THE MUSICAL COA-COA BASKET

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“One good thing about music, when it hits, you feel no pain.”

Bob Marley (1945 – 1981)

Music has always played an important role in all our lives, especially Reggae, the music genre first developed in Jamaica, strongly influenced by traditional African, American jazz and old-time rhythm and blues. Reggae owes its direct origins to the progressive development of Ska and Rocksteady in 1960s Jamaica. Each month, THE MUSICAL COA-COA BASKET will salute the legendary artists and recording studios from out of Jamaica that have placed reggae on the musical global map.

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REGGAE DEEJAYS

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Definition: In reggae, dancehall, and other modern genres of Jamaican music, a deejay refers to an entertainer who toasts over a riddim (rhythm), or in less cryptic terms, a rapper. Deejays generally toast over pre-selected riddims, usually instrumental versions of hit songs that they did not choose themselves. If they do happen to choose the riddims themselves they are known as “selectors” rather than deejays. Jamaican deejays such as DJ Kool Herc brought this style to New york City in the early 1970s, starting the fast-paced evolution of what would soon become rap music.

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A deejay is a person who “raps” or chants over a rhythm. The style originated on Sound Systems where the deejays used to chat between tracks or insert catch phrases over the track. The whole style got its influence from the American R&B radio disc jockeys who used to have highly entertaining chatting in between the songs they played. This is also where the name deejay comes from. Deejaying was created before reggae as the music of the times was Ska. Amongst the first DJ’s to have records released include Sir Lord Comic, Count Machuki, Jeff Barnes and King Stitt. At this point the deejays where still primarily a dancehall phenomenon, on which they mainly promoted their sounds and coming dances. It was the Coxsone-affiliated deejay King Stitt who was first to be recorded on a more regular basis.

U-Roy, though he wasn’t the first, is often referred to as the originator, mainly due to how influential his deejaying style has been on the next generation of deejays. In 1969 he released a series of both chart topping and groundbreaking singles for Duke Reid toasting over old Treasure Isle Rocksteady rhythms, the most known perhaps being the stellar Wake the Town (…and tell the people!). As a result he propelled the art of deejaying to the centre of the Reggae industry.

Back in the day only one deejay was of comparable success and it was Dennis Alcapone. Big Youth also released his debut record in 1972 (produced by Gussie Clarke) and was regarded as the most important and innovative deejay since U-Roy first started.

With the advent of the Dancehall style in the late 70’s the position of the deejay became even more central to Reggae music. One of the most prominent deejays of the late 70’s was General Echo who had a very unique and influential style he was also partially responsible for the renaissance of slackness in reggae.

During the 80’s more styles followed and the whole deejay phenomenon expanded and evolved tremendously. A deejay such as Yellowman was at this time so big that his popularity only could be matched by Bob Marley in his prime. In 1982 on of the more popular topics among deejays in the dance hall were the Connection Lyrics. One of the more important changes happened in 1982 when Peter King originated the fast chat style, which was the first main contribution the UK deejays made to the Jamaican music climate. The fast chat style broke big in Jamaica with Papa Levi’s song Mi God, Mi King that was the first non-Jamaican reggae song to top the Jamaican charts (when released on Sly & Robbie’s Taxi-imprint in 1984).

The birth of Ragga had the deejaying going from strength to strength even becoming more dominant than it was already with the dance hall style.

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 DEEJAY

DUOS

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The first deejays to record together, either  collaboratory or clashing, started to come to the fore in the early 70’s. They were often two deejays that joined forces on a release or sometimes even multiple releases. Notable artists were Dennis Alcapone & Lizzy, Carey Johnson & Lloyd Young (perhaps most known for their deejay version of the Maytals Pomps & Pride), Big Youth & U-Roy and Lone Ranger & Welton Irie. It was however a first that two deejays always performed as a duo when Michigan & Smiley arrived in the late 70’s. Their first release being Rub A Dub Style in ’78. They immediately were a major success and set the deejay duo style to a major trend. Soon enough a slew deejay duos appeared such as Peter Ranking & General Lucky, Papa Finnigan and Junior Ranking, Roy Rankin and Raymond Naphtali, Joe Tex & U-Black, Nigger Kojak & Mama Lisa. At Studio One there was also the joined effort of Rappa Robert & Jim Brown. Greensleeves found major success with the pairing of Clint Eastwood & General Saint. They debuted with the single Tribute to General Echo that was produced by Junjo and topped the UK Reggae Charts, the follow-up; Another One Bites the Dust made national pop listings.

Even though the trend of two deejays chatting together was coming to a halt in the late 80’s there was still excellent releases by artists such as Tippa Lee & Rappa Robert and also Superman & Spiderman. The new trend in the dancehall was to be a deejay paired with a singer reaching international success with such artists such as Chaka Demus and Pliers.

OTHER POPULAR DEEJAYS: Jah Whoosh – African People; Tapa Zukie – MPLA; Prince Jazzbo – Step Forward Youth; Trinity – Three Piece Suit; Jah Stitch – Baby My Love; Prince Fari – I & I Are The Chosen; Ranking Joe – Mash Up Love Life.

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THE SISTERS

 

Sister Carol

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The late 1970s into the ’80s to the present day saw the emergence of the female deejays in the recording studio and on sound systems. Our sisters began to give their spin on thoughts, topics and opinions about current affairs, politics, family, children and relationships; earning their right as equals alongside their male artists.

THE SISTERS:Althea & Donna – Up Town Top Ranking; Althea & Donna – Make A Truce; Sister Carol – Murdee & Stylee; Sister Carol – Wild Thing; Sister Carol – Dread Natty Congo; Lady Ann – Informer; Sister Nancy – Bam Bam; Sister Nancy – Bang Belly; Shelley Thunder – Kuff; Lady G – Breeze Off; Lady G – Nuff Respect; Patra – Romantic Call; Patra – Worker Man; Cherri Poet – Gets NoneQueen Ifrica – Lioness On The Rise; Queen Ifrica – Times Like These.

“TIL THE NEXT ISSUE – EVERYTING – BLESS

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