Track: Funeral Program Artist: Squash Producer: Optimus Production Genre: Dancehall
In early August of 2018, Squash, born Andrae Whittaker, was detained by the Jamaica Constabulary Force during a state of emergency sweep in Montego Bay, due to a rise in crime and violence. Without a formal charge or clear reason as to why he was picked up, the 28-year-old spent five months at the Freeport Police Station in MoBay. But during this difficult time of incarceration, his songs “Mek It Shake” and “6ix Boss” started to spread in the streets like a mad virus. He was finally freed in January, and since then, the aptly dubbed 6ix Boss has made a beeline straight to the top of the dancehall food chain. “It’s not something that I planned y’know,” he says of his rise when we speak over the phone in late July. “Growing up, I always liked to sing at home in my bathroom. It was just natural.”
Squash grew up in Salt Spring, a community just outside the city of MoBay, with his mother, father, and five brothers. He spent many of his younger days in the city playing football with friends and would occasionally tag along to a recording studio after games. “One day it just so happened that I was there with them and I gave them some lyrics, even while I wasn’t an official artist,” he says, not able to recall the specific year. “From there I started to record, though I didn’t start doin’ it official until about 2013. But it’s a natural gift from the Most High.” This gift shines through even on Squash’s earlier, less polished songs like 2015’s “Try (Chip Chop)” and “Kill Dem Anytime,” which showcase his knack for slinging deep rural patois phrases over drum-heavy dancehall riddims with hip-hop attitude. These were well known songs in the underground scene, but the swell in notoriety didn’t start for Squash until his detainment — when his new, more polished string of records like “6ix Boss” began to spread into Kingston’s music sphere, fueled by the mystique surrounding him.