D.I.A RECORDS Classic Releases
"OUT OF BOUNDS" by HR of Bad Brains.
All Media Guide Review of "Out Of Bounds".
"OUT OF BOUNDS" CD available on ITUNES, AMAZON MP3, EMUSIC, GOOGLE PLAY, RHOPSODY, SPOTIFY
as well as via PAYPAL orders: Cost -- $49.99. FREE Shipping & Handling in U.S.A.Overseas add an additional $15. USD for shipping.):
"HR IN DUBB" (EP) by HR (Human Rights) of Bad Brains.
"HR IN DUB" CD available on ITUNES, AMAZON MP3. EMUSIC, GOOGLE PLAY and SPOTIFY. "HR IN DUBB" will be live on RHOPSODY soon.
The immortal STALAG 20, 21 & 22 -- THE NEXT GENERATION featuring Elephant Man, Mr. Vegas, Junior Demus, Ce'Cele, Merciless, Danny English, Egg 'n' Bread, Hawkeye, Chico and more... (Reggae-Dancehall super artists). Project was mixed by Cordel "Scatta" Burrell.
All Media Guide Review of "Stalag 20, 21 & 22 - The Next Generation". Available on AMAZON MP3, iTunes, GOOGLE PLAY, RHAPSODY and SPOTIFY:
CD orders via PayPal: Cost -- $49.99. FREE Shipping & Handling in U.S.A. Overseas add an additional $15. USD for shipping): ________________
Inverted Paradox (Various Artists) album is available on:
as well as via PAYPAL orders: Cost -- $49.99 (Includes 8.5% sales tax. FREE Shipping & Handling in U.S.A.Overseas add an additional $15. USD for shipping.):
Roguish Armament Alternative Hiphop.
CD orders via PayPal: Cost -- $24.99. FREE Shipping & Handling in U.S.A. Overseas add an additional $15. USD for shipping):
"KEEPER OF THE FAITH"
"Keeper Of The Faith" is a 100% Reggae Muzik album in the works... Still looking for right tracks for this album.
By Natasha Samuels for U E Magazine June 2000. Republished here in Fantra Zine online 9.28.16.
Fantra Zine Notes: Merciless (aka Leonard Bartley) undoubtedly is one of the best entertainers from Jamaica. He is one of few Jamaican reggae and dancehall artists who could have crossed over to be classified as an alternative artist similar to Eek A Mouse, Skatalites and Burning Appear. Patience coupled with timely artist development and paying dues on the tour circuit are components needed to do so.
In 1999, D.I.A knowing the crossover potential began working with Merciless on a handshake with the intention to sign him to a contract. After recording a track called 'Gimmie Back The Dayz' with Merciless, for "Stalag 20, 21 & 22 - Next Generation" dancehall-hiphop album for D.I.A Records, an artist development campaign was launched with Merciless to test the water and get to know him. The 'Gimmie Back The Dayz' track was mailed to radio jocks around the USA and a few countries including Canada, Brazil, Italy, Slovenia, Portugal, Malta, Germany, UK, and Australia. And the response was excellent.
D.I.A then booked Merciless on the Tamika Awards '99, via Chris Dobson who acquired the reggae award show from Clinton Lindsey. So D.I.A flew Merciless form Jamaica for the Tamika Awards at the Beacon Theater in New York City. Merciless ripped and turned the event over with his 5 minutes segment. Rumor has it this was the highlight of that Tamika Awards. (I did not attend.)
Intention to sign Merciless grew stronger especially since Merciless' former manager Khadafi was not in the picture according to the deejay. So with a bit of trepidation, the next major step was setting up three "Dancehall Kraze" shows in Boston - Massachusetts, June 16; Hartford - Connecticut, June 17; and New York City, June 18, 2000, with Merciless headlining. So flyers and street posters were printed and distributed in all three markets. Radio programs "Left Of The Dial" and publications in all three markets were engaged. As a matter of fact, while the street crew was postering Jamaica - Queens, NYC about 4 a.m. on 168th Street between 89th and Hillside Avenues, these young bashment women coming home from partying saw the black and yellow street posters hollered and jeered in Jamaican patios -- "Merciless dead." Hahaha. At that time a new crop of dancehall artists such as Mr. Vegas, Zebra, Lexxus and Kiprich were dominating dancehall.
