Walshy Fire features in PBS documentary

Walshy Fire

This month PBS launched a 10-minute episode of American Masters: In the Making, a digital docu-series featuring Jamaican American Walshy Fire. The episode is aptly titled, “Walshy Fire: Pull Up.”

Walshy Fire, who grew up in Miami and whose real name is Leighton Paul Walsh, is a Grammy-winning DJ, MC, record producer, and one-third of the global hit-making music group, Major Lazer. In the documentary, acclaimed African American director and filmmaker, Alica Edwards, gives a glimpse into the talented artist’s life through a combination of interviews with cultural experts and the people who know him best, as well as concert footage, in-studio videos, and found footage, all tied together through narration from the man himself.

The documentary starts with Walshy’s beginnings in Kingston, Jamaica. He explains how he was surrounded by what he dubs “the golden era of dancehall.” Shabba Ranks, Papa San, Beenie Man, Bounty Killer, and Super Cat were running the charts at the time, he recalls.

“All these clubs and venues within Half Way Tree just shook where I lived,” he explained. It shook him, Walshy Fire the boy, as well. There, Director Edwards weaves in footage of a teenage Walshy entertaining a crowd of his peers with impromptu bars.

Jamaica was just one part of his musical education, the documentary reveals. The rest came from Miami.

In Miami, many cultures mix and combine through close proximity, which creates a landscape that is uniquely Miami. It’s the food, music, and the people. It’s what makes Walshy Fire able to represent his native Jamaica 100% and his adopted Miami 100% with zero contradiction.

It’s in Miami where 21-year-old Walshy joined the Black Chiney sound system. The group, consisting of four Chinese-Jamaicans, toured the world combining reggae, dancehall, house, and much more. “Putting it together was natural for us. We weren’t trying to do it,” explained Warren “Willy Chin” Hoo, another member of the group.

Today, Walshy is the only Jamaican member of the supergroup Major Lazer where he entertains at shows across the globe, packed to the brim with hundreds of thousands of patrons, alongside group members Ape Drums and Diplo.

The Walshy Fire episode can be found on the PBS website and Youtube channel.