Old-school rhythms run Panama
Stampede (centre) with DJ Bless (left) and Panama Dread.

Shunned as oldies music by some people in Jamaica, dancehall rhythms from the 1980s and 1990s are revered in American hip hop circles and Latin America. Artistes from that genre and region regularly sample or cover Jamaican songs from that period.

Popular producer/street promoter Stampede discovered that during a recent trip to Panama.

The colourful Stampede said he visited clubs in Panama City and saw/heard homegrown artistes rocking to the Stalag, Boops and Pepperseed rhythms that ruled the dancehall as much as 40 years ago.

According to Stampede (Boswell Lammie), most of the dancehall music fans he met in the Panama capital were not taken with trap, the sound many Jamaican producers have favoured in recent times.

"I went there to visit di clubs an si what di vibes was all about down there an find that di people love dancehall from di 80s/90s. They don't really understand di language, but they love di riddims. they feel dat is di real dancehall," Stampede told the Jamaica Observer.

One of the clubs he passed through was Diva's Lounge, a hip spot where lovers of dancehall frequent. He also met Panama Dread, a leading show promoter, and disc jockey DJ Bless.

Old-school dancehall has had a following in Latin America for some time. It helped break the Reggaeton movement in Panama and Puerto Rico 30-odd years ago and revived careers of old-school Jamaican artistes in that region.

In October, deejays Daddy Lizard and Bunny General, who excelled in the 1980s, performed in Panama. Beenie Man, a titan of the 1990s, was there two weeks ago.

Beats like the Stalag resuscitated the career of deejay Sister Nancy, who recorded Bam Bam on that rhythm for producer Winston Riley in the mid-1980s. The song has appeared in commercials for high-profile companies such as Reebok.

Stampede, who has helped promote the songs of hardcore dancehall acts as well as artistes from the Caribbean and Africa, believes Jamaican producers may be missing out on a growing retro craze.

"There's a big market out there [for old-school beats], not only in place like Panama, but in America, like di tri-state area, where people still love dat vibes," he said.

Stampede is scheduled to make similar trips to Costa Rica, Colombia, and Honduras in early December.

Howard Campbell

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