Bobby Digital – Game changer in Jamaican music (1961-2020)

by May 22, 2020Articles, Obituary

Bobby Digital
Artist Info
Bobby ‘Digital’ Dixon 1961-2020

Career: Producer/Recording & mixing engineer/Record label owner

Tracklist

Artist Albums:

  • Johnny Osbourne – Rougher Than Them
  • Shabba Ranks – Just Reality
  • Sanchez – I Can’t Wait
  • Shinehead – Sidewalk University
  • Pinchers – Hotter
  • Admiral Tibet – Reality Time
  • Glen Ricks – Fall in Love
  • Leroy Smart – Talk About Friends
  • Junior Tucker – Love Of A Lifetime
  • Shinehead – Troddin’
  • Terror Fabulous – S/T
  • Snagga – Line Up All the Girls Dem
  • Spragga Benz – Jack It Up
  • Gregory Isaacs – Set Me Free
  • Cocoa Tea – Come Love Me
  • Garnett Silk – It’s Growing
  • Lt Stitchie – Bangarang
  • Buju Banton – ‘Til Shiloh
  • Cutty Ranks – Six Million Ways To Die
  • Determine – Rock The World
  • Prezident Brown – Original Blue Print
  • Frankie Paul – Come Back Again
  • Mikey Spice – Born Again
  • Benjy Myaz – Intimate Relationships
  • Half Pint – S/T
  • Chaka Demus & Pliers – For Every Kinda People
  • Gregory Isaacs – Enough Is Enough
  • Sizzla – Black Woman & Child
  • Tanya Stephens – Ruff Rider
  • Shabba Ranks – King Of Dancehall
  • Nisha K. – Weekend
  • Scare Dem Crew – Scared From The Crypt
  • Sizzla – Good Ways
  • Morgan Heritage – Don’t Haffi Dread
  • Frankie Paul – I’ve Got The Vibes
  • Spragga Benz – Fully Loaded
  • Tony Rebel – Realms Of Rebel
  • Morgan Heritage – Protect Us Jah
  • Jah Mali – Treasure Box
  • Sanchez – Stays On My Mind
  • Sizzla – Da Real Thing
  • Chrisinti – Comfort My People
  • Garnett Silk – Give I Strength
  • Anthony B – Judgement Time

Plus lots of Various Artist albums such as…

  • Wicked In Bed
  • Gal Yuh Good
  • Full House
  • Ripe Cherry
  • Moving Away
  • Top Ten
  • Mad Dog
  • Hotter This Year
  • Things Are Gwan
  • Strictly Culture
  • Digital B presents Kette Drum
  • Handle The Ride
  • Six Deuce
  • Pure Reality
  • Boogie Down
  • Double Up
  • Satta
  • Operation D
  • Conversation
  • Cold Bump

After the recent passing of roots singer Naggo Morris, sad news has again reached the reggae dancehall fraternity. Robert Dixon aka Bobby Digital died on May 21st due to kidney problems. With his untimely death,  we’ve lost one of the best Jamaican reggae and dancehall producers of his generation. 

Bobby Digital was a top Jamaican producer who is known for his signature sound which has influenced many in the reggae music industry and beyond. Growing up with musicians such as Black Uhuru, Wailing Souls and deejays like U Brown, Trevor Ranking, and Nicodemus, his musical journey began by going to parties from an early age and listening to sound systems like King Tubby’s, Socialist Roots, and Rockers Award winner Jammy’s which later led him to develop and fine tune his own unique sound.

GAME CHANGER IN JAMAICAN MUSIC (1965-2020)

In the mid-’80s Bobby Digital was chief engineer and right-hand man of Jammy’s at his St Lucia Road located studio. When he left Jammy’s, he started his own sound system named Heatwave and founded the Digital-B label. The label’s first releases included “Cocoa Tea’s moody “Lonesome Side” and the even more popular cut from Shabba Ranks, “Peanie Peanie”. Both tunes rode a variation of Junior Byles’ “Fade Away” riddim.

The many artist albums and compilation sets he has released since he branched out on his own showcase the Grammy Award winning producer’s music versatility and his legacy in creating songs and riddims that have transcended time and have been widely sampled by the likes of hip-hop greats such as Jay Z, 50 Cent, and more.

Bobby Digital’s influential dancehall catalog was at the center of the musical revolution that swept through Jamaica from the mid-’80s onwards with chartbusting records. His ruling production house was responsible in coining several hits from Shabba Ranks who was a key player in the birth of modern dancehall, spawning titles such as “Dem Bow”, “Wicked In Bed”, “Peanie Peanie”, “Just Reality” and more, all of which paved the way for Shabba’s two Grammy winning albums, “As Raw As Ever” and “X-tra Naked” on Epic Records. Other standout releases included “Play Play Girl” by Johnny Osbourne, “Tek Him” by Mad Cobra, “Serious Time” by Admiral Tibet, Shabba Ranks & Ninjaman and “I Got The Vibes” by Frankie Paul.

Bobby Digital at Jammy's Studio (Photo: Beth Lesser)

Bobby Digital at Jammy’s studio -1985 (Photo: Beth Lesser)

And then there was also the other side of Bobby Digital’s musical expertise, which breathed new life into the roots reggae genre. With titles by Garnett Silk, Sizzla, and Morgan Heritage in his catalog, he helped restore Rasta music to its former glory during the mid-’90s. He actually played a key part in the establishment of Garnet Silk’s career with singer’s initial hit singles and well-received debut album. Records of the first order from artists such as Sanchez, Pinchers, Wayne Wonder, Gregory Isaacs, Leroy Sibbles and Leroy Smart, further confirmed his reputation as a premier-league producer.

“Every Man’s Burden” by Jah Mali, released in 1998 was from his album “Treasure Box”, a defining project that underlined Bobby Digital’s reputation for discovering and nurturing new talent. Shortly after in 1999, “Don’t Haffi Dread” by Morgan Heritage propelled the five-piece band to major success, as the song was hailed as a major triumph and considered one of Bobby Digital’s best production works. He also had an influential role in transitioning artists such as Capleton, Bounty Killer, Buju Banton and Shabba Ranks from dancehall to roots, which could be witnessed in Buju Banton’s “Til I’m Laid To Rest”, generating his reinvention as one of Jamaica’s most cultural messengers. He was also responsible for one of Shabba Ranks most popular roots riddims, “Heart Of A Lion”.

Earning his reputation as the ‘Modern-Day Master of Jamaican Music’, Bobby Digital has produced much of the music that has shaped today’s influence of reggae and dancehall witnessed in mainstream music. A believer that good music is delivered from the heart, the ‘game changer in Jamaican music’ as he once was called by Christopher Chin, CEO of VP Records, released the occasional batch of songs by artists like Kabaka Pyramid, Iba Mahr, Lymie Murray, Chezidek, Richie Spice and Richie Stephens confirming his place at the forefront of the genre.

Bobby Digital’s legacy lives on through a catalog over more than 1,000 recordings and through dancehall and reggae’s global impact on popular culture.

(sources: The Rough Guide To Reggae & Sleeve notes of VP Records’ 2018 release ‘Reggae Anthology: Bobby Digital X-tra Wicked”)