Sometime in middle school, whenever Ini Kamoze’s “Here Comes The Hotstepper” took over the radio, I ended up getting a cassette dancehall compilation – possibly from a Philly gas station – that blew my mind.
Ninjaman, Buju, Super Cat… I kind of got obsessed.
Which is a weird flag for a suburban middle school kid to pick up. But it combined the energy of the punk bands I loved, with the sounds and syncopations of the rap acts, and the soul of the… soul? Yeah. Middle school is a confusing and curious time.
I’ve been on a dancehall kick lately, and my love for the mid-80s to mid-90s era is back. Part of me wonders what the neighbors think. Another part of me is amused by spending a lifetime wondering what the neighbors think, not because I care anymore, but because I wonder what story they tell themselves to make sense of a story I can’t even make sense of.
I’ve owned Super Cat’s masterpiece Don Dada on cassette and CD. In the pantheon of influence, it’s one of those albums I get very, very, ok – a little bit TOO excited over. His crossover in the early 90s from the Jamaican scene to New York helped alter the path rap music, fashion, and feel were on. It’s a big deal. On multiple levels.
Super Cat never really became a household name, but he’s stayed a lesser-known god nonetheless. His influence is massive. His gravitational pull is unmistakable once you detect it.
The Vault podcast did a feature on this album and it’s full of incredible trivia, including some talk about the impact on Bad Boy records (like how Puffy and Biggie start changing the way they’re dressing, from hoodies to silk shirts and pinstripe suits courtesy of Super Cat’s influence).
Listen to “The Vault: Super Cat: Don Dada (1992)” podcast here, and just for good measure, turn these UP. Baby Biggie on the remix in the second video is so good too.