They may only be 25, but between them, this unassuming duo already posses a lifetime of musical experience. As the son of legendary bassists, Lloyd Parkes (of We The People Band), Leftside has played drums for the likes of John Holt, Dennis Brown and Gregory Isaacs. His co-defendant is no less qualified. As the son of veteran Jamaican disc jockey, Errol ‘ET’ Thompson (former Wailers backing singer, Marcia Griffiths is his step-mom), Esco is also the product of a major reggae bloodline. To put it plainly; Leftside and Esco have a musical midas touch. One look at their production credits confirms just how influential these guys really are. In the past two years, nearly every big rhythm to come out of yard has been produced by the boy wonders: Martial Arts (Sizzla’s Karate and Beenie Man’s Get Ur Self A Gun), Chiney Gal (Sizzla’s Blaze Up The Chalwa and Ce’cile’s Changez), Famine, Double Jeopardy, The Mexican and more recently, Party Time. At 18, Craig kicked off his career playing drums in this father’s band.
But after five years he decided it was time to make a name for himself. ‘I realised I should try and do my own thing so I left the band and started producing,’ says the 24 year old. ‘Since then, me and my partner have built tracks for most of the big producers and artistes out here: Sean Paul, Bounty Killer, Wayne Marshal, King Jammys and Kings Of Kings.’ Just like the young’uns who listen to their music, Leftside and Esco are heavily influenced by American hip-hop beats and European club/dance culture.
The duo’s latest project is the appropriately titled, Cupid rhythm; a one-drop version guaranteed to become one of 2K3’s biggest dancefloor fillers. As products of the Playstation generation, samples are just as important to L & E as drum beats, basslines and keyboard riffs. Just like their last big smash – the Party Time rhythm which borrowed a sample from the 1990 club/dance anthem, (I Wanna Give You) Devotion – Cupid also features a major sample (this time courtesy of India. Arie’s r&b hit, Video). Yet still, even though, hip-hop and dance samples are being used more and more by young producers, Leftside believes the best way to showcase dancehall music is by avoiding an amalgamation. ‘Where dancehall is concerned, I don’t believe anybody who wants to get into the mainstream should cross it too much because when hip-hop became one of the biggest musics in Jamaica we heard hip-hip – it wasn’t crossed over with anything,’ he says thoughtfully.
‘Right now, Timbaland (and the Neptunes) are building dancehall tracks so my plan is to take straight hardcore dancehall into the mainstream so people can get to understand what we are saying and just hear dancehall in its true form.’ In terms of the lyrical content, Leftside understands that some drastic changes have to be taken if dancehall music is to stand any hope of receiving international recognition. ‘I think we need to produce better songs. Not just songs about bunning out gays and bowers – those things are kinda drawn out right now. We need to sing about some better things; party life – it’s those kinda things dancehall needs right now. ‘The Dawali was the best things that has happened to dancehall in a long while because the topics that everybody is singing about is the type of stuff that people can go and party to: that’s how dancehall should be.
When you hear dancehall music it’s a very joyful mood, so when you hear this one bag a ting about killing dis and killing dat – it kinda cramps the whole vibes,’ says Leftside. There’s no doubt about, Leftside and Esco are the guys to look out for this year. And it shouldn’t be too hard to spot them. If their not in the studio, you can catch L & E performing onstage at shows like Sumfest or even at sound clash events like Fully Loaded where they have earned a name for themselves as two of the hottest disc jockeys on the JA circuit. So remember the names Leftside and Esco: trus’ me, the destiny of Jamaican music lies in their hands.