The Wow

The Wow May Have The Most Slept-On Album Of 2014

It's been a good year for hip-hop. Both rookies and veterans have released an array of stellar projects. For instance, Logic’s Def Jam debut album, Under Pressure stood up to T.I.’s true-to-life Paperwork album and peaked at No. 5 on Billboard charts. Long Beach native Vince Staples recently dropped his respectable project dubbed Hell Can Wait while Killer Mike and El-P—collectively known as Run The Jewels—released the second installment of their self-titled LP, which is definitely one of the year's best LPs.

Missing from the conversation is California-based rap group The Wow. The rugged boom-bap and lyrically energetic duo consist of a nerdy, swaggy white guy named Balthazar Getty and former battle rapper, KO The Legend. On Oct. 14, the rappers released their debut project titled LGNDRY on their independent Purple House Music label. The album boasts appearances by well-respected MCs such as Method Man, Prodigy of Mobb Deep and The Pharcyde's Fatlip.

The black-and-white rap tag team have been putting in work for more than a decade. KO barged his way into the industry after murking a rap battle competition at L.A. radio station, Power 106.1. “They had this battle competition called the Role Call," he tells VIBE. "I had this record on there. It was on there for five months. They had to retire it.”

After obliterating rappers with heavy bars and metaphors, KO garnered a following as artists like Lil' Flip and Britney Spears reached out for help with their respective projects. Industry connections provided a plug for Balthazar, who was also producing and acting at the time, to KO. Here, The Wow stopped by VIBE HQ to discuss their album, recording process, trap music, their childhood and much more.—Darryl Robertson

VIBE: Why the name The Wow?
Balthazar Getty: It started as a joke. I thought that it’d be funny if an announcer came out to announce a band and a white guy came out in a suit and he said, ‘Ladies and gentlemen, The Totally Wow.’ We were calling it The Totally Wow just as a reference. In time, it just broke down to The Wow. It’s just one of those words that you start to notice by how often we say it as a culture. When we play the record, people go, 'Wow' and 'The guy who makes the beats is white? Wow.’ It’s just a fun word to play on. It’s in the vein of The Beatles, The Who, so it doesn’t feel hip-hop, it’s not the Kush Mafia, or something. It feels timeless in a way.

The album is very aggressive and it seems as if you guys were homeless and had only one shot at getting off the streets.
KO: What’s crazy is every single song from beginning to end was created there. The way the album was sequenced was very well thought out. Balthazar had the beats, and he literally said, ‘This is the feel, this is the vibe I’m hearing. Go for it.’ Then we added accordingly so it was a very organic process.

Your beats are so '90s inspired but aren’t dated. How do you manage that?
Balt: I appreciate that. For the most part, I want you to make that face (makes screwface) when you hear it. I just like shit that knocks. Guys like Premo, DJ Muggs, Large Pro, and Diamond D—I’m inspired by all of those guys. But, I can also embrace something like a LGNDRY to embrace where music is going. We don’t want to be a retro 90s band. That’s not The Wow. We’re not some hip-hop purists that don’t fuck with 808s. We love that shit. If you just follow the trend, you’re a wrap but if you move with it and make it your own, you're good.

What are your favorite songs on LGNDRY?
Balt: My favorite is "Talk My Shit.” No features. Just me and KO doing what we do—sick bars and that ol' boom bap shit.
KO: I’m going to agree and say "Talk My Shit" as well. As a relatively unknown MC, I feel this record best displays my aptitude for rap. It validates the gods [like Prodigy, Method Man and Fatlip] giving The Wow their stamp of approval and blessing our album with those jade tablets of knowledge.

This is your first project together, but you’ve been in the game for a while.
KO: After Power 106 retired me, I met different people. Lil' Flip was one of the people that I started producing for. Brittany Spears heard me on the radio once so she brought me to the studio. I recorded a joint with Britney Spears [which] led me to me some people and that led to Balt. It’s crazy because I started in the pop world and Top 40.

But you spit like a battle rapper. Would you be interested in stepping into that arena?
KO: Not anymore because I did it for so long. It kind of broke my heart. I did Sway and [King] Tech's battle and I got robbed so bad that the people were screaming and booing at Tech and Sway because they knew I won. But the dude that beat me had just come off an MTV battle.

Who’s the guy who beat you?
KO: His name is C4. I’ll never forget. He’s an Irish dude. He’s dope as fuck.

