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Showing posts from August, 2012

Marvin Sparks interviews Bay-C from dancehall group T.O.K. on Rinse FM

Pre-carnival on Monday I ventured down to legendary radio station Rinse FM. The Heatwave crew ran up in the station armed with record boxes ( Serato loaded on MacBook) and took control of the breakfast show. Essential carnival warm-up tunes, carnival top ten and an interview with Jamaican group TOK's Bay-C (the dude with the deep voice). The latter is where I came in as the "dancehall expert" (their words not mine (but they're definitely true)). We spoke about T.O.K.'s (Touch of Klass) beginnings, appeal in their biggest market Japan, dancehall in Japan and Africa, importance of touring with declining record sales, why crossing over is not a priority, then similarities between UK and JA (chatting on sound system and crews). First time interviewing live on radio. Went alright still. Listen below. Furthermore, here are some TOK songs you will probably know: "Gal Yuh Ah Lead"  (this would have charted well if it wasn't for external campaigns)

"Out of one, many" JA influence on 00s UK underground

Previous post was about the effect of dancehall on the overground. I guess I could have worked it so we end on overground success, but I value underground over mainstream success. So in saving best 'til last, I'm talking about underground. Now if you've followed me for a bit, you'll know that people don't seem to understand the influence Jamaica has on the underground lineage. Obviously, those with sense know it, but I will explain it. Like the other genres I've written about, I'm not saying Jamaican music (or in this case, dancehall) is the only factor or they'd all sound exactly like dancehall. What has made UK excel at music over the generations has been mixing our various influences to create something unique. Many say our music isn't original because we just copy everything else, but I disagree. Our music is original, because we take influence from everything. Be it house, hip hop, r&b, soca or Jamaican music. I doubt there is anywhere i

"Out of one, many" - 00s pop in UK

Today we talk Jamaica's influence on UK pop in the 21st century. Jamelia  roped in a little help from Beenie Man to get her first hit, a #5 in 2000 Shaggy - "It Wasn't Me" - best selling single in 2001. It still ranked #5 in the best-selling singles of this century in the chart released December 2011. That includes singles sold for 79p and benefit of reality TV shows. This along with fellow number 1 "Angel" were released on the diamond-certified (10 million albums worldwide)  Hotshot. American rock group No Doubt ventured to Jamaica to record their album Rocksteady . The well-received album spawned two dancehall-fused hits, Grammy award winning "Underneath It All" featuring Lady Saw and UK #2 "Hey Baby"featuring the unmistakable vocals of the poor people's governor, Bounty Killer . Australian actress/singer/siren Holly Valance climbed atop the UK charts in 2002 with the ultra sexy "Has she got on clothes? I'm

"Out of one, many..." Jamaica inspires 90s UK rave

So, I decided to take the day off yesterday. An opportunity to catch up. Omnibus type vibe. Saturday's post detailed Jamaica's pop invasion, so it's only right for me to talk about underground movements to mainstream success. Soul II Soul emerged during the eighties, seeing success right on the edge of the nineties (1989 to be precise), so I've put them here as it fits the theme of this post. Jazzie B-led production outfit sought session singers to vocal their reggae-infused soul and new jack swing riddims. One-time lovers rock singer, Caron Wheeler, featured on both of their big hits, "Keep On Movin'" and "Back to Life" which sky rocketed to the top of the pop charts. Both managed to cross the ocean too. Jazzie B credits his foundation in the sound systems and house party as a main inspiration for the whole Soul II Soul movement. Prominent bass line is a dead giveaway in "Back to Life". Soul II Soul's mission was to unite the

"Out of many, one..." Jamaica inspires pop in 90s

Towards the latter stages of the 80s, a new movement occurring in Jamaica would later become the third and probably most influential generation of Jamaican music in the UK to this day. Not to discredit the previous two (ska and reggae), because there'd be no dancehall without them. Digital rhythms and re-licks of older riddims combined with the toasters of the day became sound of the youth. If ska is jovial, reggae is conscious Rasta, dancehall incorporated all those elements plus the rude boy.  A Jamaican rude boy is different to the UK rudies of the 80s. Generally speaking, a Jamaican rude boy comes from a harsh ghetto and generally braggadocios (Jamaicans say "boasty"). Be it the best lyrics, toughest guy, gets the most girls or bedroom prowess, these guys had it in abundance. The competitive element from previous generations sound clashes both before and after the DJ (toaster) "killed each other" lyrically speaking came out in songs a lot more. Dan

"Out of many, one..." 80s Ska revival

Yesterday's post was about reggae's influence on punk rock. Post-punk genres in the late '70s/'80s still drew influences from Jamaican genres. I'll just take a bit of time out to post some examples. The Police  were another English rock band to successfully blend Jamaican elements with traditional rock music; be it a drum sequence, bassline and/or guitar stab with a lead guitar/keys and conventional rock arrangements. Lead vocalist and bassist  Sting  is quoted saying: "Bob Marley's singing had a great effect on me and I would cite Bob Marley as a major influence on The Police." [ source ] The white reggae band (or new wave) made explicit attempts like " So Lonely " [#6 in UK], " Can't Stand Losing You " [#2 in UK] or their first #1 " Walking on the Moon ". Ever wondered or thought Mary J. Blige ft. Common - " Dance For Me " sounds like reggae? Well, it's because it samples " The Bed's To

