Capleton (born Clifton George Bailey III, 13 April 1967, Saint
Mary, Jamaica) is a Jamaican reggae and dancehall artist. He is
also referred to as King Shango, King David, The Fireman and The
Prophet. His record label is called David House Productions. He
is known for his Rastafari movement views expressed in his songs.
As a youth, he was given the surname of a popular St. Mary lawyer
and friend of the family, Capleton, as a nickname by his relatives
and friends. Capleton rejects the name given to him at birth,
given its European origin. He now prefers "King Shango",
given its roots in the Yoruba language.
As a teenager, he snuck out of his home to catch local dancehall
acts, eventually leaving St. Mary for Kingston at the age of 18 to
work on his career as a dancehall deejay.
In 1989, he got his first big international exposure. Stewart Brown,
owner of a Toronto-based sound called African Star, gave the untested
artist his first break, flying him to Canada for a stage show alongside
like Ninjaman and Flourgan.
When Capleton first arrived on the scene in the late 1980s, slackness
and gun talk were the dominant lyrics in the dancehalls. The pre-Rasta
Capleton had a string of hit songs from "Bumbo Red" to "Number
One on the Look Good Chart" and "No Lotion Man".
He recorded the song that began to establish his significant place
in Dancehall, "Alms House" in 1992. The tune became a big
hit in the dancehall, followed up immediately by "Music is a
Mission" and the massive hit "Tour". By 1993, he was
voicing tunes which became increasingly conscious, such as "Prophet" and "Cold
Tunes such as "Tour" and "Wings of the Morning" earned
him a deal with Russell Simmons' Def Jam Recordings, which culminated
in the Prophecy and I-Testament albums of the mid-1990s.
In 1999, Capleton headlined Reggae Sumfest's dancehall night, to
much fanfare. The performance, which led to a subsequent headliner
placement the following year, is credited with "re-bussing",
or creating a comeback for, his career. The 1999-2000 period elicited
a string of hits, many of which can be found on the album More Fire.
By 2004, some argued the quality of Capleton's music had been downgraded
by over-proliferation on numerous riddims, while Capleton himself
argued his continued recording over both dancehall and roots reggae
riddims created balance in his musical output. Nonetheless, he
scored hit singles over the two most popular riddims of 2004, "That
Day Will Come" over the Hard Times riddim, and "Small World" over
the Drop Leaf.
After a hiatus from the label, Capleton returned to VP Records in
2010 with the release of I-Ternal Fire.
After headlining a U.S. tour which included Romain Virgo, Munga
Honorable, and Kulcha Knox in the fall of 2010, Capleton embarked
upon a tour of the African continent for late 2010 and early 2011.
Stops included Gambia, Senegal, South Africa and multiple dates in
Capleton makes reference to Bobo Ashanti, one of the various mansions
of the Rastafari movement. Yet he frequently mentions there's
no separation between the mansions of Rastafari as he see it, also
concluding in the same interview on TraceTV where he admitted he
doesn't eat meat of any kind, consume dairy in any form, or even
eat anything from soya. "Not an ordinary vegetarian.." he
stated, "I'm vegan." He also touches on the subject of
his lyrics regarding fire, claiming they are metaphoric references
of purification, not violence or murder.
Capleton has faced criticism for anti-gay lyrics in some of his
songs. His manager has argued that some of the controversial
lyrics have been mistranslated and do not actually refer to gays.
Capleton himself has admitted that through his Rastafari faith he
believes that a homosexual lifestyle is not right, but has insisted
that terms such as "burn" and "fire" are not
to be understood in the literal sense "to go out and burn and
kill people", but as a metaphor for "purification" and
cleansing. As part of an agreement to end the Stop Murder Music
campaign, Capleton and other artists allegedly signed the Reggae
Compassionate Act (RCA) in 2007.
However, Capleton has continued to sing songs that some claim violate
the RCA, causing the cancellation of a concert in Switzerland in
2008 and a United States tour in 2010, and as of late 2010
the Stop the Murder Music campaign is continuing to have some success
in canceling Capleton gigs.
Number One Pon the Look Good Chart - 1991
Lotion Man - 1991
Alms House - 1993
Good So - 1994
Prophecy - 1995
I-Testament - 1997
One Mission (compilation) - 1999
More Fire - 2000
Still Blazin' - 2002
Voice of Jamaica, Vol.3 - 2003
Praises to the King - 2003
Reign of Fire - 2004
The People Dem - 2004
Duppy Man (featured with Chase & Status)
Free Up - 2006
Hit Wit Da 44 Rounds - 2007
Rise Them Up - 2007
Bun Friend - 2008
Yaniko Roots - 2008
Jah Youth Elevation - 2008
Liberation Time (featured with AZAD) (2009)
I-Ternal Fire - 2010