Shanty Town Determination - Trinity

Rasta Determination
Tradition
Fire Down A Town
Hold Them Jah Jah (extended)
Quarter Pound A Ishens
Promise Is A Comfort To A Fool
Natty Dread A No Bandooloo
Samson The Strongest Man
Z 90 (extended)
How Long Jah (extended)
Peace Conference In A Western Kingston
Fight It To The Top / Lively Tribulation
Blessed Are The Meek (discomix)
 
My name is Trinity, passin' through the community, in any vicinity. Strictly dancehall me a come from, the steel horn business - Tubby's, Tippertone, El Paso. Right now, me come from the ghetto, yuh hear me man?

By the middle of the 1970s the deejay boom initiated and developed by U-Roy at the end of the previous decade was proving to be much more than just a passing phase that many had predicted. Following U-Roy had come such as Dennis Alcapone, I-Roy, Prince Jazzbo; they in their turn inspired dozens more to take up the microphone in studio and dancehall all over the island. When Big youth came on the scene in early 1971, deejaying on Lord Tippertone Hi-Fi, he created a new style of toasting over the next few years that marked as decisive a break from previous styles as had U-Roy's break with the traditions of Count Machuki and King Stitt. It was lyrically freer, overtly Rasta, more concerned with chanting truth & rights rather than answering and jiving with the original song lyrics in the manner of U-Roy and Alcapone; perhaps the closest rival to Bob Marley, in impact if not sales, his fame easily matching that of dancehall singing stars like Dennis Brown and Johnny Clarke.

thus Big youth became the model for a new generation of deejays; among them a youth called Wade Brammer, who was born in Kingston's Jubilee hospital on the 10th February 1954. Wade would first take the professional name of Prince Glen, then - much more successfully - trinity, when he eventually followed Big Youth into the deejay business. But like many others, the sounds of the dancehall had formed the soundtrack to his adolescence.

I man did live in a community weh is a musical community, seen? At Two Mile, a place named Steel Lane. There you usually 'ave (sound systems like) Sir Percy The Welterweight, El Paso with Dennis Alcapone, Veejay The Dubmaster, Simit The Weapon, Soul Hombre, an' all dem sound deh. An' I-man usually t'ief out a I-man bed a night, when my mother asleep, an' go a the dance an' siddung an' watch the deejay dem, beca' only the deejay I did interes' in. I never did interes' in a the music, ca' the deejay dem usually 'ave a hold 'pon me. I don' know why, but I jus' love dat. An' I jus' find I tek on to it, an' start do it. Start deejay, as me 'ave me dinner - me 'ave the dumplin' in a me mout' an' start fire lyrics.

Mi mummy usually say: 'What is this madman - weh 'im a talk - how you mek so much noise, bwoy, go tek yuh (school) book'. Mi seh: 'Mummy, me love Big Yout', yunno?' She say; 'Big Yout'? You better go tek yuh book before I Big yout' YOU!'

However, in spite of this apparent opposition, it was for a friend of his mother, the producer Enos 'Musso' McLeod that he made his debut, 'Got To Believe In It'. This was followed by 'Mop Head Screw Face' with his friend, the deejay Dillinger, for producer Winston Edwards. Today, Trinity credits Dillinger as the one who led him into the music business and away from the rudeboy life. These early sides - cut in 1974 - were made under the name Prince Glen. In 1975, they collaborated on 'Bump Skank', a version of the 'Won't You Come Home' / 'In A Dis Ya Time' rhythm for Lloyd 'Spiderman' Campbell.

After these efforts. the pair made their way to Channel One Studio, owned by the Hookim brothers and named after their sound system (Dillinger had deejayed on the set). There, during 1975-76, in the Maxfield Avenue studio right in the heart of the ghetto, the sound of Channel One, propelled by drummer Sly Dunbar's new rockers beat, was beginning to run things. indeed, although Joe Gibbs and latterly, Tuff Gong, tried to challenge them, Channel one was the dominant Kingston studio for most of the next decade.

Following hits by I-Roy and Junior Byles the Mighty Diamonds vocal trio became unstoppable, with a string of successes for Channel One during late 1975 / early 1976. Along with similarly massive tunes like Leroy Smart's 'Ballistic Affair', John Holt's 'Up Park Camp', and instrumental sides by the Revolutionaries, the studio redefined the sound of Reggae in 1976. On the deejay side, Dillinger was the most successful in 1976, with tunes like 'CB 200', 'Plantation Heights', 'The General' and 'Cocaine'; the label also scored with half-dozen or so 45s by the U-Roy styled Ranking Trevor, then hot in the dancehall alongside U Brown and Nicodemus on Socialist Roots Hi-Fi.

