Large up the legend of African Star...
The Legend that is African Star
African Star is an icon in this reggae iwah and many here in Toronto have no clue who and what he is. They just see this quiet, humble man walk in and start spinning his music and before long, everyone is up and dancing. Like a humble Shaolin monk his humility is his calling card. Other DJs are spinning tracks that Star is responsible for cutting and they have no clue! My task is to educate all DJs and selectas who they are playing with when they step up to the turntables or CD players and mixers that did not know before. I want fans of reggae music to know when they are in the presence of ‘reggae royalty’. African Star is Reggae Royalty!
I met African Star officially for the first time ~ obviously known of him for years ~ NYE 2013 as he came on invitation to spin from Briggidier Kingsly of Jah International sound system along with Soul Survival. I listened to and watched his work and it is blatantly obvious that this idren was an original! I didn’t know his full history ~and I still don’t ~ but I had to dig a little deeper to find out about Star and quickly realized that I was dealing with someone of legendary status. His work and contribution to reggae music knows no bounds. A man whose phone list include personal friends like Snoop Dogg aka Snoop Lion, DMX, Russell Simmons, Capleton, Super Cat, Ninjaman, Shabba Ranks and many more because he actually worked with these people over the years. Some like Capleton, Early B, Shabba and Ninja, African Star aided or launched their careers and these artists will tell you so themselves, except for Early B who is unfortunately no longer with us. These things I have learned recently from Star himself yet went home and researched them for myself on the net and found them to be exactly the truth.
For instance the song “Tour” by Capleton, (used in this bio pic) one reggae version that featured Sly & Robbie, was remixed by Lil Jon from a Slick Rick tune for Star while he was signed to the Def Jam label. Yes African Star was signed to Def Jam and still maintains his relationship with Russell Simmons. EVERY selecta / DJ in the WORLD has this tune in their box and light up nuff dance with it! Raspect to de Fyah Man, Ras Shango, Capleton working with African Star at that time for this gem. A mix off roots, Rastafari, dancehall and hip hop. Got to love the innovation!
Since that initial meeting where all I did was hail him when he walked in and no other contact until months later where I’d call him from time to time to come and spin tunes at The Lion’s Den and he has never refused! With all of his big name, he comes to simply spin music. The man LOVES to spin music! He LIVES to spin music! With everything else that he does, he just loves to spin to 5 or 5,000...makes no difference to him. He is truly a unique individual. He kept it simple and still does. DJ play music! A dat him do!
Knowing how camera shy and ‘word shy’ he is, I decided to go hang with him up on Eglinton at his store “Staff of Life” where I get great knowledge of health foods, nuts, Morenga seeds, silver water and a host of herbal uses and listened whenever he spewed experiences that seemed too farfetched to believe yet you know from his history that he actually lived that life. A man who has lived from Houston , Texas / New York / Ghana, Africa / Jamaica and Canada and spun music as far as Japan several times among other European spots. A man who has paid the ultimate price for his music when he was shot five times back in his Houston (1982ish) days, spent eight days in a coma and when he woke, put on his clothes, avoided the authorities and hospital staff walked out of the Houston hospital, got on a plane and flew home to Toronto to seek ‘home care’ confirmed story by his brother Rico (Richard). I saw all of the bullet holes!
His recovery is still ongoing. As an ex-Olympian qualifying for the 1976 Montreal games to represent Jamaica in cycling, Star was also a strong swimmer as well as a footballer. His years of training and fitness, and dogged determination has aided in his recovery to date and where he was once bent over from the injury and pain and unable to straighten his right hand, he now walks straight upright and right hand straightened. He still does not have a hundred percent use of his right arm so he and “Sugar Finger”, Star’s toaster, who will work the set very seamlessly night after night and blaze up any dance!
Why did you move to Ghana, Star? “Ghana is the gate of Zion”, African Star said to me. The music gave him a greater, deeper insight to this world and he went where it took him....Ghana / Africa where he stayed for almost five years. They still miss him.
He is African Star!
As a fan of reggae music, whenever I’m at a jam and the selecta / DJ is spinning, it isn’t just about picking up any old record or more accurately picking random tunes and playing them. The good ones or in Star’s case, the great ones have themes, messages, eras, styles, riddims, politics, history, comedy, love, war and while he plays, he takes you on a musical, reggae journey or several journeys before he is done with you. And he almost always has a surprise track, sometimes from a totally different genre. The man has dubplates and specials from any artist from any and every era on riddims and genres that most will never even know, from the seventies soul group The Chi-lites to the the Rastafari group Abyssinians to the Marley brothers who rarely give dubs to anyone. He gets specials and dubs sent to him for free, by big name artists where others have to pay for the same work because the Star is well respected by other reggae legends and they pay homage to a great selecta. Listened to a few specials just today and I am still shaking my head at the names.
I am not writing a biography of African Star because that will take PAGES of information that I neither have the time or ability to write, yet what I take seriously is my responsibility to educate the Canadian as well as worldwide reggae massive to a legend in their midst and to grab the opportunities to take him in whenever he’s working! Not much can test him in this country or any other.
From his office in Kingston, Jamaica to his store here in Toronto, African Star is a successful businessman, Rastaman, where reggae music is his life and kept true to himself doing what he was born to do. Spin music!
I count myself as one of the fortunate ones to be a part of his journey.
Praises to H.I.M.
Germawi Qedmawi, Haile Selassie 1st
Tunes in the Biopic
“Declaration of Rights” ~ Abyssinians
“Tour” ~ Capleton / Lil Jon / African Star
“Reggae Music” ~ Morgan Heritage