AS PART of it’s 40th anniversary, VP Records — home to seminal British reggae label Greensleeves — is releasing a one-of-a-kind box set to commemorate the hits, rarities and history of the largest reggae label in the world.
Featuring 94 tracks from 101 Greensleeves and VP artists, Down In Jamaica: 40 Years of VP Records tells the sonic history of this pioneering label.
From humble beginnings as a small Kingston record store, it has gone on to release some of the best known international artists in reggae, dancehall and soca, including Sean Paul, Chaka Demus, Maxi Priest, Shaggy, Vybz Kartel and Wayne Wonder.
Released today (November 1), this definitive anthology chronologically details the label’s defining records, including Ini Kamoze’s “Hot Stepper”, Johnny Osbourne’s “Ice Cream Love”, Tanya Stephens “It’s A Pity” and Yellowman’s “Zungguzungguguzungguzeng”. Other highlights from the set include Sean Paul & Sasha’s “I’m Still In Love With You,” Wayne Wonder’s “No Letting Go,” Beenie Man’s “Who Am I” as well as classics from Barrington Levy, Gregory Isaacs, Dennis Brown and dozens of others.
The strictly limited 2000-edition box set contains four 12” singles, four CDs, and four 7” singles, including the first reissue of some of the most collectible vinyl records in the VP catalogue such as Junior Reid’s “What Do You Know” and Tenor Saw’s “Lots of Sign”. Also included is a 24-page 12-inch colour booklet on the label’s history as well as exclusive art cards featuring the personal histories of Dennis Brown, Sean Paul and several others.
Founded in the late 1970s by Vincent ‘Randy’ Chin and Patricia Chin from their downtown Kingston store, “Randy’s” quickly became the epicentre of the booming Jamaican music scene. After moving to New York in 1977 to escape civil unrest, Randy’s evolved into VP Records as it is known today.
Named after its owners, the label quickly became the de-facto home of Afro-Caribbean music in the US, cementing its place in the international mainstream.
In 2008, VP Records acquired the seminal British reggae label Greensleeves — home of Eek A Mouse, Yellowman, Glen Brown and Mr Vegas — making it the largest collection of reggae songs in the world. Founded in 1975 as record store in Ealing, Greensleeves mirrored both the origins and success of VP Records, achieving legendary status with its hugely popular Discomix series, sampler LPs and hits like Shaggy’s ‘“Oh Carolina”.
Box set curator and VP Records Director of Catalogue Development Carter Van Pelt said: “The goal is to tell the story of a continually owned and operated family business at the heart of the global growth of reggae, dancehall, and Caribbean music. This set brings together that incredible story with some lost treasures in the form of vinyl rarities.”
“We’re excited about the box set and the re-telling of our story,” added President of VP Records — and son of co-founder Vincent — Randy Chin, “It’s a great way to complete our 40th anniversary celebrations.”
Also commenting on the box set, legendary DJ David Rodigan — a long term champion of reggae and dancehall — said “I’ve never seen anything quite like it. Absolutely incredible… I’m like a kid on Christmas morning!”