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Usain Bolt's favorite artist charged with double murder

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Vybz Kartel

Vybz Kartel

LONDON – One of Usain Bolt's favorite artists is facing a trial on a double murder charge in Jamaica.

Recording artist Vybz Kartel says he has known Bolt for more than a decade and the pair have gone on record to voice their admiration for each other’s abilities.

Kartel hoped to travel to London to watch Bolt in action, but he remains in prison after being charged with the murders of businessman and music promoter Barrington Burton and suspected gang member Clive "Lizzard" Williams.

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"Vybz Kartel is my favorite artist," Bolt said in a recent documentary titled "Why Do Jamaicans Run So Fast." "He is a good lyricist. I listen to all his music. It is fun."

Kartel has returned the praise.

"It is a great feeling to know we share the same respect," Kartel said. "Usain Bolt is my favorite athlete and I have known him since high school. We are two Jamaicans who in our respective fields both reach the heights of greatness, yet to be surpassed. It is a good comparison."

Kartel, whose real name is Adidja Palmer, has enjoyed great commercial success in Jamaica, and he enjoys a strong following in the United Kingdom and Canada. He has collaborated with leading stars such as Jay-Z, Eminem, Rihanna, Missy Elliott, Busta Rhymes, Lil' Wayne and Pitbull.

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However, his career and business interests – which include a range of soaps, shoes and his own brand of rum – have taken a hit due to his incarceration.

Kartel was arrested in October for possession of marijuana, followed by charges of illegal possession of a firearm, murder and conspiracy to murder. Later that month, he was charged with the murders of Burton and Williams.

While attempting to seek bail, Kartel was further charged with conspiracy and attempt to interfere with the course of justice. The trial for his drug charges was repeatedly postponed.

Last week, the trial dates for his murder charges were set. He will appear in relation to the case of Burton on Oct. 29 and Williams on Nov. 5.

Jamaica's Major Investigation Taskforce rarely comments on individual cases, but some information about the charge relating to Burton's death has emerged. It is alleged that in July of last year Kartel and other men conspired to murder Burton while he stood with friends on a street in the Kingston suburb of Portmore.

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Police investigated Kartel’s lavish house in the exclusive development of Norbrook, then searched a property in another part of the city that had recently been damaged in a fire. Investigators were able to remove a computer hard drive, however, and Kartel was arrested soon after in relation to a body found at the site believed to be Williams.

Bolt’s love of dancehall music is legendary in Jamaica and his coach Glen Mills asked him to scale back his partying ways several times over the past few years.

The athlete has regularly attended dancehall parties in the Jamaican capital of Kingston but admitted that toning down his lifestyle was necessary to ensure continued success. A Jamaican reggae website claimed Bolt gave a shout-out to Kartel prior to the start of his 100 meters quarterfinals at the 2011 World Athletics Championships by uttering the phrase "Gaza Mi Seh," apparently a reference to the artist and his clique of DJs.

Editor's note: This story and headline has been revised since it first posted early in the day on July 28, 2012.

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