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ATX Sound System: December 13, 2018

The Best Reggae Soundtracks, According to Don Letts

When the punk scene was first starting in London, the punks used to hang out at a club called The Roxy. The resident DJ there was none other than the young “rebel dread” himself, Don Letts. Because none of the punk bands had really released any records yet, Letts was left to spin his own music of choice, reggae and dub, and is generally credited as being the guy who turned on the punks (most notably, The Clash) to Jamaican music. 40 years later, Letts is responsible for sparking some heated debate here among the ATX Sound System crew this week with a new list he compiled for the UK-based Dummy Mag: The Ten Best Reggae Film Soundtracks, According to Don Letts. In it, the iconic filmmaker and radio host highlights selections from across the modern history of Jamaican cinema — from the all-time 1972 classic The Harder They Come to this year’s Idris Elba-directed gangster film Yardie. The latter features Fabienne Miranda’s wonderful 1977 roots cut “Prophecy”, which is just one of several tracks we’ve added this week to the Austin Reggae Festival playlist on Spotify. Be sure to check out our latest additions here, and decide for yourself whether Mr. Letts’ list was on-point.

Burna Boy

When the punk scene was first starting in London, the punks used to hang out at a club called The Roxy. The resident DJ there was none other than the young “rebel dread” himself, Don Letts. Because none of the punk bands had really released any records yet, Letts was left to spin his own music of choice, reggae and dub, and is generally credited as being the guy who turned on the punks (most notably, The Clash) to Jamaican music. 40 years later, Letts is responsible for sparking some heated debate here among the ATX Sound System crew this week with a new list he compiled for the UK-based Dummy Mag: The Ten Best Reggae Film Soundtracks, According to Don Letts. In it, the iconic filmmaker and radio host highlights selections from across the modern history of Jamaican cinema — from the all-time 1972 classic The Harder They Come to this year’s Idris Elba-directed gangster film Yardie. The latter features Fabienne Miranda’s wonderful 1977 roots cut “Prophecy”, which is just one of several tracks we’ve added this week to the Austin Reggae Festival playlist on Spotify. Be sure to check out our latest additions here, and decide for yourself whether Mr. Letts’ list was on-point.

One of the tracks in heaviest rotation on the ATX Sound System this week is the latest single from Nigerian artist Burna Boy (born Damini Ogulu). A longtime reggae-dancehall singer, Burna Boy’s 2018 album showed a marked shift, incorporating more Afro beat into his sound. (Though he spent a good chunk of his childhood growing up in South London before returning to Lagos, the city where he was born, Burna Boy is no stranger to Nigerian music–his father was Fela Kuti’s manager for many years.) This fusion of styles takes on a subtle but truly addictive form with his newest cut, “On The Low”. In fact, it’s probably one of our favorite tracks of the year. You can hear it for yourself on our Spotify playlist.

Reggae Reading List, Part 2

For the vast majority of American reggae fans, Jamaica’s dancehall culture is almost impenetrable. With its quick-moving trends — from the current dances, to the latest slang, to the hottest new riddims getting played on the sound systems — it’s tough for an outsider to fully comprehend it all. Leave it to an anthropologist (Professor Norman C. Stolzoff of the University of California – Irvine) to unlock the layers of social, political and musical influence so deeply woven into dancehall culture. For his book, Wake the Town and Tell the People: Dancehall Culture in Jamaica, Stolzoff spent a year and a half in Kingston, immersed in his “field work”, and came away with a level of insight rarely found in other dancehall-related texts. Yes, the book can be a tad academic at times but it is more than just a sociological study. Stolzoff conveys an impressive understanding of recording/production techniques, as well as the unique star-making infrastructure that dominates this rich and far-reaching music scene. This result is a real thinking-man’s book for any serious reggae/dancehall enthusiast.

This Week’s Austin Reggae Fest Spotify Playlist

Click here to hear the dub sounds we have been listening to the last few days.

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Reggae News You Can Use For Dec 12, 2018

Your daily dose of international reggae news for Wednesday, December 12!

• Apollo drops out of college to chase promising music career
• Meet veteran Hawaiian reggae-rock band Pepper
Tony Elumelu shares photos from his tour of Marley home

Also, mark your calendar for April 19-21, which are the dates for the 2019 Austin Reggae Festival. Tickets go on sale on Friday, February 1.

