Sizzla, also known as Sizzla Kalonji, was born on the 17th of April 1976 in St. Mary, Jamaica. His birth name is Miguel Orlando Collins. Sizzla was raised by his Rastafarian parents in August Town, Kingston. Today, he is one of the most popular and critically acclaimed reggae artistes as well as a prolific leader for conscious dancehall movement. With a high number of top releases, Kalonji is known by many worldwide for his unique creativity and productivity.
Sizzla Kalonji started a career in music during his early teenage years. Mr. Homer Harris, his mentor and spiritual father, helped him to learn the necessary techniques and skills to become an excellent artist. Mama Lou, Sizzla’s mother, also played an instrumental role as she ensured that he had a strong education background. His years of studies contributed heavily to his love for writing and musical legacy. During the early part of his career, he was called Little One. However, Harris gave him the name Sizzla, which was more appropriate for his lyrical style.
In the latter part of the 1990s, Sizzla emerged on the dancehall scene in Jamaica with heavy Rastafarian-based songs to bring back the spiritual and musical influences of roots reggae. At this time, Kalonji had formally adopted the Rastafari faith and joined the Bobo Ashanti movement. Sizzla spent many years studying the Rastafari principles at the Bobo Ashanti Camp in the hills of St. Thomas, whilst pursuing his musical career. While at the camp, Kalonji embraced the use of cannibas as a spiritual sacrament as well as the philosophies of reparations and repatriations to Mother Africa, Rastafari and panAfricanism.
After improving his musical skills, Sizzla became a popular performer on Caveman Hi-Fi sound system. Homer Harris introduced Kalonji to Bobby Digital Dixon, a producer and Luciano, a cultural artist. In 1995, he kick started his recording career with a release on the Zagalou label. While working with Bobby Digital, he released a number of singles. Sizzla also gained some recognition after touring extensively with Luciano during this time. But, his big breakout success came when Dean Fraser, a Jamaican saxophonist, recommended him to Philip Fatis Burrell, another producer.
The year 1996 was a very important time for Sizzla as this was the time when he teamed up with Fatis Burrell. From a union that started off with mutual admiration and inspiration, Sizzla released successful singles and a debut album called Burning Up. They joined forces in 1997 to produce Praise Ye Jah. After this, he had another big breakthrough with the release of Black Woman and Child, which is classic album today. The album’s title track was a huge hit and it became a cultural anthem for reggae lovers both in Jamaica and many countries worldwide. With influences of a Bobby Digital production, this album had a phenomenal impact on the mainstream dancehall and reggae markets.
Sizzla had many more hits in 1997 such as Babylon Cowboy; Like Mountain; Kings of the Earth and Build a Better World (a duet with Luciano). The hot streak continued while he was with Burrell and this resulted in several years of productive recordings.
In addition to getting universal fame, Sizzla was nominated for the first time in 1998 at the MOBO awards for Best International Reggae Artist as well as earned a place in many magazines for top 100 albums of the year. After that, he released dozens of albums including Kalonji in 1998 and Royal Son of Ethiopia in 1999. He also got another nomination for a MOBO award in 1999.
Over the years, Sizzla has maintained a strong presence on the reggae charts worldwide. To date, 21 albums have reached the Billboard Top Music Chart for Reggae Albums with Words of Truth getting to the highest position after peaking at number 5. Besides that, his recordings have reached many top 100 and top ten charts. Sizzla has received awards from MOBO, IRAWMA, Vibe Magazine, EME, Rolling Stone, People Choice Awards, Irie Fm, Reggae Academy Awards, Digital Music Award and many Grammy nominations.
In November 2006, Sizzla released an album called The Overstanding after starting Kalonji Records, his own record company. This was a joint venture with Koch Records and Damon Dash Music Group. In addition to Black History and Life, The Overstanding was the third album release from Kalonji Records. Homer Harris teamed up with Sizzla in January 2010 to produce and release a brand-new album called Crucial Times. From 2008 to 2009, Crucial Times single was a huge hit in the European countries. Today, Sizzla has released more than 50 solo and over 15 combination albums, all crossing various Reggae genres.
Overall, Sizzla’s music contains positive lyrics which advocates respect for women, faith and compassion for the poor black youths. The combination of up-to-date dancehall rhythms and Rastafarian principles helps to make Kalonji’s hard-line musical approach more pleasant. His dazzling and passionate performing style has helped him to break many barriers, which is quite appealing to reggae lovers who are looking for new musical content with some depth. Although Kalonji is a popular international reggae artiste, he is a mysterious public figure who only appears at certain concerts and hardly gives interviews. But, one cannot deny the fact that he is arguably one of the most famous conscious reggae artists.