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General Levy

b. Paul Levy, 1971, Park Royal, London, England. As ragga music finally made it into the mainstream in 1993 with Chaka Demus And Pliers, Shaggy, Shabba Ranks and others storming the UK national charts, it was left to just one home-grown DJ to fly the flag for British ragga music. A north west London youth, Levy began his career DJing as General Levy, working his way through Vigilante, Java and Robbo Ranx’s Tipatone sound systems. His first release was for Robbo’s Muzik Street label (Robbo Ranx & Levian Rock) in 1988, and ‘New Cockatoo’ proved to be something quite different, as Levy’s freshness, youth and enthusiasm poured out of every groove. His next move was to south London where Fashion Records’ resident engineer, Gussie P, released his debut album, on which he shared the honours with Jamaican superstar DJ Capleton. Entitled Double Trouble the format (already tried and trusted) highlighted both Levy’s and Capleton’s different styles and approaches, spanning Jamaican and UK traditions. His popularity was boosted by numerous ‘specials’ for sound systems and he finally came to the public’s attention in a big way with ‘Original Length & Strength’ on Fashion Records. His next trio of releases for Fashion, ‘Heat’, ‘Breeze’ and ‘The Wig’ established him as the British DJ. His lyrics ranged from serious culture to risqué ‘slackness’, with barely a pause for breath. His live shows had to be experienced to be believed, as he exploded all over the stage, arms and legs flailing to the accompaniment of non-stop, infectious, raucous rhyming. His branching out with Justice Records for some hip-hop-based recordings further broadened his appeal, and the late 1992 long-playing release for Fashion of The Wickeder General was an immediate runaway success. His burgeoning talent and personality was soon spotted by the majors (especially with all the frantic interest in ragga in the spring of 1993), and ffrr Records clinched the big contract. They retitled, repackaged and re-promoted The Wickeder General as Wickedness Increase and the strength of the added tracks ensured healthy sales – even to the reggae market where his fans had already purchased the original pressing.

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