The Deep End

It's no secret that the music industry loves a good tale of adversity — just look at mainstream hip-hop and its archetypal story of the American ghetto. But for Jamaican reggae artist Cham, growing up on the bloody streets of Kingston was all too real. While he struggled in the streets, Cham (formerly known as "Baby Cham") found salvation in the dancehall, converting his love for the sidestepping beats into musical success.

With his rugged voice and distinctive crackle, Cham documented the bleakness of ghetto life in the epic dancehall masterpiece "Ghetto Story." The politicized picture Cham paints — one of a Jamaica wracked with poverty and violence — earned him a legion of fans as well as backlash from his motherland. The track was banned in the island nation this year. But getting the cold shoulder from his native country hasn't slowed Cham's momentum; he has officially crossed over into the U.S. market after Atlantic Records picked him up. The label has paired Cham with the likes of Alicia Keys and Akon, who have each recorded separate remix versions of "Ghetto Story." Keys' version, a wailing R&B infusion over the dancehall track, has just begun to build steam. Some have accused the remix of watering down the song's original message. Then again, isn't that what the music industry's for in the first place? Cham performs with Blood Shot, Clete, Young Rell, and a special guest appearance by Alicia Keys on Saturday, September 30, at Club Sin, 313 Clematis St., West Palm Beach. Doors open at 10 p.m. Tickets cost $25 to $35. Call 305-788-3495.

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John Linn