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What the Dub? Sound Systems...

We are diving into the world of Jamaican Sound System culture this week, the eventual driving force that helped shape multiple genres that we all know and love today. Sound system culture emerged in Jamaica in the late 1940s, after entrepreneurs began playing amplified, pre-recorded music in downtown Kingston civic halls, and at outdoor spaces called ‘lawns’. Sound systems were born out of “economic necessity” in Jamaican ghettos against the backdrop of cultural and political change in the 1950’s and quickly became, and remain part of, the wider cultural identity of Jamaica. The first sound systems initially consisted of a small gramophone and speakers, playing on a street corner or on private land, to attract business to commercial establishments such as off-licenses and hardware stores. It soon grew to become an institution in Jamaica, and it remains incredibly important in determining the island’s popular music tastes today. The first soundsystems, known as the ‘big three’ that emerged from this newfound culture were Duke Reid’s the Trojan, Sir Coxone Dodd’s Down Beat and Vincent ‘King’ Edwards’ ‘the Giant’. The mass immigration of Jamaicans in the 1950s and ‘60s brought the culture of the sound system to the UK, where it made a dramatic impact in unexpected places. The large concentration of West Indians and their culture helped catalyse the movement. Although situations such as institutionalised racism prevented earlier cultivation, there were many elements that they could share as friends; it was an easy fit and there were also a lot of interracial relationships, however the course of West Indian and Jamaican assimilation into a British society was not one without similarities to the “poor urban life and struggle” of the Jamaican ghettos. One of the most obvious and long-running demonstrations of West Indian and Jamaican culture in the UK is the annual carnivals, a celebration of West Indian culture and freedom from ancestral slavery. The biggest of these being Notting Hill Carnival. With Dubstep now being at the forefront of Sound System culture, you'll rarely go to a rave without a brought-in system, recognisable ones being Iration Steppas (Leeds), Mungo's Hi Fi (Glasgow), Sinai (Sheffield) and our neighbours over in Nottingham, Pond Life. This culture is at the heart of Juan Forté events, and you never know, soon you may see a hand-built system based in Loughborough... Stay hydrated Juan love x

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