"It’s high time London got its reggae mojo back"

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"It’s high time London got its reggae mojo back"

Postby mikus » Tue Oct 08, 2013 6:47 pm

Get ready for a classic bit of journalism in the Standard by none other than the editor of The Independent:
:shock:

Amol Rajan: It’s high time London got its reggae mojo back

"Long experience has taught me that you have to be fabulously stoned to enjoy dub step in its purest form, it being a genre of music designed to void reggae of its main virtues: beat, lyrics, soul. So there I was at Village Underground in Shoreditch on Friday night, my dope days years behind me, trying my utmost to bop and bubble and boogie to Congo Natty, a celebrated producer who has in his time made magnificent music. And two things dawned on me very quickly.

First, what a shame reggae has been near hijacked by the cult of Rastafarianism. This capture predates Bob Marley’s contribution to it but he made things worse.

On Friday, as we waited patiently for any semblance of a lyric or dance-friendly drop, the dude on the mic who was MC’ing produced an incessant stream of superstitious propaganda and nonsense, wailing about “da siss-tem” that had clearly caused him such hardship. At one point, he said: “Jah have fi bless us when we take down da siss-tem. People have fi rise up.” Then: “We runnin’ wid da Almighty. Bring down dis siss-tem.”

I had a good mind to sidle up to him, grab the mic and say, “But my dear fellow, the iniquities of capitalism notwithstanding, this system you denigrate is surely better than the alternatives. What with the slew of encouraging manufacturing data coming out of China, there’s hope yet for an export-led recovery for the global economy.” The good denizens of Shoreditch would have loved it.

The second thing that struck me was a source not of anger but sadness. It is becoming impossible to find a decent reggae night in London. For nigh on 15 years — half a bloody lifetime — I have been on the hunt for good reggae in this, the greatest city on the planet. But it strikes me, as an increasingly casual observer, that it’s getting harder by the minute.

For example: back in the day there were nights that did the business at Fridge or Mass or The End or Bagleys. Now the first two have endless house, which is the devil’s music; and the latter two are gone. Gaz’s Rockin’ Blues on Wardour Street was a regular and inspiring Thursday night haunt, with brilliant young talent and live acts. But it was stuffed full of Westminster School teenagers, and there comes a time in life when you can’t spend whole evenings with such people.

Put “reggae in London” into Google and you’re immediately presented with a website crammed with dates — and Rasta propaganda. Even this newspaper’s indispensable Going Out app is light on reggae nights that you can’t miss.

It used to be so different, I’m sure. Not just when I was growing up but further back when ska was the thing, or further back still when the Q Club on Praed Street in Paddington boasted the greatest sounds on the planet. I can’t believe there are no decent reggae nights on today, and I don’t have my ear to the proverbial underground — as it were — like I used to. I mean, the hype around Congo Natty was immense but the vibes were terrible.

So if any Standard readers know of a great night, with proper reggae, can you let me know via Twitter? In the meantime, Jah bless."

Amol Rajan is editor of The Independent. Twitter: @amolrajan

:?
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Re: "It’s high time London got its reggae mojo back"

Postby guillaumebougard » Wed Oct 09, 2013 7:03 am

great article
by the way who is this Congo Natty?

By the way, I just noticed that the B and the N keys are next to each other and that it would have been very easy to type Batty! Is this a Babylonian trick to ridicule the virtuous?
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Re: "It’s high time London got its reggae mojo back"

Postby Ringo » Wed Oct 09, 2013 8:04 am

Blimey, where do you begin with that one? We're used to newspaper journos getting it wrong but this must be the worst yet.

Don't send him down to Tighten Up, put him in a nursing home.
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Re: "It’s high time London got its reggae mojo back"

Postby Reggie Love » Wed Oct 09, 2013 9:33 am

Congo Natty, formerly the Rebel MC is a producer and MC who has put out a fantastic album this year called Jungle Revolution. Adrian Sherwood was also involved in the production.
I was there on Friday night in what was a hot and packed Village Underground. Congo Natty didn't come on until 2 so no doubt he was probably in bed by then. The MC he refers to was from Channel One who opened the night.
The Bug were on 2nd and were extremely heavy in a bass kick to the chest way and I enjoyed Congo Natty a lot. His singer Nancy and MC Phoebe are superb. Unfortunately, thre was no Tippa Irie, YT, Top Cat, General Levy or Sweetie Irie to perform tracks from the album but you can't have it all.
Last edited by Reggie Love on Wed Oct 09, 2013 3:17 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: "It’s high time London got its reggae mojo back"

Postby pinup » Wed Oct 09, 2013 9:58 am

Congo Natty is a jungle legend and The Bug mixes influences from dancehall with heavy industrial music and dubstep, not really sure why the guy was expecting reggae

The website that he speakes of is probably rastaites.com which does have some pretty heavy reggae propaganda on it but it's also got a very comprehensive listing of what's going on in london as well as the rest of the world. Just from a quick look at the site there are upcoming shows for Dennis Alcapone, Winston Reedy, Winston Francis and the Mighty Diamonds (cheaper tickets for the mighty diamonds if you book through the site.)

