Albinos, Yellowman will turn what some consider a physical disability into an asset and become the biggest dancehall star of the ’80s.
Yellowman was born Winston Foster in 1959 in Kingston. Albinos, he will turn his physical handicap into an asset and become the biggest dancehall star of the ’80s. But the road was hard to reach his artistic objectives. Indeed, Jamaican society is very hard on albinos. It is the fact that he fully assumes his disability by declaring himself, through his songs, sex-symbol and by using trivial, even vulgar lyrics (called slackness), that Yellowman becomes the favorite of the public on his native island.
Added to that, his original voice timbre, his very particular way of toasting, his sharp humor and his ability to make fun of others and himself will install him as the number one dancehall artist. Influenced by artists like U-Roy, he made his debut in sound system with the Gemini sound. In 1979, he won a song contest that propelled him to the front of the Jamaican public, who immediately adopted him. Although he has recorded countless singles, he recorded his first album on Channel One in 1981.
The title of this album is “Them A Mad Over Me.” He continues to shock and mock everything around him. He mocks Lone Ranger in his title “Me Kill Barnie,” then suffers the wrath of Peter Tosh, who finds the song “Shorties” degrading for the female population. But the controversies encouraged Yellowman to go even further, pushed by his regular producer: Junjo Lawes… He releases his second album “Mister Yellowman” which becomes an international success!!!
Not content with his success, Yellowman continues with singles and albums that are hits such as “Duupy Or Gunman”, “Yellowman Getting Married”, “The Good, The Bad & The Ugly”, “Wreck A Pum Pum Pum”, “Galong, Galong”, or the enormous “Zungguzungguguzungguzeng”…
A few years later (in 1987), “The Negril Chill Challenge – Slackness vs. Pure Culture” was recorded, a superb clash between Yellowman and Charlie Chaplin, representing the roots and kulcha vibe against the bad lyrics of our favorite albino. For the record, Charlie Chaplin lost this clash that has since become part of the reggae legend.
Yellowman lost its aura with the 1990s and a new generation of dancehall artists. However, he worked with Fatiss Burrel on “Yellow With Cheese,” and did a very nice cover of “Blueberry,” Fats Domino’s hit.
He returned to the forefront in 1994 with “Prayer,” then “Message To The World” in 1995 and “Freedom Of Speech” in 1999.
His latest albums to date are “New York” in 2003 and “Round 1” in 2005, a clash album with Ninjaman. His appearances in Europe have become rare since the 2000s. But some were lucky enough to see that he was still in good shape during his performance at the Elysée Montmartre in France in 2009 alongside the Congos and Julian Marley.