Producer Jo Jo Hookim didn't like the name Prince Glen, claiming it sounded too petty; he renamed him Trinity, and that was the name which appeared on the series of tunes he recorded in early 1976: Dillinger tek me to Channel One. Jo Jo see me an' 'im say, 'Bwoy, weh yu name?'An' I say, 'Prince Glen'. He say, 'I don't like dat name deh, dat name sound too cheap. I'm gonna look in a the bible an' find a name fi yuh'. An' I like the name. So I do a song name 'All Gone All Gone, but me life nah gone', 'Set Up Yourself', 'School Days'.

These sides show that Trinity was fully capable of taking the basic Big Youth style and representing it on the most up-to-date dancehall rhythms; the tunes he cut around the same time for Yabby You - like 'River To The Bank' and 'No Make Up In Zion' - showed he could add something to deeper roots rhythms. This ability didn't go unnoticed by other producers and entrepreneurs - it was with the more dancehall orientated productions of Joe Gibbs that he would really make his name. Gibbs at this time was the main rival to Channel One, operating out of his new studio on Retirement Crescent. He called his session band the professionals, although it was virtually the same personnel as Channel One's Revolutionaries; Sly Dunbar was the crucial Drummer in both bands. Gibbs had also secured the services of the gifted engineer Errol 'ET' Thompson.

Joe Gibbs 'ear me, an' tell Errol 'Boy, me want two tune off a dat youth, I wonder if we can tek 'im 'way from Channel One?' Well, dem send a youth name Chunny, a little engineer. An' 'im tek me from down Channel One, an' that's Jo Jo vex! Vex wid ME, an' so me cyaan go back down Channel One, ca 'im, mout' long up an' ting.

Trinity also voiced 'Shanty Town Determination' for Yabby You around the same time; apparently the set was to be brokered to Virgin by 'Prince' Tony Robinson, who was then dealing with the UK label on his Big Youth and U-Roy sets.By the end of 1976, nothing much had happened, Trinity and his friend Dillinger, still dependent on their hustling ability, were in Joe Gibbs Record Shop, looking to record:

So, the day I go down Joe Gibbs store a North Parade, me say: 'Mister T (Errol 'ET' Thompson, engineer for Joe Gibbs), me like the tune 'I'm Still In Love' yunno, me can deejay 'pon it' An' 'im say - 'im talk slightly like a girl - 'im say: 'No, me nah want no more deejay, we all right'. Me say: 'Well play the riddim, beca' I-man feel like me 'ave the hit tune fi the riddim'. An' 'im say: 'No suh!' An' is like - Jah  - the riddim start play 'pon the turntable in a the shop, an' me say:
'The sound's call me three-piece suit an' ting, say love is all I bring',
So don't be like a puppet on a string,
All you got to do is sing'
And Marcia Aitken voice come in an' say:
'I'm still in love with you boy'.
An' me say:
'So I say, an' I will never let you go away
You should a see me an' the big fat ting
In a mi t'ree piece suit an' ting
Tell you when I dub her in a Constant Spring
In a mi diamond socks an' ting'
An 'im (ET) say:
A weh you call yourself?'
Me say: 'Trinity'
'Im say: 'A my BMW dat, gwan go siddung in a it - we go do it NOW - bwoy, you really change mi mind, that one yah gone...' So me go in a the car, go siddung. When we go up the studio, 'im seh 'Bwoy, yuh nah want nuttin' fi eat?' Me say: 'Yes suh!' - dem times deh, me a sufferer still me cyaan even find tea. 'Im gi me about two 20 dollar bill - dem time food did cheap, you could get a food in a restaurant fi all 15 dollar or 10 dollar. Me go an' buy a cowfoot, an' Dillinger look 'pon me an' say: 'Boy, John, I hope yuh nah bodda let me down today, me did confident you'. An' me say 'Nah worry yuh self man', an' me an' 'im go buy two food, an' me drink a Red Stripe an' 'im drink a sof' drink an' the two a we eat the cowfoot. A the quickest cowfoot me eat off, ca' me really wan' go do the tune. Me reach up a the studio, an' me go up deh an' see Errol have the tape on the machine. 'Im say 'You ready?' Me say: 'Yes man, long time man'. Me go round the mike now, an' the riddim roll in; me start mash it up, an' me see the whol' studio erup'(t). When me done do it, me come round a the control room. Me 'ear a bredda name Stafford from England say: 'Me want 500 a that tune Errol, that tiune a hit', An' mi head jus' grow BIG!

The tune came out shortly after, reputedly selling 10,000 copies in its first week of release, with many of these being export sales to the UK and USA. Trinity followed this up with 'John Saw Them Coming', over Gibbs' version of the Wailers' 'Hypocrites' rhythm and 'Starsky & Hutch' on the studio cut of 'Death In The Arena'. trinity - along with his spar Dillinger - became the hottest deejay on the island; he signed a contract with Gibbs to do an album, released late that year as 'Three Piece Suit' and containing all his early hits for the producer. Gibbs had also recorded the girl duo Althia & Donna on a version of 'Three Piece Suit' - called 'Uptown Top Ranking'. Althia & Donna's version used Trinity's melody and rhyme pattern to carry their own lyrics, an early 'girl power' statement, yard style, which substituted girls' clothes - a halter back and heels - for the three piece suit and diamond socks of Trinity's version. But Althia & Donna's version sold by the cartload, crossing over to the pop market; it made No.1 in the UK chart and soared high on other European charts late in 1977.