So -- Tony Curtis, Chico, Renaissance with Oxtail and Ce'cile who was added at the last minute were flown in from Jamaica to co-bill and support Merciless. (By the way - D.I.A initially broke Ce'Cile to a wider audience in the USA.) All three shows went fairly well. But shortly after the Dancehall Kraze gigs, D.I.A learned Merciless recorded the 'Gimmie Back The Dayz' song that D.I.A paid him for, with a "suspicious" label that released it on 7-inch vinyl. (I have a copy of the vinyl. High suspicion points to that likkle still clueless one-stop label in Jamaica - Queens, that think they are "miles ahead.")
The short stint D.I.A spent rebuilding Merciless' career was quite successful. In less than a year, Merciless received a nice bump that was growing. Folks were paying attention again. Ultimately the work D.I.A did help elevate Merciless back into a top contender for Sting 2000, to battle Bounty Killer. But with the disappointment of Merciless recording 'Gimmie Back The Dayz' for another person, the relationship was severed abruptly man. That was a huge violation of trust. Leonard Bartley is a very cool individual. However, the decision to record "Gimmie Back The Dayz" for another producer signaled a permanent run with Merciless would not have worked out from a business perspective. So all interest in Merciless abruptly screeched to a stop with the quickness. It goes like that! "Half The Story Has Never Been Told."
Above image is the U E Merciless cover. And now the Natasha Samuels' piece:
No matter how much times I've done it, I still get butterflies whenever I have to interview a Reggae giant. Most of the four years that I spent at Syracuse University in upstate New York, back then, I wasn't paying too much attention to the artists as I was too busy learning how to shake my behind to the catchy dance rhythms of bass, Soca and of course Reggae music.
Dancehall Reggae star Merciless was my newest interview challenge. A few years ago, I had the opportunity to take in Merciless who was headlining the Syracuse University Caribbean Students Association annual Carifest. I was impressed with his style and delivery, and for a new artist, I was impressed with the way he worked the crowd. I never really paid much attention to the artist beyond this even with hits like 'Mr. Whoodini' and 'Gal Dem Gizado,' until the assignment landed on my desk.
Two live beings later, I walked away with a list of songs, a real name and with a promise for a direct phone number where I would be able to reach Merciless directly, and a suggestion to use "tact" on the Bounty question.
Well since the interview was already arranged by an outside party, the phone thing especially all the way to Jamaica (from Hartford, Connecticut) to Jamaica, was out of the question, and a list of songs and real name wasn't enough. To the trusty Internet I went and to my surprise for such a popular and accomplished artist who headlined big shows in Jamaica and USA, and who has countless hits, I was very surprised to see how little information existed on Merciless on the Internet. Can you say panic attack? Thank God my friend/advisor knew him personally because at about the 20th phone call on the subject, he finally told me that Merciless was one of the most down to earth and laid back deejays. Feeling secure about not walking into a blind interview with an overly egotistical deejay, I sat down to have a chat and not so much an interview with Merciless.
Natasha Samuels/UE: How did you get your start in the music industry?
Merciless: Most definitely I used to enter talent shows and stuff like Roofs. Nothing was going on with that so I moved to Kingston...
Where are you from originally?
I am from Clarendon. I went to Kingston and I was by Penthouse (Studio) and I ran into this guy named Khadafi who was an upcoming producer. He asked me if I was a "deejay and he said deejay a tune mek me hear," and I did a tune name 'Len Out Mi Mercy' for him. That same day he voiced me and the next week mi buss. This was in '93... late '93/'94.
When you were growing up who were some of your influences as far as music is concerned?
Well mi did have so many different artists. I can't pinpoint and say that I had anyone specific favorite artist back in the days. I just hope seh one day mi caan out deh. However, I used to listen to people like Supercat, Nicodemus and dem man deh.
Your name is Leonard Bartley right?
Yes. Leo-Nard. [He pronounces it like Leonard of Leonardo DeCaprio.]
Where did the name Merciless come from?
My stage name used to be Sugar Demus. After I voiced the song "Len Out Mi Mercy" everyone started saying well if a man a man len' out him mercy then he must be merciless. That's how the name came about and I just worked with it and it just stick and that is what carry me through 'til today.
So wait, your career was relatively easy then with connection that you made at Penthouse?
No it wasn't all easy. I was hanging out at Penthouse for a while, like for years. Everybody was telling me that I was a bad deejay and ray-ray but they weren't voicing me. So one day now out of the blue a producer that nobody wasn't paying attention to put out a song with me and then after that everybody wanted to voice me.
