In Jamaica, I like to think that the eighties pulled away from the seventies to the heated thump of a “Junjo” Lawes’ riddim. With Rudebwoy style, the one decade hot stepped away from the other to a soundtrack led by the new DJ styles of General Echo and Yellowman and the militant grace of singers like Half Pint and Barrington Levy. Stur-Grav, Killamanjaro, Youthman Promotions and Black Scorpio were pumping out tunes that re-affirmed the dignity and pride of the ghetto dwellers by speaking to its citizens in their own language of hope. And Jamaal Pete and Limoneous were creating a graphic parallel to the music – an art that sought its inspiration in the dancehalls that were the pride of Jamaican ghettos.
I know that I am simplifying things, but in many ways rub a dub moved away from seventies reggae by focusing on the physical space of the dancehall itself. As the violence eased up in Kingston, the dancehalls began to flourish once again and producers, singers and DJs began to create a music that spoke directly to the crowds who were packing events from the city to the countryside. As in the ska age, the new dancehall music brought us the joyous energy of people escaping their daily sufferration for a moment with the drive of riddim in its purest form.
Limoneous and Jamaal Pete became the graphic interpreters of dancehall music. In a relatively brief time they pumped out an endless stream of record covers, label designs and posters. Limoneous was the humorist – like a Jamaican Daumier, he was graphic and bold with a wide ranging ghetto humor that lovingly spoofed all ghetto people from self-important Dons to skinny men who love the fat gals and so much more – Hells Yes! Limoneous had horny rats, Frankie Paul on a donkey, bugged out nipples, huge asses, freaky horses, nympho mermaids, weed smoking Rastas, dirty higglers and every other type under the blazing Kingston sun.
Jamaal Pete, on the other hand, was the Ghetto Futurist. Like a one man time machine his deceptively sophisticated paintings ripped apart the barriers of distance and time landing Barry Brown in the Far East; casting Lone Ranger into the far reaches of Space; Ringo and Toyan pop up in the Old West while a Lion headed Rasta – two spliffs in hand – mans the microphone with the dignity of Jah himself.
If dancehall music re-affirmed the pride and dignity of Jamaica’s ghettos by creating a music that spoke the language of the people, Limoneous and Jamaal Pete did the same thing with their art. For a Jamaican underclass who had been ignored and derided by Jamaica’s mainstream media, a Limoneous cover elevated ghetto massive by showing that their lives, their energy, their humor were worthy of depiction. In the same manner, a Jamaal Pete cover spoke to the inner dignity of Ghetto people by lifting them from their earthly bonds and taking them beyond space and time to wherever their hopes and dreams lay.
So here's a bunch of Limonious and Jamaal Pete artwork for you to enjoy!