Veteran deejay Cham has revealed that his mega Dancehall hit Babylon Bwoy was based on a real-life experience, and was penned and recorded in a bid to “embarrass the Jamaica Constabulary Force”.
As he continued his monologues telling the story behind each song on the 21st anniversary of his debut album Wow…The Story which he recorded at age 21, Cham recalled the drama that unfolded when he, his mentor Dave Kelly and other musicians were accosted by one of Jamaica’s most feared policemen, one eventful night in Kingston.
Cham posted a video of himself in performance at a stage show prefacing his rendition of the song by outlining some of the harrowing extra-judicial killings exacted on members of the population and other atrocities carried out by the police.
He also provided a caption to the post:
“The Police and The People In Jamaica, And All Over The World, Have A Love / Hate Relationship!! We Don’t Like Them But As A Society We Need Them. This Is The Story Behind The Classic And Controversial Single “BABYLON BWOY”!!
‘This was very huge record in 1999 and it was from a true story that we got the inspiration,” Cham explained in his preamble about the chart-topping Dave Kelly-produced song which was laid on the Bounce riddim.
“A police in Jamaica by the name ‘Trinity’ back then, pulled us over – myself, Wayne Wonder, Dave Kelly, Frankie Sly, we were coming from studio one night and he (Trinity) pulled us over in the middle of the road at the intersection of Molynes Road and Washington Boulevard. Not on the side; in the middle so every traffic was blocked up,” Cham recounted.
“Everyone was seeing everything. People were shouting out that ‘that’s Cham, that’s Wayne Wonder, that’s Dave Kelly; that’s Sly’ and he didn’t care. He said that he got intel, that he got information and intel that we had guns in the vehicle,” he continued.
Added Cham: “Anyway they ordered us out the vehicle and had us kneel down in the middle of the street. Embarrassment at the time. They found nothing at all; not even a rachet knife. And we left there with the intention of going in the studio and making sure that we embarrassed the police force… because of all the treatment that we got that night and how they treat people on a whole.”
In closing, Cham said though, that the song was aimed at the bad-behaving policemen and not the ones who were level-headed.
“So Babylon Bwoy, true inspiration, true story. You have a lot of good cops; you have a lot of bad cops… and that song was made for all the bad cops,” he explained.
Wow…The Story was released on 24 October 2000 and peaked at No. 5 on the Billboard Reggae Album Chart on November 17 that year. It consisted of a double CD, the first titled In the Beginning and the other being Another Level, and also has the distinction of being the first double CD album in Reggae and Dancehall history.
All but one of the songs on the album were produced by Dave Kelly, the exception being Desperate Measures which was produced by his brother Tony Kelly.
Disc number one on the album comprised The Mass, Many Many, Que Sera/Hottie Hottie Crew, Funny Man, Gallang Yah Gal/We No Sorry, Boom/Can I Get A, Boom Tune, Ghetto Pledge, Babylon Bwoy, Ma People and Man and Man.
Disc two comprised Who, Heading to the Top, On A Roll, Flossing every Day, More featuring Foxy Brown, No, High Rollers featuring Shaggy, Smooth Operator featuring Mr. Easy, Another Level featuring Bounty Killer and Mama’s Teaching.