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Vybz Kartel

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Adidja Azim Palmer (born 7 January 1976)[1][2][3] better known as Vybz Kartel, is a Jamaican reggae dancehall recording artist, record producer and entrepreneur. Some of his singles include "Clarks", "Romping Shop", "Summertime", "Dancehall Hero" Major Lazer collaboration "Pon De Floor" and "Fever" produced by Adidjahiem Records/ TJ Records distributed by Zojak World Wide released May 2016.

Kartel was sentenced to life imprisonment in 2014 for the murder of Clive 'Lizard' Williams, an associate. He will not be eligible for parole until 2049, once he has served 35 years.


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", an homage to Buju Banton.[4] 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".[5]

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.[6] While Kartel's manager initially blamed Ninjaman,[6] Kartel himself quickly apologised to Ninjaman and Sting organizers for the fracas.[7] Four days after the incident, the two artists appeared before the press to announce a settlement of their differences and to end any animosity.[8]

He established his own label Adidjahiem/Notnice Records with his business partner and producer Ainsley "Notnice" Morris.[9] In 2010, he released his album Pon Di Gaza 2.0 on Adidjahiem/Notnice Records in collaboration with Tads Record Inc.[10] In Spring 2011, Vybz Kartel released an album on Mixpak Records entitled 'Kingston Story' with Brooklyn hip hop/electro producer Dre Skull. 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', J.M.T. and more.[11]

Kartel has worked on collaborations and remixes with hip hop and R&B musicians Jay-Z, Rihanna, Missy Elliott, Busta Rhymes, M.I.A, Pharrell Williams, Fifth Harmony, Kardinal Offishall, Akon, Jim Jones, Lil Wayne and Eminem.

In 2009 his song featuring female Jamaican deejay Spice, "Ramping Shop", debuted on the Billboard Top 100 Singles charts,[12] and "Dollar Sign" being in regular rotation on urban radio stations in the US.[13] His 2010 single "Clarks" was one of his biggest international successes, remaining in the top 3 Reggae Singles gaining the most radio plays in North America for 40 weeks.[14] "Clarks" was also featured on the TV series So You Think You Can Dance Canada,[15] and on a CNN segment on dancehall dance.[16] MTV's Vice Guide to Dancehall featured Kartel at his weekly dance party, Street Vybz Thursday.[17]

After splitting with Bounty Killer-led Alliance in 2006, Kartel joined the Portmore Empire, a group of dancehall DJ's and singers from his Portmore neighborhood that he signed to his newly founded Adidjahiem/Notnice Records. Members of the group as of 2011 were: Popcaan, Deva Bratt (founder),[18] Gaza Slim, Shawn Storm, Sheba, Gaza Indu, Tommy Lee, Singing Maxwell, Singa Blinga, Lenny Mattic. Former members include Lisa Hype,[19] Gaza Kim,[20] Blak Ryno,[21] Jah Vinci, Dosa Medicine and Merital Family.[22]

Feud with Mavado

A public feud between Kartel and former collaborator Mavado arose towards the end of 2006, stemming from Vybz' much publicized 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.[23] In a police-overseen press conference in March 2007, both Mavado and Vybz Kartel publicly announced an end to hostilities and apologized to fans.[24]

However, by the summer of 2008, tensions flared with a renewal of "diss tracks" from each artist, and a lyrical clash between the two at Sting 2008 left mixed views as to the "winner".[25][26]

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.[27][28]

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.[29] 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[30] Christopher "Dudus" Coke.[23] 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.[31]


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.[32] The rum was officially distributed by Vybz Distillers Limited. The same year, he also released his own condom line, Daggerin Condoms.[33] 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.[34]

In 2011, he released his own shoe line, named Addi's, as well as his own line of "cake soap", a skin lighting agent.[35][36][37]

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.[38]

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.[39]


Whitening (Bleaching)

Kartel has come under controversy over perceived skin whitening, or "bleaching", leading him to claim the use of "cake soap" to lighten his skin.[40][41] The Blue Power Group, Jamaican manufacturer of the popular cake soap (or "blue soap"), has refuted claims it changes skin color.[42] 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.[35]

Airwave ban

In September 2011 the National Communications Network of Guyana banned Vybz Kartel from the airwaves—the first such action against a specific artist.[43] His music contained "obscene lyrics" and brought "nothing positive" to the entertainment industry, said NCN spokesman Martin Goolagong (Wednesday, Sept 21) after a week of internal debate. He said NCN was reviewing the lyrics of other musicians and could ban them as well.

