Vybz Kartel (born Adidja Azim Palmer January 7, 1976 in Kingston) is a Jamaican DJ, singer-songwriter,and businessman.
Adidja attended Calabar High School in Kingston but was expelled. Determined to continue his education, he completed his studies at Tutorial College, a private school in Kingston, Jamaica and graduated with English, History, Geography, and Literature at CXC levels. The young Adidja was exposed to a wide variety of music from a tender age by two uncles who were aspiring musicians themselves. Every weekend he would be treated to new musical offerings on his uncle's old component set, ranging from Sam Cooke to country and western ballads to Ninja Man, who became one of his musical foes. At the age of 10 his favorite artists included Papa San, Charlie Chaplin, Will Smith and KRS-1, all of whose lyrics he would write down and memorise, performing them later for the entertainment of friends.
Adidja decided to hone his skills and concentrate on winning over his own community of Waterford until he was ready for bigger things. With that goal in mind, on weekends he would practice his art on neighbourhood sound systems Soul Signal and Electric Force. In 1993, Adidja, now in his mid teens, recorded his first single Love Fat Woman for Alvin Reid's One Heart Label under the name Adi Banton. A name he chose in tribute to Buju Banton who was one his role models. He recorded several more tracks for local producers until 1996 when he and two friends, Mr Lee and a singer called Escobar, decided to form a group. One night, after watching a movie about Pablo Escobar and his infamous cartel, Adidja came up with a name for his trio: Vibes Cartel. Unfortunately some time after, the group broke up due to internal frictions leaving Adidja again to continue alone. Adidja chose to keep the name of the group changing the C to K in Kartel and adopting the moniker VYBZ KARTEL.
In 1998, Kartel made an appearance at the Champions in Action stage show, held in his hometown of Portmore. His performance was highly praised, and he was soon offered a way into the music industry. Fellow artist Bounty Killer described him as having a lot of potential, and hired Kartel to write songs for him; these included "High Grade Forever", "Warlord Rule The World" and "Gal Clown".
Vybz Kartel’s new role as Killer’s protege caught the attention of the public and led to a meteoric career rise. Staring as a ghost-writer for Bounty, Elephant Man and other members of the Scare Dem Crew he then progressed to collaborations with Bounty Killer such as Gal Clown and Girls Like Mine (Liquid Riddim). He then came into his own with early hits such as Gun Clown, Guns Like Mine (Trafalga Riddim), Badman (Panty Raid Riddim), Bus Mi Gun Like Nuttn, Most High (Mexican Riddim) and War Organizer (Clappas Riddim). He also had a string of successful collaborations with Wayne Marshall, such as New Millennium (Mad Antz Riddim), Why (Krazy Riddim) and Why Again (Good To Go Riddim). This unprecedented and impressive debut led to Vybz Kartel being crowned Deejay Of The Year at Stone Love’s 30th Anniversary, 2002, a feat unmatched by any new artist in dancehall’s history.
Kartel has already had several collaborations with international hip-hop and pop stars. In terms of singles sold, he has had the second-best year on the reggae charts for 2003 (outsold only by Elephant Man) and has released 2 albums for UK/US based label Greensleeves Records Ltd. He was also featured twice on the Def Jamaica project, and nominated for Source, VIBE and UK MOBO awards (although his MOBO nominations, along with those of Beenie Man, Elephant Man and Sizzla were withdrawn over concerns of homophobia, a common issue with dancehall reggae in general).
Vybz Kartel has won an award at the CUMA (Caribbean Urban Music Awards) in 2008. He also won three EmE awards in 2009 for song of the year(Ramping Shop ft. Spice), Lyricist/Songwriter of the Year, and Male DJ of the Year.
In 2006 Vybz and Bounty Killer had a falling out after Vybz performed a song with D'Angel, Bounty Killer's former girl. The song is titled ‘Yuh Know Yuh Baby father’. This lead to Kartel permanently departing from the Alliance, it also lead to Aidonia later leaving because he took Vybz side and also had a falling out with Alliance member Busy Signal and made the song ‘Adi A Mi Daddy ’.
Towards the end of 2006, Vybz Kartel left the Alliance. Tensions arose following Kartel's continued association with Bounty Killer's longtime enemy, Beenie Man, including Kartel attending Beenie Man's wedding to Bounty Killer's ex-girlfriend, D'Angel. Vybz Kartel cited his departure as being due to his desire to be a more independent artist. It was reported that Vybz and Bounty Killer performed together ahead of the annual Sting show. Due to Kartel's defection from the alliance and his 'parring' with the enemy 'the doctor' Beenie Man, a series of songs and counteraction songs ensued - the main proponents being Kartel and Mavado.
A very public feud between Vybz Kartel and former collaborator Mavado arose towards the end of 2006, stemming from Vybz' much publicized departure from the dancehall conglomerate group, The Alliance. The feud resulted in numerous diss-tracks released, in which each artist dissed the other and their associates over popular dancehall rhythms.
In 2008, Kartel launched Vybz rum and the Daggerin' line of condoms. ‘Vybz Rum’ will be Kartel’s first major endorsement with a beverage company. The rum is yet to be officially distributed, but is planned to be done by Vybz Distillers Limited, a subsidiary of the company that created Pimp Juice.
Vybz Kartel's rum has hit the shelves in Jamaica, also we see another liquor known as Street Vybz.
Vybz Kartel, who is well known for his hard hitting ghetto lyrics and rival showdowns with popular Artist Mavado, has been leaning towards more positive messages in his songs, with emphasis on respecting Women and Mothers and hints of Rasta-fari teachings. His recent condom campaigns for saving lives have also been well received. Vybz Kartel’s recent release “Mama” has taken the charts by storm, and the Artist will be doing several performances in the Caribbean, to include neighboring Trinidad and Tobago.