The world's fastest rapper according to the Guinness Book of World Records, Jamaican-born Daddy Freddy was also one of the first artists to fuse ragga and dancehall with hip-hop, helping establish a style that would become highly influential during the '90s. Freddy (born S. Frederick Small, 1965, Kingston) grew up in the Trenchtown area and began performing for his uncle's sound system, eventually moving on to join Lieutenant Stitchie and, most importantly, Sugar Minott. His gig with Minott's sound system helped make his name in Jamaica (and, following an overseas tour, the U.K.); in 1985, he made his first recording for Clement "Coxsone" Dodd's Studio One label, a single titled "Zoo Party," that was built on the rhythm of the early ragga smash "Under Mi Sleng Teng." Aided by his hit debut album Body Lasher, Freddy scored a remarkable six Top Ten hits in Jamaica during 1986, including a collaboration with Pinchers, called "Joker Lover," that topped the charts.
In 1987, Freddy returned to the U.K., where he signed with the Music of Life label and began working with producer Asher D. The resulting album, Raggamuffin Hip-Hop, was one of the first fusions of dancehall toasting with hip-hop rhythms, breaking a great deal of new ground. Freddy continued to record dancehall reggae singles for the Jamaican audience while making guest appearances with pop and dance artists like Go West, Meli'sa Morgan, and Beats International (the pre-Fatboy Slim project of Norman Cook). In 1988, Freddy entered the Guinness Book of World Records with a rap that topped 500 syllables per minute. Despite success in the U.K. and Jamaica, Freddy hadn't made as much of an impression in the States, and he aimed to change that by signing with Chrysalis for the 1991 album Stress and the accompanying single "Daddy Freddy's in Town." Both enjoyed modest success, and the Capitol-issued follow-up album, Raggamuffin Soldier, scored positive reviews, but Freddy never quite became a breakout star in America even with his tremendous technical skill. Freddy soon elected to take a break from his frenetic late-'80s recording schedule, releasing his last Music of Life album, The Big One. However, he staged a comeback in 2000 with the acclaimed Old School, New School, a collaboration with new U.K. dub wizard the Rootsman. Freddy subsequently returned to Jamaica to begin recording some new dancehall material. ~ Steve Huey