Winston Foster (born 1956), better known by the stage name Yellowman, is a Jamaican reggae and dancehall deejay, also known as King Yellowman. He was popular in Jamaica in the 1980s, coming to prominence with a series of singles that established his reputation.
Yellowman performing in 2007
|Birth name||Winston Foster|
|Also known as||King Yellowman|
|Occupation(s)||Musician, songwriter, deejay|
|Labels||Columbia Records, CBS Records, Greensleeves, Artist Only, VP Records, RAS Records|
Winston Foster was abandoned by his parents and grew up in the Maxfield Children's Home and the Catholic orphanage Alpha Boys School in Kingston, and was shunned due to having albinism, which was not typically socially accepted in Jamaica. Alpha Boys School was known for its musical alumni. In the late 1970s Yellowman first gained wide attention when he finished second (to Nadine Sutherland) in the 1978 Tastee Talent Contest. Like many Jamaican deejays, he honed his talents by frequently performing at outdoor sound-system dances, prominently with Aces International. He had success as a recording artist, working with producer Henry "Junjo" Lawes. In 1981, after becoming significantly popular throughout Jamaica, Yellowman became the first dancehall artist to be signed to a major American label (Columbia Records).
His first album release was in 1982 entitled Mister Yellowman followed by Zungguzungguguzungguzeng in 1983 earning instant success. Yellowman's sexually explicit lyrics in popular songs such as "Them a Mad Over Me" boasted of his sexual prowess, like those of other reggae singers/deejays, earned Yellowman criticism in the mid-1980s. Yellowman appeared in Jamaican Dancehall Volcano Hi-power 1983 which featured other major dancehall musicians such as Massive Dread, Josey Wales, Burro Banton and Eek-A-Mouse.
Yellowman proclaimed, "I never know why they call it slackness. I talk about sex, but it's just what happens behind closed doors. What I talk is reality."
He had success in 1987 with a version of "Blueberry Hill", that topped the charts for several weeks in Jamaica. Yellowman had met Fats Domino where he performed on the island earlier in the decade, and Domino had presented him with a copy of his version.
By the mid-1990s, Yellowman released socially conscious material, rising to international fame along with singers such as Buju Banton. Yellowman became the island's most popular deejay. During the early 1980s, Yellowman had over 40 singles and produced up to five albums per year.
He re-invented himself with his 1994 album Prayer, which stepped away from the slackness that gave him his initial fame. His latest albums are New York (2003) and Round 1 (2005). Yellowman was also a featured guest vocalist on the Run-DMC track "Roots Rap Reggae". Yellowman continues to perform internationally with his Sagittarius Band, and has toured through places such as Nigeria where he retains a following of fans, as well as Spain, Peru, Sweden, Italy, Germany, Britain, France, Kenya, the United States and Canada. He also featured on OPM's 2004 album, Forthemasses.
In 2018, it was announced that he would be awarded the Order of Distinction (Officer Class) by the Jamaican government.
He has spoken against violence. In the Montreal Mirror in 2005 he said, "Now it's not your entertainment or teaching. If you notice the hip hop and dancehall artists today, all they do they sing about drugs, clothes, car, house—when they can't get it, they start get violent. ... I know what violence is like and what it contain and what it can do. I'm glad that the roots is coming back." The slackness style with which Yellowman is associated sometimes has homophobic lyrics. However, in the same Montreal Mirror article he spoke against it: "Everybody listen to me ... I don't do songs against gay people, I don't do violent lyric against gay people. If you don't like a person or you don't like a thing, you don't talk about it. You don't come on stage and say kill them or burn them because everybody have a right to live."
In 1982, Yellowman was diagnosed with skin cancer, and was initially told that he only had three more years to live. However, this prognosis proved to be inaccurate, and after several surgeries Yellowman was able to continue his career. The cancer went into apparent remission during this time. In 1986 it was diagnosed that the cancer had spread to his jaw; Yellowman underwent very invasive jaw surgery to remove a malignant tumor. This surgery permanently disfigured Yellowman's face, as a large portion of the left side of his lower jaw had to be removed to successfully remove the tumor.
