When Rodigan took control

When Rodigan took control

Observer senior reporter

Thursday, November 14, 2019

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With over 40 years under his belt championing Jamaican music, British broadcaster David Rodigan is a master at his craft, and his appearance at Dubwise Jamaica last weekend gave audiences in Kingston and Ocho Rios an idea of how he does what he does.

The Kingston leg of the event, which was held on the grounds of Kaya Herb House on Lady Musgrave Road on Saturday, attracted a large, mature audience, many of whom were teenagers or young adults during the 1980s, when Rodigan had those epic clashes with veteran radio disc jock Barry G on-air at the now-defunct Jamaica Broadcasting Corporation, JBC.

The 68-year-old Rodigan has not lost his touch and excited his audience during his set which came after the main selectors on the bill — Rory Stone Love, and Renaissance featuring Delano and Jazzy T.

While it was never billed as a clash, the three selectors obliged and entertained with a best-of-five set to close off the event. It was here that Rodigan truly showed his class and separated himself from the others in no uncertain terms.

For round one, Renaissance drew for The Mighty Diamonds' Have Mercy; Rory went for Beres Hammond's What Can You Do to Stop a Man From Trying; and Rodigan also went for Hammond with Feel Good, which sent the audience into a frenzy. What followed was dubplates and 'specials' from acts such as Buju Banton, Freddie McGregor, Beenie Man, Shabba Ranks, Super Cat, Barrington Levy and Dennis Brown. Rodigan clearly dominated the other rounds after the other two teams failed to read their audiences and selected tunes with expletives. Rory Stone Love even excused himself from one round after that infraction. At the end of the night everyone was pleased with the entertainment offering from the event.

Prior to the impromptu 'dub-fi-dub', each of the selectors gave masterful sets with their own entertainment value. It was clear from the onset that Rodigan's set was going to be different. He immediately asked for his microphone to be turned down so his voice would not be distorted and his audience would get what he described as a more mellow sound. In addition, his playing style involves what he called “allowing the song to breathe”. As a result, “patrons get a longer listen to the music rather that a 40-second taste”.

His arsenal included roots-reggae tracks from Ini Kamoze, Luciano, Gregory Isaacs, Barrington Levy, and Sister Nancy . However, his stocks really rose when he offered up a dubplate featuring Buju Banton with an early recording of his 1995 hit Murderer, which was actually recorded as a tribute to fellow deejay Pan Head, who was murdered in 1993. Rodigan provided a virtual history lesson of reggae which was both informative and entertaining at the same time, much to the appreciation of the audience.

Renaissance offered something that was different from their usual party vibe, but stuck to their core value of being the remix kings of local sound systems. They shared remixes of tracks featuring American hip-hop group Arrested Development and reggae star Chronixx. The one which received the biggest 'forward' was the Murderer remix featuring Buju Banton and Barrington Levy.

Rory Stone Love offered the eclectic mix of music that has become his hallmark, playing current artistes such as Lila Ike to reggae king Marley.

The organisers could have made the selectors do two short sets rather than one long one, which would have allowed patrons to get a true sense of the difference in each individual playing style. That aside, howver, the event again highlighted the need for quality entertainment for persons within the older demographic.

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