The 2018 Austin Reggae Festival raised $129,543.14 to help feed hungry Central Texas families. Let’s do even better in April 2019!

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Reggae News You Can Use For Dec 11, 2018

Your daily dose of international reggae news for Tuesday, December 11!

• Brighton-born neo-soul singer Iyamah talks with “Seasons”
• Roger Steffens remembers his many interviews with reggae royalty
• Shaggy and Sting top Billboard reggae album sales

Also, mark your calendar for April 19-21, which are the dates for the 2019 Austin Reggae Festival. Tickets go on sale on Friday, February 1.

The 2018 Austin Reggae Festival raised $129,543.14 to help feed hungry Central Texas families. Let’s do even better in April 2019!

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Reggae News You Can Use For Dec 7, 2018

Your daily dose of international reggae news for Friday, December 7!

Etana, Black Uhuru and Protoje amongst reggae grammy nominees
Freed from jail, controversial star Buju Banton is now back in Jamaica
• Orisha Sound slated to release “Fire and Ice” in early 2019

Also, mark your calendar for April 19-21, which are the dates for the 2019 Austin Reggae Festival. Tickets go on sale on Friday, February 1.

The 2018 Austin Reggae Festival raised $129,543.14 to help feed hungry Central Texas families. Let’s do even better in April 2019!

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ATX Sound System: December 6, 2018

New Album From Chi Ching Ching

One of the most entertaining characters on the dancehall scene today, Chi Ching Ching began his career as a dancer, always knowing the latest moves, whether it’s The Rope or the Gully Creepa (the latter made famous worldwide when Usain Bolt did it at the Olympics). As a result, he regularly featured in demonstration videos, used to teach people new dances. But then he decided to turn his hand to music and, in recent years, has become a mainstay on sound systems and dancehall mixtapes with tracks like “Way Up Stay Up” (featuring Popcaan), “Whatchy Wiyah” and the hilarious “Rice and Peas”. Last month saw the release of his first proper full-length album, Turning Tables, which basically tells the story of Chi Ching Ching in song. Released on Sean Paul’s Dutty Rock label, it features guest spots from the likes of Bounty Killer, Fatman Scoop and Sean Paul himself. We’ve added a couple of tracks to the Austin Reggae Festival playlist on Spotify.

 

Nice & Eazy

Like the title suggest, “Nice & Eazy” is a smooth, loping track that’s been showing up in a few dancehall sets since its release at the end of October. It’s also been in regular rotation here on the ATX Sound System (and is another new add on the Austin Reggae Fest playlist). While not technically a dancehall track — it was recorded by the British artist Kadu (aka K’ADU), best known for his low-key Afro-swing tracks, and features the rising Nigerian singer Dotman — it is a great of example of the crossover between the music coming out of London’s vibrant “Afro Beatz” scene at the moment and Jamaica’s dancehall riddims.

 

Reggae Reading

We were recently asked to suggest a good “starting point” book about Jamaican music and, since holiday shopping time is now upon us, we felt it might be worth sharing our recommendation, just in case you’re looking for gift ideas for that reggae fan in your life. Top of our list is Bass Culture: When Reggae Was King by Lloyd Bradley. In it, British music writer Bradley delivers an intelligent, comprehensive and entertaining history of Jamaican music that contextualizes the music with insights into its associated politics, culture and religion. At the same time, the story is buoyed by fascinating (and often amusing) first-hand accounts from some of the music’s most important participants. Bradley would go on to write another excellent book, Sounds Like London: 100 Years of Black Music in the Capital which chronicles, among other topics, the rise of British reggae music in slightly more detail than he does in Bass Culture.

 

This Week’s Austin Reggae Fest Spotify Playlist

Click here to hear the dub sounds we have been listening to the last few days.

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Reggae News You Can Use For Dec 5, 2018

Your daily dose of international reggae news for Wednesday, December 5!

Jimmy Cliff is nominated for Songwriters Hall of Fame
Joe Buhdha, Terri Walker and Rodney P come together for “Breakout”
Morgan Heritage tours Africa for first time since 2016

Also, mark your calendar for April 19-21, which are the dates for the 2019 Austin Reggae Festival. Tickets go on sale on Friday, February 1.

