Prince Jazzbo, a rap reggae performer and producer whose career spanned 40 years, has died of lung cancer, in his native Jamaica.
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, 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. In the 1970s, he had a spirited lyrical feud with fellow reggae rapper I-Roy. The two men sparred with each other publicly on stage, but were friends away from the microphone. Jazzbo’s performing career largely faded after the 1970s. But he helped build a record label called Ujama and eventually ran it himself, going on to produce hundreds of tunes.
Close friend Julie “Zimma” White said Jazzbo was a “very prideful man and a man of honor.” 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 know I will never forget him.”
He was recording music at his home studio until the end, his daughter said. A digital track called Tribulation Riddim, set to be released Saturday, was intended to help him raise money to pay for his medical care.