When did you start experimenting with music?
KO: I grew up in a place that had zero hip-hop—San Luis Obispo, California—and I was one of twenty blacks in the area. Me and some of my friends were just obsessed with the culture, and all we could do was go to 7-Eleven and buy XXL, The Source and VIBE. We bought every magazine because that was our only plug to hip-hop. Then the Internet broke things wide and I started creating a following there.

How old were you?
KO: I was eight years old. My pops was a preacher and they had this talent show at church. I don’t remember the name of it but I did not want to do this one song and the whole time I sang it, I cried on stage. I was so nervous but after [the show], all these girls ran up and every one was like, ‘Oh, my God.’ and that was like my first hit of crack. I was like, ‘Yeah, I can do this.’

You went home and started writing?
KO: Actually, I just got into music generally but I couldn’t listen to secular music so my parents were like, ‘You can make music. That’s your only option because you’re not going to listen to what’s out.’ I started writing and when that happens, everything just comes to you. I couldn’t go to school dances, couldn’t read what I wanted to read, listen to what I wanted to.

What do your parents say now after listening to LGNDRY? You have some vulgar stuff on there.
KO: They never saw music as a career choice but once they saw that I opened for Nelly Furtado—it was like 20,000 people there. That was the first show that they’d come to and I’d done like 100 shows before that. When they came, they were like, ‘Oh, shit. This is a reality. We don’t like it, but we get it and you got our support.’

It seems like getting to this point came fairly easy.
Balt: We don’t see [obstacles] as roadblocks. They’re opportunities that we learn from. We believe in it and we believe that we’re going to connect with enough people.
KO: One thing great about the Internet, it’s an equalizer. It’s not about everybody having to fuck with your shit. If our music doesn’t resonate with you, then it’s not for you but there’s a group of people that it is for and that’s who we’re talking to.

I can tell you guys listen to a variety of hip-hop.
Balt: When I’m in the club and they drop some trap shit… It’s not even about the music. It’s the same reason people pray in groups. Anytime you get 300 people moving to some trap shit and you get all that energy, that critical mass, that happens, some 2 Chainz happens, Chief Keef happens. I love that shit.

That "Kill a Top Dawg Nigga for entertainment” line was dope.
KO: I wrote that the same week that the “Control” verse came out. I knew I wasn’t going to do a “Control” response. There’s not a rapper alive that I’m scared of. That’s just me saying, 'I’m here.'
Balt: It wasn’t disrespectful. It was a way of capitalizing off of the battle rapping that they reignited, and throwing it back in their faces. I think if anything they’d appreciate it. There’s no malicious intent behind it at all.

Talk about how you hooked up with Method Man and Prodigy. Were you in the studio with them?
KO: For Prodigy, no. But, for Meth, yes.

What’s Meth like?
Balt: What’s funny is that KO came over later because I had to do Meth’s stuff first. He said he’s going to show up at 9:30pm so I’m thinking, ‘It’s Meth. It’s going to be midnight.' He shows up at 9:00pm. He’s completely prepared. I’m like a little kid seeing Bugs Bunny and Micky Mouse. He walks into my studio and I give him a hug like, ‘Meth, you my fucking hero.’ He was just so cool, man. I wanted to know everything. I wanted to know where he lived, about his kids and family. We had some greenery and then KO showed up and Meth came over and said, ‘Yo, KO, you’re the man.’ And then he said, ‘Are you humble?’ That was basically his advice. Approach everything with humility. (Says to KO) I think it almost threw you off-guard.
KO: That’s not what I expected to hear. He pulled me in and tapped my chest but I said, ‘If you knew my family, I don’t have any other options but to be that.' That’s my reality. Humility is just ingrained in me. That’s a core principle. I told him about my father being a preacher and I wasn’t allowed to listen to secular music. But Biggie is my favorite rapper and "The What" is my all-time favorite Biggie record. That’s the only record where I feel that someone [like Meth] has gotten with Biggie so I told Meth that I used to sneak in the back of the church with my headphones. While my pastor’s preaching, I’d be listening to “The What.” He really influenced me as an MC. His "Triumph" verse is one of my all-time favorite verses.

How'd you link with Fatlip?
KO: I was leaving this club called Embassy. It was like 2:00am and this dude bumps me. So I look at him with the screwface and it’s Fatlip. I’m like, ‘Yo, are you Fatlip?’ and he was like, ‘Yeah.' I was like, ‘Yo, I got this project that I’m working on and I know people tell you this shit all the time but it’s really real, it’s boom bap, and it’s West Coast and we need you.’ He gave me his number. I thought he was going to be bullshitting but I texted him the next day and he was on it. His verse is nasty.