The instrumental for Yellowman's 1982 "Zungguzungguguzungguzeng", the "Diseases" rhythm by "Junjo" Lawes, has been sampled and imitated repeatedly since its original release. The original version of this rhythm was performed by Alton Ellis for a song called "Mad, Mad, Mad" produced by Coxsone Dodd in 1967. Coxsone Dodd had already released two dub cuts, "Talking Dub" and "Lusaka", plus a 1980 cut by Jennifer Lara, "Hurt So Good." This rhythm came to be known as the 'Diseases' rhythm after Michigan and Smiley recorded their song, Diseases, with Henry Junjo Lawes in 1981. The vocal melody of "Zungguzungguguzungguzeng" has also been sampled heavily in various reggae and hip hop songs.
- Bonehead, "Zungguzungguguzungguzeng" (see also, Live at Aces version, w/ Fathead) (1982)
- Sister Nancy, "Coward of the Country" (1982)
- Frankie Paul, "Alesha" (1984)
- Toyan, "Hot Bubble Gum" (1984)
- Cocoa Tea, "I Lost My Sonia" (1985)
- Super Cat, "Boops" (1985)
- BDP, "Remix For P Is Free" (1987)
- BDP, "Tcha Tcha" (1988)
- Nice & Smooth, "Nice & Smooth" (1989)
- Nice & Smooth, "Dope on a Rope" (1989)
- K7, "Zunga Zeng" (1993)
- KRS-One, "P Is Still Free" (1993)
- Us3, "I Got It Goin' On" (1993)
- Buju Banton, "Big It Up" (1993)
- Ninjaman, "Funeral Again" (1994)
- Bounty Killer, "Kill Or Be Killed" (1994)
- Sublime, "Greatest Hits" (1994)
- Just My Imagination w/Sista Sensi (2013)
- Frosty the Dopeman w/Sista Sensi
- Buju Banton, "Man a Look Yu" (1995)
- Junior M.A.F.I.A. (feat. The Notorious B.I.G.), "Player's Anthem" (1995)
- Sublime, "Roots of Creation" (1995)
- 2Pac, "Hit 'Em Up" (1996)
- Black Star, "Definition" (1998)
- Mr. Notty, "Sentencia de Muerte" (1998)
- Dead Prez, "It's Bigger than Hip-Hop" (2000)
- Beenie Man, featuring Wyclef Jean, "Love Me Now" (2000)
- Nejo, track 14 (DJ Joe's Fatal Fantasy 1)(2001)
- Joe Budden, "Pump It Up" (2003)
- Tego Calderón, "Bonsai" (2003)
- Jin, "Learn Chinese" (2004)
- Vybz Kartel, "Tight Pussy Gyal" (2004)
- P.O.D., featuring Matisyahu, "Roots in Stereo" (2006)
- White Rappers, "One Night Stand" (2007)
- Just My Imagination w/Sista Sensi (2013)
- Frosty the Dopeman w/Sista Sensi (2013)
|Album year||Album title|
|1982||Mister Yellowman / Duppy Or Gunman|
|1982||King Mellow Yellow Meets Yellowman|
|1982||Superstar Yellowman Has Arrived With Toyan|
|1982||Jack Sprat / Life In The Ghetto|
|1982||Them A Mad Over Me|
|1982||Bad Boy Skanking|
|1983||Divorced! (For Your Eyes Only)|
|1982||One Yellowman And Fathead|
|1982||The Yellow, The Purple & The Nancy|
|1982||Yellow Man, Fat Head And The One Peter Metro|
|1983||Nobody Move (1983) / Nobody Move Nobody Get Hurt (1984)|
|1984||Operation Radication / One In A Million|
|1984||Showdown Vol. 5|
|1984||Two Giants Clash|
|1985||Galong, Galong, Galong|
|1985||Walking Jewellery Store|
|1986||Girls Them Pet / Rambo|
|1985||Yellow Man Meets Charlie Chaplin|
|1986||Going To The Chapel|
|1987||Yellow Like Cheese|
