Metromedia's second coming

Metromedia's second coming

By Howard Campbell
Observer senior writer

Thursday, August 22, 2019

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In the 1990s hardcore dancehall fans flocked venues like House Of Leo to hear Metromedia Sound System throw down the latest hit songs through resident selector Sky Juice and deejay Peter Metro. As a new generation of 'sounds' emerged, 'Metro' has taken a back seat but owner Haldaine “Jimmy Metro” James says they are still in the game.

James has operated Metromedia since the mid-1970s when he took over from Lou Gooden, who launched it in 1968. He was at the helm during its glory years of the 1980s and 1990s, but admits there has been a lull in recent times.

Metromedia is still busy, playing at least three times a week, but James believes it is due for a rebranding to reach younger fans.

“People need to know we are still around. We still have our fans but we want a younger generation to know we are not playing old people music,” he told the Jamaica Observer.

Many fans identify Metromedia with veteran selectors Dalton “Sky Juice” Bogle and Oliver “DJ Oliver” Alvaranga. But James points out that they are complemented by young turks like Charlie General, Hotta Blaxx, DJ Mafi and Papa Scully.

“We play the hottest artistes out there, is not jus' songs from the '80s and '90s. There is something for everybody who come to a Metromedia dance,” he said.

Originally from Newell in St Elizabeth, James moved to Woodford Park in central Kingston in 1968, around the time Gooden started Metromedia in that community. When he assumed the reins, James was a public relations man at Dynamic Sounds.

Initially a “soul sound”, Metro took off in the 1980s thanks to the popularity of Peter Metro and fellow deejays Squiddly Ranks and Dominic, a white Londoner.

They played throughout Jamaica, the Caribbean, England and the United States east coast. That trend continued during the 1990s, when they were a staple at House Of Leo, and drew younger fans through another rising star in their ranks, deejay Tanto Metro.

Most of Metromedia's dates these days are in rural areas. For 10 years, they had a weekly gig at their Woodford Park base but gave that up in 2016 due to violent outbursts in the area.

Giving a nod to Weddy Weddy and Uptown Mondays, James is aware of the influence weekly dances have.

“That's something we are definitely looking at. We are trying to find a venue right now,” he said.

Metromedia's latest gig takes place tomorrow in Prospect, Clarendon at Watch Out Fi Dis Summer Edition.

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