What are you trying to accomplish musically?
KO: Tech is everything to me. It’s going to be the new purveyors of content and control distribution methods. They control how we adjust content now. I really want to be that label that disrupts the way that major labels and artists see how content is put out because there’s so many things at our fingertips.
Balt: This isn’t some shit that I’m just trying haphazardly. We’re trying to be Def Jam, Geffen. Everything starts with a dream and the guys who make it are the guys that hold on a little bit longer than the others. This isn’t something that we turn on and off. This is Purple House Music.

What do you want to accomplish with LGNDRY?
KO: I’ve been grounded for years because I used to listen to hip-hop in the back of the church. I’ve gotten lashes for hip-hop. Basically, LGNDRY is me inspiring everyone to be legendary.

Stream The Wow's LGNDRY LP below.

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Then & Now: Common Details How He And J Dilla Collaborated On The "Thelonious" Track With Slum Village

J Dilla and Common had a really tight creative bond and, at one point, lived together in L.A. So you know that Common got dibs on all of his hot beats first. They were hip-hop brethren just trying to work together and of all of their collaborations, living and posthumous, the track “Thelonius,” is the sharpest intersection of the two legendary artists' careers.

A singular song fit for two albums, the cut was placed on Common’s fourth studio album Like Water for Chocolate and Fantastic Vol. II, Slum Village's classic sophomore album. “Thelonius” as we know it was in a way an accident...a soulful snafu that we get to enjoy forever. In this excerpt of VIBE's Then & Now video franchise, Common shares how the song manifested unplanned, willed into existence by Dilla’s uncompromising creative compass.

The story is brought to life with artwork by visual artist supreme, Dan Lish (@DanLish1), the man behind Raekwon’s The Wild album artwork. The illustrations you see in this video are a small fraction of what you can find in his upcoming book: Egostrip Vol 1 – The Essential Hip Hop Art Book, a psychedelic visual history of hip-hop to be enjoyed by the genre’s oldest and youngest fans alike. 

Today is the last day to support Lish's Kickstarter for the incredible project. Click the following link for a copy of your own: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/dan-lish/egostrip-book-1 

“I picked up on what inspired me about the artists, whether it be a certain lyric from a classic song or my perception of what may be going through their mind at the moment of creation,” says Lish.

There is much more to be said about all of these artists. For more stories on Common’s catalog, including several more Dilla cuts, stay tuned for the upcoming episode of Then & Now, where we dig deeper into notable tracks in the career of one Lonnie Rashid "Common" Lynn, Jr.

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Courtesy of Biz 3 / FCF

Quavo Is Introducing 'Fan Controlled Football' To The Culture

From their penchant for popping tags and name-dropping designer brands in their rhymes to the obsession with diamond-encrusted neckwear, the Migos are the modern-day poster-children for decadence and opulence. But when it comes to balling, group member Quavo is a seasoned veteran, literally and figuratively. Notorious for his appearances in NBA all-star celebrity games, where he routinely dominates the competition, Huncho has built a rep as one of the athletically gifted hit-makers in music today.

Although he's known for his skills on the hardwood, football is definitely among his passions. His newest endeavor, an ownership stake in Fan Controlled Football (FCF), the first professional sports league to put the viewer in the coach's seat and the general manager's office, in live time, finds him putting his focus back on the gridiron. Having inked an exclusive, multi-year streaming broadcast partnership with Twitch, the FCF will be the first professional sports league to be fully integrated with the streaming platform with the potential to explode in the digital age, where user interest and participation is the main recipe for success.

Having tossed the pigskin around as a Georgia high school football star, to Quavo, it was a no-brainer to get involved with the innovative league on the ground level. “We are building a brand and something different in our league – with the fans. They are in control and get to pick the team names, colors, logos, and more,” said Quavo said in a press release. “I’m really excited because FCF is fast-paced, high-scoring 7v7 football and you are in control. You go from sitting on the couch watching TV and pressing buttons on the remote to actually pressing the buttons on the plays.”

Played on "a 35-yard x 50-yard field with 10-yard end zones,” the Fan Controlled Football league will kick off in February 2021, with a four-week regular season, one week of playoffs, and a Championship week. The league will consist of former elite D-1 athletes, the CFL, XFL, and the Indoor Football League. Broadcasted live from the FCF’s state-of-the-art facility in Atlanta, each game will be 60 minutes in length and will allow the viewers to play a hand in the final outcome on Twitch.

