Dr Dread’s Nah Ramp
Almost 50 years since he first visited Jamaica and got overwhelmed by its culture, Gary “Dr Dread” Himelfarb is still bowled over by the country’s music.
The founder of RAS Records has renewed ties with reggae through Nah Ramp, his new label.
The American businessman was recently in Kingston to oversee recording sessions with Written, a singer from tough Tavares Gardens (also known as Payne Land) in Kingston. He produced
We Alright, the artiste’s debut album, scheduled for release this year.
The 69 year-old Himelfarb told the
Jamaica Observer that he sees something in the 30-year-old Written that is lacking in much of contemporary Jamaican music.
“What inspired me most about Written is his unique approach to writing songs and his ability to marry his writings to music. I have always looked for artistes that have a unique vibe. And the fact that he is not from uptown adds another interesting element to who he really is — a very humble and thoughtful youth,” he said.
Himelfarb was introduced to Written in 2022 by Lloyd Evans, a veteran Jamaican music industry player who owned the Blue Mountain label. They agreed to work on a project shortly after, and production started last March at Anchor and Tuff Gong recording studios in Kingston.
Drummers Sly Dunbar and Dave Green, bassist Errol “Flabba Holt” Carter, and guitarist Dwight Pinkney are some of the musicians who played on
“The sound and content of the album are fresh — something different than that what has been out there; lyrics that deal with issues we are all facing, and life. Written is a deep thinker and he brings his thoughts and emotions into his music,” Himelfarb disclosed. “These are not simple rhythms that are just looped through a keyboard, live drums and bass… real music.”
That organic sound attracted the Washington, DC-born Himelfarb to reggae during the 1970s. He started RAS Records in 1981, four years after his maiden trip to Jamaica. That company has amassed a formidable catalogue of albums by major reggae acts such as Bunny Wailer, Gregory Isaacs, Dennis Brown, Culture, Israel Vibration, and artistes associated with producer Philip “Fatis” Burrell.
While not giving away too much about
We Alright, he said the set will have 11 songs. The direction of his new venture is inspired by an age-old Jamaican phrase: “It is the album that will launch my Nah Ramp label. I call it Nah Ramp because mi nah ramp! Seen?”