By Beth Lesser
During the 1980s, my husband and I traveled frequently to Kingston, Jamaica and Brooklyn, NY from our home in Toronto, Canada to follow the changing reggae scene. At the time, we were publishing Reggae Quarterly magazine and Dave was hosting Reggae Showcase on CKLN radio
In the 1980s reggae was changing fast, moving from the heavy roots sound of suffering and redemption to the lighter, faster, digitized sound of modern dancehall. This conversion to digital instrumentation and production turned reggae music upside down.
My husband and I saw it happen. We saw Junjo’s Volano empire rise meteorically and them crash as his young artists emigrated or met untimely deaths. We witnessed Jah Love’s Brigadier Jerry take over the dancehall scene without ever having recorded a 45 – powered by the new popularity of dance hall cassettes. We were in Waterhouse when King Jammy unleashed his Sleng Teng rhythm to an analog world and, one by one, producers dropped their previously recorded rhythms and started building again from scratch using programmable keyboards and drum machines. We were in Jammy’s yard while he cut the dubplates for the Clash of the Century, the event that brought dancehall culture to the larger Jamaican audience. Over those years, I collected an archive of material that I would like to make available to the public – to present and future reggae scholars and fans.
The material that appears on this website is just the start. I will be attempting to add material to this archive as funds come in. The goal is to present
- A representative selection of my photographs – an edited down version of my collection of more than 2,000 images taken between 1982 and 1990 in Kingston, Toronto and New York
- The corrected and edited text of the book Rub-a-Dub Style : The Roots of Modern Dancehall
- Both the King Jammy and Sugar Minott books in PDF
- All 8 Reggae Quarterly magazines
- A small selection of special dance cassettes from the era along with archival material like examples of the `1970s radio broadcasts of Nuggets for the Needy
- A selection of radio shows from David Kingston’s Reggae Showcase, CKLN radio, 1982-1992
- Graphics from the era such a dance invitations, Jackie Knockshot comics
- A newly written text describing our adventures visiting Jamaica
In order to make this happen, I need help. Any small donations will go a long way to making more material available and keeping it available for everyone to access. I am not selling anything or seeking to benefit financially in any way from this archive. I want this information to outlast me and to be around for future generations. It’s part of the history of Jamaica. Please help me make this happen.