Dancehall's french connectionFriday, March 05, 2021
BY HOWARD CAMPBELL
THERE are not many record labels in Europe specialising in dancehall music, especially in France which is a traditional hub for roots-reggae.
Dance Soldiah Records, based in Paris, has carried the dancehall banner for 21 years. Initially, it released a number of street compilation albums, but principals say its upcoming project is a game-changer.
Along with Digital Cut Records, another independent company from Paris, they have produced a double album showcasing 20 male and female artistes from six countries. They perform songs on the Kenseď and Senseď 'riddims'.
“This is the most ambitious project to date after the Afu-ra album, Urban Chemistry, which was released in 2020. We attach great importance to parity and equality between men and women in society and music,” Nico, a co-founder of Dance Soldiah, told the Jamaica Observer.
No Better Day by Jamaican singjay Khalia is the first release from the project which is scheduled to be out in June. Her song has been available digitally since February 26.
Artistes from Trinidad and Tobago, the United States Virgin Islands, France, Sweden and Australia also contributed to the compilation. Familiar names include Jahvinci, Turbulence, Charly B, Denyque, Sophia Squire, and Pressure Buss Pipe.
Nico and his team are banking on the double album to continue Dance Soldiah's strong run. Urban Chemistry by veteran American rapper Afu-ra was a solid seller, so too its Sword compilation which had songs from acts like Chezidek.
Paris' diverse youth populace has helped make the French capital the label's largest market. Other European countries, Africa and part of the United States also respond well to Dance Soldiah's products.
“There is a big Caribbean culture in Paris with people from (French West Indies islands) Guadeloupe and Martinique. Dancehall is played in sound systems, discotheques, concerts and festivals in Paris. There are many (dancehall) fans in France,” Nico disclosed.
Though Dance Soldiah was established in 2000, its focus was promoting live dancehall/reggae events in Paris. Two years ago, Nico and company formalised their productions by launching Dance Soldiah Records, with the Sword rhythm being its first official project.
Paris was one of the first major European centres to accept reggae during the 1970s. Bob Marley, Burning Spear, Pablo Moses, The Gladiators and Israel Vibration are some of the artistes who have made it one of reggae's most lucrative stomping grounds.
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