Pepperseed still hot at 25

By Kevin Jackson
Observer writer

Friday, July 19, 2019

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The Pepperseed rhythm, which spawned several hit songs, turns 25 this year. Released in 1994, it was the maiden project for producer Dave Kelly's Madhouse label and turned out to be a summer smash.

Deejay Daddy Screw, who had two hit songs on the Pepperseed ( Big Things and Dapper) recalls how the beat and its name came about.

“Di name of di rhythm was my idea, knowing di seed is always hotter than di pepper itself. Di rhythm was built at a house in Vineyard Town where me an' Dave Kelly used to hang out together,” he told the Jamaica Observer's Splash.

The talented Kelly worked as an audio engineer at producer Donovan Germain's Penthouse studio, then located at Slipe Road in Kingston. At the time he launched Madhouse, he was an in-demand engineer.

Daddy Screw said he and Kelly also co-wrote songs.

Big Things was written by me an' Dave Kelly an' it was about some girls around us. Dapper was a freestyle I came up with after recording Big Things,” he related.

Typical of the dancehall rhythm culture, a number of songs were recorded on the Pepperseed. They included Wifee by Dugsy Ranks, Frisco Kid's Big Speech, No Gyal by Louie Culture, No More by Gary Minott, Things A Gwaan by Spragga Benz, Loving Excess by Wayne Wonder and Don Yute, Tan So Good by Chippy Ranks, and Man A Look Yuh by Buju Banton.

Most of them were chart hits. Daddy Screw and Wayne Wonder said they knew the project would have been successful.

“We knew di rhythm was going to be a hit because of di time an' energy dat was invested in it. Di rhythm connected with di listeners di way it did because all di instruments represented something special,” said Daddy Screw who now resides in Colorado.

“At that time I could feel di vibe an' di energy around it. It had a joyful feeling,” said Wonder, who was a key figure at Penthouse during the 1990s.

All the songs were recorded at Penthouse studio.

“I was a part of di Penthouse label then an' Dave Kelly was di engineer during that same period. He was working on his own Madhouse label an' I was in di studio when he was making di Pepperseed rhythm,” said Wonder, now based in Florida. “ Loving Excess was inspired by love. You know I am always 100 per cent for di ladies.”

For Don Yute, who also resides in Florida, the collaboration with Wonder was his breakout hit.

“Spragga was going to voice an' I went with him an' Wayne was singing his part an' I told him I had a verse for a song dat would go good with it. I never knew it would become a dancehall classic at all but I'm glad it happened so natural,” he said.

Don Yute added: “I think di song was successful because it was on a popular rhythm by a talented producer who had credibility as far as hits were concerned. Di riddim was infectious.”

The Pepperseed kicked off a fruitful run for Kelly, younger brother of engineer/producer Tony Kelly. Madhouse produced a number of hit rhythms and songs for the remainder of the 1990s including the Joyride beat which spawned hits like Tanya Stephens' Yuh Nuh Ready fi Dis Yet and Rubbers by Frisco Kid.

Kelly, who also lives in Florida, also produced 2003's Dude by Beenie Man and Cham's Ghetto Story, which was released three years later.


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