Every era has its’ pioneers, and the post-Internet generation of reggae fans are already celebrating record producer/re-mixer and DJ sensation Prince Fatty as one of their own. His futuristic take on old school reggae, soul and Latin grooves – served up in a style that’s uniquely his and full of character – has now made him hugely popular on the international club and festival circuit.
Real name Mike Pelanconi, he first rose to prominence after Brighton-based label Mr. Bongo issued his debut album Survival Of The Fattest in 2007. Veteran Jamaican artists Little Roy, Winston Francis and Dennis Alcapone were in attendance for a set brimming with feel-good factor, and that was an instant hit with the party crowd. Everyone liked it, whether they were punks, skaters, dub heads or club and radio DJs. Reverential and audacious by turn, it made people want to dance, whilst the distinctive sound of his productions and quirky artwork singled him out as an exciting new name to watch.
By the time his second album Super Size arrived, he was working out of a converted ironworks in Brighton and perfecting the Prince Fatty sound on records by Little Roy, Mutant Hi-Fi and Hollie Cook, who won rapturous acclaim for her own debut album. In the meantime he’d rejuvenated reggae’s appeal among younger audiences with inspired remixes of hits by Snoop Dogg, Ol’ Dirty Bastard and Cyprus Hill – tracks which still tear the roof off every time he plays them during his DJ sets.
Whilst his first two albums announced the arrival of a serious new talent, it was those by Hollie Cook and Little Roy that put him on the map. Hollie is the daughter of Sex Pistols’ drummer Paul Cook, and a former member of all-girl punk band The Slits. Her first single Milk And Honey was a tantalising slice of modern-day lovers’ rock, mixed with a little soul and Columbian cumbia. Fatty calls it “Tropical Pop,” but then he always did like music with strong melodies. His father is from Milan, and worked for the United Nations. He travelled a lot, and would always return home with armfuls of South American records.
Hollie’s follow-up hits included Shadow Kissing and a languid cut of the Whispers’ When The Beat Goes On – songs that continued in similar vein to Milk And Honey, but noticeably expanded on it. Her debut album Hollie Cook was released in 2011, and quickly spawned a companion dub set, confirming Prince Fatty’s reputation as reggae music’s latest and most innovative dub-master.
His follow-up was Prince Fatty Versus The Drunken Gambler – a glorious romp through reggae music’s past, present and future co-starring Horseman, Dennis Alcapone, Winston Francis and the Pioneers’ George Dekker. This album underlined all that’s new and exhilarating about the Prince Fatty experience but whilst his sound is immediately distinctive, it’s never predictable. For sheer versatility, check out the set he recorded with former On U Sound stalwart Nick Coplowe back in 2011. Prince Fatty Meets The Mutant Hi-Fi: Return Of The Gringo was a wildly eccentric blend of ska and twang guitar, mixed with reggae and lots more besides. It’s what Dick Dale may have sounded like had he recorded for 2 Tone, except nowhere near as exciting. Even more barriers came tumbling down on Little Roy’s Battle 4 Seattle, after he and Prince Fatty remade a dozen or so classic Nirvana songs in a reggae style. Reviewers were full of praise for their upbeat interpretations of Kurt Cobain’s doomy grunge anthems; swayed no doubt by the album’s refreshing lack of artifice and Prince Fatty’s irresistible production skills. Soon, Little Roy was performing at the Reading Festival and receiving his first-ever exposure on UK television – a major transition for an artist who’d remained a little-known cult figure for much of his career.