Born in 1952 in the rural Jamaican village of Chapelton, Johnson learned to read from his grandmother's bible. At the age of 11, he followed his mother to Brixton in London, where he learned about racism first-hand from white Britons' backlash against the increasing number of West Indian immigrants.
Johnson joined the Black Panther party while still in school and was also influenced by the revolutionary recordings of the Last Poets. Johnson's early albums from the late '70s and early '80s—Dread, Beat an' Blood, Forces Of Victory and especially 1980's Bass Culture—each furthered his reputation as a major voice in reggae. But Johnson began withdrawing from the touring circuit by the early '80s, appearing only occasionally at poetry readings and festivals, and he stopped recording for a few years as well. Making History (1984) was a strong return, but LKJ then disappeared again until the early '90s, when he re-emerged for the occasional tour. He has recorded sporadically since then, with 1999's More Time and 2005's Live in Paris.
See You in Jamaica