Ras Lil Dread

Influences

Ras Lil Dread's Reggae roots are planted deep in Jamaican soil, but with personal encouragement from BOB MARLEY and other historic figures in Rastafarian culture, he has taken flight, and is writing THE FUTURE OF REGGAE from his home in Hawaii.




RAS LI'L' DREAD with BOB MARLEY, and the others who encouraged the rising Reggae star to his new home in Maui, and to his writing the musical future of Rastafarian Culture.
(From Left) — BOB MARLEY, FREDERICK "TOOTS" HIBBERT, PETER TOSH, and the late MICHAEL CAMPBELL (MIKEY DREAD), Lil Dread's closest Rastafarian friend and mentor.
— RAS LI'L' DREAD
— MIKEY DREAD


"Jah Salvation" by Ras Li'l' Dread
"Reggae to Survive" by Ras Li'l' Dread 


THE HOLY TRINITY


Ras Lil Dread's commitment to Rastafarianism traces back to personal experiences with three of the most significant figures in Reggae music:
— First, at nine years old, while attending his first live concert with his sister Coleen, he met and had a conversation with FREDERICK "TOOTS" HIBBERT (Pass the Pipe).
— Second, as a teenager, receiving a personal phone call from BOB MARLEY (Catch A Fire), who offered encouraging words for him and the Reggae band (his first) he had just put together with two high school mates.
— Third, a political conversation in a Washington D.C. hotel with PETER TOSH (Legalize It) and H.R. of the Bad Brains while watching the televised broadcast of a Ku Klux Klan march happening on the street below, outside their window.



"Born Free"


Lil Dread's uplifting video has been seen and heard tens of thousands of times on a number of online television and music "channels."
The short film, directed by David Barry, follows a day in the life of a young boy who learns about life and culture on the island of Maui, Lil Dread's home where "Born Free" was written, shot, edited, and produced.



"Born Free," Lil' Dread's first video after having made the North Shore of Maui his home, represents a musical evolution from DJ'ing celebrity filled, funk, hip-hop, dance "star" parties, popular in 1980s Southern California, to preaching an educational, Rastafarian message in the laid-back Island culture, more known for surf than musical entertainment.



Island Memories
1996 — After having met a Hawaiian concert promoter In 1995 at REGGAE ON THE RIVER, a annual concert on the Humbolt River in Northern California, Lil' Dread (right), who was managing MIKEY DREAD (left) at the time, organized what was called THE REGGAE EXPLOSION CONCERT TOUR, featuring Mikey, DJ YELLOWMAN (middle), MARTY DREAD, and the BORN JAMERICANS. The tour included shows on the Hawaiian Islands of Honolulu and Maui, and had planted the seed that eventually grew and inspired Lil' Dread's move to Maui.



Family Ties
Although growing up in the predominantly black and impovershed Country Club Lane neighborhood in SOUTH CENTRAL LOS ANGELES, Lil Dread, as a youngster, spent a significant amount of time in the 1960s with his uncle EDDIE ANDERSON ("ROCHESTER" on The Jack Benny [television] Show), pictured above with MARILYN MONROE and JACK BENNY) and found himself meeting a number of Hollywood stars at the (horse) racetrack, country club golf course, and Beverley Hills Hotel.



"Rochester's Day Off"

AHEAD OF THEIR "SOCIAL" TIME — Jack Benny was always known as a champion of Civil Rights in America, and there could be no more representative action than his casting Dread's uncle Eddie as "Rochester" as a regular character on his television show ... and there can be no better written example than the LAST LINE of the above skit.


IN THE BEGINNING ...




For a time, before Ras Li'l' Dread entered high school and recognized his growing interest in girls, his choice of musical pursuit was the accordion.

RAS LI'L' DREAD
— Born (July 10, 1964) Antone R. Chatton to Ethiopian father Antone Owen Chatton and African American mother Alice Lafaye Edwards.
— Grew up on the COUNTRY CLUB LANE side of GRAMERCY PLACE, the border between South Central Los Angeles and Beverly Hills.
— When four years old, Lil Dread met his neighbor Raymond and started a decade of afternoon piano lessons with Raymond's mother Pauline who immediately recognized Lil Dread's interest and talent. Lil Dread credits Pauline's early attention as instrumental in keeping him out of gang life and his choosing music as a career. In addition to piano, he also played violin, clarinet, and accordian.
— Lil Dread's interest in music (playing instruments) waned as he prepared to enter high school. He chose to join the football team, saying that "GIRLS WERE MUCH MORE ATTRACTED TO ATHLETES THAN ACCORDION PLAYERS."



