In 1976 a sound system known as Imperial Rockers, based in Lewisham, London, surfaced through Lloyd ‘Musclehead’ Francis and Dennis Rowe. By the early 80s the sound had evolved into the phenomenally successful Saxon sound. Many of the UK’s top performers served their apprenticeships there, including Maxi Priest, Tippa Irie and Phillip Papa Levi. In 1981 King regularly performed with the posse alongside Papa Levi and is acknowledged as the DJ who conceived the ‘fast style mic chat’. At the Dick Shepherd Youth Club in 1982, King unleashed his spectacular speed rap, which instantly caught on and a number of other DJs immediately emulated his style. His unique, rapid-fire lyricism earned him a reputation as the originator, although the foundation of the style was soon forgotten when a myriad of fast-style tunes surfaced; Papa Levi’s ‘Mi God Mi King’ builds up to a speed rap in the closing verses and Tippa Irie’s ‘All The Time The Lyric A Rhyme’ is also modelled around the style. While his cohorts have reaped the rewards, King’s recorded output is not as abundant, but he is still respected in the reggae world. On the Fashion label, notable releases include ‘Me Neat Me Sweet’ and ‘Step On The Gas’. Fellow Saxon crew members Smiley Culture and Asher Senator recorded both in combination and as soloists and acknowledged King’s influence. When Smiley Culture crossed over into the mainstream King and Senator joined forces and gave a memorable performance on the television showClub X. The programme, hosted by Smiley, featured some of Jamaica’s best musicians, including Ernest Wilson, Bloodfire Posse, Delroy Wilson and Freddie McGregor. King and Senator performed ‘You Too Lie Fib Fib’. King has remained a popular MC on the dancehall circuit and should not be confused with the UK-based mellow saxophonist who records sentimental lovers rock.
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