Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Digi-Dancehall

Ok so as promised, I'm gonna keep this blog active and keep uploading mixes--just not at the pace that I was keeping up last year. The first mix is one that I should've gotten around to as one of the Year of Mixtapes tapes, but I am just getting done now: Digi-Dancehall.

In the late 1970s and early 1980s, "dancehall" referred to the kind of reggae that got played at soundclashes & dancehalls--basically the same as standard-issue reggae, but with a more driving beat and a bigger focus on DJ/MC vocals (the precursor to rap), as opposed to your traditional sung reggae vocals.
In 1985, this whole reggae/dancehall dichotomy was radically redefined when Prince Jammy (and other producers) introduced electronic instrumentation into dancehall music. Suddenly "dancehall" came to connote electronic reggae (in addition to the DJ / toasting business). 
This synthing-up of reggae music in the '80s is the direct ancestor of today's UK bass music genres like jungle, UK garage, dubstep, UK funky, grime, and the like: disco & house are where all electronic dance music ultimately comes from, but the electrification of reggae is how urban Britons were able to relate to the concept of electronic dance music, and adopt house music as their own in the first place, and thereby invent raving. Reggae music still informs the aesthetic choices of urban British musicians more than the American dance styles that kicked the whole thing off.
Anyway, "Digi-Dancehall" is the term for the characteristic style of dancehall from those first few years of experimentation with electronic instrumentation (circa 1985-1990, before the whole Tin Pan thing took over). A lot of people requested this tape, so here it is!