Murder conviction

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 to murder and illegal possession of a firearm.[44]

While in prison in 2012, his book The Voice Of The Jamaican Ghetto: Incarcerated but not Silenced, co-written with business associate Michael Dawson, was published.[45]

Though Kartel was granted bail for the Burton murder on 23 March 2012 for JD$3,000,000, he remained in jail in connection with a second murder, of one Clive 'Lizard' Williams, of Waterford, St Catherine.[46] 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.[47] 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.[48] 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.[49] 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.[50][51][52] The 65-day trial was said to have been the longest in Jamaica’s history.[53]

On 3 April 2014, Kartel was sentenced to life imprisonment. Justice Lennox Campbell said he would be eligible for parole after serving 35 years.[54][55]



Title Album details Peak chart positions[56]
US Reggae
Up 2 Di Time
  • Released: 28 October 2003
  • Label: Greensleeves
  • Format: CD, digital
  • Released: 23 February 2004
  • Label: Freedom Sounds
  • Format: CD, digital
More Up 2 Di Time
  • Released: 14 September 2004
  • Label: Greensleeves
  • Format: CD, digital
  • Released: 15 November 2005
  • Label: Greensleeves
  • Format: CD, digital
The Teacher's Back
  • Released: 18 November 2008
  • Label: JVC/Victor
  • Format: CD, digital
Most Wanted
  • Released: 26 May 2009
  • Label: Greensleeves
  • Format: CD, digital
Pon Di Gaza 2.0
  • Released: 26 February 2010
  • Label: Tad's
  • Format: CD, digital
Kingston Story
  • Released: 14 August 2011
  • Label: Mixpak
  • Format: CD, digital, LP
The Voice of the Jamaican Ghetto - Incarcerated But Not Silenced
  • Released: 7 July 2013
  • Label: Whirlwind
  • Format: CD, digital
Kartel Forever: Trilogy
  • Released: 15 October 2013
  • Label: Tad's
  • Format: CD, digital
Reggae Love Songs
  • Released: 3 June 2014
  • Label: Tad's
  • Format: CD, digital
Viking (Vybz Is King)
  • Released: 2015
  • Label: TJ Records/Adidjahiem Records/21st Hapilos Digital Distribution
  • Format: Digital
King of the Dancehall
  • Released:10 June 2016[58]
  • Label: Adidjahiem Records/TJ Records/Zojak World Wide
  • Format: CD, digital
"–" indicates album did not chart or was not released in the country

Extended Plays

  • 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


List of singles, with selected chart positions
Title Year Peak chart positions Album
"Tekk Buddy" 2004 111[59] More Up 2 Di Time
"Picture This" 121[60]
"Romping Shop" (featuring Spice) 2009 76[61] Pon di Gaza 2.0
"Life Sweet"
"Go Fi Dem Anyweh"
"Last Man Standing"
"Clarks Again" 2010 Single only
"Know Bout Me"
"Like Xmas"
"All Out" 2011
"Step Up Inna Life"
"Tell You Say"
"Sex & the City"
"Slew Dem Like David"
"Go Go Wine" Kingston Story
"Yuh Love"
"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 Russian)
"Looking Glass"
"Party Vibes"
"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"
"Ghetto Life"
"Summer Time"
"Bubble Hard"
"Me A Pree"
"Dancehall Hero"
"Badman Sittin" Single only
"—" denotes a title that did not chart, or was not released in that territory.

As featured artist

List of singles, with selected chart positions
Title Year Peak chart positions Album
US Reggae Digital UK
"Been Around the World" (Zena featuring Vybz Kartel) 2003 44[62] Single only
"Pon de Floor" (Major Lazer featuring Vybz Kartel) 2010 7[63] Guns Don't Kill People... Lazers Do
"—" denotes a title that did not chart, or was not released in that territory..

