Adidja Azim Palmer (born 7 January 1976) better known as Vybz Kartel, is a Jamaican reggae dancehall recording artist, record producer and entrepreneur. Among his various nicknames, he is referred to as "Worl' Boss" and has been recognized as one of the genre’s most prolific and skilled lyricists credited with further popularizing dancehall.
|Birth name||Adija Azim Palmer|
|Born||7 January 1976|
|Genres||Reggae, dancehall, reggae fusion, hip hop|
|Occupation(s)||Deejay, singer, songwriter, record producer, entrepreneur|
|Labels||Adidjahiem Records, Vice, Mixpak Records, Greensleeves Records|
Kartel's singles have achieved cultural ubiquity across the Caribbean, including "Romping Shop" (2009), "Summer Time" and "Dancehall Hero" (2013). Having collaborated with a number of internationally prominent hip hop and R&B artists such as Major Lazer, Rihanna and Jay Z, he has also been credited as an inspiration for the dancehall-infused work of a number of Western artists, including Drake, who has cited Kartel as being one of his "biggest inspirations".
In 2014, Kartel was sentenced to life imprisonment for the murder of his associate Clive "Lizard" Williams. He will be eligible for parole once he has served a minimum of 35 years in prison. Despite being imprisoned, Kartel continues to release new music prolifically, releasing over 50 new songs in 2016 alone.
1993–2002: Early career
Vybz Kartel started his career as a teenager in 1993 with his first recording "Love Fat Woman", released on Alvin Reid's label "One Heart", using the moniker "Adi Banton", as homage to Buju Banton. Palmer was later part of the three-member group "Vybz Cartel", keeping the name after the group split up, and became a protege of Bounty Killer, for whom he claims to have written nearly 30 songs, including "Gal Clown".
2003–2008: Rise to prominence
Vybz Kartel rose to prominence in 2003 after a string of hits in Jamaica. The year culminated in a pre-planned on-stage clash with Ninjaman at the annual dancehall festival Sting in Kartel's hometown of Portmore. The clash turned violent when Kartel's crewmembers, as well as Kartel himself, threw punches and assaulted Ninjaman onstage. While Kartel's manager initially blamed Ninjaman, Kartel himself quickly apologised to Ninjaman and Sting organizers for the fracas. Four days after the incident, the two artists appeared before the press to announce a settlement of their differences and to end any animosity.
From the beginning to midst of his ongoing career, Kartel released a number of albums through the UK based label Greensleeves Records, such as Up 2 Di Time, More Up 2 Di Time, and J.M.T.. He established his own label Adidjahiem/Notnice Records with his business partner and producer Ainsley "Notnice" Morris. After splitting with Bounty Killer-led Alliance in 2006, Kartel joined the Portmore Empire, a group of dancehall DJs and singers from his Portmore neighborhood that he signed to his newly founded Adidjahiem/Notnice Records. The members included Popcaan, Deva Bratt (founder), Gaza Slim, Shawn Storm, Sheba, Gaza Indu, Tommy Lee, Singing Maxwell, Singa Blinga, Lenny Mattic, Lisa Hype, Gaza Kim, Blak Ryno, Jah Vinci, Dosa Medicine and Merital Family.
In 2008, Kartel launched his own liquor line; Street Vybz Rum. He hosted a weekly dance party Street Vybz Thursday, at the Building, a Kingston nightclub he managed with Street Vybz Rum business partner, Corey Todd. The rum was officially distributed by Vybz Distillers Limited. The same year, he also released his own condom line, Daggerin Condoms. Street Vybz Rum production was stopped in 2011 because of a disagreement between him and Corey Todd. However, the collaboration resumed in 2012 as the two settled their differences, and despite Kartel's ongoing incarceration.
2009–present: King of the Dancehall
In 2009 his song featuring female Jamaican deejay Spice, "Romping Shop", debuted on the Billboard Top 100 Singles chart, and "Dollar Sign" was in regular rotation on urban radio stations in the US.
His 2010 single "Clarks" was one of his biggest international successes, remaining in the top three reggae singles and gaining the most radio plays in North America for 40 weeks. "Clarks" was also featured on the TV series So You Think You Can Dance Canada, and on a CNN segment on dancehall dance. When his singles "Clarks", "Clarks 2 (Clarks Again)" and "Clarks 3 (Wear Weh Yuh Have)" featured the British shoe brand Clarks in 2010, its sales numbers and prices in Jamaica increased considerably. In 2011, he released his own shoe line, named Addi's, as well as his own line of "cake soap", a type of soap primarily used for clothes. Cake soap is less commonly utilised for skincare, to treat skin conditions such as acne. However, Kartel's brand was intended for the purpose of skin lightening or bleaching.
