The Veteran Toaster/Deejay Is Still Going Strong!
Born in Kingston, Jamaica as Manley Augustus Buchanan, he arrived on the music scene during the time that U-Roy, Dennis Alcapone and I-Roy held the keys to ‘toasting’ (deejay) city. However, being a man with his own message to convey, he quickly established his own style of toasting that set him apart from the rest. “I listened to a lot of singers like Dionne Warwick and the Supremes when I was growing up and I would practice singing their songs”, he reminisced. “As I got older, I began to listen to John Holt and The Paragons and others from back then, they were all an influence to me”.
Despite working with several top-notch Reggae producers during his earlier recordings, he didn't have much success with his many releases. Things began to happen, however, when he recorded the lyrics, ‘if you're coming from far, in a bus or a car, I beg you make love and not war. Cause I'm so sad to say, that when you deal with war, you'll have to stay far…’. “People loved that song and they requested it constantly on the radio”, he said. “The next song I did was ‘Black Cinderella’, produced by Errol Dunkley, and things really went crazy for me”. Shortly after this, Big Youth (who converted to a Rastafarian in his late teens) was involved in an accident that left him unconscious for seven hours; when he came around he had a vision that told him to ‘tell the world about the teachings of Rastafari, letting them know that Jah was there for them’. The following week, taking the accident as a conscious sign, he wrote the lyrics, ‘if you ride like lightning, you'll crash like thunder...’. The song ‘Ride Like Thunder’ was born followed by his next release, ‘Chi Chi Run’ (a cut over the rhythm of John Holt's ‘Rain From The Skies’). Within a short space of time, he had seven songs on the charts and the Reggae world referring to him as the ‘new phenomenon’!
Jah Youth couldn't be stopped as he released hit after hit, maintaining a stronghold on the local charts. Among his other popular releases were: ‘A So We Stay’ (a version of Dennis Brown's ‘Money In My Pocket’), ‘Dread Inna Babylon’, ‘Johnny Dead’, ‘Leggo Beast’ and the Soul classics, ‘Touch Me In The Morning’, ‘Papa Was A Rolling Stone’, ‘Love And Happiness’ plus many more. 1973 saw the release of Big Youth’s debut album, ‘Screaming Target’ and the albums ‘Reggae Phenomenon’, ‘Dreadlocks Dread’, ‘Hit The Road Jack’, ‘Natty Universal Dread,’ ‘Chanting’, ‘Free South Africa’ and ‘Higher Grounds’ followed with others stuffed in-between. All of them, while lyrically unique were crammed with thought provoking Roots & Cultural toasts, instrumental Dubs and classic rhythms from the man who became a master on every topic and entranced the nation.
Not stopping there, the creative Toaster/Deejay took a cameo role in the 1976 movie, ‘Rockers’. In one memorable scene, he steps out of a flashy car and dons his distinctive smile as his long dreads whip around his face. Big Youth’s album titled ‘Misinterpretation’ is a declaration from him to clear often misinterpreted statements and to allow people to understand his real message. “That's been my mission from the beginning and I continuously wonder why people won't come together. Race, colour, class and creed should not matter”, he stressed. “If you think someone hates you, you should show him love because it's about good over evil and love will conquer all”.