Doo! Tonight! Tonight! Tonight! The Seven Star General!
LA Lewis! Live on stage. Free show! Free! Howdy Doo! Bring
yuh Queen and leave yuh machine! Howdy Doo!”
So this was the famed
LA, I thought to myself, as people in the parking lot
began to hurl expletives and empty orange juice containers
in his direction. The legend was real.
Indeed, to most Jamaicans,
the idea that LA Lewis is, in fact, a real person can
be surprising. To most, the name is synonymous with a
series of peculiar – but famous – drawings
on walls, tree stumps, street signs, telephone poles,
caves, large rocks, old boats and fences all over the
island. ( SEE: http://www.afflictedyard.com/la_lewis.htm
These writings (which LA says are written
by his ‘fans’) have always been consistent
in their style and appearance – with added ‘big
ups’ to the police in areas where its wiser (and
self-preserving) to be on the ‘good side’
of cops should you be caught writing “LA Lewis is
a wicked DJ” on public property.
And yet, who could have imagined that
there actually existed a DJ LA Lewis when one considers
that almost nobody in Jamaica, outside of the Jamaican
music-studio circuit has ever heard a song by LA?
But he’s always been there whenever
something big has happened. There was the time Prince
Charles came to Jamaica and the time Lennox Lewis (no
relation) walked through Trench Town with Omar Davis.
There too was LA.
On November 24, 2001 his house caught
fire and the event was reported on page 23 of the Jamaica
Star, which included a quote from LA himself: “The
fire started on my mother’s bed and burn out two
of the rooms in the house, the rest of the house get some
On June 13, 2001, a photo of LA graced
the Star’s cover under the headline: “A Beenie
Punch? LA Lewis says ‘The Doc’ broke his jaw”.
For the second time in his career, LA
had been quoted in a national newspaper, this time in
relation to allegations that Dancehall-star Beenie Man
had punched him in the face outside Shocking Vibes Studio
on Constant Spring Road:
“It stink, stink all over the place
that Beenie Man thump down LA Lewis. I don’t want
his money because I have money, what I want is a public
apology by June 18.” On June 27, Beenie apologised
to LA in the press and the matter was resolved.
And then, there’s the music. For
years he’s been a regular on many dancehall
stageshows including the annual Sting event, with his
face appearing consistently in the very lower-left bottom
corner of the poster.
On stage, LA’s performances have
been described as ‘dynamic and diversified,’
most obviously when ducking beer bottles and stones -
an occupational hazard when you’re an aspiring DJ
For years, he’s submitted dozens
of CDs and homemade videos to local TV and radio stations
(which are almost never played), and recently he appeared
for a quarter-second in an international TV ad for German
shoe giant Puma. Hell, Puma liked LA so much that they
even took a picture of him, gave him some free wristbands
and a green t-shirt and then used his photo for storefront
displays in their Jamaica-themed London boutique.
In 2002 LA released Wave which shot to
No.345 on Brindisi’s (Southern Italy) No.1 rated
countdown program, Hitz.
In the summer of 2004 when Tanya Stevens
celebrated her birthday at Quad, patrons of Christopher’s
lounge were treated to an unscheduled, five-minute version
of Happy Birthday by LA who accompanied himself on piano.
Also last year, LA released a single with Michael Jackson
(yes, Michael Jackson) called 2000 Watts on Success Records.
Although the recording is obviously spliced, LA remains
“I worked with Mike on a lot of
good riddims this year. I was going to go on tour with
him but then he got arrested so maybe next year, if he
doesn’t go to prison.”
Not bad for a regular guy from Trench
Town whose biography states that he originally got into
music, “mainly to capture the interest of the opposite
He has a website...
..built by Go-Jamaica which boasts over
50,000 hits per day, mostly from Germany and Japan. The
website contains information and downloads about LA as
well as a photograph of the resilient DJ sitting on a
wall with a background that changes automatically from
night to day depending on the time you visit.
LA explains: “LA is international
so I’ve got to have a website so people can log
on and read about LA. You have to promote yourself the
best you can and the Internet is a very good way to do
Outside of Jamaica, the name LA Lewis
is nowhere near as obscure as it is here. The graffiti
that bears his name is now well known to visitors from
all over the world who tend to notice things about this
country we overlook. Things like odd graffiti, the spirit
of the Jamaican underdog and spinning plastic hubcaps.
Today I saw LA again, this time in flashier
clothes, jewelry, and a newer deportee. He had two huge
posters advertising Sting 2004 on the bonnet of his car
but less the giant speakers on the roof.
The same smile and optimism remained,
the same desire to work hard and succeed and be recognized
– a desire most Jamaicans continue to share, despite
“OK, hold it there”, I said
as he grinned and leaned against his car for the photograph.
“Now stop leaning and stand. No, not on the car
LA, on the ground, stand on the ground.”