Winston Foster aka KING YELLOWMAN is releasing his first album in over 16 years, called No More War. He first came on the scene his early 20’s when he came in second to Nadine Sutherland in the well-known Tastee Talent Contest and came to dominate the dancehall scene in the 1980’s with his “slack” lyrics. His successful singles I’m Getting Married in the Morning, Nobody Move, Nobody Get Hurt, Operation Eradication and Zungu Zungu Zeng brought him worldwide fame.
But his beginnings were humble as he was abandoned by his parents and grew up in the Maxfield Children’s Home and the Catholic Orphanage Alpha Boys School in Kingston, and was shunned due to his albinism. Like many Jamaican deejays, he honed his talents by frequently performing at outdoor sound-system dances, prominently with Aces International. In 1981, after becoming significantly popular throughout Jamaica, Yellowman became the first dancehall artist to be signed to a major American label Columbia Records.
His first album release was in 1982 entitled Mister Yellowman followed by Zungguzungguguzungguzeng in 1983 earning instant success. Yellowman’s sexually explicit lyrics in popular songs such as Them a Mad Over Me boasted of his sexual prowess, like those of other reggae singers/deejays, earned Yellowman criticism in the mid-1980s.
In 1982, Yellowman was diagnosed with skin cancer, and was initially told that he only had three more years to live. However, this prognosis proved to be inaccurate, and after several surgeries Yellowman was able to continue his career. The cancer went into apparent remission during this time. In 1986 it was diagnosed that the cancer had spread to his jaw; Yellowman underwent very invasive jaw surgery to remove a malignant tumor. This surgery permanently disfigured Yellowman’s face, as a large portion of the left side of his lower jaw had to be removed to successfully remove the tumor.
By the mid-1990s, Yellowman released socially conscious material, rising to international fame along with singers such as Buju Banton. He re-invented himself with his 1994 album Prayer, which stepped away from the slackness that gave him his initial fame.
He has been nominated twice for a Grammy Award, and last year, he awarded the Order of Distinction (officer class) for his contribution to Jamaican Culture and Entertainment in 2018.