Mon | Nov 18, 2019

Patrick Roberts dedicates CD honour to Seaga

Published:Monday | October 21, 2019 | 12:15 AMYasmine Peru/Gleaner Writer
KSAC councillor Patrick Roberts hands over books to Drewsland Primary School.
KSAC councillor Patrick Roberts hands over books to Drewsland Primary School.

On August 6, when a friend sent Patrick Roberts a simple text that said “congrats”, he had absolutely no idea what the person was talking about. He subsequently learned that his name had appeared in The Gleaner as one of the candidates who would receive national honours on Heroes Day. Roberts’ reaction was, “Yes! Finally. It’s never too late for a shower of rain.”

Actually, one year before, Roberts had been recommended for this honour – Order of Distinction in the rank of Officer – by no less a person than Jamaica’s former Prime Minister Edward Phillip George Seaga. What makes this dynamic quite remarkable is that Roberts is an active member of the People’s National Party, while Seaga represented the Jamaica Labour Party. This irony was not lost on the affable Roberts.

“Can you believe that it was Mr Seaga who recommended me? And he did it from 2018, because he wanted to be alive to see me receive it. However, there was some bungling and it did not reach the right office in time. The persons at the government office even called me and apologised. Then, this year, the mayor of Kingston made the recommendation again, and it happened. But since Mr Seaga won’t be able to see me walk across the lawns of King’s House, I am dedicating this to him,” Roberts told The Gleaner.

Roberts says he is “humble and appreciative”, and despite the risk of being accused of blowing his own trumpet, he feels that the honour is well deserved. Having excelled in the field of music production, with his iconic Shocking Vibes label, and also in artiste management, as manager of the Grammy Award-winning deejay, Beenie Man, Roberts, with over 30 years in the music business, has earned his respect and has indelibly stamped his mark on the development of popular music in Jamaica.

Controversial start

“The first song I produced was Ghetto People Bruk by Little Kirk in 1987. We followed that up with a cover of Michael Jackson’s hit song, Man In The Mirror,” he recalled. But it was not until 1989 that Shocking Vibes got its spectacular and rather controversial start with the release of a song by an artiste who was still attending school, Kingston College. The artiste was Little Lenny and the song title was inauspicious, to say the least – Gun Inna Baggy. It was an ambiguous reference to a girl contracting a sexually transmitted disease. As they say in the industry, Shocking Vibes ‘buss big’ and Roberts suddenly found himself as one of the go-to producers in the business. Additionally, Roberts and Beenie Man have the record of being the only producer-artiste duo to win the Producer of the Year and Artiste of the Year titles simultaneously for 10 consecutive years – 1994-2003.

In addition to his enviable production credits, having also recorded many of Jamaica’s top singers and deejays, including Sanchez and Tiger, Roberts’ strength also lies in community development. He was the initiator of several groundbreaking models in his inner-city community of Craig Town, with the hosting of the first Ghetto Splash in 1989 and also the first inner-city peace conference.

“We invited representatives from all the warring factions, such as S Corner, ‘Tel Avis’, Southside, Flanker, and Fletcher’s Land, to a a fact-finding symposium and we asked each one to tell us what peace means to them. It was eye-opening. The persons from The University of the West Indies who attended were amazed,” he said.

Roberts recalls that the symposium was so successful that American television reporter and interviewer Gil Noble, and Caribbean political theorist and intellectual historian Tony Bogues showed an interest. “They came down and met with us and used the Craig Town model for projects in Harlem,” Roberts disclosed.

Always seeming to have more hours in the day than the average Joe, Roberts has, over the years, found time to dedicate to politics, earning the position of counsellor for the Molynes Gardens division and putting himself up for candidacy in the St Andrew West Central division, while taking on the challenge of leading the Arnett Gardens football team. He was club president from 2000 to 2018, and has served in various positions on the national level.

“It is a great feeling to be honoured by your country,” Roberts reiterates. “This time around, it’s an OD Officer class. Who knows, maybe I can move up to a CD [Commander class] next time. After all, I’m still young and we nuh start we work yet. We still have a lot left to do,” he stated.