Only trinity's youthful naiveté - me was a fool, a dunce to the business - prevented him then from taking advantage of his ability to originate highly commercial melodies and hooks, inspired by then current ghetto 'style and fashion'. Trinity's own style became a blueprint for many dancehall deejays well into the 1980s including such as Ranking Toyan, Lui Lepke, Johnny Ringo. In the late 1970s, Trinity recorded hundreds of sides for many producers; he also started his own label Flag Man, recording not only himself and Dillinger, but also youth singers like Dave Robinson and Michael Black. Indeed, Trinity was one of the first to recognise the talent of Barrington Levy, carrying the singer to a stage show at Scout Headquarters in 1978.

During 1977 he scored big hits for Winston Riley ('Three Meals A Day' and 'Pomp & Pride'), as well as continuing his association with Yabby You, cutting excellent 45s like 'Peace Treaty In A Western Kingston', 'Yabby You Sound' (aka 'Jesus Dread') and the 12" 'Chant Down Babylon' (the latter two available on BAFCD 021 'Jesus Dread').

Well me start deal with Yabby You now, an' do some tune fi Yabby You - 'Yabby You Sound 'an' some other songs, an' me an' Yabby do some lickle work. But Yabby never pay nothin', is jus' a family business. We a work together to build an organisation. From deh me a start some one-one tunes fi meself, 'pon the Flag Man label.

Among others, Trinity cut 'Vampire' and 'Gwan & Lef Me' (also on BAFCD 021) for his Flag Man imprint; he also recorded albums for Bunny Lee, Channel One and Oak Sound (UK).

'Shanty town Determination' reveals the 22 year old Trinity in mature cultural mode, riding some of Yabby You's deepest roots rhythms, including further cuts of the producer's classic 'Conquering Lion' ('Samson The Strongest Man'), 'Fire In A Kingston' ('Promise Is A Comfort To A Fool') and a superb toast on a horns cut of Wayne Wade's 'Man Of The Living' ('Rasta Determination'); the original album (tracks 1-8 on this disc) still retains its freshness and a powerful coherence. In its initial vinyl incarnation, the set made a brief appearance in 1977 before disappearing completely; less than 1000 copies were pressed - on Prince Tony's 'TR Groovemaster' imprint - at the time.

For this reissue we have added 5 tracks, including the previously mentioned 'Peace Treat In A Western Kingston'. The other 4 tracks are in extended form: 'Z 90' is Trinity's homage to his main inspiration, Big Youth. The deejay updates the 'S 90' classic over a tough 1976 recut of the Keith Hudson rhythm that underpinned the original. 'How Long Jah' is a version of a Prophets song - like 'Z 90', it comes with a Prince Jammy-mixed dub. 'Lively Tribulation' is the deejay's version of Michael Prophet's take on the Heptones 'Fight It To The Top', while 'Blessed Are The Meek' updates Slim smith's 'The Beatitude'.

In the 1980s Trinity pursued a separate simultaneous career as a singer, releasing singles and albums under the name Junior Brammer; by the 1990s he was a fixture on the revival and veteran show on the Jamaican and Caribbean circuit. He continues recording right up to the present, cutting an album with U brown and Ranking Joe for UK roots producer Jah Warrior in December 1999, during his first European tour for many years. As well as re-pressing his back catalogue, he will be also touring with the Blood & Fire Sound System later in 2000. Always one of the more musically creative deejays on the scene, Trinity recognised his calling long ago; he remains philosophical about his relative lack of reward:

'Music is not a ting weh you jus' jump up an' say you a go do - is an ART! God children no get nuthin' quick - 'im a fi work hard fi it, nothin' nah come to Jah pickney too quick. You see man jump up an' get tings quick - a material tings, it nah mean that you 'ave blessin' more than the man who don't 'ave it, yunno? Beca' you can 'ave material things today, an' tomorrow it fade 'way, seen? A de inner feelins, the INNER power. Remember, Satan control all a the material ting, while Jah control the bird an' the bees an' the nature, an' the TIMER, which RULE material tings! So all a dem deejay weh come up an' say I an I inna the business from the seventies an' we nah drive no fancy car - it's not really (about) dat. Jah children not get certain ting too quick beca' Satan hate you an' kill you fi it, through envy of you. So it better dem go a front an' we come from back, easy. Ca' when Jah deh pon earth, 'im trod earth an' preach righteousness. 'Im never preach you fi drive Benz and BMW - man fi 'ave dem tings but you no fi rush nor kill you bredda fi it. You fi jus' go on, beca' survival a de game'.
Steve Barrow - February 2000
 
© Blood & Fire