Thursday, November 22, 2007

WE Spotlight - Problem Child: More than a Party Animal

By Karen L. Richardson



The simple, infectious lyrics of St. Vincent and the Grenadines 2007 road march strike a chord with everyone who has ever experienced the boundless energy of carnival.

No more sleep ‘til Carnival done (yea ah)Ah jumpin’ up in de burnin’ sun (yea ah)And I don't care if de rain come down (yea ah)Dat can’t stop me from havin’ fun

Penned by an American-based artiste who crams his love for making music into a chaotic schedule of full time employment, Problem Child’s Party Animal is a musical tribute to the tireless efforts of its author.

He released his first professional soca recording for Vincy Mas 1998 with the help of producer Cherry Ince, formerly of the band Touch. Position was a commendable rookie offering featuring aggressive dub-style lyricism over a bed of zouk-flavoured instrumentation and rhythm. Nearly ten years later, zouk would prove to be the ticket to his first-ever roadmarch title and all the unwanted pressures that go along with it.

“If they hate it, they have their reasons. There’s a lot of people hating it because they didn’t come up with the idea, although they would never admit that’s why,” said Problem Child.

The song, which samples Kassav’s 1996 breakthrough hit Zouk La Sé Sèl Médikaman Nou Ni, was met with criticism at home and abroad due to what was perceived by some as a lack of creativity on the part of its creators. DJ Scratch Master of St. Vincent’s Hot 97.l FM begs to differ: “The main reason for Problem Child’s success was not the sample, but the fact that at carnival all of us are indeed party animals. The no sleep factor, plus the manipulations that were done to the music by producer Fryktion cannot be ignored either. Play the Kassav first. Watch the response, then play the Problem Child after – night and day difference. Never in my 16 years of playing music have I seen a song in any genre do the damage and create the havoc this did, and I mean this in a positive way.”

Problem Child says he appreciates the support of fans who see the bigger picture and insists that he meant no disrespect. “The original is a classic, but not too many people can sing along with it. My version is in English. It’s very simple. Yeah, I’m not lyrical on this song and that was done purposefully, because a lot of my other songs people can not sing along to, ‘cause it’s just too deep,” said Problem Child.

One of his most lyrically exhausting songs was his 2005 come back tune, Mad on the Great Zeee’s Flood Storm riddim. Its rapid fire verses describe the anticipation of returning home for carnival after a long absence. Having lived in the United States for almost 10 years, Mad foreshadowed the atmosphere of euphoria that would fully take root two years later when the cliquish Vincentian soca fraternity could no longer deny its native son.

Party Animal was never expected to win any titles, but its producer isn’t surprised that Problem Child was able to make it happen. “Problem is the most creative artist I've worked with. He's the same like me, we don't stop till it's the way we want it,” said Fryktion.

Fryktion permitted Problem Child to record on the track after an earlier release called Gladiator failed to get attention from DJs, due to its unmixable quick tempo. “So, that’s how I ended up using that beat in particular. It wasn’t a plot or a ploy. It was just sitting there. It wasn’t even my beat. So, I guess everything happens for a reason,” Problem Child laughed.

The reasons are becoming clear. Finally people are taking notice. “I’ve done nothing really! OK, roadmarch I won. I’m grateful for that,” said Problem “That’s a notch. But that’s about all.” And so it begins, the party continues, but the hard work never ends. Problem Child expertly juggles his gigs, musically and otherwise while considering the possibility of compiling an album in 2008.
For more information on Problem Child, visit www.myspace.com/johnnyfontainne .

2 comments:

VINCYPOWA said...

Good article Karen.

Problem Child and PARTY ANIMAL" are the BIG BREAKTHROUGHS of in 2007

(Nurse) Karen said...

Hey Powa...

Thanks much. You know I've been watching PC since the start. I will always respect him for a tireless work ethic and an ingrained belief that he can never rest on his laurels. Looking forward to his repertoire for 2008!