LargeUp Interview: Super Beagle on “Dust A Sound Bwoy” + Kanye’s “Mercy”
As a teenager growing up in Kingston, my afterschool job was at Techniques Records, where I auditioned artists, sold records, and spent many evenings recording dubplates for overseas customers with sound systems. Artists like Super Beagle, Baby Wayne, Capleton and Buju Banton hung around the store while waiting their turn to record for Winston Riley, the proprietor and producer of the legendary label. Many of us became friends, going to dub studios, writing and practicing songs for the day they would step behind the microphone.
Riley, who had produced “Double Barrel,” the second Jamaican song to go to top the British charts, and other hits including Johnny Osbourne’s “Come Back Darling,” General Echo’s “Arleen,” Tenor Saw’s “Ring The Alarm,” and Super Cat’s “Boops” was not easily impressed—even by artists that already had songs on the road that were selling. When he finally heard and approved Super Beagle’s “Dust a Soundboy” lyrics, he once again opened his vault and lifted out his 24-track Ampex tape with the Stalag rhythm that had already given him numerous hits. We all knew that this was another guaranteed hit. But the icing on the cake for “Dust a Soundboy” was Fuzzy Jones’s intro, with his haunting vocal, like that of an ancient seer, predicting death and destruction to anyone who did not heed his warning: “WELL! It is a weeping and a moaning and a gnashing of teeth in the dancehall and who don’t have teeth gweh rub pan dem gum.”
Move forward to 2012 and one of the hottest songs on the radio is Kanye West’s “Mercy” featuring the same Fuzzy Jones intro from Super Beagle’s “Dust a Sound Boy.” I had to call up Beagle to get his feedback on Kanye sampling his biggest song. The result is more of a stroll down memory lane than an interview, as we compared memories of our days at Techniques Records on Chancery Lane, Arrows Dub Studio, and where it all began for Buju Banton. Photos were shot in and around Super Beagle’s neighborhood in Portmore.