Super Cat is one of the icons in dancehall in the early 90s, helping to further increase international exposure of dancehall through his involvement in the music scene in New York and helped to expose the genre to a much larger audience.
Born William Maragh on the 25th of June 1963, in Cockburn Pen, Kingston, which has since become known as Seivright Gardens. Super Cat’s father was of Indian decent with his mother being Afro-Jamaican.
Cockburn Pen was home to a lot of early pioneering deejays with U-Roy and Prince Jazboo both calling Cockburn Pen home.
Super Cat began working with soundsystems at age seven, when the Soul Imperial Sound System allowed the youngster to assist them at a local club called Bamboo Lawn.
During his youth, Super Cat also auditioned as a singer for Joe Gibbs, but was unsuccessful.
During his time working with sound systems, he began to become influenced by some of the pioneering deejays that he was now surrounded by including Dillinger, Ranking Trevor and Early B The Doctor. By the time he was a teenager Supercat was touring across Jamaica with various soundsystems.
Around this time, he began appearing under his original name, Cat-A-Rock, which would be eventually switched to Super Cat, it is said that this name change was due to the former’s resemblance to word ‘cat-a-ract’. He would also appear under the name ‘Wild Apache’.
Super Cat recorded his first single ‘Mr Walker’ in 1981 for the Techniques label with Winston Riley.
Super Cat then went on to record with Jah Thomas, recording ‘Walk-a-ton’ on which he is credited as ‘Super Cat The Indian’.
Super Cat’s career was briefly suspended following a short period of incarceration. After his release he began working with Early B on the infamous Killamanjaro sound system in 1984.
1985 saw the release of Super Cat’s debut album ‘Si Boops Deh’ which was released on the Techniques label. ‘Si Boops Deh’ included hits ‘Boops’ and ‘Cry Fi De Youth’, the former being based on the Steely & Clevie’s updated ‘Feel Like Jumping’ riddim and sparked a craze for songs about sugar daddies. Both of these songs are early examples of Super Cat developing his style for conscious dancehall.
Following the release of his debut album Super Cat settled at the Skengdon label and recorded his second album ‘Boops’, but soon grew increasingly frustrated with the business aspect of recording music and decided to start his own record label.
As soon as he started his label Wild Apache Productions, he began recording and producing new music. Including the 1988 album ‘Sweets for My Sweet’. Around this time he also produced for other artists on his Wild Apache imprint.
In 1991, Super Cat teamed up with Nicodemus and Junior Demus to record ‘Cabin’ Stabbin’ which would become the first triple team dancehall album in history.
Around this time Super Cat’s popularity also began to increase abroad. In 1991, he was booked to perform at the One Love Concert in the UK, but his appearance was cancelled following the shooting death of Nitty Gritty, for which Super Cat was initially suspected, but was cleared in 1992.
Increasing success saw Super Cat move to New York and sign a contract with Columbia Records, releasing one of the first dancehall albums on a major label with ‘Don Dada’ in 1992. ‘Don Dada’ featured hits ‘Ghetto Red Hot’, ‘Nuff Man A Dead’,’Dolly My Baby’, ‘Dem No Worry Me’ which featured Heavy D and obviously the title track ‘Don Dada’.
In 1992, Super Cat also featured on the remix of ‘Jump’ with Kriss Kross and would also go on to collaborate with in 1993 for their song ‘Alright’.
1993, saw the release of ‘The Good, The Bad, the Ugly and the Crazy’ issued by Sony Music, which featured Super Cat, Nicodemus, Junior Demus and Junior Cat.
The Source magazine named Super Cat dancehall artist of the year in 1993.
Super Cat was also an early collaborator with a then unknown rapper named Notorious B.I.G featuring him alongside Mary J. Blige, 3rd Eye and Puff Daddy on the B-side remix of ‘Dolly My Baby’ in 1993.
Super Cat’s 1994 version of Fats Domino’s ‘My Girl Josephine’ went on to be featured in the soundtrack to the film Prêt-à-Porter.
1995 saw Super Cat release the follow up to ‘Don Dada’ with ‘The Struggle Continues’ which was another successful effort for the deejay, as he used his own unique blend of dancehall, roots reggae, hip-hop and R&B to continue to further his international popularity.
Super Cat’s international exposure increased even further in 1997 following the release of the number one hit ‘Fly’ by Sugar Ray, which featured on their platinum selling album, ‘Floored’.
Columbia would go on to capitalize on the increased exposure that this number one hit gave Super Cat by releasing the single compilation ‘The Good, The Better, The Best of Super Cat’ in 1998.
Following this Super Cat would take some years off and reemerge in 2001 collaborating with India.Arie on her hit song ‘Video’. Super Cat would return again in 2003 collaborating with Jadakiss and The Neptunes on ‘The Dons of Dons’.
2003 would also see Super Cat collaborate with 112 on their song ‘Na Na Na Na’.
Following the death of his road manager, Fred ‘The Thunder’ Donner in 2004, Super Cat released a multi-CD tribute ‘Reggaematic Diamond All-Stars’ featuring contributions Yami Bolo, Michael Prophet, Linval Thompson, Nadine Sutherland and Sizzla.
Super Cat has remained relatively quiet over the past decade making appearances at several festivals, including Reggae Sumfest and Best of the Best. In 2012, Super Cat appeared on Nas’ ‘The Don’ which sampled his track ‘Dance Inna New York’, Super Cat also added vocals to the hook.
Super Cat is one of the real pioneers of the golden era of dancehall in the 90s and helped to expand the fan base of the genre by working with many famous Hip Hop artists and working with major labels. Super Cat will always be remembered as one of the first dancehall artists to really break internationally, especially in the US, where he is still revered by many artists and respected very highly.
Check out our playlist with some of the highlights of Super Cat’s work below