“I used to just grab the mic and vibe up the place with my arguments and slangs!” remembers Bounty of the beginning of his career. Rodney’s first lyrics strained over a raw, monotone melody, but the topic mapped out the conscious vein that would pulse through his music in the years ahead, a map that would lead his people to crown him the Poor Peoples Governor.
At the hub of the Reggae revolution in the 80s and early 90s was record producer King Jammy, whose 1985 timeless Sleng-Teng riddim heralded the arrival of digital Dancehall. Day after day, month after month, Rodney and fellow Seaviewites (and future Scare Dem Crew members) Ballie Ballie, Nitty Kutchie and Boom Dandemite would make the journey to Jammy’s recording studio at St Lucia Rd, awaiting the chance to jump on the next riddim being formulated.
When Bounty got the opportunity to voice at Jammy’s, he opted for a song that reflected his life experiences. “Coppershot” was the self-explanatory title. But, at that time King Jammy was trying to steer his label clear of songs that paid homage to guns, and passed on the record. Uncle T – Jammy’s brother – realised Bounty’s potential and took him under his wing. Bounty left the Jammy’s camp in 1995 when he formed his own Scare Dem Productions and Priceless Records labels.
Bounty’s anthems have singled him out to be a true voice unto the voiceless of Jamaica. Songs of redemption such as “Defend the Poor”, “Mama”, “Book, Book, Book”, “Babylon System” and “Down in the Ghetto” afforded him the undivided affection and attention of Jamaicans. Bounty Killer’s seminal 1996 double album, My Xperience, took the world by storm, spending six months at number 1 on the Reggae Billboard chart, and two months on the Billboard Top Albums chart. My Xperience has the distinction of being one of the only Reggae albums ever to break into and strongly influence the Hip Hop community. Bounty Killers collaborations with Busta Rhymes, the Fugees, Wu-Tung Clan and Jeru the Damaja set the benchmark against which all other Hip Hop/Reggae hybrid records are measured.
2001 saw the strengthening of Bounty’s career on the international scene. After recording in Jamaica with US band No Doubt, the Sly & Robbie-produced “Hey Baby” became the band’s first single from Rocksteady, No Doubt’s triple-platinum set. “Hey Baby” soared up singles charts across the globe - peaking at number 5 on Billboard, debuting at number 2 in the UK and garnering lofty chart positions from Germany to Australia. The “Hey Baby” video reached number 3 on MTV’s daily TRL Countdown and remained the number 1 video on VH1s Top 20 video chart for three weeks. Performing with No Doubt at the 2002 Super Bowl and on Top of the Pops is one of the highlights of Bounty’s career. Bounty became the first Jamaican artiste to win an MTV Music Video Award (2 in fact!) with “Hey Baby”. The critically-acclaimed song also won a Grammy in 2003 for Best Pop Performance by a Duo or Group. The collaboration paved the way for the success that Dancehall is now experiencing.
Bounty does a lot of work for charitable causes and ensures that a large percentage of the profits from those shows are donated to worthy causes, especially those concerned with young people and children. Cash and equipment donations to inner-city schools paved the way for scholarship funds, ensuring that youngsters from economically deprived areas can get the education that should be their right