Reggae Sound Systems in the United States

Ras Kush, Ras Zahir, Humble Tafari RRDE San Diego

Ras Kush, Ras Zahir, and Humble Tafari at the control tower, USA RRDE San Diego 2010 – (Empress Abi – Livity Productions)

In the US there were Sound System dances in the late 70’s and early 80’s, but they were largely limited to pockets on the East Coast. More recently a scene dedicated to Roots and Dub Sound System has been developing. Probably most well known is Ras Kush of Black Redemption Sound and label. Since the late 90’s he has put on many dances in New York, released well-received productions, and toured extensively in Japan and Europe. Other well established US sounds include; Aba Shaka’s Musical Ark Of Jah Covenant, sharing deep musical vaults in Atlanta, Humble Tafari’s Wildfiyah Rootical, playing uncompromising roots and steppers dub in Washington DC; and Ceska Sankare’s Fasimbas Afrikon Blood Sound, educating the Baltimore community to stay in tune with the Afrikan reality. In the past few years there have been some newcomers on the West Coast, including San Diego’s Foreign Love Hi Power and Blackheart Warriors Hi Fi, (with Orthodox Reuben & Ras Zahir), Sonoma County’s Comanche High Power (with Daddy Stevo), and APS US based in LA. Also, Dub producers BriZion based in San Diego, McPullish in Texas, and Kris Naphtali in Connecticut, have been building highly sought after dubplates, and New York based Taitu records has been releasing many powerful tunes. Where the scene in Europe has moved away from message towards emphasis on hardcore dub, the US scene is more rooted in a cultural foundation. In the words of Ras Zahir, “A RastafarI Sound Systems’ role is to be a positive voice for the people who don’t have the means or way to speak out against injustices, poverty, brutality, etc. Its role also includes doing works… speaking out is only one step, there must also be action.”

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