I noticed you are not jumping on a lot of the rhythms out there like a lot of the other artists, is this a conscious decision?
No, I am not doing that. Most of the rhythms have on too much people. You have all 40 man on one rhythm. Your tunes get stifled with these kind of things. So I just pick out certain producers to voice for. It's not every rhythm out there I want to voice on. It doesn't make sense that you end up voicing for a producer that is only going to exploit you.
Who are some of these producers?
Stone Love, Jeremy Harding of 2 Hard Records and Khadafi.
Describe to me your lyrical style
I spread my wings. I don't really stick to girl tunes. I don't stick to gun tunes and I don't stick to culture songs. I do everything. That's how I make my fans. That's how my fans know me.
Tell me your views on the Jamaican music industry today? It seems like a lot of the artists are being influenced by hip-hop.
Some of them. Because most of the deejays are singing over the rappers songs which it shouldn't go like that. You're supposed to create. I don't follow them. I just do my own thing cause nothing can't beat an original. Even if you sing over rap melody its not yours so I try to stick to my roots and create my own original style.
What was the beef that you had with Bounty Killer a few years ago?
That was in '97. This happened after I did this song "Mr. Whoodini." In the song I said "Is me the girls dem want, it's not Bounty or Benie." So Bounty tek it up and go do counteraction song and then the war kick off. On Sting '97, they said that they wouldn't promote a clash [between us]. I told them if they did I wanted three million dollars. Anyways, while I was on stage they gave Bounty a microphone to come out and clash with me. And I just stepped off.
Where is that now? Are you still at war?
No, me and Bounty have one of the wickedest tunes out there called 'No One Cares.' Well me and Bounty put our differences aside from '98. Bounty Killer came to my Birthday Bash, I went to his. This year I am going to be on his Birthday Bash again and he is going to be on mine. There's no beef with me and Bounty Killer right now. We are living good. The song isn't even officially released yet. It's just getting played on the radio in Jamaica right now.
Is there going to be a video for that song?
When can we expect to see your new album?
Well I did an album before. I was supposed to release an album before but when we got to PV (Jamaica, Queens - NYC), the type of money that they were telling us they wanted to pay after I did so much work so we just released them on singles. You can expect to see an album by August.
What can we expect to hear on the album?
Well you can expect the combination with me and Bounty and other artists I have some more singles with on exclusive rhythms. It's just pure new songs. I am not going to put any of my old songs on that album because most of those songs are already released on other compilations. I am giving my fans a fresh album.
I heard you mash up the Tamika Awards last year (1999).
Oh yes, it went very well. I gave a nice performance, but I had only five minutes.
What did you do that caused such a stir [at the Tamika's]?
Well I just said a few tunes and the whole place just mash up. I guess some people didn't realize that I did some of those songs. My fans listen out for me. In Jamaica, the way the business is going is like they only play certain artists songs on the radio. What I see is a lot of politics [as far as radio is concerned]. For instance, I have one of the toughest tunes on the Bellyas rhythm and I never hear it on a radio station in Jamaica not once.
Is there any particular rap artist you would like to work with?
Most definitely DMX and I would like to do a song with Mary J. Blige. I love those artists.
How easy or how difficult is it for Jamaican artists to do collaborations with artists in that caliber?
If you are signed to an American production company it's much easier.
Would like to be signed to an American label?
Of course why not.
Well from my observation it doesn't seem that American labels know how to market Jamaican artists.
Well it doesn't have to be the big companies. It could be an American label owned by a Jamaican. That person would know how to market me.
So would you prefer an independent label in comparison to a Virgin?
Virgin done big already so they don't want anything. They are not going to go all out and put 100% behind my career. But like me [and an independent label] we can walk and sell the records if need be. Plus you are in a company where you don't even know the boss. I would prefer to be signed to a smaller label like D.I.A right now than a Virgin. When you sign to a Virgin, they are already out there. It's like a garage. A big garage just needs money but a little garage the owner needs to work plus he needs a recommendation from you to get more work. You know they have so much people signed already they aren't going to have time to penetrate artists like myself.
I know we talked a little about Tamika's, what can the fans expect to see when you come to Boston and Hartford on Dancehall Kraze?
Well it's going to be way better than the Tamika Awards because I got only 5 minutes. I didn't even get to do what I wanted to do.
Related Stalag 20, 21 & 22 Press in Jamaican X-News.
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DENNIS ALCAPONE's Interview with Tommy Fox