Few artists had the impact on Jamaica's dancehall scene as Sugar Minott. His releases provided the blueprints for the rise of the contemporary dancehall style, he was also equally influential as a producer, and his extraordinarily popular sound system helped launch numerous new DJs into the limelight.
In 1974, African Brothers cut "Mysterious Nature" with producer Rupie Edwards, which brought them to the attention of Studio One. Their debut song for that label, "No Cup No Broke, was also their last, and the trio split to pursue solo careers. (Tony Tuff would continue his cultural career before switching with great success to dancehall.) In 1987, the Uptempo label gathered up the African Brothers singles for the compilation album Collectors Item, crediting it to Sugar Minott & the African Brothers. Coxsone Dodd was keen to keep Minott, whose talents extended beyond vocals and into session work as both a guitarist and drummer. However, the artist had an even more innovative talent tucked away -- an extraordinary ability to compose new lyrics to old songs.
In 1983, the Hitbound label gathered up a batch of the Holness-produced hits on With Lots of Extra, making up the numbers with extra songs that were equally good. 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. But that did little to prepare listeners for 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." A superb dub companion remixed by King Tubby in one of his final projects accompanied the album, and in 2000 the Easy Star label appended this to Ghetto-ology's CD reissue. The album was the beginning of Minott's move into a dread sound. Black Roots, its follow-up, picked up precisely where its predecessor left off and continued down the deep roots path. However, 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.
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 leader, including 2008's New Day, featuring appearances by Toots Hibbert, Sly Dunbar, Dwight Pickney, and Andrew Tosh. Sugar Minott had been diagnosed with heart problems in 2009, and died on July 10, 2010 following his admittance to a Kingston hospital after he had complained of feeling poorly. He was 54 years old.
"Live Loving" was released in 1977 on Studio One.
2. Hang On Natty
3. Change Your Ways
4. Give A Hand
5. Come On Home
6. A House Is Not A Home
7. Live Loving
8. Love Gonna Pack Up
9. Jah Almighty
10. Jah Jah Lead Us
Sugar Minott - Live Loving (1977)
(192 kbps, front cover included)