The 2018 Austin Reggae Festival raised $129,543.14 to help feed hungry Central Texas families. Let’s do even better in April 2019!

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Reggae News You Can Use For Dec 4, 2018

Your daily dose of international reggae news for Tuesday, December 4!

Conkarah and Rosie Delmah reggae is kryptonite for Olympic skier
Dalton Harris uses his reggae background to win the X Factor UK 2018
Star and Garter reggae pub in Bristol escapes redevelopment

Also, mark your calendar for April 19-21, which are the dates for the 2019 Austin Reggae Festival. Tickets go on sale on Friday, February 1.

The 2018 Austin Reggae Festival raised $129,543.14 to help feed hungry Central Texas families. Let’s do even better in April 2019!

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ATX Sound System: December 1, 2018

Young Shanty Stakes His Claim

After beginning his career as vocalist for the group Starliner, the Bay Area-born Shanty has since spent the last decade pursuing a solo career. His 2016 EP Chalice Row or Dig a Hole proved a breakthrough, hitting the top of Billboard’s reggae chart. This week, he releases Poor Can’t Take No More, a new full-length LP and a righteous statement of intent from the 37 year-old. On select tracks, such as “Moving (Far East)”, he breaks into a falsetto that evokes the mighty Junior Murvin (of “Police & Thieves” fame). Elsewhere, he delivers a bold and highly-conscious set of lyrics that benefit from classic, old-skool production. This is the sound of Shanty staking his claim as one today’s most exciting roots artists.

 

Swing Ting is Pushing Dancehall (Way, Way) Forward

Keeping the flame alive for forward-thinking dancehall in the north of England, Swing Ting is a collective of Brits and Jamaicans who host a monthly club night in Manchester that not only fuses dancehall and reggaeton with club sounds, but has continued to grow in stature and influence in recent years. They are now home to a record label, sound system and in-demand production team. Their latest release is an EP by Irish producer Famous Eno that features of a range of vocal talent, including TOK’s Bay-C on the standout “Gal a Bubble” (not to be confused with the Konshens song). But their 2017 FACT Mix will give you an even better idea of where they’re coming from–and where they’re going.

 

Collector’s Corner

The ATX Sound System is always on the lookout for fresh rare vinyl to “nice up the dance.” A series of reissues that caught our eye this week was five classic 12″s that originally came out on the Rockers Forever label in the mid-1980s now making a re-appearance. These include titles by Capleton, Wayne Smith (of “Under Mi Sleng Teng” fame) and Johnny Clarke, as well as Johnny Osbourne’s overlooked gem, “If Jah Didn’t Love You” (which, while not available on Spotify, can be heard here). What these reissues share in common is that they were all produced and released by one Henricka Richards, a Brooklyn-based producer who managed to inject some classic roots and soul into the icier digital production for which the 80s are often remembered.

 

This Week’s Austin Reggae Fest Spotify Playlist

Click here to hear the dub sounds we have been listening to the last few days.

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Reggae News You Can Use For Nov 30, 2018

Your daily dose of international reggae news for Friday, November 30!

Honor from UNESCO marks reggae’s defining moment
The “music of love and humanity” secures prestigious UN cultural listing
Reggae is now officially Jamaica’s gift to the world

Also, mark your calendar for April 19-21, which are the dates for the 2019 Austin Reggae Festival. Tickets go on sale on Friday, February 1.

The 2018 Austin Reggae Festival raised $129,543.14 to help feed hungry Central Texas families. Let’s do even better in April 2019!

Continue Reading

Reggae News You Can Use For Nov 28, 2018

Your daily dose of international reggae news for Wednesday, November 28!

How UB40 got their distinctive name almost 40 years ago
“Rise My Emotion” is new single from Jamaican-born Ras Kronik
UNESCO decision on reggae will come by December 1

Also, mark your calendar for April 19-21, which are the dates for the 2019 Austin Reggae Festival. Tickets go on sale on Friday, February 1.

The 2018 Austin Reggae Festival raised $129,543.14 to help feed hungry Central Texas families. Let’s do even better in April 2019!

Continue Reading