Dancehall: The Rise of Jamaican Dancehall Culture: The Story of Jamaican Dancehall Culture by Beth Lesser

Dancehall: The Rise of Jamaican Dancehall Culture: The Story of Jamaican Dancehall Culture by Beth Lesser

This book is primarily focused of the Dacehall and digital explosion of the 1980s, and it’s a wonderful book packed full of interviews and photographs.

This definitive study of the 1980s Jamaican Dancehall scene features hundreds of exclusive photographs and an accompanying text that capture a vibrant, globally influential and yet rarely documented culture that has been mixing music, fashion and lifestyle with aplomb since its inception. With unprecedented access to the incredibly exciting music scene during this period, Beth Lesser’s photographs and text are a unique way into a previously hidden culture.

Book Description:
Dancehall is at the centre of Jamaican musical and cultural life. From its roots in Kingston in the 1950s to its heyday in the 1980s, Dancehall has conquered the globe, spreading to the USA, the UK, Canada, Japan and beyond. This is its definitive story. The book features hundreds of exclusive photographs and accompanying text that capture a previously unseen era of musical culture, fashion and lifestyle. Dancehall is a culture that encompasses music, fashion, drugs, guns, art, community, technology and more. Born in the 1950s out of the neighbourhood jams of Kingston, Dancehall grew to its height in the 1980s before a massive influx of drugs and guns made the scene too dangerous for many. Beth Lessers book tells this story from its roots to its heights. Living in Jamaica in the late 1970s/early 1980s, she photographed and documented a cultural explosion as producers, singers, DJs and soundmen made a living out of the slums of Kingston. In the early 1980s, as Jamaica was in the throes of political and gang violence, Beth Lesser ventured where few others dared and this book is a never-before-seen record of the exciting, dangerous and vibrant world of Dancehall.

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Caribbean Popular Music: An Encyclopedia of Reggae, Mento, Ska, Rocksteady, and Dancehall by David V. Moskowitz

Caribbean Popular Music: An Encyclopedia of Reggae, Mento, Ska, Rocksteady, and Dancehall by David V. Moskowitz

This is a beast of a book, coming in at 368 pages, but it’s pretty much the only encyclopedia of Caribbean that you’ll need. Epic in scope and a brilliant read (as well as an invaluable reference book).

From Booklist
Caribbean Popular Music provides insight into the lives of Caribbean musicians and the styles they have created over the last 50 years, focusing primarily on the music and musicians of Jamaica. Although the island nation is best known for reggae music, its musicians have created and been influenced by many other styles. Some styles were homegrown, like ska and mento, and some imported from the U.S., such as jazz and rhythm and blues.

Arranged alphabetically, entries are generally two to four short paragraphs in length, with the exception of a three-page entry for reggae artist Bob Marley, whose influence on music of the Caribbean and carryover popularity into the U.S. have made his name almost synonymous with reggae music. Most of the musical styles mentioned in this book have upbeat sounds, with humor an often-used tool. Even the artists’ names are entertaining, such as Count Sticky, Fathead, and Eek-A-Mouse. In addition to musicians, this work sheds light on terms and styles unknown to many of us. For example, Toasting means talking very fast over the beat of the music either with words or nonsense syllables, akin to but distinct from rap. Entries for producers and record labels that influenced musical developments in Jamaica and the region are also included, as are more than 200 black-and-white photos of artists.

The Garland Encyclopedia of World Music, v.2 (1998), covers South America, Mexico, Central America, and the Caribbean, but its main focus is on the history, culture, and styles of the various regions and not on individual artists. Garland is considered an essential reference set, with 10 volumes and CDs accompanying each, but reference books such as Caribbean Popular Music serve as complementary works. Written in authoritative yet readable prose, Moskowitz’s volume is appropriate for public and academic library collections. Steven York
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

Reviews
“Moskowitz does an admirable job of covering all periods of Jamaican popular music. People seeking to learn about everything from early mento music to reggae to dancehall to the most up-to-date style of ragga will not be dissapointed. More than 700 concise and informative entries discuss singers and songwriters, producers, record labels, and different musical styles that sprung from reggae….[t]his handy reference will appeal to scholars and music consumers alike, and comprehensive collections at both public and academic libaries would do well to purchase.”–Library Journal