Guest appearances

Year Title Album Artist
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 Official) 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


Kartel has had several collaborations with international hip hop and pop stars. He has released two albums for the UK/US based label Greensleeves Records. He was also nominated for the Source,[64] VIBE and UK MOBO awards, although his 2004 UK MOBO award nomination was withdrawn amidst controversy over homophobic content of his lyrics.[65]

  • 2003
    • Stone Love's 30th Anniversary
      • DJ of the Year 2005
  • 2008
    • CUMA (Caribbean Urban Music Awards)
  • 2009
    • EME Awards[66]
      • Male DJ of the Year
      • Lyricist/Songwriter of the Year
      • Song of the Year (Romping Shop ft. Spice)
  • 2010

External links


  1. [1].; retrieved 26 December 2014.
  2. [2].; retrieved 27 December 2014.
  3. [3].; retrieved 26 December 2014.
  4. Biography: Vybz Kartel aka Adijah Palmer,, 28 August 2010; accessed 25 December 2014.
  5. Max, James. Vybz Kartel: I wrote about 30-odd songs for Bounty Killer. 17 December 2010.
  6. 6.0 6.1 Mills, Claude. Terror at Sting. Jamaica Gleaner. 28 December 2003; retrieved 26 December 2014.
  7. Vybz Kartel apologises to Ninja Man, Sting organisers. Jamaica Observer. 30 December 2003. Retrieved 3011-3-3.
  8. Sinclair, Glenroy; Smith, Germaine. 'We were wrong' - Ninja Man, Vybz Kartel arrested and charged following Sting 'slug-fest'. Jamaica Gleaner. 31 December 2003; retrieved 26 December 2014.
  9. GoodHeart, Korry. 'Not Nice', the man 'engineering' the Empire dominance in dancehall. RisingStarsTV.Net. 18 January 2010.
  10. Kartel releases Pon Di Gaza 2.0. Jamaica Star. Retrieved 2011-2-16.
  11. Vybz Kartel Announces New Album Produced By Dre Skull. 23 December 2010; retrieved 26 December 2014.
  12. Ramping Shop Hits The Billboard Chart. Dancehall.Mobi. Retrieved 2011-2-16.
  13. WRFG Radio Free Georgia. Retrieved 2011-4-15.
  14. Clarks: De Mixtape Raw Hits Stores. 5 January 2011.
  15. So You Think You Can Dance - Canada (Vybz Kartel - 'Clarks'). Harrington Kommunication. 3 September 2010.
  16. CNN Reports Jamaican Dancehall Goes Global. The Sweet 7. 21 January 2011.
  17. Henry, Krista. Dancehall episode for MTV series. Jamaica Star; retrieved 26 December 2014.
  18. "Deva Bratt Talks Founding Portmore Empire, Says Vybz Kartel Badmind [VIDEO"]. 2014-04-01. 
  19. "'Lisa Hype is no longer part of the Portmore Empire...', Vybz Kartel announces split with Lisa Hype",, 30 December 2009; accessed 26 December 2014.
  20. Gaza Kim Exits Portmore Empire + England Town Medley. 17 January 2010.
  21. Black Rhyno leaves Portmore Empire. Jamaica Observer, 25 February 2010; accessed 26 December 2014.
  22. "Merital Family Leaves Portmore Empire",, 7 June 2011; accessed 26 December 2014.
  23. 23.0 23.1 Dreisinger, Baz. Reggae's Civil War Why Mavado and Vybz Kartel might be the Biggie and Tupac of Dancehall. Village Voice, 2 March 2010; accessed 26 December 2014.
  24. Kaylia Williams: Unprecedented Press Conference ends feud between Vybz Kartel and Mavado. Archives, 2 March 2007; accessed 27 January 2011
  25. Mavado and Vybz Kartel at it again. 22 August 2008. Retrieved 2011-4-15.
  26. Black, Francine. Entertainment insiders say... STING CLASH WAS A DRAW, Jamaica Star. 29 December 2008; retrieved 15 April 2011.
  27. Boyne, Ian. The Gully-Gaza war. Jamaica Gleaner. 20 September 2009. Retrieved 2011-4-15.
  28. BEATEN FOR 'GULLY' MUSIC - Driver assaulted, householder threatened after playing Mavado songs, Jamaica Star, 4 August 2009; retrieved 15 April 2011.
  29. Prime Minister to meet with Kartel, Mavado. Jamaica Gleaner. 8 December 2009. Retrieved 2011-4-15.
  30. "Jamaica drug lord 'Dudus' Coke admits racketeering". BBC News. 31 August 2011. 