|1988||Yellowman Rides Again|
|1988||Yellowman Sings The Blues|
|1988||King Of The Dancehall|
|1988||Don't Burn It Down|
|1990||A Feast Of Yellow Dub|
|1992||Reggae On The Move|
|1993||In Bed With Yellowman / Mellow Yellow|
|1993||A Man You Want|
|1993||Reggae On Top|
|1995||Good Sex Guide|
|1995||Message To The World|
|1997||Freedom of Speech|
|1998||A Very, Very Yellow Christmas|
|2019||No More War|
|Album year||Album title|
|1982||Live At Reggae Sunsplash|
|1982||Live At Aces|
|1983||Live At Killamanjaro|
|1983||Live in London (1983) / Live In England (1992)|
|1983||Live Stage Show At Ranny Williams Entertainment Center|
|1987||The Negril Chill Challenge|
|1994||Best Of Live In Paris|
|1994||Live In Paris|
|1998||Live At Maritime Hall|
|1987||A Reggae Calypso Encounter|
|1991||20 Super Hits|
|1996||Best Of Yellowman|
|1996||Yellowman Meets The Paragons|
|2001||Look How Me Sexy|
|2004||Just Cool (Compilation)|
|2004||Yellow Fever (Compilation)|
|2013||Reggae Anthology: Young, Gifted & Yellow (1981-1985)|
|1998||Yellowman Peace Tour (VHS)|
|1998||Live In San Francisco (DVD)|
|2004||Kingston Signals, Vol. 1: 3 The Hard Way (DVD)|
|2007||Stars in Action, Part 2 (DVD)|
|2007||Yellowman / Chaka Demus & Pliers: Living Legends In Concert (DVD)|
- Campbell, Howard (2018) "Gold medal for Yellowman", Jamaica Observer, 20 August 2018. Retrieved 21 August 2018
- Cooper, Stephen. "King Yellowman Defends Gay Rights at Reggae on the Mountain". CounterPunch. Retrieved 13 April 2019.
- "Body by Yellowman", Jesse Serwer, largeup.com
- Lowrie-Chin, Jean (2005) "Alpha: the power of one", Jamaica Observer, 18 April 2005, archived version retrieved 24 December 2012
- Kenner, Rob. "Dancehall", in The Vibe History of Hip-hop, ed. Alan Light, 350-7. 1999
- "King Yellowman / Biography". Kingyellowman.com. Retrieved 24 December 2012.
- Huey, Steve. "Yellowman – Music Biography, Credits and Discography". AllMusic. Retrieved 24 December 2012.
- Du Noyer, Paul (2003). The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Music (1st ed.). Fulham, London: Flame Tree Publishing. p. 362. ISBN 1-904041-96-5.
- Campbell, Howard (2017) "Yellowman's tasty serving of Blueberry Hill", Jamaica Observer, 31 October 2017. Retrieved 4 November 2017
- "Run-DMC – King of Rock CD Album". Cduniverse.com. 11 September 2003. Retrieved 24 December 2012.
- Campbell, Howard (2014) "Yellowman's daughter turns to music", Jamaica Observer, 8 August 2014. Retrieved 10 August 2014
- "Gold timers". Montreal Mirror. Archived from the original on 22 July 2005. Retrieved 19 November 2013.
- "Yellowman on cancer and crooks – Thursday | February 21, 2002". Jamaica Gleaner. 21 February 2002. Retrieved 24 December 2012.
- "Welcome to The Website of DJ Yellowman". Djyellowman.com. Retrieved 24 December 2012.
- "Follow Me Now: The Zigzagging Zunguzung Meme". Wayneandwax.com. 10 May 2007. Retrieved 24 December 2012.