spice recorded two years previously with Sly & Robbie and featuring the single “Rub a Dub Style,” finally saw release in 1986, as did a number of re-recorded songs from Herbman Hustling. A new album also arrived in the form of the hits-heavy Inna Reggae DanceHall, a classic record of ragga roots dancehall style. Then it was back to New York and a reunion with Lloyd Barnes for Jamming in the Streets the following year. A pairing with Gregory Isaacs resulted in the Double Dos e album from the sweetest and moothest vocal duo brought together on record.

Buy Out The Bar

An entire shelf-full of albums arrived in 1988. Minott recorded Buy Off the Bar with George Phang, and had a major hit with the title track, which boasted a fabulous rhythm courtesy of Sly & Robbie . Sufferer’s Choice also features the duo’s sharp rhythms; it was overseen by Peter Chemist, who created a fabulous mix of cultural cuts and lover’s concerns. Lovers Rock Inna Dance Hall created a similar split of theme and sound, while Ghetto Youth Dem Rising and Sugar Minott & Youth Promotion also kept the singer’s name on the street.

 

African Soldier

Equally of note was that same year was African Soldier, a concept album concerned with the current state of the continent. It contained some of Minott’s most passionate lyrics and emotive vocals, but was mangled by the synth-heavy arrangements and lightweight dancefloor pop production. Around this time, Minott linked with a teenaged hopeful named Frankie Paul on the Joe Gibbs-produced Showdown, Vol. 2 , a showcase for both the veteran and the young superstar to be. Meanwhile, Black Roots released the Best Of, Vol. 1 compilation, bundling up a clutch of the label’s releases. (In 1999, the Easy Star label would gather up two volumes’ worth of Black Roots material, boasting both hits and unreleased tracks for the Sugar Minott’s Hidden Treasures collections, albums that for once live up to their advertising.) But by the end of the ’80s, Black Roots was closed and Minott’s star was starting to fade. The Boss Is
Back suggested the opposite was true, while the upbeat Ghetto Child saw the singer flirting with an urban contemporary sound, but in the end, this album too just seems lightweight. Perhaps Minott had simply taken on too much or spread himself too thin, and his work was now suffering in the process. However, he continued to make the studio rounds and released some quite good singles, while a successful appearance at Reggae Sunsplash in 1989 boded well for the future. In the new decade, Minott recorded two albums for Jammys, 1990’s Smile and the following year’s A Touch of Class . While neither were totally disposable, they certainly weren’t his greatest work. Perhaps in an attempt to shake things up, the singer recorded Happy Together, also released in 1991, and arguably his most adventurous album ever. Recorded in New York, London, and Kingston with a variety of musicians, the record is a blossoming of innovative musical hybrids, a true magical mystery tour. Run Things, two years, later was nowhere near as innovative. The following year’s Breaking Free found Minott working with Tapper Zukie and was a strong return to form with some stunning cultural numbers

Musical Murder

Scientist oversaw 1996’s International, an equally strong set, while the next year’s Musical Murder and 1999’s Easy Squeeze found the singer still a force to be reckoned with. In many ways, he was doing his best work on-stage, as proven by his performances at Reggae Sunsplash in 1992, 1995, and 1996. In the studio, meanwhile, he was cutting his best material on singles in collaborations with other artists: 1992’s “Wah Them a Do,” with former protégé Junior Reid, was a crucial cut; equally good was “Chow,” 1994 single that paired the singer with the gruff-voiced DJ Shaggy, while another notable release, “Wise Up,” partnered him with Mutabaruka. In the 2000s Minott remained a popular live performer, with his studio work largely limited to guest appearances, although he released the occasional album as a leader, including 2008’s New Day, featuring appearances by Toots Hibbert, Sly Dunbar, Dwight Pickney, and Andrew Tosh.

The Family

The legacy he left behind.
Daniel Minott

Daniel Minott

ARTIST / PRODUCER / ENGINEER

Jahson Minott

Jahson Minott

ARTIST / CREATIVE / VISIONARY/ CONTENT DEVELOPER

SWKAH / Candice Minott

SWKAH / Candice Minott

ARTIST / SINGER / SONGWRITER

Osunya Minott

Osunya Minott

CREATIVE DIRECTOR / DESIGNER / EVENT PLANNER

BLAE / Andrew Minott

BLAE / Andrew Minott

DJ / PRODUCER / ENGINEER

Pashon / Tamar Minott

Pashon / Tamar Minott

ARTIST / PROMOTER / DESIGNER

Ashanty Minott

Ashanty Minott

DOCTOR / AIRLINE ATENDEE

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