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DUBWISE! Watch “Musically Mad – A Documentary on UK Reggae Sound Systems”

Dub is the foundation of Bass music, from Hip Hop to Post Punk to Jungle to Grime and more. In the UK, they have taken the art of Dub to higher Heights. If you have ever experienced a Jah Shaka (RIP) set in person, you realized that this music has the power to unify us all! Today I want to share with y’all this rad documentary called Musically Mad – A Documentary on UK Sound Systems.

Whether it was Jah Shaka in London, dropping the rarest dubplates on a single Garrard 4HF turntable while focussing on a deeply spiritual, rootsy selection, or Tubby himself – who had access to the dubplates coming out of his studio before they were commercially available, and had soundsystem experience since playing jazz and R&B in 1957 – the soundsystem became the primary outlet for the heavy dub sound in the ’70s and early ’80s.

Each sound had its stars under the direction of the “sound leader.” DJs were often joined by singers with a high commercial profile, and many sounds supported popular reggae acts as well as organising soundclashes with other systems. Various associations saw the systems vie for top spot in a hugely competitive environment.

Birthed in Lewisham, South London in 1976 as “Imperial Rockers,” the crew that became known as Saxon Sound boasted the talents of DJ Peter King, who pioneered the “fast style mic chat” and would go on to break artists like Papa Levi, Maxi Priest and Smiley Culture into commercial success.

Taking inspiration from the great dub master himself, a young Cecil Rennie started King Tubby’s Hi-Fi in the Brixton area of London in the 1970s, following an apprenticeship with the long-established Duke Reid Sound System. MC Tippa Irie also started out with King Tubby’s before moving on to Saxon, while Mikey Dread and Jah T were another London-based soundsystem known as Channel One, which began in 1979 and was named in honour of the famous Jamaican label of the same name.


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