Prince Jazzbo, who died in his native Jamaica on 11 September at the age of 62 from lung cancer, was a rap reggae performer and producer whose career spanned 40 years. He started his career in the early 1970s at Clement “Sir Coxsone” Dodd's Studio One, the island's first black-owned music studio that launched the careers of many reggae legends, including Bob Marley.
Born Linval Carter on 3 September 1951 in Clarendon Parish, Jamaica, and raised in Kingston, Jazzbo was a relatively early performer of dancehall toasting, a vibrant form of rhythmic chanting over a sound system track that directly inspired hip-hop. His best known tunes included “Croaking Lizard,” “Penny Reel” and “Crab Walking.” His early work with Dodd produced several hits between 1972 and 1974, including “School”, “Fool For Love” and “I Imperial”. His first hit, in 1972, was a version of Horace Andy's “Skylarking”, which he re-worked as “Crabwalking”.
In the 1970s he had a spirited lyrical battle with fellow reggae rapper I-Roy. The two men “feuded” on several studio tracks, but were friends away from the microphone. The album Super Ape, produced by Lee “Scratch” Perry, featured Jazzbo toasting on the track “Croaking Lizard”. Jazzbo and fellow toaster I-Roy had a well reported, but friendly and mutually beneficial on-record clash during 1975, including the cuts “Straight to Jazzbo's Head” from I-Roy and the retort, “Straight to I-Roy's Head” from Prince Jazzbo.
Jazzbo's career as a performer faded after the 1970s but he helped build a record label called Ujama and eventually ran it himself, going on to produce hundreds of tracks. His close friend Julie “Zimma” White said Jazzbo was a “very prideful man and a man of honour.” He raised money for Christmas events for children in his community of Spanish Town, a crime-troubled city in southern Jamaica. “Jazzbo always said a good friend is better than pocket change and that is how he lived,” White said. “Jazzbo will be missed by many. I will never forget him.”
He was recording music at his home studio until the end, his daughter, Princess Omega Carter, said. A digital track called “Tribulation Riddim,” which was released a few days after his death, had been intended to help him raise money to pay for his medical care.
Jazzbo is survived by three daughters, two sons, 10 grandchildren and his long-standing companion, Natalie Wellington.