Known for adapting his keen story telling skills and wit into a succession of number one dancehall hits, Jamaican deejay (rapper) Kiprich is set to broaden his already vast fan base with his smash single “Party Time,” an energetic fusion of thumping techno bass lines and searing rock guitar riffs meshed into a hip-hop infused dancehall rhythm track, over which Kiprich loops his mesmerizing rapid-fire rhymes. An irresistible dance floor enticer, “Party Time” is already topping selectors’ play lists from New York to Negril, while establishing an entirely different direction for this multitalented artist.
“People have never heard me this way,” says Kiprich about the song that is poised to bring him much deserved crossover success. “I am just trying something new to put my music out there and breakthrough to another market.” “Party Time” is the first single from Kiprich’s as-of-yet untitled third album, his first for Miami-based independent, Togetherness Records, which is scheduled for a mid 2010 release. Togetherness released dancehall artist Anthony B’s Untouchable in 2004, which introduced him to a hip-hop audience through successful collaborations with Wyclef Jean, Bone Crusher and Snoop Dogg, and they intend to similarly impact hip-hop and other crossover markets with Kiprich’s album without compromising the deejay’s Jamaican identity. “For this album we are looking to create a variety of songs that the world can relate to,” asserts Kiprich. “It will have dancehall mixed with other genres. It’s not just an around the corner type of thing or a down the lane type of thing, it’s a global thing.”
Kiprich was born Marlon Plunkett in the Waterhouse community of Kingston, Jamaica, the birthplace of several of reggae’s most successful acts including Grammy Award winners Beenie Man and roots singer Michael Rose. It is also the longstanding home of the legendary King Jammy’s recording studio where reggae’s first entirely digital rhythm track was created 26 years ago. Jammy’s was among the very first studios Marlon recorded in while still a teenager, using the moniker Crazy Kid, prior to taking the name Kiprich, which is Jamaican patois for keeping rich.
Throughout his teens, Marlon recorded for several of Jamaica’s most successful producers including Steely and Clevie and Black Scorpio; their encouragement prompted Kippo, as he is affectionately known, to take his vocal and writing talents more seriously. “Those are some big names in the reggae business,” he observes, “and I thought if they are taking the time out to record me on their rhythms while I am still in school then I must have something!” Kiprich moved to England for two years. His family wanted him to study law but he nonetheless focused his professional aspirations on music; when he returned to Jamaica, he pursued his career goals with greater discipline.
At Kingston’s Big Ship studio, Kippo introduced himself to ace sound system selector, Tony Matterhorn, who was impressed by his vocal talents. “From that time, people were saying whoa, this artist is bad, his style is different,” Kiprich recalls. “A producer who was in the studio at that time (Mark Hudson of Stone Cold Productions) took my number and we hooked up from there.” Their resultant collaboration “Leggo Di Bwoy”, released in 1999, was Kiprich’s first number one single in Jamaica and it brought the fledgling artist opportunities to tour the US and Europe, mainly as a supporting act for dancehall mega star (and former Bad Boy Records’ artist) Elephant Man. Kiprich wrote Elephant Man’s hit “Jook Gal” and was featured on the remix of the song, which peaked at number 20 on the Billboard R&B/ Hip-Hop Chart.
With the arrival of the new millennium, Kiprich amassed a succession of dancehall hits including “Real Bad Man,” the Jamaican chart topper “Mad Sick Head No Good” (featuring Predator) and one of the biggest hits of the ‘00s “Telephone Ting,” produced by (Shaggy’s manager) Robert Livingston and released on Shaggy/Livingston’s Kingston-based Big Yard label. “Telephone Ting,” which portrays the problems that arise in relationships due to the sophisticated technology (read: irrefutable evidence) intrinsic to mobile phone usage, quickly attained popularity across Jamaica, then reached number one on the South Florida and New York reggae charts, in the eastern Caribbean island of St. Vincent and in the African nation of Kenya.
The greatest testament to the song’s popularity, however, was the many answer tunes it spawned, culminating in Kippo’s “The Letter,” an engaging country and western-reggae hybrid that cleverly details his return to basic forms of correspondence with his girlfriends, devoid of a digital footprint. Both songs, featured on his 2005 debut album Outta Road (Big Yard/VP Records), propelled Kiprich’s career to a greater level of visibility while demonstrating the realistic, oftentimes humorous depictions of everyday situations that characterize his exceptional songwriting skills. “All of my songs aren’t necessarily my experiences, but they are things I see around me,” Kiprich offers. “I have written poems from the time I was a child and I knew I could turn them into songs just by observing and being attentive to everything around me.”
Kippo’s 2008 release Drama King, for Japan’s Pony Canyon label, includes the dancehall boom shot “Bun Fi Bun,” an illustration of an unwelcomed outcome surrounding marital infidelity, and the sultry R&B flavored “Forty and Over,” featuring veteran female deejay Junie Platinum portraying the cougar in a May/December relationship. Drama King increased Kiprich’s already immense popularity in Japan, where he has performed several times to tens of thousands of enthusiastic fans. Kiprich closed out the decade with another number one Jamaican single “Nuh Ugly So” (featuring deejay Black-er), a comical, upbeat tribute to women sung to a traditional Jamaican mento rhythm, which earned him two nominations (“Male Deejay of the Year” and “Collaboration of the Year”) at Jamaica’s 2010 Excellence in Music and Entertainment Awards (EME).
With his dancehall fan base firmly secured by more than 10 years worth of hits, Kiprich, encouraged by the vision and proven success of Togetherness Records, is now concentrating on penetrating the musical mainstream. Besides the dynamic, Togetherness Records produced “Party Time,” which is certain to become global dance anthem. Kiprich’s forthcoming album, recorded at Miami’s Hit Factory, will feature several songs that balance his dancehall reggae roots with the farther-reaching accessibility of pop, hip-hop and R&B. “This is the first time I am thinking that way about an album, intentionally targeting the crossover market,” he admits. “I am sure there is a market is out there for my music because my songs have already gone to number one in several countries. I listen to and know how to write in all different genres of music and anybody, no matter where they are from, can relate to the topics I write about.”