Reprinted from RICE RADIO FOLIO
Fall 2007

the origins of DUB

by scottie mcdonald
rice radio reggae


Many people know that American rap / hip-hop had its roots in Jamaican Reggae.  The Jamaican toaster 'deejays' used to rap over the instrumental 'B' sides of Reggae singles, and this evolved into Reggae deejay or dancehall music. The early American rap artists locked onto this dancehall approach and molded it into their own urban expression.

It is these same Jamaican seven-inch singles, however, that also spawned the phenomenon we know today as Dub music.  Jamaica has always been a singles' market (possibly because a lot more people could afford them than they could full albums). All any artist needed was one song to put out a record, since the 'B' side was almost always the 'version' side (i.e., the Dub version!).

Starting out by simply running the multi-track recording tape without the vocal, the early Jamaican recording engineers began to experiment with mixing the instruments in and out, and adding effects during this phase of the recording session. Having worked long hours to obtain just the right mix for the latest 'smash hit' vocal release, this final phase became the time when the engineer could 'stretch out' ... letting go the constraints a structured vocal mix implied.  The singer was rarely involved (since their part of the session was completed) and, thus, the engineer began taking more and more liberties with the tracks he had so arduously recorded.

As the popularity of these Dub versions grew, the reputations of the top engineers grew as well, and names like King Tubby,  Lee 'Scratch' Perry,  Scientist, and Prince Jammy became names on exciting Dub releases.  Following many years of assembling these 'B' side mixes into album collections, adventurous engineers began producing music specifically for Dub.   Names like Mad Professor and Adrian Sherwood appeared and became synonymous with Dub's innovative musical experiments. (An expose' on Sherwood's On-U  Sound record label would be a thesis in itself, with it's birthing of Creation Rebel,  New Age Steppers,  Singers and Players,  Dub Syndicate,  African Head Charge, and Revolutionary Dub Warriors.)  Leading Reggae acts like Black Uhuru,  Culture, and Israel Vibration began releasing companion Dub albums to their vocal counterparts ... all to the excitement of the relentless Dub fan.  Soon American record companies jumped on the bandwagon and began including 'altered' instrumental and dance mixes on their top artists' 12-inch singles; and with advances in digital technology, so, too, Dub formats expanded and spawned spaced-out, instrumentally-intensive electronic, drum and bass, trip hop, etc.

Remarkably, whether it be Mad Professor,  Scratch, or Sherwood,  most of the top names in Reggae Dub seemed to be coming out of the U.K.  This continues to be the case today with names like The Disciples,  Dub Specialists,  Alpha and Omega,  Vibronics,  Jah Warrior,  Power Steppers,  Bush Chemists,  East Meets West,  The Rootsman, and Dub Funk Association - all being based out of England.  Some great compilation albums have resulted, and excellent collections include the Echo Beach label's series King Size Dub 10-12,  Tanty Records' series Roots of Dub Funk 4-6,  BSI's Docking Sequence Vol. 1, and many more.  Releases that have resided atop KTRU's Reggae charts include Ras Command's Best of: Serious Smokers, local heroes Last Soul Descendents' new Inner Vision, Dubmatix' Champion Sound Clash, Teledubgnosis' Magnetic Learning Center, Bill Laswell's ROIR Dub Sessions and Version 2 Version, and Vibronics' Dubliftment.

Featured regularly on KTRU's Rice Radio Reggae each Wednesday afternoon, this surge of U.K./E.U. Dub shows little sign of letting up.  More and more Dub artists continue to emerge ... each with something to add to the already prolific soundscape of Dub offerings.   Get yourself a dose of some of this "Irie" Dub each week when Rice Radio Reggae explores the many facets of Reggae music.  Encouraged also is browsing through the show's playlists on the KTRU Web site at http://ktru.org/schedule/specialty-shows and emailing questions, comments or requests for upcoming shows to reggae@ktru.org.

Rice Radio Reggae airs Wednesdays from 5:00 to 7:00 pm. Central Time on 96.1 FM, K-TRU Houston, with free Smartphone Apps and on the Web at http://ktru.org/on-the-air/listen-now .


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