Old Yeller | Night & Day | South Florida | Broward Palm Beach New Times | The Leading Independent News Source in Broward-Palm Beach, Florida

Old Yeller

Y'all remember the words to "Zungguzungguguzungguzeng," don't you? "Nuff a dem a talk bout me nuh have nuh girlfriend/yuh a idiot bwoy, me have a hundred and ten."

Say you're born in Kingston, Jamaica -- but as an albino, a.k.a. a "dundus." Top that off with the fact that your parents left you at an orphanage. Do you go through life crying? Or do you change your name from Winston Foster to Yellowman, jump on stage, and sing "Ice cream and Jell-O, tell me if you love King Yellow"? Of course you do.

Back in the early '80s, when everybody was crying about Bob Marley's death and predicting the end of the worldwide love affair with reggae, Yellow started toasting (the reggae version of rapping) at sound systems, making fun of himself (sort of), bragging about his sexual conquests, and ushering in a new style called dancehall. He was dubbed the "Godfather of Dancehall" and became the most popular deejay of the decade.

Yellow took some heat for his "slackness" or lewd lyrics, and he certainly didn't shy away from the Jamaican pastime of gay-bashing. But record sales emboldened him (he has moved more records than any other reggae artist besides Mr. Marley himself), and Grammy nominations helped his fragile ego too (his song "Reggae Get the Grammy" goes "They sight Steve Wonder them a take pictures.../As they sight Yellowman, them say good looking"). But a cancer scare in the '90s put a little fear in him, and he got all Buju Banton on us, writing songs about peace, respect, God, and social justice.

A rejuvenated Old Yeller -- now pushing 50 -- brings good times to SoFla this Thursday. He is known to bounce non-stop for two hours and close the show singing, "Yellow like cheese, you can have me any way you please." So you might want to chug a Red Bull to keep up.

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Deirdra Funcheon

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