“David Moskowitz has not only succeeded in producing a beautiful and accessible reference work, but he has managed the more difficult task of trying to come to terms with the umbrella term of reggae which covers a whole range of musical styles… imperative for any library that supports the teaching of music and the arts, or the history, politics and culture of the Caribbean and Rastafarianism. It is also essential for public libraries which serve a community that includes Caribbean descended patrons… Although this is most definitely a reference work, it is very easy to get engrossed in the encyclopedic entries… As a reference work it is exemplary, and, more unusually, it is an enjoyable read in its own right.”–Reference Reviews

“The emphasis is understandably on Jamaican artists; however coverage includes other areas of the Caribbean, as well as successful reggae musicians in Great Britain and the United States. Dozens of cross references help sort the many aliases used by artists. The index allows the user to track the influence of particular artists and styles. A select bibliography and list of Web sites leads the user to other sources for research. This groundbreaking guide will be popular in high school, college and public libraries.”–Lawrence Looks at Books

“Caribbean Popular Music provides insight into the lives of Caribbean musicians and the styles they have created over the last 50 years….In addition to musicians, this work sheds light on terms and styles unknown to many of us….Written in authoritative yet readable prose, Moskowitz’s volume is appropriate for public and academic library collections.”–Booklist/Reference Books Bulletin

“Moskowitz does a capable job of defining the various genres, instruments, and elements of Jamaican popular music and identifying artists both well known and obscure. Also covered are the recording labels and key venues for live performance. Cross-indexing and indexes in front and back make the book accesible.”–MultiCultural Review

“Caribbean Popular Music: An Encyclopedia of Reggae, Mento, Ska, Rock Steady, and Dancehall is perfect for college studies: while plenty of references have been written on the topic, none have embraced the full extent of Caribbean music history with an overall scholarly approach, providing annotations on figures ranging from Bob Marley to the drum and bass movement and the Flying Cymbal drumming technique….[i]ncludes all the background history necessary to fuel any report on the topic.”–The Midwest Book Review/California Bookwatch

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Wake the Town and Tell the People: Dancehall Culture in Jamaica by Norman Stolzoff

Wake the Town and Tell the People: Dancehall Culture in Jamaica

This is a fascinating and often academic look at Dancehall music in Jamaica. Dancehall music is too often easily dismissed by the media as lacking depth, but this book serves as a study of dancehall music in all its forms and gives it the intelligient attention that it often deserves. Essential book.

Publishers Weekly
“Arguing that dancehall music is steeped in the Jamaican slave culture of 200 years ago and is not just a recent form of expression by volatile ghetto youth, Norman C. Stolzoff, an anthropologist at the University of California-Irvine, puts forth the first comprehensive study of a largely misunderstood and underestimated phenomenon. [He] reveals that the lingo, dress code, power structure (including sexism and violence), sound and expression of dancehall not only reflect the struggle between Jamaica’s haves and have-nots but also represent an intra-class (though not insular) battleground among the nation’s poor.”

Review
“Arguing that dancehall music is steeped in the Jamaican slave culture of 200 years ago and is not just a recent form of expression by volatile ghetto youth, Norman C. Stolzoff, an anthropologist at the University of California-Irvine, puts forth the first comprehensive study of a largely misunderstood and underestimated phenomenon. [He] reveals that the lingo, dress code, power structure (including sexism and violence), sound and expression of dancehall not only reflect the struggle between Jamaica’s haves and have-nots but also represent an intra-class (though not insular) battleground among the nation’s poor.”–Publishers Weekly “Wake the Town and Tell the People offers valuable insights into dancehall’s enduring power–and into the reasons so many international critics have missed the point entirely. Stolzoff deserves our thanks, for, as any DJ knows, the record must be set straight.”–Vibe “This is the first sustained study of Jamaican dancehall music and culture in all of its aspects. Everyone interested in the island music, and in popular music in general, will find something useful in this book.”–Andrew Ross, author of The Celebration Chronicles “Norman Stolzoff has gone where many fear to tread – to the very heart of the dancehall milieu in the depths of the Kingston ghetto, emerging with the first full, objective look at this fertile birthing ground of Jamaican music. Wake the Town introduces us to many of the prime figures in DJ culture–producers, promoters, selectors and artists–and traces their history back hundreds of years. It is a remarkable work.”–Roger Steffens, co-author of Bob Marley: Spirit Dancer and Old Fire Sticks: The Autobiography of Bunny Wailer (forthcoming)_ “Wake The Town And Tell The People is an admirable attempt to change the terms of the debate engaged in by foreign journalists and tastemakers who have dominated the discourse on Jamaican music… Stolzoff’s historical analyses of the rise of dancehall culture, patricularly how it grew out of the gang rivalry sponsored by Jamaica’s two main political parties, effectively maps the socio-political onto the music … his fieldwork and reportage of numerous yard dances is a crucial contribution to the literature.”–The Wire, January 2001

