Notting Hill Carnival
Beginning in 1964 as a cultural celebration of London’s Afro-Caribbean communities, the Notting Hill Carnival is now the largest street festival in Europe, taking place the last weekend in August. While it still includes traditional carnival elements such as masquerade and a parade, the thirty Sound Systems that string up every year have become the main attraction. While many musical styles are represented including Soca, RnB, Hip Hop, Ska, Jungle, Soul etc, Reggae continues to be one of the key genres. Many of the UK’s premier Sounds have played there over the years including Sir Coxsone, Jah Shaka, Java, and Small Axe. Nowadays the three roots and dub Sounds that have been maintaining a strong presence and crowd are Jah Observer (with a strong vintage roots selection), Channel One (playing roots and heavy UK steppers), and Aba Shanti- I (presenting a distinct spiritual style with many of their own productions). Naturally it has become one of the most anticipated Roots and Culture Sound System events in the world, with dub pilgrims traveling from far and wide to feel the vibes. http://www.thenottinghillcarnival.com
Stryda & Digistep of Duskasm & Crowd @ Aba Shanti I, Notting Hill Carnival 2010
This showcasing opportunity was crucial for the message-based Roots music that became dominant in the 70’s. Recently independent, with slavery’s legacy of gross inequality, poverty, and social oppression, Jamaica’s population was ready for change. Fueled by the teachings of Leonard Howell and Marcus Garvey, who ignited Pan-African consciousness and efforts towards sovereignty, as well as the Rastafari people’s looking to Haile Selassie and their African roots for redemption and guidance, Reggae music came to be a powerful social force.
Soon Roots music was booming out of Sound Systems all over the island, creating a place to celebrate the joys of life despite ghetto tribulations, and cultivating a spiritually and politically minded generation. While there were many big Roots Sounds including, U Roy’s King Sturgav, Augustus Pablo’s Rockers, and The Twelve Tribe’s Jah Love Muzik, one of the most well known was run by producer and technical wiz Osbourne “King Tubby” Ruddock. Tubby basically invented Dub music, soon to be a Sound System staple, creating wild instrumental mixes of the era’s Rasta music, much of which he recorded. Similarly his Sound stood out with custom-built amps, speakers, reverbs and delays, as well as extensive “dubplates” (exclusive mixes of songs).
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