Li'l' Dread's earliest work in the music business was in the early 1980s when he and a few high school mates formed The MixMasters, a crew of popular DJs (known to be the best in their own high schools) who produced and spun lavish, well-to-do private events in Southern California, commonly known as "Star Kid" parties.

(1980)
Life Among the "Stars"
— A popular Los Angeles High School student who founded the MixMasters, a notorious, organized, in-demand crew of DJs who produced lavish, invitation-only, "Star Kid" parties for Southern California's well-to-do, celebrity youth, including JANET JACKSON, TODD BRIDGES, and LENNY KRAVITZ for his 16th birthday.
Where — Los Angeles, The Valley, Hollywood Hills, Beverly Hills, Venice, Malibu ...
MUSIC — MARVIN GAYE, CURTIS MAYFIELD, WAR, FUNKADELIC, EARTH WIND & FIRE, MICHAEL JACKSON, RAY PARKER JR., THE BROTHERS JOHNSON, TOM TOM CLUB, DURAN DURAN, BLONDIE, SWITCH, THE SYLVERS, ISLEY BROTHERS, GO GOs ...

Take it to The Stage
— Inspired to play an instrument again when seeing MixMaster mate Stan Watson, as part of the Beverly Hills High School band playing funky (electric bass guitar) solos at halftime in front of stadiums filled with appreciative football fans.
— Also hanging out with Stan and his out-of-school bandmates, including Jon Clark, one of Los Angeles' finest young guitarists, who later played in Michael Jackson's touring band.

Reggae/Rasta Revelation
— Lil Dread had something of a musical revelation one afternoon while hanging out with an old football teammate. His friend was playing a BOB MARLEY album his record executive sister had given him, and as Lil Dread listened, the "new" Reggae sound seemed familiar. Lil Dread was reminded of the African music he had heard as a kid when his father and uncles would play it around the house. He remembered enjoying the unusual beat, and it was hearing BOB MARLEY for the first time that Lil Dread "KNEW REGGAE WAS THE MUSIC I WAS BORN TO PLAY."



After being introduced to his heart-felt Reggae sound, Lil Dread dove into the Rastafarian culture, including seeking out its musical history.

Listening to — Roger Stephans and Chuck Foster Reggae shows on KCRW radio, BOB MARLEY, PETER TOSH, TOOTS & THE MAYTALS, JIMMY CLIFF, BUNNY WAILER, LEE "SCRATCH" PERRY, BLACK UHURU, SLY & ROBBIE, KING TUBBY ...



HEAVENLY CONVERSATION
— During a routine doctor's visit, Keith Brown was telling a nurse about Three The Hard Way, the band he formed with his brother Chris and Lil Dread, to which she responded in saying that she knew BOB MARLEY. She went on to ask Keith for his phone number, saying she'd pass it along to Bob. Keith did give the nurse the number, without high hopes of actually receiving a call.
— Imagine the band's surprise that afternoon when the phone in their garage/studio rang and it was Bob Marley himself on the other end of the line. The night before, Keith, Chris, and Lil Dread had all gone to UCLA's Pauley Pavillion to see the Los Angeles show on Bob's SURVIVAL TOUR, and one-by-one they all said "hello" to Bob.
— Marley thanked the band for their playing Reggae music and living the Rastafarian lifestyle. He encouraged them to continue practicing, and that next year, when he returned Los Angeles, he'd make a point to visit the garage studio, and practice with the band.
— Lil Dread says the conversation as his most inspirational moment, but unfortunately he never got to meet REGGAE's SPIRITUAL LEADER ... a few months later (May 11, 1981) Marley succumbed to cancer.

(1982)
THREE THE HARD WAY
— Lil Dread (bass) forms his first Reggae band (THREE THE HARD WAY) with brothers Keith (drums) and Christian (guitar) Brown. Needing a singer, the band recruits and uses a number, but eventually settled on Noel Jafada, not necessarily the best vocalist, but a few years older and best able to get the band gigs.
— The band plays Reggae covers and earns a good reputation, a local following, and a standing gig at the Kingston 12 nightclub in Los Angeles. Within two years though, Chris moved to Washington D.C. to take care of an ailing aunt, and the band dissolved.




