"It's A Survival Story" - Baby Cham's Ghetto Story


babycham2.jpgThere are a million stories in the ghetto. And yet there's only one "Ghetto Story." And like the song says, it's a survival story.

In Jamaica's ultra-competitive music scene, stars are born every day and fade away just as fast. But ever since the mid 1990s, Baby Cham has represented the best of cutting-edge dancehall reggae. His every release seems to bring forth new sounds, new slang, and up-to-the minute ghetto news reports guaranteed to "bust the dance." Spelled with a C (like champagne), Cham should not be confused with any Flipmode Squad affiliate, although he has been known to bust a rhyme from time to time.

With his athletic good looks, his booming baritone voice, and a catalog of hits that won't quit, Cham has managed to stay ahead of the times for longer than any other DJ in the game. And with the release of his long-awaited album Ghetto Story, Cham's poised to take dancehall to another level all over again.

Born and raised in Kingston Jamaica, young Damian Beckett survived his share of rough times along the way from Sherlock Crescent to Waterhouse. His love of music outweighed his talent for football and from his teenage years he devoted himself to developing his microphone skills.

Working closely with the Mad People Gang, a.k.a. Madhouse Productions, Cham blazed a trail of hardcore classics like "Many Many," "Boom Tune," and "Man & Man," which were collected on his impeccable 2000 debut album Wow: The Story. "That album opened a whole heap of doors," Cham reflects. "But at the same time a lot of doors were closed on me. We had the biggest song in dancehall but at the time some industry heads were claiming that 'dancehall can't do this' and 'dancehall can't do that.'"

Any such doubts were laid to rest in 2003 by Cham's crossover hit "Vitamin S," a boisterous bedroom boast bouncing to the beat of Madhouse's irresistible "Fiesta" riddim. The tune jumped from Jamaican sound systems to worldwide radio and club play, mesmerizing the hip-hop massive and proving beyond question that the raw uncut sounds of Kingston's dancehalls could rock the world. Cham soon signed a deal with Atlantic Records, home to Jamaican hitmaker Sean Paul and Yankee rap stars like Lil' Kim and Fat Joe. But his story was just beginning.

Rather than rushing to cash in with a quick & dirty CD, Cham and Madhouse mastermind Dave "The Stranger" Kelly took their time to make sure that the new album would be up to standard. The creative force behind records like "Bogle" by Buju Banton, "Action" by Terror Fabulous & Nadine Sutherland, and "Dude" by Beenie Man & Ms. Thing, Kelly overstands how to conjur up studio magic with Cham; the duo enjoys the sort of rare creative chemistry enjoyed by the likes of Dre and Snoop, but in a dancehall context. "Me and him click," says Cham. "We'll be writing, and he'll want a word, and by the time he's supposed to say it, I'm sayin' it."