Entertainment

A 25-year Renaissance 

By Kevin Jackson Observer Writer

Friday, June 27, 2014    

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WHEN the Renaissance Disco started out in the 1990s, many in dancehall circles dubbed it an 'uptown' sound system. It has confounded the Doubting Thomases and celebrates its 25th anniversary this year.

Delano Thomas, lead selector and part owner of Renaissance, told Splash that a number of events will be held to commemorate the milestone.

"We plan to celebrate to the fullest by touring for the rest of the year. We will also be launching our website in July," he said. "We will be producing more music, as well as hold anniversary parties in Jamaica and Miami."

Renaissance Disco evolved out of a sound system called Le Jeux. Thomas was fresh out of Excelsior High School when he hooked up with friends to form Renaissance.

"We wanted to start our own sound system but we didn't have a name so we challenged girls from various high schools to come up with the best name and the winners would get us to play free of cost at their sweet 16 parties. Immaculate High school girls won the challenge with the name Renaissance and it was no turning back from there," Thomas explained.

The original members are from the middle-class areas of Constant Spring and Liguanea. They are Thomas, Mykie E (Michael Edwards), Leslie Baugh, Robert Richards, Nigel Lyn, Dr Dre (Andre Saunders), Jazzy T (Tarik Thompson), DJ Pepsi (Orville Spence), Oxtail (Tony Smith), DJ Smoke (Ryan Williams), DJ Karim (Karim Thompson)and Mixmaster Marvin (Marvin Edwards).

Its current lineup is led by Thomas, his son Delano 'DJ 3D' Thomas Jr, DJ Christuff (Christopher Hartley), DJ Taj (Taj Graham), Dre Day (Andre Day), Snypa (Damian Anderson), Blaze (Stephen McGibbon), Jazzy T, DJ Pepsi, Mykie E, Dr Dre, DJ Scibbles (Nicholas Johnson), and Joel 'Kruddy' Harrison.

Now in his early 40s, Thomas still sports the left eye patch that has become his trademark. He notes that operating a 'soun' continues to be a learning experience and a rewarding one.

He says Renaissance dispelled the popular notion that middle-class youth could not run a successful 'set' and along the way became trailblazers.

"We were the first soun' to introduce scratching re-mixes with various genres of music before it got popular in the dancehall. Our most famous remix is Mega Nitro Mix with Bounty Killer," said Thomas.

On the production side, the Renaissance label has done well with a number of well-received 'riddims'.

One of those beats, the Stepz, featured We be Burning by Sean Paul which reached number five on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. Their remix of Beenie Man and Chevelle Franklin's Dancehall Queen peaked at number 64 on the Billboard R&B Hip Hop Singles chart and number 90 on the Billboard Hot 100.

Renaissance emerged during the 1990s, a period of great success for dancehall music. Thomas stressed that adapting to changes in the music and music industry, is key to their longevity.

"We keep up with the technology, social media, the latest music and trends. We continue to produce music and host events and stay original to what we do," he said.

Among the Renaissance Disco's latest projects is a mix tape called The Monument.

"The Monument is DJ Christuff's idea to pay tribute to Renaissance. It consists of 100 per cent dub plates and re-mixes that made Renaissance popular. It has both old and new music to bring back good memories and to educate our new party-goers," Thomas said.

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