History of DJ Music

© Steve Barrow & Peter Dalton - The Rough guide to reggae

The early 1970s marked the beginning of the ascent of the deejay, a trend that continued during the roots era, and went on to become dominant throughout the dancehall and ragga phases. The story of the Jamaican deejay record can be traced back to the ska era, when the men who took the mike at the dances could occasionally be heard on vinyl, shouting an introduction and/or interjecting their catchphrases. The voice of the fabled Winston 'Count' Machuki, for instance, can be heard on the Baba Brooks Band's steaming "Alcatraz", while Sir Lord Comic made an impact with two massive hits that were actually credited to his name "Ska-ing West" and "The Great Wuga Wuga". The role of the deejay at this point, however, was still largely confined to the dancehalls of the day, encouraging the dancers, and promoting the sound systems on which they were appearing. The first deejay to be recorded on more than an occasional basis was King Stitt, longtime MC for the Sir Coxsone Downbeat Sound System. Several of the most talented deejays who came to notice in the early 1970s - notably Big Youth, Dillinger, I Roy and Prince Jazzbo continued to make fine records in the roots era, some for their own labels. They and their numerous rivals from the next generation no longer simply added to the excitement of the dance with hip catchphrases: the deejay now offered commentaries on the ghetto sufferers' tribulations, history lessons from a black perspective, and the chanting of psalms. By the mid-1970s times were truly dread, with Marcus Garvey and Haile Selassie as likely to be praised as the sound on which the deejay was employed. [Read more...]

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