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Emerging during the latter half of the '90s, the enormously prolific Sizzla was one of the leaders of the conscious dancehall movement. Along with Buju Banton and Capleton, he helped lead dancehall back to the musical and spiritual influence of roots reggae, favoring organic productions and heavily Rastafarian subject matter. A member of the militant Bobo Ashanti sect, he sometimes courted controversy with his strict adherence to their views, particularly his aggressive condemnations of homosexuals and white Western oppressors. Yet overall, his music was generally positive, advocating faith and compassion for poor black youth, and respect for women. He remained something of an enigma to the public at large, rarely granting interviews and keeping his concert appearances to a minimum. Nonetheless, he still ranked as arguably the most popular conscious reggae artist of his time, thanks to a normally high standard of quality control -- all the more impressive given the frequency with which he recorded. A versatile singjay-style vocalist with a gruff, gravelly tone, he was capable of both rapid-fire chatting and powerful, melodic singing, and his best backing riddims were among the strongest in contemporary dancehall.
Sizzla was born Miguel Collins on April 17, 1976 and was raised in the August Town area of Kingston of devout Rastafarian parents. After honing his vocal skills, he landed a gig with the Caveman Hi-Fi sound system, where he first made a name for himself as a performer. He cut his first single for the small Zagalou label in 1995, and soon moved on to Bobby "Digital" Dixon's Digital B imprint. However, he didn't manage a break-out success until saxophonist Dean Fraser recommended him to producer Philip "Fatis" Burrell. Sizzla released a series of singles on Burrell's Xterminator label, including "Judgement Morning," "Life's Road," "Blaspheme," "We Uh Fear," "I'm Not Sure," and the Shadowman duet "The Gun." His first LP, Burning Up, appeared on Xterminator later in 1995, and he toured extensively alongside Luciano and Mikey General. Unlike kindred spirits Capleton and Buju Banton, Sizzla's early material was culturally oriented right from the start; he was able to build an audience without any of the lyrical slackness that helped establish the other two.
Creatively speaking, Sizzla really came into his own with the release of his second album, the Burrell-produced Praise Ye Jah in 1997. Widely considered one of the top conscious dancehall albums of its time, Praise Ye Jah was quickly trumped by the release of the Dixon-produced Black Woman & Child that same year. The title track was a smash hit and became something of a cultural reggae anthem. Sizzla scored several more hits during 1997, including "Like Mountain," "Babylon Cowboy," "Kings of the Earth," and the Luciano duet "Build a Better World." This hot streak kicked off an enormously productive recording binge that lasted over the next several years, with much of his output still done for Burrell.
1998's Kalonji was issued in the U.S. under the title Freedom Cry, and featured the successful singles "Love Amongst My Brethren" and "Rain Shower." No less than three albums -- Be I Strong, Good Ways, and Royal Son of Ethiopia -- appeared in 1999, with Be I Strong achieving the highest profile among them. 2000 brought three more albums: the double-CD Liberate Yourself (which featured one disc of Sizzla material and another of his protégés), Words of Truth (which featured a bonus live disc), and Bobo Ashanti, a well-received, highly spiritual set with a stronger hip-hop flavor. Refusing to slow down, Sizzla issued four more albums in 2001 -- Black History, Taking Over, Rastafari Teach I Everything, and Blaze Up the Chalwa -- and often displayed a harder edge and a willingness to embrace digital production. That approach changed in 2002, when he concentrated on softer, mellower, more romantic material, which dominated that year's albums: Ghetto Revolution and Da Real Thing. Two more albums, Light of My World and Rise to the Occasion, appeared in 2003. Soul Deep was released in 2005, with both Ain't Gonna See Us Fall and Waterhouse Redemption landing a year later. By the end of 2006, Sizzla released the high-profile The Overstanding, an album with hip-hop impresario Damon Dash as executive producer. I-Space returned the singer to his Jamaican roots in mid-2007. Welcome to the Good Life followed in 2011. A trip to Africa influenced two of his 2012 albums with The Chant focusing on his visit to Zimbabwe while In Gambia was partially recorded in its namesake country. His 2013 effort The Messiah was recorded with the Bread Back production team and marked his 70th album.
Sizzla Kalonji, or simply Sizzla (born Miguel Orlando Collins, April 17, 1976, Kingston, Jamaica) is a reggae musician. He is one of the most commercially and critically successful contemporary reggae artists and is noted for his high number of releases. As of 2011 he had released over 70 solo albums."Home for Caribbean Entertainment". TropicalFete.com. Retrieved 2011-03-08. Eugene Osafo-Nkansah (March 15, 2010). "The Sizzla Live in Ghana was a 'Disgrace'". Modern Ghana. Retrieved September 22, 2011.
