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Chuck Fenda defends culture artistes - Stays true to original musical style in new single

Published:Saturday | November 2, 2019 | 12:00 AMStephanie Lyew/Gleaner Writer

In the late ‘90s, Leshorn Whitehead emerged on Jamaica’s reggae music scene, being a conscious voice that could easily be singled out in a medley. The industry was introduced to Chuck Fenda, an artiste with music heavily concentrated on the plight of poor people and social affairs and, in the streets, it merited him the title of ‘Poor People Defender’. The roots and culture artiste declared in his single, I Swear: “I swear, I keep on giving u songs like this, I swear, that I will never hitch. To defend poor people, one a mi greatest wish”. And he has not stopped defending the underprivileged and being a voice for the voiceless. However, his mission has evolved to include being a strong force for culture artistes like himself.

In a recent telephone conversation with The Gleaner, Chuck Fenda postulated, “Culture artistes don’t get that justice that we deserve or supposed to get on the local scene.”

As he delved further on the topic of the support culture artistes receive on a day-to-day basis, he stated that it is the reason many of the foundation artistes of the genre have migrated overseas to the US and Europe.

“It is not my place to share anybody’s business, but a lot of the times you buck up an artiste you know in your travels and ask about their whereabouts and them say, ‘You know is here so me based’ … that here meaning Germany, Poland or some other foreign country,” Chuck Fenda explained.

Biggest market

He added: “Europe is one of my biggest markets. In fact, most of the one-drop, traditional roots and culture rhythms that end up in my email are usually from a producer based in that region of the world.”

Approximately one year ago, Chuck Fenda surprised his fans when he jumped on a dancehall rhythm with One Man To Yuh Ting, then four months later, he argued that not many of the local young producers were turning out reggae rhythms and pleaded with the industry through the media for more one-drop rhythms. But once again he had to collaborate with outside producers for his latest single, Feel Dem Go Round We, recorded on the Alpine Rock Riddim, created by the Austrian producers of the popular group known as Germaica Digital.

In the song, he defends culture artistes, giving praise to the likes of Richie Spice and Anthony Cruz.

“Don’t get me wrong, it is not that we are underappreciated in our home because it is the same thing Bob Marley and other great icons before us go through, but is like we have to fight to keep going,” he said. “The fight includes doing something outrageous to be in the limelight or a few minutes of attention – that is not real justice.”

He notes that while Jamaica’s tapestry of music is changing, one’s values need not follow suit once quality music is being produced. The visuals for Feel Dem Go Round We was released last Tuesday, October 29. Captured by veteran music video director Wayne South, it features Chuck Fenda in the role of a jockey. He said: “At one point in my life I had an interest taking that career path but weight was my problem. In the video it represents riding against the odds, into wider markets and keeping up the pace. I am still a culture artiste that has top-grade melodies, strong punch line and good delivery.”