On January 7, 1976, the entertainer, dancehall artist, songwriter, and businessman known as Vybz Kartel was born in Kingston, Jamaica. Born Adidja Palmer, the entertainer has recorded under the Adidjahiem Records, Vice, Mixpak Records, Greensleeves Records labels. He is also referred to as “Worl’ Boss” and is recognized as one of the most skilled and prolific lyricists in the world. He has been a major popularizer of the dancehall genre. His singles recordings are known throughout the Caribbean and include “Ramping Shop” (2009), “Summer Time” and “Dancehall Hero” (2013). He collaborated with numerous global hip-hop and R&B artists, including Major Lazer, Rihanna and Jay Z. Kartel has been cited as the inspiration for the dancehall-influenced work of artists like Drake.
He began his career as a teenager in 1993 when he made his first recording “Love Fat Woman,” which was released under Alvin Reid’s label. It was recorded in homage to Buju Banton. He was later in a three-member group “Vybz Cartel,” and kept the name after the group disbanded. He became a protégé of Bounty Killer and claims to have written some 30 songs with him, including “Gal Clown.”
Kartel became prominent in 2003 following numerous hits in Jamaica. In that year, he participated in a planned on-stage clash with Ninjaman at the Sting dancehall festival in Portmore. The event turned violent when members of Kartel’s crew and Kartel himself punched and assaulted Ninjaman on stage. His manager placed the blame on Ninjaman, but Kartel apologized for the brawl. Four days after the incident, the two artists announced a settlement of their differences before the press.
From the start, Kartel released many albums under the Greensleeves label in the United Kingdom and created his own label with business partner and producer Ainsley “Notrice” Morris. Following a split with Bounty Killer’s Alliance in 2006, he joined the Portmore Empire, a group of dancehall deejays and singers from his hometown, singing them to his new Adidjahiem/Notnice Records label. These artists included Popcaan, Deva Bratt, Gaza Slim, Shawn Storm, Sheba, Gaza Indu, Tommy Lee, Singing Maxwell, Singa Blinga, Lenny Mattic, Lisa Hype, Gaza Kim, Blak Ryno, Jah Vinci, Dosa Medicine and Merital Family, Kartel launched his own liquor label in 2008.
Kartel’s song “Clarks” in 2010 was one of his biggest global successes and stayed among the top three reggae singles and having the most radio play in North America for 40 weeks. The success prompted him to establish his own shoe line named Addi’s and his own line of “cake soap” to be used for clothes. But was sometimes used for skin conditioning. The brand was designed for skin bleaching, however, which resulted in some controversy.
Kartel was arrested in September 2011 for marijuana possession, and he was later charged with the murder of Jamaican businessman Barrington Burton by Jamaica’s Major Investigation Taskforce, along with conspiracy and illegal possession of firearm charges. It was while he was in prison in 2012 that he released his book “The Voice of the Jamaican Ghetto,? Which was co-authored with Michael Dawson. Kartel was given ail on the Burton murder charge in 2012 but remained in jail due to connection with a second murder, the Clive “Lizard” Williams murder. He was charged with two others in this case, including Vanessa “Gaza Slim” Saddler/
In July 2011, he was found not guilty of the charge in Burton’s murder but was kept in jail pending trial on the Williams murder. He was ultimately convicted and sentenced to life in prison for the murder of Williams in April of 2014. He will be eligible for parole after he serves a minimum of 35 years. In spite of his incarceration, Kartel continues to release new music, providing more than 50 new songs in 2015 alone.
While in prison in 2012, Kartel’s book The Voice Of The Jamaican Ghetto: Incarcerated but not Silenced, co-written with Michael Dawson, was published. On the cover of his book, Kartel states “I pray this book helps to change Jamaica forever