Without a band, Lil Dread turns to booking Reggae acts into a number of Los Angeles area nightclubs, including Johnny Depp's VIPER ROOM.



Lil Dread's friend PAUL HUDSON (BAD BRAINS founder H.R.) invited Lil Dread to accompany him to visit PETER TOSH at the Omni Hotel in downtown Washington D.C.



— Bad Brains at CBGB's, New York City (1982)

Although composing many tunes fitting within Reggae traditional style, the BAD BRAINS were best known as one of the earliest HARDCORE PUNK bands. Later, Lil Dread played in Hudson's band, Human Rights, doing a western American tour.

Meeting Tradition
(1987)
— Seven years after his inspirational conversation with Bob Marley, Lil Dread was invited to meet another of REGGAE's MOST IMPORTANT FIGURES. Lil Dread's friend, BAD BRAINS founder PAUL HUDSON (H.R.) had a scheduled meeting with PETER TOSH at the Omni Hotel in downtown Washington D.C., and he asked Lil Dread if he'd like to go along.
— No surprise Lil Dread said "yes," and as he found with Marley, Tosh was also generous with his time, and similarly encouraged Lil Dread to continue on his Rastafarian journey.

MIKEY DREAD
— Lil Dread's most important musical friendship



A LIFE-CHANGING CONNECTION
— Back in Los Angeles, Lil Dread is asked by bandmate/friend Noel if he could pick up a friend of his who was stranded at LAX.
Lil Dread picked up MICHAEL CAMPBELL (MIKEY DREAD) at the airport, and after hearing his story on the way back to town, offered to let the Reggae singer stay in his home. With his understanding and membership in the Southern California Reggae community, and Mikey already having recorded an album, Lil Dread was confident he could get enough work for Mikey to make Los Angeles his new home.
— As Mikey's manager, Lil Dread indeed finds work, and six months later Mikey is earning enough to find a place of his own.




(1990)
An American Success Story
(Mikey records "SOURCE OF YOUR DIVORCE" produced by Hip-Hop icon KRS1, and appearing on the compilation "THE FUNKY REGGAE CREW." Later, a "Source of Your Divorce" MTV video was shot at the home of the legendary actor/dancer Gene Kelly's Beverly Hills home.)
— With beats written by Mikey, Lil Dread (in the privacy of his own home/studio) begins to write lyrics and, for the first time, sing songs.



THE VOICE OF REASON

— Even though pleased with his success managing Mikey Dread's new-found career, Lil Dread still had thoughts of getting back onstage. Liking many of his results writing lyrics to Mikey's beats, he decided to take what he describes as "very important" music lessons from the legendary JOE HIGGS, one of Reggae's founding fathers known for his influence in the evolution of BOB MARLEY & THE WAILERS' harmonizing and vocal arrangements.



This short documentary features Joe Higgs and the history of "Ghetto Music."

"Jah Salvation" ... Li'l' Dread's first release
(1992)
Managing the Now
— Lil Dread releases "JAH SALVATION" (produced by Mikey Dread), the first tune he "felt comfortable enough letting others hear." Despite his satisfaction with "Jah Salvation," and Joe Higgs having built his confidence as a singer, Lil Dread still decided to not seek out a band, or live gigs.
— Continued success in Lil Dread managing Mikey led to Mikey hosting a weekly Reggae show at a popular Los Angeles nightclub. THE SOUND STORM AT GIDION became so popular, that within a year, the show had outgrown the club's capacity.
— Lil Dread attends the (1995) REGGAE ON THE RIVER, a festival on the Humbolt River in Northern California, and has a chance meeting with a Hawaiian promoter who's interested in having Mikey Dread tour the islands.

(1996)
An Explosive Milestone
— Accomodating the promoter he met at Reggae on the River, Lil Dread organizes and promotes the wildly successful REGGAE EXPLOSION CONCERT TOUR, featuring MIKEY DREAD, DJ YELLOWMAN, BORN JAMERICANS, and MARTY DREAD, playing shows in Hawaii, Honolulu, and Maui.

(2000)
Behind the Scenes
— With Mikey Dread's career on stable course, Lil Dread chose to continue focusing on his managerial efforts, furthuring Mikey's Reggae career, rather than his own.