MTV's Vice Guide to Dancehall featured Kartel at his weekly dance party, Street Vybz Thursday. Vybz Kartel has also hosted his own reality television show "Teacha's Pet" on CVM Jamaica broadcast channel, the first reality television show hosted by a dancehall artist in Jamaica. The premise of "Teacha's Pet" found 20 women living in a Kingston house vying for the artist's affection; the show's lascivious content elicited condemnation of its sponsor, telecommunications company LIME. The show came to a halt with the artist's arrest on murder charges in September 2011.
In 2016, while in prison, Kartel released his most internationally successful album, King of the Dancehall, which peaked at number 2 on the US Billboard Reggae Charts. The album included the single "Fever" which topped various local music charts and became his most successful on streaming websites.
Kartel re-teamed with Kingston Story producer Dre Skull for the single "Real Bad Gal" in 2017. Two of his seven children, have continued his musical legacy, as Jaheim, also known as Little Vybz, and Akheel Raheim Palmer, also known as Little Addi, have been releasing music since 2014 as a duo known as PG 13 (also known as Kartel Sons). In 2019, both were featured on the "Fully Gaza" riddim, on separate songs, with Likkle Vybz teaming with father Vybz on the title track "Fully Gaza", while Likkle Addi performs solo on "Dolla Sign" which interpolates portions of the chorus from his father's single of the same name, on the Goodlife riddim, from 2009.
Arrest and imprisonment
On 29 September 2011, Kartel was arrested by police for marijuana possession. Jamaica's Major Investigation Taskforce (MIT) later charged him with the murder of a Jamaican businessman, Barrington Burton, conspiracy and illegal possession of a firearm.
Though Kartel was granted bail for the Burton murder on 23 March 2012 for JMD$3,000,000, he remained in jail in connection with a second murder, of one Clive 'Lizard' Williams, of Waterford, St Catherine. He was charged, along with two others including Vanessa "Gaza Slim" Saddler, with perverting the course of justice, after Saddler allegedly claimed that Williams had robbed her in order to mislead the police into believing that he was still alive. Kartel's trial was originally scheduled for 21 January 2013, but had to be postponed due to a lack of jurors, and was rescheduled for 11 July.
On 24 July a jury found Kartel not guilty of the charge of murder of Barrington Burton. However, Kartel remained in custody pending the second murder case. His trial for the murder of Clive Williams started on 18 November 2013 and on 13 March 2014, he was found guilty by an eleven-member jury (10-1) of murder of 27-year-old Clive ‘Lizard’ Williams. The 65-day trial was said to have been the longest in Jamaica’s history.
Kartel has come under controversy over perceived skin whitening, or "bleaching", leading him to claim the use of "cake soap" to lighten his skin. The Blue Power Group, Jamaican manufacturer of the popular cake soap (or "blue soap"), has refuted claims it changes skin color. Kartel stated the soap used to lighten his skin was his own company brand, which he intended to release on the local market and to overseas clients.
In September 2011, the National Communications Network of Guyana banned Vybz Kartel from the airwaves—the first such action against a specific artist. NCN spokesman Martin Goolsarran said his music contained "obscene lyrics" and brought "nothing positive" to the entertainment industry, on Wednesday, 21 September after a week of internal debate. He said NCN was reviewing the lyrics of other musicians and could ban them as well.
Feud with Mavado
A public feud between Kartel and former collaborator Mavado arose towards the end of 2006, stemming from Vybz' much publicised departure from the dancehall conglomerate group The Alliance. The feud resulted in numerous diss tracks released, in which each artist dissed the other and their associates over popular dancehall rhythms. In a police-overseen press conference in March 2007, both Mavado and Vybz Kartel publicly announced an end to hostilities and apologized to fans.
Most of 2009 saw a continuation of the public feud, which dominated Jamaican media and, to a certain extent, Jamaican culture, with the two artists' factions, Gaza (Kartel) and Gully (Mavado), being adopted by Jamaican youth, in some cases leading to street violence.
