Sound Travels this week is going to connect the dots, follow the trail from the early days of Jamaican dancehall reggae on into its digital era. Along the way, we'll hear the earliest rappers, deejays and toasters and the technological developments that enabled hip hop to happen and made Jamaican music digital.
That conversation starts in the late 60's as soundsystem culture took root on the streets of Jamaica bringing popular songs to the people. At least that was a part of it, they also brought the dub versions of those songs and early dancehall was a strange karaoke. One in which cats from the the hood would bring their own lyrics and style to the version. U-Roy was not the first, but among the early ones, he was the best and the first to record this nascent sub-style of reggae music.
U-Roy "Wake The Town And Tell The People"
Big Youth "Cool Breeze"
Big Youth was an artist amoung the first to follow in U-Roy's footsteps, and is also an important eary toaster. Other notables from the early days of dancehall: Charlie Chaplin, who was at the start of the ongoing trend in Jamaican music to take the name of someone more famous; Dennis Alcapone was another as was Dillinger.
Charlie Chaplin "One Of A Kind"
Dennis Alcapone "Ba-Ba-Ri-Ba Skank"
Dillinger "Flat Foot Hustling"
Sugar Minott, RIP, just passed away last year but in his heyday was an early dancehall pioneer. He was alos an early beatmaker, taking older songs and beefing them up for soundsystem play and making them easier to toast with. His work would be important as dancehall moved away from dubs and toward its own creative mode.
Sugar Minott "Herbsman Hustling"