Where Old Hope Road becomes Gordon Town Road we slip past Papine Park. Leaving the grid, the road soon follows the contour of the Hope River, which flows, unseen in the night, at the bottom of the slope dropping precipitously to our right. We are on our way to link Glen ‘Ice Cold’ Stone, an up-and-coming dancehall deejay, in Highlight View, a small settlement on the outskirts of Kingston in the foothills of Jamaica’s famed Blue Mountain range. Slowly ascending the pockmarked surface leading off the main road into the community, with no signs (and less light), music from a neighborhood session serves as the only guide to our destination. Stepping out of the car we’re greeted by Ice Cold’s crew and led up a steep hill terraced with concrete-filled truck tires conveniently doubling as makeshift steps.
At the summit we meet up with the man inside his home studio. As we talk he chops a handful of herb and, in what is an otherwise unlit room, the pre-production computer on the desk beside him provides just enough light for the task at hand (BlackBerrys temporarily illuminate the scene for a few quick photographs). From singing Junior Tucker songs at local treats as a youth to back-of-the-bus freestyle sessions during high school, Ice Cold has been performing as long as he can remember. Spurred on by friends to pursue music professionally after graduation, he has been known and loved in and around Papine as a deejay ever since. He has also enjoyed intermittent radio play in the island over the years — most notably for 2009’s Miss Those Days, a nostalgic paean to the eighties and nineties, which also spawned a beautifully shot video. A massive talent who is both prodigious with his output and patient with his career, Ice Cold continues to generate enough forward momentum to extend the hustle. Consistently recording new tracks throughout 2012 and with a small European tour with DJ Karim slated for next Spring, 2013 could well be his year.
For now, falling rain forces the group to relocate to the community barbershop down the hill — vacant because the barber also happens to be the soundman. Though the community was officially rechristened Highlight View years ago, most people still refer to it as Mud Town — a moniker earned for the mudslides endemic to the area during the rainy season. We climb down carefully. Inside the clapboard barbershop, raindrops against the zinc roof muffle the music coming from the soundsystem in the distance, and what starts as BlackBerry background music to the conversation quickly morphs into the soundtrack for a full-blown performance. While time and the vagaries of the music industry will dictate the specific course of Ice Cold’s career, nights like these live as testament to the energy of the music in the streets.