Violence and raw sexual imagery. Those values seemingly pervade the Jamaican popular music space, but there are a few individuals, both behind and before the microphone, determined to change this predominance of offensive lyrics and return a sense of humour and wholesome fun to the dancehall. One such is Courtney Broughton, now better known to the entertainment world as Phood (as in “Food”) Kartell.
He was born and initially raised in the parish of Trelawny, but then moved to tough Kingston neighbourhood of Denham Town, where he saw firsthand, the ravages of the systemic violence that plagues innercity communities. “Many of the guys that I grew up with and even used to hang with are dead now,” he states.
But Courtney managed to stay from the ‘fire’ that was consuming his community and instead, beginning in 1990, ventured down the path of entertainment, where he was first known as Courtney Sting. Eventually, he would leave Jamaica’s shores, spending some 12 years between the US and the UK.
Returning a few years ago, he resumed his entertainment career in earnest. The pivotal moment came when he heard his daughter singing along to one of the more explicit tracks by DJ Vybz Kartel. That set him resolutely on the path he is now on, doing both original tracks as well as putting fresh new lyrics to existing tracks. One which is enjoying the customary good rotation right now is Brown Stew Fish, which he is now seeking to complement with a music video.
“My tunes can play any where, without bleeps or without causing offense,” he says. And Phood Kartell has been building a growing following through smash performances at events across the island, including Follow mi Arrow, The Little Ochie Seafood festival, Spring Break, Kite Fest and the Hague Agro Show just to mention a few.
His agenda includes more singles and another raft of shows, but as he has for the past year or so, Phood Kartell will be keeping it clean, keeping it fun and keeping it fresh.