Vibe
“Wake the Town and Tell the People offers valuable insights into dancehall’s enduring power–and into the reasons so many international critics have missed the point entirely. Stolzoff deserves our thanks, for, as any DJ knows, the record must be set straight.”

Andrew Ross, author of The Celebration Chronicles
“This is the first sustained study of Jamaican dancehall music and culture in all of its aspects. Everyone interested in the island music, and in popular music in general, will find something useful in this book.”

Roger Steffens
“Norman Stolzoff has gone where many fear to tread – to the very heart of the dancehall milieu in the depths of the Kingston ghetto, emerging with the first full, objective look at this fertile birthing ground of Jamaican music. Wake the Town introduces us to many of the prime figures in DJ culture–producers, promoters, selectors and artists–and traces their history back hundreds of years. It is a remarkable work.”

Book Description
Jamaican dancehall has long been one of the most vital and influential cultural and artistic forces within contemporary global music. “Wake the Town and Tell the People” presents, for the first time, a lively, nuanced, and comprehensive view of this musical and cultural phenomenon: its growth and historical role within Jamaican society, its economy of star making, its technology of production, its performative practices, and its capacity to channel political beliefs through popular culture in ways that are urgent, tangible, and lasting. Norman C. Stolzoff brings a fan’s enthusiasm to his broad perspective on dancehall, providing extensive interviews, original photographs, and anthropological analysis from eighteen months of fieldwork in Kingston.Stolzoff argues that this enormously popular musical genre expresses deep conflicts within Jamaican society, not only along lines of class, race, gender, sexuality, and religion but also between different factions struggling to gain control of the island nation’s political culture. Dancehall culture thus remains a key arena where the future of this volatile nation is shaped. As his argument unfolds, Stolzoff traces the history of Jamaican music from its roots in the late eighteenth century to 1945, from the addition of sound systems and technology during the mid-forties to early sixties, and finally through the post-independence years from the early sixties to the present. “Wake the Town and Tell the People” offers a general introduction for those interested in dancehall music and culture. For the fan or musicologist, it will serve as a comprehensive reference book.

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The Reggae Scrapbook by Roger Steffens

The Reggae Scrapbook

From Publishers Weekly
Though less than comprehensive, Steffens and Simon’s illustrated history of reggae music is nonetheless essential reading on the subject. The duo have spent decades covering the genre (Steffens as the founder of reggae magazine The Beat, Simon as an award-winning photographer), and they enthusiastically share their bounty in this interactive scrapbook packed with pull-out ephemera like stickers, postcards, set lists and flyers. The equivalent of spending a long evening with a friendly, eager collector, it’s hard not to get caught up in the authors’ enthusiasm. Fans will find all their favorites here in bright, full-color photographs, from lesser-known but seminal figures like Joe Higgs to legendary figures like Lee “Scratch” Perry, Peter Tosh and Bob Marley. The authors frequently share their own vibrant, first-hand experiences with the performers: Judy Mowatt discusses a performance in Zimbabwe with Marley that turned into a riot; eccentric Perry provides a tour of the “Throne Room,” his home studio; and Steffens recounts the time he presented Peter Tosh with a marijuana bud the size of a cricket bat. Augmented with a DVD featuring a handful of interviews with artists and hundreds of candid snapshots, it’s the next best thing to a trip to Jamaica.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Book Description
From its birth in the vibrant Kingston ghettos through it phenomenal popularity in the 1970s to its iconic standing in today’s global culture, reggae and its close relations–ska, rock steady, dj, dub, dancehall, and raggamuffin–have taken the world by storm.

