It seems like since the Reggae Routes and Reggae: The Rough Guide has come out, there's been a lot of books written about the history of Jamaican music. Well, Norman C. Stolzoff has decided to write a book, not only about Jamaican music, but one aspect in particular, Dancehall music and Sound System culture. Norman talks o many people involved in the music scene in Jamaica including many performers, producers, DJ's, sound system originators, and many others to get the full picture of Dancehall culture. And the result is an interesting and fun read.
The book as a whole may come off slightly strong to someone not really interested in a heavy read. Since it was written as a project for his school, the book has a heavy scholastic leaning. But if you can get past that, it truly is a must read for fans of JA music and Dancehall in particular.
Many aspects of Dancehall are written about in this book. Stolzoff traces the dancehall culture back to the slavery days in Jamaica when the slaves would gather together and dance for hours to wild hand drumming and slavery songs. Then the book brings it up to date during interesting interviews with Sound System pioneers like Headly Jones, Bunny Goodison, and Winston Blake. It then goes on to talk about how Duke Reid and Coxsone Dodd ruled the dancehalls and eventually into a history of Jamaica's recording music's: ska, rocksteady and reggae.
But this book isn't about explaing the history of reggae, just the history of the dancehall and dancehall artist. Everything from how to run a sound, the different parts Selectors, Deejays, specials, etc. play in the whole scheme of Sound System culture. Mr. Stolzoff takes us to excited dances featuring the top sounds like Killamanjaro sound and the Stone Love sound, explaing the different tunes played, why they're played and more specifically, why they're played in this order. Jaro's top selector, Ricky Trooper, hypes up the crowd and the reader as the author seems to have translated an entire dance into his book.
The author also adds excellent sub guides to the different singers and deejays involved in the Dancehall scene these days (for example: Cultural Rasta deejays are Buju Banton, Tony Rebel, Louie Culture; Rude Boy Rasta deejays are Capleton, Prezident Brown and Anthony B, etc.) and explains every deejay/singer style and why they fit into that category. Plus, extensive space is given to the important dub plate business where deejays or singers beg at studio doors to be able to get some space on a special. We are even treated to an audition of types where many deejays gather together at the Dub Store studio.
In short, this is essential reading for anyone into Dancehall music. Anything you want is in here. Cultural, slackness, lovers, gun talk, deejays, singers, dancehall queens, dancehall fashion, life in a modern day Trench Town, etc. Its a very excellent and exciting portrayal of one of Jamaica's most successful and vibrant musical scenes ever. Essential.
www.wakethetown.com: books official page
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