ContentsBiography1.1 Career1.2 Controversy1.3 Judgement Yard1.4 Zimbabwe1.5 Motorcycle accident
Sizzla was born in Kingston to devout Rastafari movement parents. Like them Sizzla subscribes to the Bobo Ashanti branch of the Rastafari movement. He was raised in August Town, Kingston, Jamaica where he studied mechanical engineering at Dunoon High School.
Kalonji witnessed a dancehall explosion, and with the music came the lifestyle: drugs, guns, and "slackness" (vulgarity). Formally adopting the Rastafari faith, with its advocacy of repatriation to Africa and its use of cannabis, he joined the ranks of the Bobo Shanti in the mid-1990s.
Sizzla began to develop his own style whilst serving his musical apprenticeship with the Caveman Hi-Fi sound system. He has used his music as a vehicle for his message, kickstarting his recording career in 1995 with a release through the Zagalou label, he then teamed up with "Bobby Digital" Dixon for a series of singles. Extensive touring with fellow roots and culture artist Luciano followed, earning Sizzla notability.
Homer Harris, the same man who named and mentored Buju Banton got him his first break, introduced Sizzla to top Jamaican saxophonist Dean Fraser, the musical director for Philip "Fatis" Burrell's Xterminator Family. 1996 marked an important turning point for Sizzla when he began working with Fatis. This union led to a run of successful singles and the release of Sizzla's debut album, Burning Up.
The two allied again a year later with the follow-up, Praise Ye Jah (JetStar). Praise Ye Jah was quickly trumped by his release of the Dixon-produced Black Woman & Child that same year. The title track was a smash hit and became something of a cultural reggae anthem. Sizzla scored several more hits during 1997, including "Like Mountain," "Babylon Cowboy," "Kings of the Earth," and the Luciano duet "Build a Better World." This hot streak kicked off an enormously productive recording binge that lasted over the next several years, with much of his output still done for Burrell.
Along with universal praise came Sizzla's first nomination for Best International Reggae Artist of the Year at the 1998 MOBO Awards and a place in various magazines' top 100 albums of the year. Sizzla has since released several dozen albums, including 1998's Kalonji and Royal Son of Ethiopia from 1999. 1999 also saw him receive his second MOBO nomination. Sizzla remains a constant presence in the reggae charts worldwide. Currently, Sizzla has 21 albums that have made it onto the Billboard's Top Reggae Albums music chart, the highest Words of Truth, reaching the peak position of #5.
Sizzla Kalonji has released over 45 solo albums and over fifteen combination albums, crossing different genres of Reggae. He has started his own record company, Kalonji Records; which in a joint venture with Damon Dash Music Group and Koch Records, released the album, The Overstanding, in November 2006. This was his third album released through Kalonji Records; as well as Black History and Life.
Sizzla, along with reggae recording artists such as Capleton, Buju Banton, and Anthony B, are credited with leading a movement toward a re-embracement of Rastafarian values in contemporary reggae music by recording material which is concerned primarily with spirituality and social consciousness, explores common themes, such as Babylon's corrupting influence, the disenfranchisement of ghetto youth, oppression of the black nation and Sizzla's abiding faith in Jah and resistance against perceived agents of oppression.
Sizzla's 2008 effort, Ghetto Youth-ology, is produced by the Firehouse Crew, the same who produced Sizzla's debut, Burning Up.
In 2013 he released the album The Messiah. In January 2014 it was nominated for a Grammy Award.
Sizzla has undergone criticism due to anti-gay lyrics in some of his recordings, causing the cancellation of many international concerts.
In 2004, he was barred from entering the United Kingdom for several concerts. OutRage!, a British LGBT rights group alleged that some of Sizzla's songs contain lyrics that advocate violence against LGBT people. In 2007, Sizzla's concerts in Toronto and Montreal had been cancelled after protests from Stop Murder Music Canada coalition. Kalonji's song titled, "Nah Apologize", was recorded in 2004. In 2008 his visa was cancelled, preventing him from entering Germany after performing half of his tour and he was sent back to the United States. Sizzla maintains his stance that he is an artist using his creative expression and freedom of speech but will speak out against injustice where he sees it In 2009 and 2010 several concerts in Germany had been cancelled after public protests against the concerts. In 2012 concerts were cancelled in Madrid (Spain), Ghent, Belgium, and Stockholm, Sweden after public protests. Kalonji Muzik issued a statement after the cancellations that he abides by the laws of every country that he performs in and is not trying to invoke or incite violence against anyone. The tour continued regardless of the few cancellations and in over 16 other European cities each venue was sold out.
