Skullman Says Don't Violate


SKULL_MAN.jpgSkullman is back with a bang. The deejay's latest hit, 'Don't Violate' has been scorching the airwaves like a US military strike over Baghdad in recent times.

While the big hit, 'Stuck' helped to define Skullman's career in the 1980s, he has not remained 'stuck in time', but has constantly evolved to keep pace with the dynamic demands of dancehall music, penning new favourites for music lovers of every generation. The song 'Don't Violate has earned him major props at stage shows across the island, and given Skullman his second taste of mainstream success.

Earlier this year, he signed a contract with the RJR Communications Group to do an islandwide tour called the 'Cross Country Invasion'. He appeared on 54 shows across the island.

"Mi love how the people dem respond to me right across the island, it was like mi launch mi career all over again, and then I tried a song I have called, 'Don't Violate', and the place lift up each time the way the people dem love the tune, mi know say it gone, this is going to be my next hit," he said.

He has also been doing a lot of work with famous Coolie Dance producer, Cordell 'Skatta' Burrell, as he seeks to redefine his sound for the 21st century.

The Spanish Town-based 'Skullman', born Paul Bartley, is a past student of Kingston College where he was an excellent athlete, excelling in various sports. However, it was music which was his true calling. He ventured into music in 1985, scoring immediate success when he won the St Catherine leg of the Deejay Championship of the Jamaica Festival competition in 1985 with March To Africa.

However, it was not until he sang the introductory, 'Me Name Skullman' that he began to generate a buzz in the dancehall.

"I got the name from the original Skull gang fro Kingston which was based outta East Kingston. Ah man did say me look like one of the Skull gang, and after that, me call myself Papa Skull, and then me create the new style called 'Stuck', and I changed my name to Skullman," he told Xtra Entertainment.

And then, his career rocketed into the next stratosphere. Skullman’s catchy original 'Stuck' inspired deejay Early Black to pen a song of the same name, and Early Black's version with the line, 'Follow me do the new dance...Stuck' became a monster hit, even spawning a dance of the same name.

"When I bussed the talk, 'Stuck', I told everybody that in six months, every deejay ah go talk like this, and it happened just like that," he said.

The 'Stuck' songs started a good-natured rivalry between Early Black and Skullman.

"When Early Black did 'Stuck' and put the dance style on it, it took off more than my original 'Stuck', maybe because it was on Dennis Star label, a big label at the time, it sold more than mine, and then that forced me to go out there and defend it," he said.

He did a counteraction called 'Buck' and followed that up with 'Run Outta Luck' for King Tubbys, a single that peaked at number seven on the local charts.

"For a while, we had a little thing going, Early Black had heard that Skullman was looking for him, and because of the name, he was probably a little fearful of me, but I sat him down and explained to him, no violence, ah just music, but this is what I was going to do, that I was going to brush him up a little, he never really liked the idea, but I had to do it, me affi mek the people know that I am the original," he said.

He says he hasn't seen Early Black in years but added in a jocular voice that 'probably he was stuck somewhere'.


In 1989, Skullman followed up with other hit singles, 'Turbo me Turbo', produced by Dennis Star, and 'Jump and Spread Out and Stop' on the Pickout label. He also created an impression with 'Je T' aime' (French for 'I love you') on Sly and Robbie's hugely-successful Bhangara compilation album, which also includes the monster hit, 'Murder She Wrote' by Chaka Demus and Pliers.

As the 1990s rumbled around, Skullman found that he had fallen out of vogue with producers who were more interested in other upcoming acts. He was forced to find other ways to survive

"You have to help yourself, after a while, I found that no producers wanted to work with me, so I had to do things on my own. I was forced to produce my own songs, and I started to keep my own show, 'Border Clash'," he said.

The popular Border Clash series of concerts were held at Coney Park in the early 1990s, and then he switched to producing in the mid-1990s when he launched his first label, Border Clash. Its first release was 'Sneeze', which was followed by ‘Hold Up Your Hand' and 'Show Me'.

"It's been a hard struggle with the producing, as an artiste, I never really learned how to do it well, me can deejay over rhymes and stuff, but it is only when I meet up with a good producer that I can find the hit songs, that's why me always looking for one," he said.

Over the years, Skullman has performed solo all over the world in various locales such as London, England, Miami Florida, as well as states such as Connecticut and New York. He has also performed in Grand Cayman, Bermuda and Antigua.

"I've always worked alone, with one exception in 1993, I think it was, when I did a Skullman in concert featuring Shaggy, Worl-A-Girls and Sugar Man in Bermuda," he said.

Last year, Skullman scored a minor hit with 'New Dance...Stop' which peaked at #4 on Suzie Q's 'Reggae Train' video top ten, and hit #9 on the RJR charts.

This was the first indication that Skullman's career may indeed be on the rise again, especially given the advance buzz on his new single, 'Don't Violate' on the Full 100 label which has become a favourite at stage shows across the country.

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