A report from Jamaica’s Star.
Jamaican dance culture, for many decades, has captured the attention of the world, and while the iconic moves have been popular, influencing other genres, it has also been controversial and deadly at times.
Humphrey Phillips Jr, known as Spinal, who hails from Swamp Road in Yallahs, St Thomas, has been dancing across New York City (NYC) for the past seven years.
Spinal’s story of immigration, which mirrors that of many other families across the Caribbean, shows how one can continue one’s love and passion even outside of the islands beautiful shores.
After his mother took him to to New York, he continued pursuing his passion for dance in the city’s streets.
Unable to stop dancing, his popularity grew, but so did the struggles. He recalls dancing at events for free, after being advertised as a guest performer, to even promoting events without pay.
Though he wasn’t at the legal age to even drink in the big city, Jamaican parties welcomed him as he represented dancers back home while preserving the culture.
His resume now boasts cameos with artistes Jahmeil, Hood Celebrityy, and Blak Ryno and even recently appeared in Kemar Highcon’s Sauce Remix with Billboard-charting artiste Spice and Grammy-award winner Shaggy.
His recent collaboration with @THATSTHEDANCER, bringing life to Vybz Kartel’s single Then You & Me, caught the artiste’s eyes.
Spinal, realising that he had the Gaza boss’ attention, partnered with Pyrotech Dancers and released a choreography for another Kartel single, Tony Montana.
That led to a public endorsement from Kartel. The video, which was reposted to Kartel’s Instagram page, has amassed thousand of views.
“I’m pleased that Vybz Kartel, who is the king of dancehall, saw the talent and acknowledged it. But I’m a regular Jamaican youth here in the Big Apple seeking to keep the culture alive, not just in the streets of New York City, but globally. I do it because I love it, not because of the fame, but because of the opportunities that can stem from it, not just for me, but others,” Spinal said.
Spinal also seeks to use his talent to further his entrepreneurial endeavours.
As he eyes opening a commercial complex giving space to others in the arts, he also wants to explore his love of cooking by opening a Jamaican cuisine restaurant in NYC.