Johnny Osbourne is, in many ways, the definitive dancehall vocalist. Not only has he most likely recorded more dubplates (that’s exclusive versions of popular songs tailored for play by a specific sound system, for you all you new-jacks) than any one else, his essential ’80s recordings like “Budy Bye,”“No Ice Cream Sound” and “Little Sound Boy” are some of the purest reflections of the real dancehall sound-system experience ever released commercially.
Interestingly enough, Osbourne began his career a decade before his peers from dancehall’s dawn in the late ’70s. But the very same day he finished his debut album, 1969′s Come Back Darling, for Winston Riley’s Techniques Records, he found himself emigrating to Canada, beginning the first of several hiatuses that would mark his uniquely paced career. Now, at age 65, Johnny finds himself with yet another fresh start before him. Major Lazer’s co-opting of his “Mr. Marshall” as the heart of their arena-rocking, dancehall-meets-dubstep anthem “Jah No Partial” comes just as the singer finds himself able to travel internationally for the first time in decades. Fresh off his very first European festival appearances and a long-awaited return to Jamaica, Johnny will make his first Florida performance in who-knows-when tomorrow night (3/21/2013) at LargeUp’s Winter Music Massive at Blackbird Ordinary in Miami. DJ Gravy recently sat down with the Dancehall Godfather in NYC, as photographer Aviva Klein snapped some intimate portraits. Let me hear you say whoa-oh!!