Amid Vybz Kartel's legal battles, there comes even more news from the 'Gaza' camp as the 2007-formed Portmore Empire has been disbanded. Shortly after his much-publicised fallout with Alliance head honcho Bounty Killer, and his exit from the group, Vybz Kartel looked to his hometown of Portmore, St Catherine, to raise his own musical force, which would later be aptly titled the Portmore Empire.
At the time of its origin, the group consisted of mainly young artistes like Blak Ryno (now Ryno), Craig Dennis (deceased), Omeil, Lisa Hype (now Lisa Hyper), Nuclear, Dosa Medicine, Shawn Storm, and Deva Bratt, who was touted to be Kartel's right hand and the one who was "leading out the Empire". A few fallouts and scandals later with artistes like Deva Bratt, Lisa Hyper, Gaza Kim (now Kym), Jah Vinchi, and Ryno, the size of the group has dwindled.
In recent days, the Empire came to boast acts like Popcaan, Gaza Slim, Sheba, Gaza Indu, Shawn Storm, and Tommy Lee. However, in a recent release sent to The STAR, Adidjahiem Records announced news of the disbanding with a statement from incarcerated boss, Adidja 'Vybz Kartel' Palmer.
It read: "Dancehall fans worldwide, it is with great regret that I, Adidja Palmer, have decided to disband the Portmore Empire. These artistes have been under the Adidjahiem leadership for years, where they have honed their craft and made their mark, and as such, are well on their way to becoming major forces in dancehall." It continued: "They have reached a level where they are more capable of taking on their careers by themselves, and it would be unfair to them, based on the limited resources of Adidjahiem Records, and the current legal woes of the Adidjahiem CEO, and team members. I wish them the best, and I am confident that they will live up to my expectations. In the future, Adidjahiem will continue to bring out new acts and groom them for stardom. Thank you."
It also stated that members of the Portmore Empire, Vanessa 'Gaza Slim' Saddler and Leroy 'Tommy Lee' Russell are moving on with their careers under a newly formed label, PG 13. "PG 13 is the new name right now. a just deh so di ting deh, and that's all mi haffi say," When pressed as to how she felt since the group has now been dissolved, Gaza Slim said she had no comments and would only be focusing her attention on the new PG 13 label. In similar manner, Tommy Lee said PG 13 was where he would now be based. "A PG 13 me say straight. A dat me a say," Both artistes have been part of the Portmore Empire since 2010. The 'gaza prefect', Popcaan, who rose to the heights of fame under the guidance of Palmer, has been doing well for himself. Efforts to contact him, however, since Kartel's incarceration proved futile.
The other standing member, Shawn Storm, was whisked away by the authorities as he is said to be implicated in the legal woes with Kartel.
With news forthcoming that the 'World Boss' has disbanded the Portmore Empire, artiste Sheba says she is in shock since she was not informed about the decision.
"I was not personally informed about this. Mi just wake up and see a broadcast message about it and a wonder if a true, but since THE STAR a call me, it look like a true, den," Sheba said.
Sheba went on to say that she had not heard Kartel's side of the story, so she was not in a position to speak about the group being disbanded."Him nuh send no message wid him lawyer fi say nutten bout it, but a still music, me say. I want to thank him for a great run - it's been three years. To be honest, this news kinda shock me - is a sudden surprise. it's not something that was discussed with me," she said.
Sheba, whose given name is Tasheba Campbell, says she joined the Portmore Empire in 2009. "Mi go up a di studio one day and tell him say me can deejay and him say, "mek mi hear a song den", and mi deejay fi him, and him say him like it, and that was it," She is most famous for her collabs with Kartel, including You and Him Deh, Like Christmas, and Do Me Dat (A Whe Me Do You).
The STAR also spoke with a few of the original members to hear their views on the disbanding of the Portmore Empire. "I was there from the beginning, and I got the chance to learn a lot of things while in the Portmore Empire that could help me out with my career today. From they remanded him, some of the others should have been trying to work on their craft so even if he doesn't come back very soon, they can still manage on their own. "Empire taught me to fight fi what yuh believe in and him is a man weh him like fi see yuh a do things. So as a female, yuh haffi think like a man but act like a woman," said Lisa Hyper.
Another artiste, Dosa Medicine, said, "I understand what Vybz Kartel is saying. he is away and can't really push their careers the way he could have if he was out. Vybz Kartel is a man like this ... when it becomes too much for him, he will just let it go. I figure more or less that is what is happening. But still, to be one of the original members, it's good to know that the whole world was saying gaza, something I help to build."