Stur-Mars Sound was started to push the agenda of The People's National Party (a Jamaican political party). Check the link:Next to Nicodemus it was Burro Banton who captured the imagination of patrons with a harder Dancehall disposition in the first half of the 80s. His icy and intimidating growl was tailor-made for gun talk and gut-wrenching tales of ghetto retribution. Like Ranking Joe, U Brown or Brigadier Jerry, Burro qualified as one of Jamaica’s quintessential live-deejays and his most impressive performances are scattered across a multitude of sound system tapes by Killamanjaro, Volcano and Stur-Mars.
This is Burro Banton's interview on Riddim Magazine outta Germany:
“I’m with Jaro for a while again ‘til Nicodemus come to Jamaica (summer `85). He was living in New York for a long time. Once he had his break in Jamaica he got his visa an’ left for America cah the first time he flew inna plane dem never let him into England, dem sent him back to Jamaica cah the paperwork jus’ never right. In those days when yuh go to a foreign country as a deejay yuh tell everybody I’m flyin’ out tomorrow! So when dem see him back on Monday after he was supposed to have left on Saturday, dem say Demus, man... yuh never leave! Just a Ochi (Ocho Rios) yuh gwaan a Jack Ruby’s (sound system), man. So the first time him go a New York him never come back, dat was around the time Yellowman get famous (1981)...
Anyway, Demus said to me that there’s a sound coming down from foreign, it’s a computer sound (meaning it could afford the latest state-of-the-art equipment) an’ the owner (Kenneth “Skengdon” Black, then based in Miami) waan’ Burro, Nicodemus, Supercat an’ General Trees fi deejay. That sound was Stur-Mars. The first time dem play a Jamaica, Demus carry me to Mandeville to check them out. I did half an’ hour there an’ I really get paid. I see this man come up to me an’ palm me. It was a good lickle tick. When I get the chance to count it I get 57 fifty-dollar bills… US money! An’ the guy’s asking me if I’m alright... I say Alright? (he raises his voice excitedly). Me waan’ go a me yard an’ tell Cat... So me leave an’ go home quick an’ give my girl three bills an’ tell her change it! Fix up the house! Buy a food an’ everyt’ing… Then mi go over Seaview (Gardens) fast where Cat live an’ wake him. Cat lived there with a girl named Sharon, so we call her Sharon Boops. She is the Boops (meaning Sharon inspired Supercat’s breakthrough 1986 hit “Boops”). When I go there me wake him an’ say Cat, wha’ gwaan? An’ him say, eeh, Jaro supposed to screw ‘bout last night cah me never come an’ work, but… cha’. So mi show him wha’ me get a Mandeville. I take three (notes) off the money an’ give Supercat an’ say that’s yours. Cat, the man waan’ yuh! Some time after dat me, Nicodemus an’ Supercat went to America together. I went in `87. Me really go up there to see if I could make it bigger...”
Just before the last boarding call for his flight I ask Burro if he regrets migrating to the US and he seems to freeze into a pillar of salt in front of the Air France check-in counter. Slowly he lets his bag slip to the ground and fixes me with a bewildered look. Strugglin’ for words, his hoarse and lazy drawl takes on an almost agonizing tone. “Yuh see, in those days I never see it (deejaying) as a career. I check it as a rude bwoy t’ing. So many youts dying from the gun in Jamaica… This is the only t’ing I could have done to save my life. I was a daily labourer... Afterwards in America I get to find out that this was my career an’ I didn’t know... Yeah, I could have been the man! But I never know dat this t’ing could get so big.”
© Ulli Gueldner 2005