Aside from sports, Quavo has been relatively lowkey on the musical tip as of late, with two years having passed since a solo release or a Migos album. However, according to him, this delay can be considered the calm before the storm, as he assures him and his brethren are primed for one of their biggest years yet. VIBE hopped on the line with Quavo to talk Fan Controlled Football, what he's got cooking in the studio, and his foray into TV and film.

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You're the newest team owner at Fan Controlled Football (FCF). What about the league piqued your interest and made you wanna get involved?

It's just showing my interest in the game of football and just trying to put a twist to where it's fan-controlled, fan-involved. A lot of times we watch the game, you watch the game, you just have some concerns. Sometimes you feel you can make the plays or call the play, [with FCF], you can sit on the couch and make the play. I just think we came together to make something crazy like that. I feel like it's something hard, it's something new, it's something fresh. It's a new beginning to something, like giving ni**as a chance. Giving D-1 players who couldn't make it to the league a chance, giving ex-NFL ni**as a chance if they still got it, [and] to go with the fans. When we saw the Falcons lose the Superbowl LI, we [fans] just knew what plays to call, we knew to run the ball. We were up 28-3. All we had to do was hold the ball, but we wanted to air it out and we made a mistake and lost to Tom Brady. Just like when Marshawn could've won a Superbowl. If they'd have given him the ball on the two-yard line. We knew that Marshawn Lynch was supposed to get the ball, [but] they wanted Russell Wilson to win it and the New England Patriots caught an interception. So that's how we're trying to shape it, we're trying to make something new.

The FCF will be live-streamed exclusively on Twitch, which has become one of the leading platforms for eSports live-streaming and will kick off in February 2021. Do you feel the FCF has the opportunity to fill that NFL void during the spring, particularly given the fan engagement that FCF enables?

Most definitely, cause after the Super Bowl, it just feels like you just want another game. You feel like you want one more game. and coming from something [where it's] eleven on eleven players to seven on seven, I feel [there’s] still a difference. After coming from watching the game and the regular politics, the regular structure of the game, now you're getting to be involved in a game that you can control. You can pick the jersey, you can pick the helmets, you can pick the jerseys, you can pick the coaches, you can pick the plays. I just feel there are two different dynamics [between the NFL and FCF). You come from sitting on the couch and pressing the remote to actually pressing the button on the plays."

Speaking of fan engagement, the FCF is the only professional sports league that enables fans to call the plays in real-time and puts the viewer in control of a game’s outcome like never before. Have you ever had that experience, as far as fantasy football?

Nah, but I'm into Madden. You can sit at home and pick your plays [with FCF], it's just like the lifestyle of Madden. It's like a reality of Madden. You're playing with people at home, with these unique athletes, and it's seven-on-seven.

As an Atlanta native, how significant was the FCF’s state-of-the-art facility being in your hometown in your decision to come on board as an owner?

It's very important. We got top-tier talent here, so it's opening up opportunities for a lot of guys. We're just glad it's in the south, it's like a hub. Everybody loves Atlanta and everybody wanna be here. Everybody wanna play and the weather is good.

NFL Super Bowl Champions Richard Sherman and Marshawn Lynch, boxing legend Mike Tyson, and YouTuber and podcaster empire Greg Miller are among the FCF's team owners. How does it feel to be competing against some of the most accomplished athletes and entertainers in the world? Have you had the opportunity to meet with any of them?

Most definitely. I have a good relationship with Mike Tyson. I've met Marshawn Lynch, it's a blessing. I feel like we're not competing right now, I feel like we're building a brand. I feel like we're building a league. I feel like we're trying to make the world understand what we're bringing to the table and what type of game we bring to the table, you feel me? I feel we're trying to create something different. Once we get the ball rolling, it's all together and moving into a real FCF league, then we'll get to compete. Of course, we all wanna win, but right now, we're just trying to get the foundation and the basics going and letting the strength of the owners and the relationships show on the field.

Being that you'll all be working with your respective fan bases in shaping your team’s personality and identity, any thoughts about what the team’s name will be? 

Man, I wish I did, but it's so straight strictly fans that you never know. Just like with music, can have an idea that is a smash, and then the fans don't think it is. You gotta strictly listen to the fans on this one. You gotta listen strictly to how they want it because it's the point of the game, that's the point of the league. We gotta let them control this game and then we the players and we the people that's listening to the people, the culture. FCF stands for culture, too, you feel what I'm saying? We listen to the culture, we're letting the culture run the field.

How involved will you be in the drafting and scouting process for your squad?

