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Artist Hall of Fame

Macka DiamondText by Harry Hawks

Reggae, and dancehall reggae in particular, is infamous for its machismo stance and sexist outlook and to describe the opportunities for female artists as ‘limited’ in the male dominated world of Jamaican music is a massive understatement. A select few have managed to break through the glass ceiling but Macka Diamond has appears to have smashed it...
Date Added: Oct 28, 2015, Date Updated: Oct 30, 2015 Copyright (C) 2019 Dub Store Sound Inc.
Real Name: Charmaine Munroe
1971 -
Place of Birth: Kingston
Jamaica
Related Artist(s):
Lady Saw
Charmaine Munroe was born in Kingston in 1971 and grew up in Portmore immersed in music. Her father is the legendary Phillip Munroe controller of the Sounds Of Muzik sound system (whose deejay was the equally legendary Winston Scotland) and producer of a handful of classic releases in the early seventies including the essential 'Violin Rock'.

Young Charmaine attended Holy Childhood High School but, from an early age, the lure of music proved too strong for her to concentrate on her studies and she would duck out of art classes and practise her singular gifts by entertaining her friends at the back of the school. Sister Nancy, a trailblazing female deejay, was an early inspiration and Charmaine made up her mind that she would "soon join unoo..." although, naturally enough, her mother had different ideas. But, soon after her mother emigrated to America, Charmaine decided not to enter the Sixth Form and left school in 1987. She asked a friend to show her where Lady Junie, another foundation female deejay, lived and Charmaine called to her house and introduced herself. Junie was not slow to recognise Charmaine's potential and took her under her wing; she became Junie's protégé and was introduced to some important names in Kingston's music business.

"I got my influence by listening to the female artistes who were big at the time... Mama Nancy, Lady Ann, Lady Junie and Lady G." Macka Diamond

Charmaine wanted to be known as Lady Charm but the producer of her first record, an answer version to Major Mackerel's 'Don Ban', was insistent that it was released under the name of Lady Mackerel. Although Charmaine cried when she first saw the record 'Don Girl' proved to be a hit. She went on to record with King Tubby's Kingston 11 label, sound system supremos Stone Love and also worked as a solo performer and in combination on live work and recording with deejays Wicker Man and Captain Barkey and his Worm Dem Crew. She continued to work tirelessly and develop her individual style and stage persona and was soon recognised as one of the rising stars in Kingston's dance hall firmament.

"Never give up on your dreams. Just continue to work if you believe in yourself." Macka Diamond

By 2003 Charmaine came to the conclusion that she had now outgrown the Lady Mackerel sobriquet and became Macka Diamond. A more aggressive lyrical approach accompanied her new name and Macka Diamond answered Vybz Kartel's massive hit 'Tek Buddy' in no uncertain terms with 'Tek Con'. Vybz Kartel had put forward the proposition that women were after pots and pans in exchange for sex and Macka Diamond's ribald reply informed Vybz Kartel and all misogynists that women would rather have wide screen televisions... thank you very much!

"The change can come if all female artists decide to get more serious... get more aggressive as the male." Macka Diamond

The following summer Macka Diamond's constant hard work finally paid off when 'Done A Ready' reached Number One in the Jamaican charts... the first time a female artist had done so in four years... with a remorseless upbraiding of dancehall's boastful macho braggadocio. With her catch phrase, 'Money O', everywhere in 2006 Macka Diamond shocked out at the Sting stage show in a dress made of laminated high denomination dollar bills before stepping forward with her debut album entitled 'Money O' of course. And she continued to tell the other side of the story...

"I'm a real entertainer, always putting on my best for my audience, because it is a very personal experience." Macka Diamond

Further proof of the multi –talented Macka Diamond's way with words came with her two novels, 'Bun Him!!!' ('Jamaica's first official dancehall novel') and 'The Real Gangster's Wife' published by Pageturner Publishing. In 2011 she released her autobiography, 'Grown And Sexy', at her fortieth birthday party at Waves Beach in Portmore' before winning the title of Best Female Rapper/DJ at The International Reggae & World Music Awards. Her second album, 'Don't Disturb Me', came out at the beginning of 2012 through her own Money Ooh Productions.

"The book ('Grown and Sexy') is just about me, my whole life and what it means to feel grown and sexy. It's telling all about me from the beginning, my struggles, the ups and downs and how I got involved in the industry". Macka Diamond

After facing up to many difficult artistic decisions the Money Goddess has now made it entirely on her own terms in the hyped up environment of Kingston's dance hall scene. She has gone through name and style changes, working alone, with partners and also in collectives but Macka Diamond was never, ever going to give up her teenage dreams.

"I've tried a lot of formulas. I've changed my image, name and style many times. Now I have it..."
I'm saying what the women want to hear but are afraid to say..."Macka Diamond

The setbacks she has encountered have served to make her even stronger and, although it might still be a man's, man's, man's world, artists such as Macka Diamond are, hopefully, changing it.
Oct 28, 2015 (Oct 30, 2015 Update) Text by Harry Hawks
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