One step in Lil Dread's climb back onstage was his working in the movie business, as score/soundtrack producer TODD ERICKSON's assistant.

(2004)
LI'L' DREAD's RETURN
— Another chance meeting, this time with TODD ERICKSON leads to Lil Dread "getting his name back in the market, as an ARTIST, not just a manager." Erickson was working on the score of a new film ("ONE MORE ROUND"), and after talking to Lil Dread, hired on as an assistant and offered him the opportunity to contribute. Erikson gave Lil Dread one of the tunes he was working on, Lil Dread wrote lyrics relevant to the story, and Erickson like the results enough to make Lil Dread's effort the movie's title track.
— Being reborn and confident again as an artist, Lil Dread, in addition to his still successfully managing Mikey, started to assemble bands and book himself into the same clubs he had booking other Reggae acts. The highlight being a gig at the VIPER ROOM, after which he was taken back to the VIP room to meet owner JOHNNY DEPP.





Mikey Dread's music, as much of Reggae is filled with direct, often critical social commentary ... his personal message, encouraging Lil Dread's to find his creative future in Hawaii, was one of PURE LOVE AND HOPE.

(2005)
PASSING THE TORCH
— Lil Dread has the most important and moving conversation with his closest Rastafarian friend and musical mentor. Just before his passing, Mikey thanked Lil Dread for all that he had done to make his life in Los Angeles a happy one. He also reminded Lil Dread of how much they had ejoyed their time in Hawaii, and how much Hawaii had embraced REGGAE MUSIC and the RASTAFARIAN MESSAGE. Mikey quickly suggested that Lil Dread be the one to carry the Rastafarian/Reggae torch into the future. Mikey felt Lil Dread had helped him carry the torch from Jamaica to Los Angeles, and he felt there was no one better able than Lil Dread to continue on his spiritual journey ... to build the Rastafarian bridge to Asia, through Europe, and back across the Atlantic to Reggae's home in Jamaica ...
COMPLETEING THE CIRCLE, AND BRINGING THE WORLD TOGETHER AS ONE.

MAKING MIKEY A PROMISE
— Touched by Mikey's Last Words, Lil Dread promised his friend that he would indeed carry the Rastafarian Torch forward, to Hawaii, and into the Future.
— Just before his friend Mikey Dread died, Lil Dread called his old promoter friend in Hawaii, and booked what would be MIKEY's LAST SHOWS ... Eight of "HIS FINEST" performances in Honolulu, Maui, and The Big Island of Hawaii.



In the year following Mikey Dread's passing, Lil Dread spent months in an Atlanta studio working with Hip-Hop artist 2 CHAINZ.

— Back east, in Connecticut for Mikey's funeral, Lil Dread met with Mikey's nephew and stayed a week in Connecticut ... and then went to Atlanta to stay with your brother Mac. Old Los Angeles Deborah Byrd did work with an Atlanta production company (John Corsese Productions), worked on the 2006 BET Awards Show, and made inroads into Atlanta's Hip-Hop community, working on songs spent many hours with 2 CHAINZ in the studio (Brothers connection) ... but in the end, Lil Dread said "I couldn't really find my nitch in Atlanta."
— Frustrated with a lack of artistic fullfilment, and missing both Mikey and Los Angeles, Lil Dread moved back home to California, with plans to stay.



Lil Dread experienced a most extreme change in day-to-day lifestyle when he left his urban home in Los Angeles for two years of meditation in the Hawaiian jungle.

(2007)
Call of the Wild
— Still down, and with Mikey's Mission recessed in his mind, Lil Dread received the next of his memory-jarring, life-changing calls. This time from Inoch, an old Rastafarian friend in Hawaii. "Yo Man, you need to come over here to the Islands," he said. "I don't feel good about you staying in L.A."
"But this is my home," Lil Dread said. "I was born here."
Inoch persisted, telling Lil Dread to at least come over for a "vacation" ... to take a break from what was becoming a more and more depressing routine.
It was then that MIKEY's MEMORY and Lil Dread's yet unfulfilled promise began to haunt him. Lil Dread described it as "THE HAWAIIAN BELL WAS ONCE AGAIN RINGING."
Lil Dread put all his Los Angeles possessions in storage, and with the financial help of a few friends, bought a plane ticket to Hawaii's Big Island.
As he, nearly 20 years ago, had taken Mikey into what was to become his new home, Inoch provided Lil Dread with a home (something of a luxurious tent/campsite) up in the hills of his lush, green, mountainous 40-acre estate, filled with rivers, waterfalls, bamboo forests and banana trees.