Judgement Yard was established as a community centre in August Town, an eastern suburb of Kingston, Jamaica, by Sizzla Kalonji. Although Judgement Yard is an organization of sorts, it is also a geographic location located at 42 August Town Road, which is where Sizzla maintains one of his residences. Judgement Yard is also the home of Kalonji's state of the art studio, as well as his record label, Kalonji Records. As the owner and founder of the Yard, Kalonji is responsible for many youths in the community of August Town, as well as youths who come from other areas to seek assistance and guidance in life as well as music. He is an influence to many. Many of these same youths who are members of Judgement Yard fraternity are musicians or have some direct affiliation with the music through production works, artiste works, etc. Sizzla has recorded songs with the prominent artists in Judgement Yard, Joseph Shepherd, Bobo David and G-Mac.
In February 2010, Sizzla traveled to Zimbabwe to perform at the 86th birthday celebration of President Robert Mugabe. There was a near-riot during his performance, including beatings of crowd members by police, causing Sizzla to temporarily halt his performance and ask the police to cease the beatings.
Later that year, Sizzla was "rewarded" with a farm in the country, with the artist stating he was "here to stay" in Zimbabwe. He also voiced plans to begin an agro-business and build a recording studio in the country. The moves were not without controversy, particularly among Mugabe detractors who insisted he not perform for the President. Sizzla refused to condemn Mugabe post-performance, while insisting the land he received was not a reward from the Zimbabwean government, but given to him by the local people in appreciation for his performance. He also stated plans to eventually make Zimbabwe his permanent home.
On August 24, 2011, Sizzla was hit by a bus while riding his motorcycle along the Salem main road, near Runaway Bay in St. Ann, Jamaica, leading to many false reports of the singer's death. He resumed recording by the beginning of the following year.Barrow, Steve & Dalton, Peter (2004) The Rough Guide to Reggae, 3rd edn., Rough Guides, ISBN 1-84353-329-4, p. 375 Du Noyer, Paul (2003). The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Music (1st ed.). Fulham, London: Flame Tree Publishing. p. 364. ISBN 1-904041-96-5. "Sizzla Biography". Don Prhotene Inc. Retrieved 2008-05-09. Huey, Steve. "Sizzla Biography". Allmusic. Retrieved 2008-05-03. Kalli, Joanna. "Sizzla Biography". Shashamane. Retrieved 2008-05-09. Sizzla's albums on Billboard's Top Reggae Albums Chart "Music". VIBE. Retrieved 2011-03-08. "VP Records Enjoys Grammy Notice", Jamaica Gleaner, January 12, 2014. Retrieved January 12, 2014 Huey, Steve. "Sizzla Biography". AllMusic.com. Retrieved May 2, 2012. Bishop, Tom (November 4, 2004). "Entertainment | Music | Ban threat aborts Sizzla UK tour". BBC News. Retrieved 2013-06-01. Krishna Rau / Toronto / Thursday, October 11, 2007 (October 11, 2007). "Koolhaus cancels concerts amid queer outrage". Xtra.ca. Retrieved 2013-06-01. "Spanien verweigert Sizzla die Einreise". Queer.de. Retrieved 2011-03-08. "Homophobie: Sizzla spielt in München – Berlin – Tagesspiegel". Tagesspiegel.de. November 27, 2009. Retrieved 2011-03-08. sueddeutsche.de GmbH, Munich, Germany. "Veranstalter beugt sich dem Druck – Sizzla-Auftritt am Chiemsee abgesagt – Bayern". sueddeutsche.de. Retrieved 2011-03-08. "Cancelado en Madrid el concierto de un rapero acusado de homófobo". elpais.com. March 26, 2012. Retrieved 2012-03-27. "About: Sizzla Kalonji's Judgement Yard". Judgement Yard. Retrieved 2008-05-03. "Judgement Yard". Judgement Yard. Retrieved 2008-05-03. Sizzla headlines Mugabe celebrations. New Zimbabwe. February 25, 2010. Retrieved February 7, 2011. Mhlanga, Carl. Sizzla defends police-brutalised Zimbabwe Fans. ZimEye. March 2, 2010. Sizzla gets farm, settles in Zim. New Zimbabwe. May 6, 2010. Retrieved February 7, 2011. Maseko, Nozipho. Sizzla refuses to condemn Mugabe. The Zimbabwe Telegraph. January 16, 2011. "Sizzla Not Dead – Sizzla Kalonji False Death Reports Surface After Accident". News.lalate.com. Retrieved 2013-06-01.