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Spragga Benz
By Lady Zimma & Miss Mention, Dainty Crew
(more articles from this author)
1999-06-19
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Spragga with the Dainty Crew
SPRAGGA BENZ

The name Spragga Benz is immediately recognised as belonging to a DJ who embodies a distinctive voice and a unique style.

In 1992, Spragga got his break into the music business by the luck of "jus'from probably being at the right place or jus' being wid the right set of people". His first single to be released was 'Could A Deal' followed by 'Jack It Up' in 1993 on the Arrows Records label.

Born in Jamaica twenty-nine years ago, Carlton Grant aka Spragga Benz, was raised in Franklin Town, Kingston. He attended four schools including Excel Community College and ending with the Jamaica Maritime Training Institute.

As a youth growing up, Carlton acquired the nickname of 'Spaghetti' due to his slim frame. This moved onto 'Spragga' and during his time at school he became friends with Ghost from La Benz sound system. After Spragga saw the sound in action, he was hooked on them because "it did bad an' dem coulda really juggle". He would occasionally select on the sound and through his affiliation with them, he acquired the 'Benz' tag. However, these days he classes himself more of a supporter than a member.

Spragga looking Benzpeculous
SPRAGGA BENZ

Although La Benz are one of his favourite sounds, he also enjoys listening to others including Renaissance and states "mi listen to everybody" naming entertainers such as Beenie Man, Bounty Killer, Babycham and Capleton as part of a long list.

On being asked about his early influences, Spragga does not pinpoint anybody in particular, but as a listener of all different types of music, he cites Shabba Ranks, Bob Marley and Marvin Gaye as part of a "mixture of a lot of artist" who inspired him.

His ideas for his music come from "anything that have any vibe" and he writes ninety percent of his lyrics with the other ten percent being supplied by some of the producers he's worked with like Dave Kelly, Richie D and 2Bad to name a few.

Having featured in numerous stage shows including Sunsplash and Culturama, Spragga has also appeared in Stone Love Anniversary shows. His manager, Chuck B, rates Sting in 1993 as one of the best shows Spragga has done.

The diversity of this artist can be seen through some of the people he has worked with since emerging on the scene seven years ago. From Jamaica to the USA to the UK, Spragga has worked with the likes of Donovan Germain, Salaam Remi, Todd Terry and Don Yute. The latter produced 'Sick Bad' on the Dancehall Crazy riddim, 'Dem A Watch' and 'Mr. Freeze'. He has also collaborated vocally with Don Yute on a couple of tunes, one being 'Big Bad Gunhawk', but Spragga's other collaborations include Wyclef Jean on the 'Chicken Heads' track which has him uttering those immortal words "jack it up, cock it up, dig out de..." and 'Spanish Harlem' with the legendary Ben E. King.

Chuck B with the Dainty Crew
Chuck B

Spragga has also featured on some movie soundtracks working with the American R&B group Brownstone for 'Free Willy 2' (an MJJ Production) and a track called 'We'll Take You There' for 'Race The Sun'. When asked about working with these artists, he is humble in saying he was "glad for the opportunity and experience".

During his career he has toured extensively covering the Caribbean, USA, Canada and the UK. However, as with a lot of artists and sound systems, Spragga would like to go to Africa and "do about fifty shows"!

One significant aspect to this DJ is his involvement in a 'Stay In school' campaign in Jamaica. This was launched in 1995 after Sandy Thompson, who deals with his affairs in Jamaica, suggested a programme to contribute back to society. He gives it his whole-hearted support and along with some of the Benz Speculous Crew, made up of friends and other artists, Spragga visits schools across the whole of Jamaica giving talks and handing out educational materials.

When asked about his personal life, Spragga plays his cards close to his chest, but a lot of his female fans will be disappointed to learn that he is not available and after some probing, he added "not in a long while to come either" but "mi nuh married yet". The emphasis being on 'yet'! However, he does feel honoured about being classed as a sex symbol.

Before embarking on a musical career, Spragga worked in many different fields including security, the post office and a couple of factories. Since becoming a DJ, he has never looked back and can't even imagine what he would be doing if he wasn't in the industry.

So far he has released numerous singles and has two albums to date, 'Jack It Up' and 'Uncommonly Smooth'. The second album was released by Capitol Records in 1995, but as with a lot of reggae artists who sign to major labels, Spragga was not very happy with them "changing some things... ownership and management" and so left the label. He is currently in the processing of getting a new album out on the streets, but cannot confirm a title or release date as yet.

Although he has had a barrage of hit singles, Spragga classes 'A-1 Lover' as the most successful to date. Also known for his raw lyrics, he explained the reason behind releasing two versions of 'Push It Up' on the Mad Rock riddim being down to "de radio inna Jamaica. Dem a stifle de riddim, so mi jus' change it back fe get it out deh". However, regardless of the stifling, both versions have been getting airplay and have proved to be very successful.

When on tour his favourite pastime is sleeping, but usually he can be found checking "some e-mail or sumtin'" when at home.

His future plans are uncertain right now apart from the imminent release of the new album, but Spragga's message to his fans is "mek dem know me appreciate de support and respect weh dem a show fe de music". His final word has to be his feelings on his accomplishments so far, "satisfied"! That must be how his fans feel too.

You can check out Spragga's website at www.spraggabenz.com.
For bookings contact Chuck B in the USA on 718-258-6057.
E-mail can be sent to Benzspeck@aol.com and ChuckB@spraggabenz.com.


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