"I felt like one of the Robinson family."
— Despite his reluctance, upon arrival, Lil Dread felt good about his move to Hawaii. "I went from my inner-city apartment to a tent on a riser in a tropical forest," Lil Dread said, "And it felt good.
"I had my bass, a guitar, keyboard, and computer ... still a musician, but in a much different environment.
"For the next six months, I wrote and played music in my solitude, and made occassional trips into the small town, knocking on the few studio doors, trying to meet musicians and get into the small (music) scene."
Knowing Lil Dread was growing tired of such a slow, rainy existence, Inoch recognized an opportunity to sweeten Lil Dread's Hawaiian experience.
Seeing that ZIGGY MARLEY was scheduled to play a show in Maui, he called his friend Santa Davis, the drummer in Ziggy's band, and asked if he could get tickets for him and his family, now including Lil Dread.
Inoch also bought Lil Dread's plane ticket to Maui, and in addition to seeing the show, Lil Dread was interested in the atmosphere of Maui, and he decided to spend some of his personal income (royalties from "One More Round" and returns on a few earlier investments) to Island hop, looking for a possible, more permanent spot to live in Hawaii.



(2009)
Home Again in Maui
— Lil Dread settled on Maui ... found a small apartment and sent home for more of his possessions in Los Angeles. Much more populated than The Big Island, Maui had a thriving music scene, and Lil Dread soon got a gig playing bass in a local band called the KEYS OF CREATION, in which he played his first live Hawaiian show at the Maui Marathon, and psychologically felt that he had FULFILLED HIS PROMISE TO MIKEY, and that MAUI WAS NOW HIS HOME.
— Lil Dread's creative juices once again began to flow, and he was writing songs more prolifically than ever. Working with the Keys of Creation, he had met most of the local radio DJs, who were receptive to listening to Lil Dread's new tunes. Many of his earlier efforts were rejected, but undeterred Lil Dread continued to write and offer his tunes to local radio. Finally, his friend SHAGGY, a DJ at Q102 Maui, liked Lil Dread's tune "CHAMPIONS," and played it on his next Reggae show.
— Lil Dread was never happier in Hawaii, than when hearing "Champions" on Hawaiian air, and most importantly it reinforced his feeling and boosted his confidence in thinking he had made the right decision to MAKE MAUI HIS HOME.
"It was like I was in church when I first heard my song played on the Radio," Lil Dread said. "I felt like EVERYONE IN HAWAII IS NICE, and that there could be NO BETTER VIBE."

LI'L' DREAD's HAWAIIAN DEBUT
The first of Li'l' Dread's tunes played on Q102 Radio in Maui (LISTEN)
"Jah Salvation" by Ras Li’l’ Dread 



When Lil Dread saw how the Hawaiian youth had received Reggae Music, and adopted it as their own, he realized how right his friend and mentor MIKEY DREAD, just before his death, had encouraged his move to Maui.

(2011)
THE FUTURE IS BRIGHT
— Attending a TWINKLE BROTHERS show in Maui, Lil Dread was once again REMINDED OF MIKEY, and this time thought of him as almost A PROPHET.
"I was surprised to hear all these kids at the show singing 1960s Reggae tunes, and was compelled to ask 'You guys know these songs?'
"I was even more surprised to hear their answer ... 'Yeah Man, this is OUR music.'
"I WAS INSPIRED," Lil Dread said, "MIKEY WAS RIGHT ALL ALONG ... HE HAD SEEN THE FUTURE OF REGGAE MUSIC, AND HE KNEW IT WOULD BE LIVED IN HAWAII."

(TODAY)
The Rastafarian Journey continues ...
RAS LI'L' DREAD CARRIES THE TORCH ... LIGHTING THE FUTURE'S WAY.
Inspiration/Collaboration — MIKEY DREAD, YELLOW MAN, BAD BRAINS, BEENIE MAN, SHINE HEAD, CARL MALCOLM, ENGLISH MAN, HALF PINT, RAS MICHAEL and THE SONS of NEGUS, STRANGER COLE, SWELELE, ITAL JOE, SHAKA MAN and HAILE MASKEL, THE RASTAFARIANS ...

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