Beth Lesser - Writings
Dancehall - The Rise of Jamaican Dancehall Culture

DANCEHALL – THE RISE OF JAMAICAN DANCEHALL CULTURE (2007)

An essential reference book for anyone interested in Reggae as it captures a previously unseen era of musical culture, fashion and lifestyle in stunning, vibrant colour. In the early 1980s Jamaica was in the throws of political and gang violence – photographer Beth Lesser ventured where few other dared and this book is a never-before-seen record of the exciting, dangerous and vibrant world of Dancehall. 

The Legend Of Sugar Minott & Youth Promotion

THE LEGEND OF SUGAR MINOTT & YOUTH PROMOTION (2011)

Sugar never left the ghetto and he never left music. He remained among his bredren and continued his fight to make music sustain an impoverished community, and teach the youth the right way to live. He was like a bright flame illuminating and warming everything around him. Even the hardest and coldest would melt next to his big, welcoming smile, his kindness and his generosity. His memory will live on in his music and in the music of those who learned from him and were influenced by him.

Rub A Dub Style - The Roots of Modern Dancehall

RUB A DUB STYLE – THE ROOTS OF MODERN DANCEHALL (2012)

This book is being offered as a gift of gratitude to the people who have created this magical and inspiring thing called reggae music. I hope that this book will provide a greater understanding of what went into making and sustaining this music, and a greater appreciation of the music itself. As this book is available to everyone free of charge, it would be wonderful if those who are willing and able could find a way to get some monetary returns to those artists who have dedicated their lives to making this music and have precious little to show for it today (like many of the artists mentioned in this book).

Reggae Quarterly

REGGAE QUARTERLY

Reggae Quarterly Magazine was published between 1982 and 1988. In 1982, before we started working on RQ, we put together a Xeroxed fanzine about producer and melodica player Augustus Pablo. We borrowed the name, Live Good Today, from a song sung by Sam Carty on the Prince Jazzbo album, Ital Corner. The plan was to bring the ‘Zine to Jamaica and show Pablo,which was the purpose of our first visit in 1982. With Pablo’s encouragement, we expanded the concept and came out with the Reggae Quarterly magazines presented here.

Dancehall - The Rise of Jamaican Dancehall Culture

DANCEHALL – THE RISE OF JAMAICAN DANCEHALL CULTURE (2007)

An essential reference book for anyone interested in Reggae as it captures a previously unseen era of musical culture, fashion and lifestyle in stunning, vibrant colour. In the early 1980s Jamaica was in the throws of political and gang violence – photographer Beth Lesser ventured where few other dared and this book is a never-before-seen record of the exciting, dangerous and vibrant world of Dancehall. 

Dancehall - The Rise of Jamaican Dancehall Culture

THE LEGEND OF SUGAR MINOTT & YOUTH PROMOTION (2011)

Sugar never left the ghetto and he never left music. He remained among his bredren and continued his fight to make music sustain an impoverished community, and teach the youth the right way to live. He was like a bright flame illuminating and warming everything around him. Even the hardest and coldest would melt next to his big, welcoming smile, his kindness and his generosity. His memory will live on in his music and in the music of those who learned from him and were influenced by him.

Rub A Dub Style - The Roots of Modern Dancehall

RUB A DUB STYLE – THE ROOTS OF MODERN DANCEHALL (2012)

This book is being offered as a gift of gratitude to the people who have created this magical and inspiring thing called reggae music. I hope that this book will provide a greater understanding of what went into making and sustaining this music, and a greater appreciation of the music itself. As this book is available to everyone free of charge, it would be wonderful if those who are willing and able could find a way to get some monetary returns to those artists who have dedicated their lives to making this music and have precious little to show for it today (like many of the artists mentioned in this book).

Reggae Quarterly

REGGAE QUARTERLY

Reggae Quarterly Magazine was published between 1982 and 1988. In 1982, before we started working on RQ, we put together a Xeroxed fanzine about producer and melodica player Augustus Pablo. We borrowed the name, Live Good Today, from a song sung by Sam Carty on the Prince Jazzbo album, Ital Corner. The plan was to bring the ‘Zine to Jamaica and show Pablo,which was the purpose of our first visit in 1982. With Pablo’s encouragement, we expanded the concept and came out with the Reggae Quarterly magazines presented here.

Beth Lesser

During the 1980s, my husband and I traveled frequently to Kingston, Jamaica and Brooklyn, NY from our home in Toronto, Canada to follow the changing reggae scene. In that period reggae was changing fast, moving from the heavy roots sound of suffering and redemption to the lighter, faster, digitized sound of modern dancehall.

My husband and I saw it happen. We saw Junjo’s Volcano empire rise meteorically and them crash as his young artists emigrated or met untimely deaths. We witnessed Jah Love’s Brigadier Jerry take over the dancehall scene without ever having recorded a 45 – powered by the new popularity of dance hall cassettes.

We were in Waterhouse when King Jammy unleashed his Sleng Teng rhythm to an analog world and, one by one, producers dropped their previously recorded rhythms and started building again from scratch using programmable keyboards and drum machines. We were in Jammy’s yard while he cut the dubplates for the Clash of the Century, the event that brought dancehall culture to the larger Jamaican audience.

Over those years, I collected an archive of material that I would like to make available to the public – to present and future reggae scholars and fans.

Photo right: Beth Lesser and David Kingston get married at Youth Promotion.

All images & text © Beth Lesser

Beth Lesser and David Kingston get married at Youth Promotion