The fans make the draft, fans get to see everything. Open books, everything. It's an open thing, it ain't nothing to hide over here. The fans control it all.

In addition to sports, you've also been delving into acting, with cameos in shows like Atlanta, Star, Black-ish, and Ballers. Earlier this year, you appeared as yourself in Narcos: Mexico. How did that opportunity come about? 

Narcos reached out. We [Migos] had this song called “Narcos” on the [Culture II] album and we went and shot [the video] in Miami and everybody thought it was a Narcos movie scene and it ended up being Madonna's house. So we just shot that there and then they reached out to us. I think Offset had a performance somewhere and Takeoff had to do something and I just ended up being free that day and I went and shot it in New Mexico. I had fun, I loved it.

Do you have plans to pursue any supporting or leading roles in film or television?

Hell yeah, most definitely. I've been sitting down and having real great meetings with directors and people that got some movies in the works for 2021. I feel like I’ve got some good spots. I don't wanna tell it cause they’re gonna make some announcements. It's coming soon.

It's been two years since you've released a solo project or one with the Migos. Can fans expect any new music from you anytime soon and what are your next plans on that front?

Most definitely, hell yeah, we're shooting videos right now. We’re vaulting up a whole lot of videos so we can give you music and visuals at the same time. “Need It," the song came first and then the video. Right now, we wanna get a lot of videos and a lot records in the vault and smash [them] all at once 'cause it's been two years.

Pop Smoke's passing was one of the more tragic events in rap in recent memory, but his debut album, which you appeared on throughout, has been one of the most successful and acclaimed projects of 2020. How has it been seeing how the album’s been received, especially after you and him developed such a bond in a short time?

I'm happy. I'm proud of him, that was my partner. We did a lot of records, we spent a lot of time together and I feel like the album would've did even more with him being alive. A lot of people's album just go crazy when they die, I feel like his sh*t would've still went crazy. He had the momentum, he had the buzz. He was having fun. He was hot, he was fresh, he had everything ready.

This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

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Toots Hibbert performing at Hammersmith Palais, London in 1983.
Photo by David Corio/Redferns

Remembering Toots Hibbert

The best singers don’t need too many words to make their point. Otis Redding could let loose with a sad sad song like “Fa-fa-fa-fa-fa-fa-fa-fa-fa” and get you all in your feelings. Bob Marley got pulses pounding with his “Whoi-yoooo” rebel yell. Gregory Isaacs melted hearts with nothing more than a gentle sigh. Toots Hibbert, who died last Friday at the age of 77, could sing just about anything and make it sound good. One of the world's greatest vocalists in any genre, Toots paired his powerful voice with the understated harmonies of Raleigh Gordon and Jerry Mathias to form The Maytals, a vocal trinity that never followed fashion and remained relevant throughout the evolution of Jamaican music—from the ska era to rock steady straight through to reggae, a genre named after The Maytals' 1968 classic “Do The Reggay.”

Whether they were singing a sufferer’s selection (“Time Tough”), a churchical chant (“Hallelujah”), or the tender tale of a country wedding (“Sweet and Dandy”), The Maytals blew like a tropical storm raining sweat and tears. The lyrics to Six and Seven Books,” one of The Maytals' earliest hits, are pretty much just Toots listing the books of the Bible. “You have Genesis and Exodus,” he declares over a Studio One ska beat, “Leviticus and Numbers, Deuteronomy and Joshua, Judges and Ruth...” Having grown up singing in his parents' Seventh Day Adventist Church in the rural Jamaican town of May Pen, Toots knew the Good Book well.

The Maytals broke out worldwide in 1966 thanks to the song “Bam Bam,” which won Jamaica's first-ever Independence Festival Song Competition, held during the first week of August as the island nation celebrated both independence from Great Britain in 1862 and emancipation in 1834. They would go on to win the coveted title two more times, but “Bam Bam” was a singular song with a message every bit as powerful as Toots' voice. “I want you to know that I am the man," Toots sang. He was young and strong, ready to "fight for the right, not for the wrong." The trajectory of "Bam Bam" would not only transform Toots' life but make waves throughout popular music worldwide.

"Festival in Jamaica is very important to all Jamaicans," the veteran singer stated in a video interview this past summer while promoting his latest entry into the annual competition. "I must tell you that I won three festivals in Jamaica already, which is “Bam Bam,” “Sweet & Dandy” and “Pomp & Pride.” Toots described that first festival competition as a joyous occasion. "Everybody just want to hear a good song that their children can sing," he recalled. "Is like every artist could be a star."

