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Winston Foster [1] (born 1956[2]), better known by the stage name Yellowman, is a Jamaican reggae and dancehall deejay, also known as King Yellowman. He was popular in Jamaica in the 1980s, coming to prominence with a series of singles that established his reputation.

Yellowman backed by Sagittarius Band, Bersenbrueck 2007 -1 (cropped).jpg
Yellowman performing in 2007
Background information
Birth nameWinston Foster
Also known asKing Yellowman
BornKingston, Jamaica
GenresReggae, dancehall
Occupation(s)Musician, songwriter, deejay
Years active1974–present
LabelsColumbia Records, CBS Records, Greensleeves, Artist Only, VP Records, RAS Records
Associated actsFathead


Winston Foster 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 having albinism, which was not typically socially accepted in Jamaica.[1][3] Alpha Boys School was known for its musical alumni.[4] In the late 1970s Yellowman first gained wide attention when he finished second (to Nadine Sutherland) in the 1978 Tastee Talent Contest.[1] Like many Jamaican deejays, he honed his talents by frequently performing at outdoor sound-system dances, prominently with Aces International.[1][5] He had success as a recording artist, working with producer Henry "Junjo" Lawes.[1] In 1981, after becoming significantly popular throughout Jamaica, Yellowman became the first dancehall artist to be signed to a major American label (Columbia Records).[6]

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.[7] Yellowman appeared in Jamaican Dancehall Volcano Hi-power 1983 which featured other major dancehall musicians such as Massive Dread, Josey Wales, Burro Banton and Eek-A-Mouse.[7]

Yellowman proclaimed, "I never know why they call it slackness. I talk about sex, but it's just what happens behind closed doors. What I talk is reality."[8]

He had success in 1987 with a version of "Blueberry Hill", that topped the charts for several weeks in Jamaica. Yellowman had met Fats Domino where he performed on the island earlier in the decade, and Domino had presented him with a copy of his version.[9]

By the mid-1990s, Yellowman released socially conscious material, rising to international fame along with singers such as Buju Banton. Yellowman became the island's most popular deejay. During the early 1980s, Yellowman had over 40 singles and produced up to five albums per year.[7]

He re-invented himself with his 1994 album Prayer, which stepped away from the slackness that gave him his initial fame.[7] His latest albums are New York (2003) and Round 1 (2005). Yellowman was also a featured guest vocalist on the Run-DMC track "Roots Rap Reggae".[10] Yellowman continues to perform internationally with his Sagittarius Band, and has toured through places such as Nigeria where he retains a following of fans, as well as Spain, Peru, Sweden, Italy, Germany, Britain, France, Kenya, the United States and Canada. He also featured on OPM's 2004 album, Forthemasses.[citation needed]

In 2018, it was announced that he would be awarded the Order of Distinction (Officer Class) by the Jamaican government.[1]

Personal lifeEdit

Foster's daughter Kareema followed him into a career in music.[11]


He has spoken against violence. In the Montreal Mirror in 2005 he said, "Now it's not your entertainment or teaching. If you notice the hip hop and dancehall artists today, all they do they sing about drugs, clothes, car, house—when they can't get it, they start get violent. ... I know what violence is like and what it contain and what it can do. I'm glad that the roots is coming back."[12] The slackness style with which Yellowman is associated sometimes has homophobic lyrics.[7] However, in the same Montreal Mirror article he spoke against it: "Everybody listen to me ... I don't do songs against gay people, I don't do violent lyric against gay people. If you don't like a person or you don't like a thing, you don't talk about it. You don't come on stage and say kill them or burn them because everybody have a right to live."[12]


In 1982, Yellowman was diagnosed with skin cancer, and was initially told that he only had three more years to live.[7] However, this prognosis proved to be inaccurate, and after several surgeries Yellowman was able to continue his career.[13] 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.[1][14]


The instrumental for Yellowman's 1982 "Zungguzungguguzungguzeng", the "Diseases" rhythm by "Junjo" Lawes, has been sampled and imitated repeatedly since its original release. The original version of this rhythm was performed by Alton Ellis for a song called "Mad, Mad, Mad" produced by Coxsone Dodd in 1967. Coxsone Dodd had already released two dub cuts, "Talking Dub" and "Lusaka", plus a 1980 cut by Jennifer Lara, "Hurt So Good." This rhythm came to be known as the 'Diseases' rhythm after Michigan and Smiley recorded their song, Diseases, with Henry Junjo Lawes in 1981. The vocal melody of "Zungguzungguguzungguzeng" has also been sampled heavily in various reggae and hip hop songs.