In The Reggae Scrapbook, scintillating words and images propel our appreciation of Jamaican music into the 21st century. Accomanying us on this journey is one of the men who introduced reggae to America and helped rock the world with its syncopated beat, Roger Steffens.

Through lectures, books, magazine articles, radio, and television, Steffens has shared his knowledge of reggae around the globe as the world’s premier archivist and collector of reggae memorabilia. Here he traces reggae’s history and roots, supplemented by an audio CD featuring interviews with such reggae greats as Peter Tosh, Jimmy Cliff and “Toots” Hibbert.

Divided into chapters on “Roots and Ska,” “Rock Steady,” “The Golden Age,” “Rockers,” “Digital and Dance Hall” and “Internationalization,” and enhanced by sidebar features on historic figures, styles, and events, The Reggae Scrapbook is all you could wish for in a celebration of the rise of this irresistable musical and social force.

The Reggae Scrapbook also conveys reggae culture through a treasure trove of memorabilia, the cream of Steffen’s collection of more than 30,000 photographs, 800 T-shirts, 3,000 buttons, 10,000 posters and flyers as well as innumerable, seven-inch singles and album covers, posters, postcards, and tickets.

Photographer Peter Simon presents a stunning collection of evocative images, from reggae’s rough beginnings to the latest festivals, providing a stunning visual accompaniment.

About the Author
ROGER STEFFENS (“Ras RoJah”) is the founding editor of the genre’s best magazine, The Beat. He has hosted hundreds of local, national, and international radio and television programs, including his own Los Angeles radio show, Reggae Beat. His articles have appeared in Rolling Stone, Spin, The New York Times, The Village Voice, and other influential publications.

PETER SIMON is a widely exhibited, award-winning photographer and author of many books including Reggae Bloodlines and Reggae International. Simon’s work has been featured in many national publications including Newsweek, The New York Times, and Rolling Stone.

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Dub: Soundscapes and Shattered Songs in Jamaican Reggae by Michael E. Veal

Dub: Soundscapes and Shattered Songs in Jamaican Reggae

This is the book that Dub deserves. It’s an academic approach to looking at the development of Dub music within the reggae genre and is a must have on any reggae fans bookshelf.

Review
“Veal deftly outlines the sociopolitical context in which dub arose, and explains how the cut-corner, make-do economics of the Jamaican record business led to a maximization of materials: song begat deejay version(s) beget dub(s) – at least three products for little more than the price of one… Where Veal’s book steals a march on the competition is in his technical analysis of how Tubby, Perry, Thompson, Sylvan Morris, and other mixing engineers adapted (and creatively abused) the equipment in studios… He also analyzes a number of tracks by each of the principal dub engineers under discussion…to show the transformation of song to version and dub, all of which is illuminating…he provides valuable information as to where these tracks may be found… This is an extremely bold and interesting book.”–The Wire

Book Description
When Jamaican recording engineers Osbourne “King Tubby” Ruddock, Errol Thompson, and Lee “Scratch” Perry began crafting “dub” music in the early 1970s, they were initiating a musical revolution that continues to have worldwide influence. Dub is a sub-genre of Jamaican reggae that flourished during reggae’s “golden age” of the late 1960s through the early 1980s. Dub involves remixing existing recordings – electronically improvising sound effects and altering vocal tracks – to create its unique sound. Just as hip-hop turned phonograph turntables into musical instruments, dub turned the mixing and sound processing technologies of the recording studio into instruments of composition and real-time improvisation. In addition to chronicling dub’s development and offering the first thorough analysis of the music itself, author Michael Veal examines dub’s social significance in Jamaican culture. He further explores the “dub revolution” that has crossed musical and cultural boundaries for over thirty years, influencing a wide variety of musical genres around the globe.

About the Author
Michael Veal is associate professor of ethnomusicology at Yale University, where he specializes in ethnomusicology and African-American music. He is the author of Fela: The Life and Times of an African Musical Icon (2000).

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