Dancehall artist Mr. Vegas believes there’s a line of entertainers who should have received a national honor before Wayne Marshall, like Bounty Killer, who headed The Alliance clique of which Marshall formed part.
The Heads High singer is among a whispering community who continue to question Marshall’s eligibility for the honor which is conferred to any citizen who renders outstanding and important services to Jamaica. Marshall was inducted in the rank of Officer for his “contribution to entertainment” at the official ceremony at King’s House in Kingston on Monday.
“When we talk bout this yah industry yah, Beenie Man and Bounty Killer fi get OD longtime,” Mr. Vegas said during an Instagram Live on Wednesday. “If Beenie and Bounty nuh get OD, it’s like the government or the people dem weh inna authority a tell we seh Beenie and Bounty inna something why dem cya get OD… How Wayne Marshall fi get OD over the man weh run Alliance, if unno nuh have something pan the man?”
His beginning sentiment is similar to that of dancehall stalwarts Professor Donna Hope and Patrick Roberts, with the former encouraging Jamaicans to participate in the yearly nomination process for the National Civil Honours and Awards. The Chancery of the Orders of the Societies of Honour (in the Office of the Prime Minister) determines the recipients.
Marshall, whose given name is Wayne Mitchell, was a regular at King Jammy’s recording studio in the 90s, but started his recording career later that decade with Ward 21. He stood out with his ability to sing and deejay, and became a go-to for catchy, melodious choruses depicted on tracks like Sufferer with Bounty Killer and New Millennium with Vybz Kartel.
His solos have impressed across dancehall and reggae, from his 2002 back-to-back stunners Check Yourself, Overcome, and Party Time, and his continued strides the following year with Hot in the Club and Marshall Town. Other notables in Marshall’s catalogue are Astronaut (2006), Me By Myself (2008), Good Love (2009), My Heart (2010) and Swaggin’ WTF (2011) with Tifa and Fambo. He released the Tru Colours EP in 2013 while working with the Marley’s Ghetto Youths International label.
Five years ago, Marshall experienced a revitalised presence on the music scene thanks to his gospel record Glory. He even altered his appearance by shearing his dreadlocks.
His current visibility and popularity are arguably attributed to his metamorphosis to content creating, joining his wife Tami Chin as YouTubers in 2020, and expanding into a family brand that corporate Jamaica eats up. Their Meet the Mitchells channel has a subscription count of 245,000.
The singjay now has his own show, The Cut, which broadcasts on national TV. Unfolding in a barbershop setting, the show packs profile interviews injected with current affairs, with guests like politicians and musicians.
Marshall attributes his OD status to his musical contributions, but Mr. Vegas questions his influencer lifestyle’s role in the conferment.
“This is not nothing to do with who is outstanding inna the field; this has to do with links and unno water down OD…” the Bruk it Down singjay said. “If a vlogging or if a deh pon internet as family man and a great father mek unno give Wayne Marshall, unno haffi go investigate how much more a we a good father… A can’t music mek unno a go give Wayne Marshall and unno nah go give Terry Ganzie dem and Terror Fabulous dem and Daddy Screw dem and Courtney Melody dem and Pinchers dem.”
Mr. Vegas assured viewers that he isn’t envious of Marshall’s moment, adding that his own contributions are not yet deserving of such acknowledgment.
“Mi see OD as something weh people put in a body of work over years and then yuh bestow pon dem dah honour deh… Mi nuh deh pon Terror Fabulous dem playing field dem yet… Me couldn’t feel good bout a OD and know seh the people dem a seh how mi get that. And mi nah seh a man nuffi proud a him achievement, but all mi a seh brethren is stop play hypocrite.”
She’s Royal singer Tarrus Riley received the same award as Marshall.
‘Queen of Reggae’ Marcia Griffiths received the Order of Jamaica, an upgrade from her 2014 OD (Commander Class) conferment.
Other Jamaican artists to have received the OD include Shaggy (2007) and Sean Paul (2019) in Commander Class, and Shabba Ranks (2016), Yellowman (2018), Lt. Stitchie (2021), and Agent Sasco (2022) in Officer Class.