One prolific producer, Di Genius, has recalled what it was like to be caught in the middle of the infamous war in modern Dancehall that occurred between the Gaza camp, led by Vybz Kartel, and the Gully Camp, led by Mavado.
He revealed the details that led to him being the go-to producer during that gritty time in Dancehall while speaking on the YouTube channel, The Fix Podcast, on October 26. Di Genius, whose real name is Stephen McGregor, is a Grammy Award-Winning music producer, singer, and songwriter.
“I think a very specific situation was Ghetto Whiskey and ting and shoot the medley video for it. Dem time me and Kartel did par. We were going to the video shoot, me and Kartel ah drive I think, and I remember I was just like yo, what time Mavado and dem ah forward, dem dey ah collab on that and him was like him nah go forward and him just change the subject,” he said.
Following this, Di Genius said he started realizing that war was brewing between the two artistes. The producer said he was just excited to work so he paid no notice to the early signs of trouble.
The war that would soon follow built the careers of both artistes and was responsible for them achieving “legendary status” in Dancehall, he added.
He also believes that their fearlessness when competing on different rhythms helped them to grow individually and gain the skill set to climb to the top of Dancehall. This is one of the major differences that he sees in modern-day artistes, he continued. “The man dem so confident at the time, Kartel know say him bad, Mavado know say him bad, so no man ah go back down from it,” he said.
He also shared that he thinks his rhythms were so popular at the time because of the small circles that both Vybz Kartel and Mavado kept. He said if someone asked him to do a riddim in the morning by the evening someone from the other camp reached out to him.
Even though many people believe that he orchestrated who got the beats first, it was never that, he explained. Di Genius also explained that he was never under pressure by any one camp because both sides trusted him and knew that there was a producer and artiste confidentiality. He said this was made easier by the fact that both sides knew he was a fan of the music and not a specific artiste.
Eventually, the war began to dominate the airwaves so much that Di Genius said he started to feel like his work was in vain because all the other artistes were not getting any airplay.
He said he tried to fix this and used the Day Rave Riddim as an example.
He said after realizing that Day Rave was “bad” someone contacted Vybz Kartel and later on Mavado joined. He said thankfully in this case the rhythm was not dominated by the two main artistes. “From dem time me ah try steer them in a different direction.”
One good thing that came out of the war was that other deejays became more popular in other parts of the world while Vybz Kartel and Mavado continued to dominated Jamaican airwaves. He used TOK as an example saying that on one of the rhythms, they had a popular hit in Europe that was not really known in Jamaica.
Di Genius also debunked the belief that Kartel often pressured him into riding rhythms with several different songs. He explained that sometimes a song would be discarded by Kartel and he would keep building the rhythm until Kartel heard it again and he would keep it the second time around.
What’s really amazing about this time is that he was just a teenager still in school. In fact, Di Genius recalled that the first time he recorded Kartel, he was in his school uniform.