  31. Barbados PM says no to Mavado, Vybz Kartel show. Jamaica Observer. 26 March 2010; retrieved 15 April 2011.
  32. Henry, Krista. Kartel Takes Over Club. Jamaica Star. 4 February 2010. Retrieved 2011-3-4.
  33. Introducing ‘Daggerin Condoms’ by Vybz Kartel. YardFlex. 2 September 2008.
  34. "Vybz Kartel, Corey Todd Officially Re-launch Street Vybz Rum". Boomstation. Retrieved 25 December 2014. 
  35. 35.0 35.1 Henry, Krista. Kartel to start own shoe brand. Jamaica Star; retrieved 25 December 2014.
  36. "Kartel's Addi's brand hits the market". Jamaica Star. Retrieved 25 December 2014. 
  37. "Vybz Kartel Releases Skin Bleaching Line While Awaiting Trial For Murder". Retrieved 25 December 2014. 
  38. Staff. "Sales of Clarks shoes skyrocket in Jamaica thanks to Vybz Kartel". Retrieved 25 December 2014. 
  39. "Vybz Kartel on murder rap". Retrieved 25 December 2014. 
  40. Hunter, Nadisha. Rub it out. Jamaica Gleaner. 29 December 2010; retrieved 25 December 2014.
  41. Farah. Vybz Kartel under fire for skin bleaching. The Tribune (Bahamas). 2 February 2011; retrieved 26 December 2014.
  42. Roache, Alicia. Cake soap company lightens Kartel's claim. Jamaica Observer. 12 January 2011; retrieved 26 December 2014.
  43. Associated Press (21 September 2011). "Guyana bans Kartel's obscene music". Associated Press via The Jamaica Observer. Retrieved 28 April 2015. 
  44. Meschino, Patricia. "Vybz Kartel, Jamaican Dancehall Star, Charged with Murder". Billboard. Retrieved 23 March 2012. 
  45. Campbell, Curtis (2013) "Vybz Kartel's Book Offered At University - 'Voice Of The Ghetto' Gets Princeton Endorsement", Jamaica Gleaner, 11 August 2013; retrieved 11 August 2013
  46. "Vybz Kartel granted bail, but remains jailed". Jamaica Gleaner. 23 March 2012. Retrieved 24 March 2012. 
  47. Mundle, Tanesha (2012) "Nov 12 trial date for Kartel", Jamaica Observer, 30 August 2012; retrieved 1 September 2012.
  48. "Vybz Kartel trial faces further delay". 
  49. "Vybz Kartel not guilty... Acquitted after prosecution offers no further evidence". Jamaica Gleaner. 24 July 2013. Retrieved 26 July 2013. 
  50. Gayle, Barbara (13 March 2014). "Guilty - Vybz Kartel, three co-accused convicted, Shane Williams freed". Jamaica Gleaner. Retrieved 13 March 2014. 
  51. McFadden, David (13 March 2014). "Jamaican rapper, 3 others convicted of murder". Associated Press. Retrieved 13 March 2014. 
  52. "Jamaica dancehall star Vybz Kartel guilty of murder". 14 March 2014. 
  53. Jesse Serwer (5 April 2014). "After Life Sentence for Murder Conviction, an Uncertain Fate for Vybz Kartel". Retrieved 31 December 2014. 
  54. "Vybz Kartel sentenced to life in prison, to serve 35 years before parole". Jamaica Gleaner. Retrieved 26 December 2014. 
  55. "In Jamaica, Vybz Kartel gets life for murder". Associated Press. Retrieved 2014-04-04. 
  56. Artist Biography by David Jeffries (1979-01-07). "Vybz Kartel | Awards". AllMusic. Retrieved 2014-04-03. 
  57. Jackson, Kevin (2015) "New Vybz on billboard", Jamaica Observer, 24 March 2015. Retrieved 25 March 2015
  58. "New album from Kartel", Jamaica Observer, 15 April 2016. Retrieved 23 April 2016
  59. Peaked at #11 on the Bubbling Under R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart, a chart of 25 spots below the 100-spot Hot R&B/Hip-Hop chart. Source
  60. Peaked at #21 on the Bubbling Under R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart, a chart of 25 spots below the 100-spot Hot R&B/Hip-Hop chart. Source
  61. Template:BillboardURLbyName
  62. "Zena and Vybz Kartel - Been Around The World - Music Charts". Retrieved 2014-04-03. 
  64. "Vybz Kartel pleased to be nominated for a Source award". Retrieved 2011-03-08. 
  65. Mobo drops 'homophobic' artists BBC News, 8 September 2004
  66. "2009 EME Awards". EME Awards. 
  67. "2010 EME Awards". EME Awards. 

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