In 2016, on the 50th anniversary of "Bam Bam" winning first place, Toots looked back over the legacy of the tune that made him a star. "I didn’t know what it means but it was a big deal," he told Boomshots. "You in the music business and you want to be on top and you write a good song and you go on this competition and if they like it then it becomes #1." After The Maytals won, the group was in demand not just all over the island, but all over the world. "We start fly out like a bird," he says with a laugh. "Fly over to London."

"Bam Bam" went on to inspire numerous cover versions, starting with Sister Nancy, Yellowman, and Pliers. It would also be sampled in numerous hip hop classics, and interpolated into Lauryn Hill's "Lost Ones." But according to Toots, he did not benefit financially from these endless cover versions. "People keep on singing it over and over and over, and they don’t even pay me a compliment," he told Boomshots. "I haven’t been collecting no money from that song all now."

 

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“This man don’t trouble no one... but if you trouble this man it will bring a Bam Bam” Original Maytals Classic @tootsmaytalsofficial 🎶 All them a talk, them nuh bad like Niya Fiya Ball ☄️🔥💥 via @tonyspreadlove . 💥💣🔫#Boomshots

A post shared by Word Sound & Power (@boomshots) on Sep 12, 2020 at 8:19am PDT

When Toots began singing in his parents' church, music was not seen as a career prospect, and the profits were slim for Jamaican recording artists in the 1960s. "Those days we get 14 cents for the record to play on the radio," Toots said. "I get three shillings and five shillings for a number one record, which I had 31 number one record in Jamaica... It’s not about money for me. It’s about the quality that Jamaicans need to go back in the festival jamboree... You gotta talk to the children."

On the poignant “54-46 (Was My Number),” Toots recalls the dehumanization of his arrest and 18-month imprisonment at Jamaica's Richmond Farm Correctional Center for what he always insisted was a trumped-up ganja charge just as his music career was taking off. The song's crescendo comes two minutes in when Toots breaks into a scat solo that cannot be translated into any language known to man, delivered with palpable passion that made his message universal. During Toots' ecstatic stage performances he would follow this riff by commanding his band to “Give it to me... one time!” Then the 'd make 'em say Uh!  (Way before Master P!) “Give it to me... two times!” Uh! Uh! And so on and so forth until Toots worked the place into a frenzy.

The Maytals' live show was so explosive that Toots began touring all over the world, opening for rock megastars like The Rolling Stones and The Who. While Bob Marley richly deserved the title King of Reggae, his friend Toots was performing internationally before The Wailers, and remained a force to be reckoned with throughout his life, blazing a trail for generations of reggae artists to follow in his footsteps.

On his Grammy-winning 2004 album True Love, Toots recorded some of his greatest hits with a host of legendary artists, many of whom were also good friends, including Willie Nelson, Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, Bonnie Raitt, Sheryl Crow, and Eric Clapton. His 2006 cover of Radiohead's "Let Down" was a favorite of the band's, who used to play it on their tour bus. Radiohead guitarist Jonny Greenwood called Toots’ version “truly astounding,” according to Easy Star Records Michael Goldwasser.

Toots supported himself and his family by touring all over the world. During a 2013 show in Richmond, Virginia he was singing John Denver's "Take Me Home Country Roads" when a teenager in the crowd threw a vodka bottle at the stage and hit him on the head. He suffered a concussion and had to stop touring for several years. As his first album in a decade, Got To Be Tough was highly anticipated when it was released on Trojan Jamaica label August 28. On the cover the former boxer and lifelong fighter can be seen throwing a punch. Just a day after the album dropped, Toots came down with symptoms similar to COVID 19. Within a few days he was hospitalized where doctors placed him into a medically induced coma from which he never recovered. As his Tidal obituary pointed out, he passed away exactly 33 years after his old friend Peter Tosh died by gunfire.

Songs like "Just Brutal" from the hit different now, with Toots pleading for more love in a world gone wrong. "We were brought here," Toots sings. "Sold out. Victimized brutally. Every time I keep remembering what my grandfather said before he died."

“I’m feeling alright,” Toots said the last time we spoke, while he was still sidelined with stress issues due to the bottle-throwing incident. "I’m feeling alright. I’m feeling alright. I’m feeling just cool because is Jah works. You seet?" I asked him if the song "Bam Bam," was about him—a peaceful man who should not be provoked—or else. "Nooo don't trouble him," Toots said with a laugh. "It’s gonna be double trouble, triple trouble. A lot of trouble."

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