After years of toiling in dancehall where he built an underground following, the diminutive vocalists on the brink of a major breakthrough. Lutan is keen to emulate The Crowned Prince of Reggae Dennis Brown and Garnet Silk, two of the singers he grew up listening to by not only singing hard‐hitting message music, but making commercial sounds that will introduce him to the mainstream.
“Getting that hit song is important to every artiste, I’ve always sang as an artiste but its time I start singing for the radio,” he said. At the start of 2009, San Francisco’s 2B1 Records released Africa, a double disc, 30‐song album by the prolific singer, which includes songs like De La Vega, Save the Juvenile and Out Line, which are largely familiar to sound system audience around the world. It was released three years after Phantom War, an impressive compilation of songs distributed by Britain’s Green Sleeves Records.
Recently, Lutan inked a management deal with Prestige Artists Entertainment, a management and booking company headed by Lukes Morgan, guitarist for leading Roots Reggae act Morgan Heritage.
“I don’t see Lutan as an average artiste”, Lukes Said, “What really grabs me about him is his sing jay style delivery, and the way he uses melodies and lyrical content”. Dub poet/social commentator Mutabaruka says he is taken with Lutan’s stance to sing from the heart despite the material trappings of the music business.
“(The fact that he said) we are going to call an album Africa. Nothing else. That is saying a lot,” Muta said at the Kingston launch for Africa. Lutan Fyah was born Anthony Martin in Portmore, a sprawling housing community in Jamaica’s St. Catherine parish.
He has strong roots in Spanish Town, once the capital of the Caribbean country and stomping ground for big names like Lieutenant Stitchie, Papa San and San’s late brother Dirtsman. In fact, Lutan remembers as a youth listening to San and Dirtsman performing at dances on his grandfather’s Black Iniverse Sound System in Thompson Pen, a community in Spanish Town.
Watching them up‐close inspired his career path. After giving up a promising football career due to persistent injury, Anthony Martin morphed into Lutan Fyah.
Among his best‐known early songs was There Is No Peace in Spanish Town, a catchy take on The Drifters’ classic Spanish Harlem, which dealt with gang violence in Spanish Town. He said it is difficult to escape the culture of crime that has dominated the ‘old capital’ for over 10 years.
“Spanish Town is a kind of garrison where every man is a suspect. To keep yourself with the vibes you have to walk a chalk line,” he said. Through regular tours, he has made a name for himself in Europe where there has long been an appreciation for roots‐reggae acts like Burning Spear, Culture and the Mighty Diamonds.
But after nearly a decade of looking in from the underground, he is ready to blaze a trail in the mainstream.