On 8 December 2009, Kartel and Mavado met with Jamaican Prime Minister Bruce Golding in an attempt to end the feud, which had by that time fueled mob attacks in some of the inner city neighborhoods of Kingston. The two had performed together on-stage the previous night in a sign of goodwill at the West Kingston Jamboree, a concert promoted by drug lord Christopher "Dudus" Coke. After the truce in December 2009, the two artists were scheduled to perform a unity concert in March 2010 in Barbados, which was later cancelled by Bajan Prime Minister David Thompson.
|Title||Album details||Peak chart positions|
|Up 2 Di Time||
|More Up 2 Di Time||
|The Teacher's Back||
|Pon Di Gaza 2.0||
|Kingston Story (with Dre Skull)||
|The Voice of the Jamaican Ghetto - Incarcerated But Not Silenced||
|Kartel Forever: Trilogy||
|Reggae Love Songs||
|Viking (Vybz Is King)||
|King of the Dancehall||2|
|"–" indicates album did not chart or was not released in the country|
- 2009: GAZA
- 2010: Raw - EP
- 2011: The Gaza Don
- 2011: Colouring Book
- 2012: Stronger We Get
- 2012: Amsterdam
- 2012: Mentally Free
- 2013: Time To Be Free
|Title||Year||Peak chart positions||Album|
|"Tekk Buddy"||2004||111||More Up 2 Di Time|
|"Ramping Shop" (featuring Spice)||2009||76||Pon di Gaza 2.0|
|"Go Fi Dem Anyweh"||–|
|"Last Man Standing"||–|
|"Clarks Again"||2010||–||Single only|
|"Know Bout Me"||–|
|"Step Up Inna Life"||–|
|"Tell You Say"||–|
|"Sex & the City"||–|
|"Slew Dem Like David"||–|
|"Go Go Wine"||–||Kingston Story|
|"Party Me Say (Me Nice)"||2012||–||Mentally Free|
|"Reparation" (featuring Gaza Slim)||–|
|"Street Vybz Girl"||–|
|"Good Father"/"Mi Sorry"||–||Single only|
|"Right Now" (featuring Stylish)||–|
|"Dweet We a Dweet (Do It)"||–|
|"Lip Gloss (Cover Girl)"||–|
|"The Cure (Fi Badmind)" (featuring Rvssian)||–|
|"Informer" (featuring Tommy Lee)||–|
|"Betray Di Gaza Boss" (featuring Tommy Lee)||–||Unstoppable|
|"Daddy Devil"||–||Gaza Man Crazy EP|
|"Love U Baby"||2013||–||Unstoppable|
|"Back to Life"||–||Kartel Forever Trilogy|
|"Look Pon We"||–|
|"Me A Pree"||–|
|"Badman Sittin"||–||Single only|
|"Fever"||2016||–||King of the Dancehall|
|"—" denotes a title that did not chart, or was not released in that territory.|
As featured artist
|Title||Year||Peak chart positions||Album|
|US Reggae Digital||UK|
|"Been Around the World" (Zena featuring Vybz Kartel)||2003||–||44||Single only|
|"Pon de Floor" (Major Lazer featuring Vybz Kartel)||2010||7||–||Guns Don't Kill People... Lazers Do|
|"No Roof" (Kalash featuring Vybz Kartel||2017||–||–||Mwaka Moon|
|"Girlfriend" (Busta Rhymes featuring Vybz Kartel and Tory Lanez)||–||–||TBA|
(XXXTentacion featuring Ky-Mani Marley, Stefflon Don, and Vybz Kartel)
|"—" denotes a title that did not chart, or was not released in that territory..|
|2005||"You Don't Love Me (No, No, No)" (featuring Vybz Kartel)||Music of the Sun||Rihanna|
|2005||"Bad Man" (featuring Vybz Kartel and M.I.A.)||The Cookbook||Missy Elliott|
|2006||"Descarada (Dance)" (featuring Vybz Kartel)||El Mariel||Pitbull|
|2007||"Colors 2007" (Reggae Remix) (featuring Vybz Kartel and Kardinal Offishall)||Sean Kingston||Sean Kingston|
|2009||"Herbs Promotion" (featuring Demarco and Vybz Kartel)||Contagious||Tarrus Riley|
|2009||"Pon De Floor" (featuring Vybz Kartel)||Guns Don't Kill People... Lazers Do||Major Lazer|
|2012||"Wine & Go Down" (featuring Vybz Kartel)||Year of the Dragon||Busta Rhymes|
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