Wicked Times

VP REVISITS THE LEGACY OF BOBBY DIGITAL

BY HOWARD CAMPBELL
Observer senior writer

Friday, January 19, 2018

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THE legacy of Bobby “Bobby Digital” Dixon, arguably the most successful producer in contemporary dancehall music, will be acknowledged in February with the release of a multi-song double compact disc by VP Records.

Volume 1: X-Tra Wicked is scheduled for release on February 2. Seven days later, Volume 2: Serious Times will be out.

Both are being released by the VP Records affiliate 17 North Parade.

A total of 40 songs are on the discs, which follows Dixon's career from a hard-core dancehall producer of songs like Shabba Ranks's Peenie Peenie to modern roots classics such as Till I'm Laid to Rest by Buju Banton, Don't Haffi Dread by Morgan Heritage, and Sizzla's Solid As A Rock.

In a 2000 interview with the Jamaica Observer, Dixon pointed to patience as key to his success.

“Mek mi tell yuh something father, mi nuh like work wid a whole heap a artiste same time. Mi like tek my time wid di artiste an' do things properly,” he said.

Dixon is part of an impressive studio engineer lineage from Waterhouse in Kingston. That 'family tree' started with Osbourne “King Tubby's” Ruddock, followed by Dixon's mentor, Lloyd “King Jammy's” James.

It was at James' Waterhouse studio that Dixon learned the production ropes, working mainly with artistes from his community. But it was a deejay from nearby Seaview Gardens called Shabba Ranks that marked his remarkable transition from engineer to producer.

Dixon was pivotal to Shabba's international emergence, starting in 1987 with the rocking Peenie Peenie. It was followed by anthems like Dem Bow, Wicked in Bed and Just Reality which are also on 'Volume 1'.

'Volume 2' features more sober productions like Don't Haffi Dread which was the lead song from Morgan Heritage's 1999 album of the same title and proved to be the sibling group's breakthrough work. It was around that time that Dixon collaborated with Sizzla on his album, Da Real Thing, which was driven by songs like Solid As A Rock.

While he became famous for working on Shabba Ranks's risqué songs, Dixon showed his versatility as a producer on timeless roots efforts including It's Growing, a strong album by Garnet Silk, and the Nyabinghi-driven Kette Drum rhythm.

Till I'm Laid to Rest was done to the Kette Drum. Silk is also represented on Volume 2 with Every Knee Shall Bow which he did Cocoa Tea and Charlie Chaplin.

Other favourites such as Tek Him by Mad Cobra, and Serious Time, a three-the-hard-way smash from Admiral Tibet, Shabba Ranks and Ninjaman, also make the cut.

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