Total Reggae ~ Dancehall
August 18, 2013
from 5 (excellent) to 1 (poor)|
|Vocals : 4/5||Backing : 4/5||Production : 5||Sound quality : 5||Sleeve : 4/5|
Over the years VP Records has become the major player in reggae music, and boasts what is reputedly reggae's largest back catalogue. In recent times the company has issued several interesting releases from that huge catalogue. The "Reggae Anthology" series is a truly impressive effort from the company, with outstanding releases such as Barrington Levy's "Sweet Reggae Music 1979-84" and Yellowman's "Young, Gifted & Yellow", the latter even with a bonus DVD! Now they have released a brand new series called "Total Reggae", a truly budget priced collection of double cd's, focusing on several sections in reggae music.
Dancehall is a genre of Jamaican popular music that originated in the late 1970s. Initially dancehall was a more sparse version of reggae than the roots style, which had dominated much of the 1970s. Themes of social injustice, repatriation and the Rastafari movement were overtaken by lyrics about dancing, violence, and sexuality. In the mid-1980s, digital instrumentation became more prevalent, changing the sound considerably, with digital dancehall (or "ragga") becoming increasingly characterized by faster rhythms. Dancehall owes its moniker to the Jamaican dance halls in which popular Jamaicans recordings were played by local sound systems.
The late great Sugar Minott is credited as the originator of this trend when he voiced new lyrics over old Studio One rhythms between sessions at the studio, where he was working as a session musician. Many artists and producers followed that trend and sound systems such as Killimanjaro, Black Scorpio, Gemini Disco, Virgo Hi-Fi, Volcano Hi-Power and Aces International soon capitalized on the new sound and introduced a new wave of deejays. The older toasters were overtaken by new stars such as Captain Sinbad, Ranking Joe, Clint Eastwood, Lone Ranger, Josey Wales, Charlie Chaplin, General Echo and Yellowman — a change reflected by the 1981 Junjo Lawes produced album "A Whole New Generation Of DJs", although many went back to U-Roy for inspiration. Deejay records became, for the first time, more important than records featuring singers. Another trend was sound clash albums, featuring rival deejays /or sound systems competing head-to-head for the appreciation of a live audience, with underground sound clash cassettes often documenting the violence that came with such rivalries.
The reggae world exploded when King Jammy unleashed in 1985 "Under Me Sleng Teng" by Wayne Smith, with an entirely digital riddim hook took the dancehall reggae world by storm. Many credit this song as being the first digital riddim in reggae, featuring a riddim from a Casio MT-40 keyboard. However, this is not entirely correct since there are earlier examples of digital productions, such as Horace Ferguson's single "Sensi Addict" (Ujama) produced by Prince Jazzbo in 1984. The "Sleng Teng" riddim was used in over 200 subsequent recordings. This deejay-led, largely synthesized chanting with musical accompaniment departed from traditional conceptions of Jamaican popular musical entertainment. This shift in style again saw the emergence of a new generation of artists, such as Lt. Stitchie, Tenor Saw, Admiral Bailey, Capleton, General Trees, Chaka Demus, Red Dragon, Pan Head and Shabba Ranks.
A new set of producers also came to prominence: Phillip "Fatis" Burrell, Dave "Rude Boy" Kelly, George Phang, Hugh "Redman" James, Donovan Germain, Bobby "Digital" Dixon, Steely & Clevie rose to challenge Sly & Robbie's position as Jamaica's leading riddim section. The deejays became more focused on violence, with Bounty Killer, Mad Cobra, Ninjaman and Buju Banton becoming major figures in the genre. To complement the harsher deejay sound, a "sweet sing" vocal style evolved out of roots reggae and R&B, marked by its falsetto and almost feminine intonation, with proponents like Pinchers, Cocoa Tea, Sanchez, Admiral Tibet, Frankie Paul, Half Pint, Conroy Smith, Courtney Melody, Carl Meeks and Barrington Levy.
In the early 1990s songs like Dawn Penn's "No, No, No", Shabba Ranks's "Mr. Loverman", Patra's "Worker Man" and Chaka Demus and Pliers' "Murder She Wrote" became some of the first dancehall megahits in the US and abroad. In 1992, the international backlash to Buju Banton's violently anti-homosexual "Boom Bye Bye", and the reality of Kingston's violence which saw the deaths of deejays Pan Head and Dirtsman saw another shift, this time back towards Rastafari and cultural themes, with several of the hardcore slack ragga artists finding religion, and the "conscious ragga" scene becoming an increasingly popular movement. A new generation of singers and deejays emerged that harked back to the roots reggae era, notably Garnett Silk, Rocker T, Tony Rebel, Sanchez, Luciano, Anthony B and Sizzla. Some popular deejays, most prominently Buju Banton and Capleton, began to cite Rastafari and turn their lyrics and music in a more conscious, rootsy direction.
This collection shines its light on the dancehall wave that flooded the world after the release of Wayne Smith's phenomenal success Under Me Sleng Teng - check out Tippa Irie's hilarious UK answer version Sleng Teng Finish Already! Boom tunes included here are Tempo, the digital killer out of King Tubby's studio, voiced by Anthony Red Rose, Conroy Smith's Dangerous, one of our favourite tunes, Little John's Clarks Booty which is the ultimate Clarks (shoes) celebration and like the shoes themselves it's a tune that has never been out of style and fashion. It was voiced for ace producer King Jammy over the "Father Jungle Rock" riddim. Check out New York dancehall style from Louie Rankin with Typewriter and the ultimate soundbwoy tune from Mega Banton, Sound Boy Killing, while Jigsy King's Gi Mi Di Weed still causes disruption inna de dance! Unexpected selections from a young White Mice with a wicked version across the "Far East" riddim and Crazy Blue from Professor Nuts who rides Winston Riley's "Stalag" riddim.