BLAZING A TRAIL: Chi Ching Ching, second from left, is a bubbly, likeable character
THE HISTORY of Jamaican music has always been littered with characters. Some of them such as Yellowman and Elephant Man carved a niche for themselves that meant that audiences could instantly identify them and their music.
The latter managed to align himself with a series of massive “dancing” tunes celebrating an element of Jamaican culture that sets it apart from other global music forms.
Now in 2017 a young artist is also shaping a career for himself which sees him forging a special relationship within the dancehall with the third of his hit tunes in recent years that bigs up the dancers and their skills.
Chi Ching Ching has a visual uniqueness that sets him apart. A gangly figure, he can always be seen in and around the dances in Kingston and is a bubbly, likeable character.
He had us all doing the “Way Up Stay Up” last year we were “Roasting Breadfruit”, but his latest smash, “Rock The World”, pays homage to the biggest new dancing craze currently sweeping Jamaica.
“The tune is the hottest thing right now – the vibiest track out there”, he tells me as we catch up in the hills of Golden Springs in Kingston.
“The moves are easy – no training required! It’s influenced by Shakespeare, who is one of Jamaica’s best dancers, He came to me and told me that he had invented a new dance and I told him to show me it – when I saw it I told him not to worry – I was gonna make a track for it. When we voiced it I played it to him and asked him if it worked for him and he said yes, so I told him to go in the streets and do his thing to the track.” As simple as that.
The chemistry has worked big time, but he is no overnight sensation. Ching has been putting in the work for a while now, and seems on the verge of getting to the next level.
Rock The World is the first track from my new EP called Turning Tables – we just shot the video for it and the EP will come soon after that”, he proudly announced.
“I’ve put a lot of work into the EP, and all the songs are fresh and new – all different styles. I called it Turning Tables because I came from nothing into something”.
He has indeed. He is signed to Popcaan’s Unruly Entertainment and is definitely a brand ambassador for them.
Chi Ching Ching
“From day one Poppy has kept it real with me. When I signed to Unruly it elevated my work and allowed more people to hear what I was about which meant I had to make real songs – from slangs to songs. That’s my progression.” It’s good for me to see how passionate he feels about his crew and what they do.
His next big release looks like a track called Black Pepper (He says it isn’t about actual pepper, instead it is about him being black and hot in the game now). Get your dancing shoes ready.
The importance and potency of dancing as part of dancehall has always been known by those in the scene, but now the dancing industry is an integral component of exporting the culture globally. The creator of the forthcoming “Black Pepper” dance and long time collaborator with Chi Ching Ching, Cullo Cullo explained to me that the dancers are finally getting the props they feel they deserve.
“People come from all over the world, and we work with the tourist board to teach the visitors the dances – they then take the moves and bring it back to their hometowns and it spreads the word globally”, he said. “I worked with the legendary Mr Bogle (one of the best known Jamaican dancers who was killed in 2005) who was one of the biggest ambassadors for us, and we are continuing his legacy and pushing the thing forward.”
The dancing field is a competitive one – you need to stay original to keep ahead of the game. It’s interesting to see fans coming up in dances to take selfies with the dancers themselves – they are definitely personalities in their own right.
The man behind the “Rock The World” move – Shakespeare – tells me more. “It’s not a competition but it is competitive. People know and latch onto the persona, so we keep it fresh. This is a job – it’s work because it’s working. When people see me in a dance they know it isn’t just a finger snap thing I do – you have to be prepared to get the full 100 from me.”