"Out of many, one..." - Punk Rock

Unlike the previous two posts, reggae isn't the sole influence on today's genre. Reggae and punk rock shared many characteristic in rebel music, sound of the revolution and great support by the common man fighting for rights. Not only did they share a mentality, there were many crossovers musically. '70s Britain was a tumultuous time; a credit boom-and-bust, public sector strikes and long-haired hippies in the swinging 60's were replaced by brash, punk rockers with dyed mohawks, bleached jeans and other shocking outfits. Similarly, Jamaica had moved on from their own smiley, happy-go-lucky ska to a slowed down, more political-driven with a afro-centric Rastafarian consciousness genre which became known as reggae. The rebellious attitude of punk rockers mirrored those of Jamaicans going through problems with crime, politics and political crime, famously evidenced by the shooting of Bob Marley before the Smile Jamaica concert (allegedly).  The Clash  - dubbed &q

"Out of many, one..." UK Reggae in '80s

Black Britain's musical cycle eventually mirrored that of Jamaica moving on from lovers to more socially-conscious music reflecting the harsh realities affecting black Brit's of Caribbean descent. Optimism of a better future and hopes of being embraced for first generation black Brit's by the wider society were halted by high profile cases of racism - on the streets by regular Tom to police and employers. Main issue of contention was the controversial  sus law  which many black youths believed meant they were unfairly stopped-and-searched/harassed by police because of their skin colour. Racially-motivated riots spiked during the '80s. (I think there were more that decade than any other - don't quote me though... unless I'm right. Obviously.) UK movement faced a lot of fight by reggae listeners who preferred Jamaican styles, but they still achieved success. Handsworth, Birmingham representers  Steel Pulse  formed in the late '70s, starting off indep

"Out of many, one..." - Lovers Rock

So, in the first post of "Out of many, one..." (read introduction here) is a spotlight on lovers rock. Lovers Rock Amidst the male-dominated Rastafarian takeover of reggae from lovers-centric rocksteady, first generation black British Afro-Caribbean's sought to create a genre reflecting their various influences and matching the mood of their parties otherwise known as "blues dance" or "shubeen". )"Shub" means to push or squeeze; "Een" is Jamaican pronunciation for "in".) Most parties were in people's living rooms or vacant houses, because venues didn't allow the blacks throw parties in their establishment. Remember, it wasn't unfamiliar to see "No blacks, no Irish, no dogs" notices hung on houses with rooms to rent, so little chance of hiring a venue like nowadays. Today's dance of choice amongst third generation black Brit's of Caribbean descent is bouncing around, a two-step, ho

Jamaican 50 Independence Day

Tony Rebel: "What a nice place to live (Sweet Jamdown). The only problem is dollars nah run" Eric Donaldson: "This is Jamaica, my Jamaica..." Admiral Bailey "When mi check it out Lord, nowhere no better than Yard" Protoje: "Independence no mean... Jamaica assists are the people" & "Dem give we flag, them give we anthem. Not even give we half of what we need to execute the plans them So we're still dependent on them. Them just ah wait for we to come back with we empty hand them You talk the truth and you get condemn Walter Rodney speak a bit we own Government go ban him They want to block our over standing Want we do the wrong thing Thats why you hear my song sing Take control again... Hold we head high and proud again" Skip to 4:58 Anyway, Mr. Vegas featuring Shaggy & Josey Wales sums up everything right now Lastly, the surrealist thing I think I've read this year. A few months a

"Out of many, one" JA 50th Independence intro

Tomorrow marks Jamaica's 50th year of "independence" from Great Britain. As a Jamaican music lover, it would be wrong for me to not talk about how Jamaica has given back to the former mother Britain since 1st August 1962. I'd be interested to know which other former colonies have contributed as much to British culture. Not saying Jamaica is 100% the biggest contributor, just out of interest. I know Brits love Curry and tea which are both imports from Asia, but I think they have been a part of British culture since invasion. America is an obvious leader. Anyway, I digress. Jamaican music (ska/reggae/dancehall) scored it's first of what would become many hit with the contagious ska record "My Boy Lollipop" by daughter of sugar plantation overseer,  Millie Smalls reaching number 2 in 1964. The cover of Barbie Gaye 's 1956 single was recorded and released in Jamaica by Coxsonne Dodd, founder of the iconic label, Studio One, the single went onto become

Wiley interview by Marvin Sparks pt.2 [cutting room floor]

So, as some of you will know, I interviewed grime godfather back in February this year from American website (child of Questlove's OkayPlayer) about his reggae and dancehall foundations. You can read that here . Today, as Wiley will be announced as UK's #1 single this week, I thought "Let me release a little bit more from that interview".  I like this because he recalls classic songs that stood out when attending family parties as a youngster prior to the soca-fused chart-topping single "Heatwave". It also leads neatly into next bashment-fused single " Ninja " which will feature Sneakbo, whom he speaks of highly in this interview. Please note, this is before Drake mentioned liking Sneakbo's dancehall vibe. Marvin Sparks: Do you remember your first time on the mic? Wiley: "Yeah! I can remember just being at home with my dad and he’s got that riddim [beatboxes Sleng Teng riddim then imitates a typical ‘80s dancehall toastin