Oga Works to put reggae on top

Observer writer

Friday, January 11, 2019

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Japanese disc jockey Oga Works is preparing for his four-month Jah Works World Tour which starts in Jamaica in May . The trek ends in August, with dates in New York, Bermuda, the United Kingdom and Europe.

He said he was inspired to go on tour because of his experience in the 2018 Irish and Chin World Clash.

“I got (a lot of) forward (salutes) at Irish and Chin World Clash 2018. It's the biggest sound clash in the world. I couldn't get trophy, but I was (the) most impressive one,” he explained.

Born in the city of Osaka, 33-year-old Oga Works (given name Sota Ogawa) developed a passion for reggae while listening to his father's record collection.

“My father listened reggae music, like Bob Marley and The Wailers, Dennis Brown and Cocoa Tea,” he recalled.

His journey as a selector began 15 years ago. Since then, he has been working with Jah Works Sound System; he never received any training behind the turntables, but developed his skills watching and learning.

Inspired by Japanese sound system Mighty Crown, British disc jock/selector David Rodigan and Bass Odyssey sound system, Oga Works wants to make the sound system culture even bigger in his country.

“I want to spread sound system culture and reggae in Japan. It is still a minority in my country,” he said.

Oga Works has hosted an online radio show for the past seven years which has about 6,000 listeners per week in Japan. He said the hottest reggae artiste in Japan is Chronixx and the top song on his playlist is Wayne Marshall's Glory to God.

Japan and Jamaica have been connected through reggae for decades. The Pioneers was the first reggae band to perform in Japan in 1975; in 1979, Bob Marley and The Wailers performed in Osaka.

During his Japanese tour, Marley met Japanese percussionist Pecker, resulting in the production of two Japanese reggae albums — Pecker Power and Instant Rasta — being recorded at Channel One and Tuff Gong studios. The albums featured Sly and Robbie, The Wailers and Marcia Griffiths.

Dancehall music gained a foothold in Japan during the 1980s largely through Sugar Minott whose Youthman Promotions helped introduce sound system there.

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