In my opinion reggae in London is alive and kicking there are quite a few regular club nights which are always busy as well as new bands and sound systems that are breaking through and developing a decent following.
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Re: "It’s high time London got its reggae mojo back"

Postby John Eden » Wed Oct 09, 2013 10:27 am

I am glad that he reckons

It is becoming impossible to find a decent reggae night in London.


because he sounds like an idiot.
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Re: "It’s high time London got its reggae mojo back"

Postby monko » Wed Oct 09, 2013 10:45 am

What is his classification for 'good' though? Reggae Roast, Uni of Dub, the occasional Shaka... The last two probably feature too much Rasta for him though.
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Re: "It’s high time London got its reggae mojo back"

Postby brigadierjc » Wed Oct 09, 2013 11:11 am

He was probably after a bit of Lovers Rock
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Re: "It’s high time London got its reggae mojo back"

Postby KingSimeonSound » Wed Oct 09, 2013 3:21 pm

Not that he raises it to specifically, but I think he does have a point that things have changed when it comes to the tradition of the music and it's presentation. There were more regular nights that don't run any more and it is a new breed/generation of folks doing it now.

Not so much an idiot.. just a journalist stirring it up a bit.
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Re: "It’s high time London got its reggae mojo back"

Postby dan i dubdub » Wed Oct 09, 2013 4:43 pm

wrong on so many levels, just what is he looking for anyway? If Congo Natty were playing with The Bug and Channel One - why no mention of Ch.1, let alone what did he expect from Congo Natty? And he doesnt like reggae that goes on about Jah! What the...? Up to him I guess.

However, I do think the regions have the edge on London these days (finally) - Bristol, Brum, Leeds etc, and lots of great sounds around the country really rocking the dance. And I agree with Simeon that there seem to be fewer regular nights with a varied selection. London-ites, is there an issue there?

Oxford is a pretty small place, but we have bashment, revival, roots, dub, ska, rocksteady, phuture dub all going here on a fairly regular basis. There aren't many venues but we are doing what we can to get reggae music out there. Community centres, pubs, tiny festivals and parties, nightclubs, free parties in the woods...makes me appreciate what's going on here. I grew up in London and lived there a long time, so I know what it is capable of offering, what's the block? Venues? Licenses being refused because of the type of music to be played and the potential audience it may attract? Promoters playing it safe? Any other thoughts?
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Re: "It’s high time London got its reggae mojo back"

Postby monko » Wed Oct 09, 2013 5:36 pm

KingSimeonSound wrote:
Not so much an idiot.. just a journalist stirring it up a bit.

Well he's definitely got us lot talking about it. Definitely a change in presentation I agree. The biggest thing for me is the lack of venues that take a sound system and the ones that do cost a huge amount of money to hire out.
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Re: "It’s high time London got its reggae mojo back"

Postby KingSimeonSound » Wed Oct 09, 2013 6:03 pm

Plenty of factors.. the smoking ban was one brutal blow. I think music and clubs have struggled across the board... too much $'s pressures and not enough time allowed to 'grow' events/nights, clubs could be better off selling into housing/flats..

Also the people are changing... no right and wrong, just the way of things. Reggae to a large degree is very much back in a sort of fashion, but that doesn't necessarily suit all who like the music/culture. I've never witnessed so many bars that run reggae fused nights than the present.. and I've never heard so many different allusions as to what this music/culture is. Sometimes too many people are trying too hard with the thing, selling it for a quick fix, until a next thing comes a long.

I'd prefer it if this guy was so concerned, he might invest in starting something himself and then document the struggles of doing such a thing..! (wishing him all the best of course!)
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Re: "It’s high time London got its reggae mojo back"

Postby mikus » Wed Oct 09, 2013 7:21 pm

I found his article filled with musical ignorance (as reggie love says amusingly not even knowing who he saw on the night), but worse its pretty offensive: dismissing all rastafarian beliefs as "superstitious propaganda and nonsense", a "cult" that "hijacked" reggae, add in the mocking patois and his anti anti-capitalism and it left me in with my head in my hands.

The state of the scene in London is another matter.

by the way he mentions reggae nights at The End and Bagleys - cant remember any reggae nights at either venue can you?
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Re: "It’s high time London got its reggae mojo back"

Postby dan i dubdub » Wed Oct 09, 2013 8:52 pm

Spot on with smoking ban Simeon. You are right about the reggae-infused nights - plenty of reggae lite and easy to digest stuff.

Also lack of turnout?
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Re: "It’s high time London got its reggae mojo back"

Postby Reggie Love » Thu Oct 10, 2013 8:27 am

I don't remember any reggae nights at Bagleys or The End. I am pretty sure he's wrong about the End and if so, thats shoddy - maybe's he's smoked more than he remembers. Rodigan's night at Mass in Brixton was going much less than 15 years ago, though its a shame he no longer has a regular night in the capital.

Why didn't he mention that it was Channel One he was ridiculing? Ironically, as far as I know their monthly night in Brick Lane is a success.
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