  • Mister Yellowman (1982) Greensleeves Records
  • King Mellow Yellow Meets Yellowman (1982) Jam Rock (with King mellow yellow)
  • Superstar Yellowman Has Arrived With Toyan (1982) Joe Gibbs (with Toyan and Johnny Ringo)
  • Duppy Or Gunman (1982) Volcano
  • Jack Sprat (1982) GG's
  • Just Cool (1982) Jah Guidance
  • Live at Reggae Sunsplash (1982) Sunsplash
  • Them A Mad Over Me (1982) J&L
  • Bad Boy Skanking (1982) Greensleeves (with Fathead)
  • For Your Eyes Only (1982) Arrival (with Fathead)
  • Live at Aces (1982) VP (with Fathead)
  • One Yellowman (1982) Hitbound (with Fathead)
  • Supermix (1982) Volcano (with Fathead)
  • The Yellow, The Purple & The Nancy (1982) Greensleeves (with Purpleman and Sister Nancy)
  • Yellow Man Fat Head and the One Peter Metro (1982) [16]
  • Zungguzungguguzungguzeng (1983) Greensleeves/Blue Moon/Arrival
  • Live at Kilamanjaro (1983) Hawkeye
  • Live in London (1983) Thunder Bolt
  • Live at Ranny Williams Entertainment Center (1983) Roots Rockers (with Lord Sassafrass & Peter Metro)
  • Nobody Move (1983), Volcano
  • Nobody Move Nobody Get Hurt (1984) Greensleeves
  • King Yellowman (1984) Columbia
  • One in a Million (1984) Joe Gibbs
  • Operation Radication (1984) Top 1000
  • Showdown Vol 5 (1984) Hitbound (with Fathead and Purpleman)
  • Two Giants Clash (1984) Greensleeves (with Josey Wales)
  • Galong Galong Galong (1985) Greensleeves/Blue Moon
  • Walking Jewellery Store (1985) Power House
  • Girls Them Pet (1986) Taxi
  • Going to the Chapel (1986) Shanachie/Greensleeves
  • Yellow Like Cheese (1987)
  • Yellowman Rides Again (1988)
  • Yellowman Sings The Blues (1988) ROHIT
  • Yellow Man Meets Charlie Chaplin (1989) Power House (with Charlie Chaplin)
  • A Feast of Yellow Dub (1990)
  • Party (1991)
  • Mi Hot (1991) Pow Wow
  • Reggae on the Move (1992)
  • Live in England (1992) Sonic Sounds
  • Prayer (1994) RAS
  • Blueberry Hill (1987) ROHIT
  • Reggae Calypso Encounter (1987) ROHIT
  • Greatest Hits (1988) ROHIT
  • Message to the World (1995)
  • Divorced! (For Your Eyes Only) (1983) Burning Sounds (with Fathead)
  • Freedom of Speech (1997) Black Scorpio
  • Yellowman Rides Again (1997) RAS
  • Ram Dance Master (1997) Nyam Up
  • A Very, Very, Yellow Christmas (1998)[17]
  • Stone Wall Rambo (1998) Jamaican Vibes (Sly & Robbie and Yellowman)
  • One in a Million (1999) Shanachie
  • Chronic (1999) X-Ploit (with Fathead)
  • Yellow Like Cheese (1999) RAS
  • In Bed With Yellowman (2000) Greensleeves
  • Good Sex Guide (2000) Greensleeves
  • Yellow Gold (2002) (Yellowman and The Paragons)[7]
  • New York (2003) RAS
  • Round 1 (2005) Nuff (Yellowman vs. Ninjaman)
  • 20 Super Hits (1991) Sonic Sounds
  • The Best of Yellowman (1996) Melodie
  • RAS Portraits – Yellowman (1997) RAS
  • Reggae Anthology: Look How Me Sexy (2001) VP
  • Just Cool (2004) Charly
  • Yellow Fever (2004) Trojan
  • Reggae Chronicles (2006) Hallmark
  • Most Wanted (2007) Greensleeves
  • Reggae Anthology: Young, Gifted & Yellow (2013) VP

Video releasesEdit

  • Yellowman Peace Tour CRS (VHS)
  • Live in San Francisco (2003) Music Video Distributors/2B1 (DVD)
  • Yellowman/Chaka Demus and Pliers: Living Legends in Concert (2007) Funhouse (DVD)
Various Artists
  • Kingston Signals Vol.1 (2004) Music Video Distributors
  • Stars in Action, Part 2 (2007) Island Entertainment


  1. ^ a b c d e f g Campbell, Howard (2018) "Gold medal for Yellowman", Jamaica Observer, 20 August 2018. Retrieved 21 August 2018
  2. ^ Cooper, Stephen. "King Yellowman Defends Gay Rights at Reggae on the Mountain". CounterPunch. Retrieved 13 April 2019.
  3. ^ "Body by Yellowman", Jesse Serwer,
  4. ^ Lowrie-Chin, Jean (2005) "Alpha: the power of one", Jamaica Observer, 18 April 2005, archived version retrieved 24 December 2012
  5. ^ Kenner, Rob. "Dancehall", in The Vibe History of Hip-hop, ed. Alan Light, 350-7. 1999
  6. ^ "King Yellowman / Biography". Retrieved 24 December 2012.
  7. ^ a b c d e f g Huey, Steve. "Yellowman – Music Biography, Credits and Discography". AllMusic. Retrieved 24 December 2012.
  8. ^ Du Noyer, Paul (2003). The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Music (1st ed.). Fulham, London: Flame Tree Publishing. p. 362. ISBN 1-904041-96-5.
  9. ^ Campbell, Howard (2017) "Yellowman's tasty serving of Blueberry Hill", Jamaica Observer, 31 October 2017. Retrieved 4 November 2017
  10. ^ "Run-DMC – King of Rock CD Album". 11 September 2003. Retrieved 24 December 2012.
  11. ^ Campbell, Howard (2014) "Yellowman's daughter turns to music", Jamaica Observer, 8 August 2014. Retrieved 10 August 2014
  12. ^ a b "Gold timers". Montreal Mirror. Archived from the original on 22 July 2005. Retrieved 19 November 2013.
  13. ^ "Yellowman on cancer and crooks – Thursday | February 21, 2002". Jamaica Gleaner. 21 February 2002. Retrieved 24 December 2012.
  14. ^ "Welcome to The Website of DJ Yellowman". Retrieved 24 December 2012.
  15. ^ "Follow Me Now: The Zigzagging Zunguzung Meme". 10 May 2007. Retrieved 24 December 2012.
  16. ^ "Yellow Man Fat Head And The One Peter Metro". Retrieved 6 July 2017.
  17. ^ Love, Bret (24 November 1998). "A Very, Very Yellow Christmas – Yellowman : Songs, Reviews, Credits, Awards". AllMusic. Retrieved 24 December 2012.

External linksEdit