Clay Cane is a New York City-based writer who is recognized for his contributions in journalism. Clay is a regular contributor for various print and online publications such as The Advocate and BET.com. He is the author of the highly anticipated novel Ball-Shaped World, which is a fictionalized account of the black and Latino ballroom scene. Also, he is the Entertainment Editor at BET.com and a member of New York Film Critics Online. He can be reached at claycane@gmail.com.


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    Thursday, August 07, 2008

    If you think there is a deficit of female rappers, then there is a complete drought of female reggae artists. In the hyper-masculine, homophobic land of reggae artists women rarely get their shine outside of Jamaica. I would argue the hyper masculinity is part of the reason why a female reggae artist hasn't emerged since Patra in 1993.

    Born Dorothy Smith, in 1993 a 22 year-old Patra, which is an abbreviated version of Cleopatra, released her first record Queen of the Pack to a lukewarm reception. However, after prettying up Shabba Ranks in the song "Family Affair", Lawd knows that's hard to do, American audiences took notice. After heavy rotation on Video Juke Box and BET, Patra was a star.

    Queen of the Pack went Gold and reigned at #1 for13 consecutive weeks on Billboard's reggae chart -- at the time she held the record of the longest album at #1 on the reggae charts.

    The pop meets reggae Scent of Attraction was released in 1995. The album delivered her one and only top 40 hit and was basically a success, locking down what looked like a promising career. Still, Patra vanished after her 1995 release and didn't return until 2003 with an independent label. Her last release was in 2005.

    Rumors swirled the reggae diva's disappearing act was due to a drug addiction, but in a 2004 interview with the Jamaica Observer Patra said she "took a break".

    It's a shame she took this "break" because who knows what could've happened with Patra's career. Scent of Attraction was a sign that the dookie braid diva was going more pop -- she could've been the Rihanna of the nineties! Check out Patra's greatest hits...

    "Queen of the Pack", the title track from her first album, did not hit any of the American charts, but if you had Video Juke Box you remember this song. I just love how she is throwing, rolling, and popping her coochie all over the video -- then staring down at it like she wants to watch too. You know you were doing the dance in the mirror! By the way... some of the women in this video, my God, they look like they need to be hosed down expeditiously! There are so many beautiful women in Jamaica, Patra obviously pulled out the most homely girls so she could stand out.



    ***
    "My property is my property!" You know you loved "Romantic Call", which featured Yo-Yo. I vividly remember this song on heavy rotation from video channels to the radio. People were willingly embracing a female reggae artist. All of the girls rocked Patra's signature dookie braids pulled up with a bright colored scrunchy, letting out a fountain of hair pouring. "Romantic Call" peaked at #9 on the rap charts, #55 on the Hot 100, and 35 on the R&B charts. Check out the video which featured 2pac.

    ***
    In 1995 Patra remade Grace Jones' 1983 ode to anal sex "Pull Up to the Bumper". The song charted at #35 on the Billboard Hot 100, her only top 40 hit. Patra, being from Kingston like Jones, is probably the only one who could pull off this remake. Still, I prefer the original.

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    Posted by Clay :: 12:00 AM :: 12 comments

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