Veteran Dub Selector David Rodigan's rules of reggae

by DHRW
(Jamaica)


"I've been blown away with what's happened to me over the past three years. The two things that brought me to a younger audience were being sampled on the Breakage Feat Newham Generals single, Hard, and the other was being asked by the dubstep DJ Caspa to appear on his album. Before that, if you weren't deeply into the culture of reggae, you wouldn't have heard of me. That exposure has been a game-changer and I've had so much love from young people, university students and festivalgoers. Now there are twentysomethings tweeting me things like, 'I wish you were my dad!'."


Give your performance a twist

"I've been getting on the mic and introducing the tracks since the 80s. I couldn't stop myself from talking about music I was excited by and, because there was a tradition of that in reggae culture with an MC introducing a song, I was subconsciously continuing that tradition. I also have a reputation for bouncing around when I DJ and there's a famous You Tube clip of me in the 90s going for it after I dropped a version of Sleng Teng. One day, I was stopped by a guy on Berwick Street, who said: 'Oh my God. You're the bloke, the bloke who does that ridiculous dance.' He said he ran a training course for sales people and that he played my clip to them to as an example of what true enthusiasm can achieve."

Your passion is what counts

"I've had some pretty tough crowds, especially when I first started to play in Jamaica. When I walked onstage, you could hear the jaws dropping. I remember one of the first soundclashes I did was in May Pen in southern Jamaica at the big annual country fair. There were thousands of people and at night there was a big dance. Within minutes there was a big crowd staring straight through me. They had assumed I was a black man from England. But they realised that I had a genuine passion for their music, and they were proud to know that a man from another culture and part of the world came to their country and played their music with knowledge."

Stand for something or fall for anything

"I resigned from Kiss FM after 22 years because reggae had been marginalised there his Sony award-winning radio show had been pushed back to midnight to accommodate Craig David's and I felt that that was unacceptable. By resigning I was being true to my principles. In the end it hurt: this was the one reggae show on the station, which had already been shrunk from two hours to one hour. So I said, 'You know what? No more.' You have to stay true to your principles in life. Every man has a voice and, when appropriate, let's hear it."

Never forget the heritage

"Reggae has to move forward, but we need to be mindful of its roots. If we ever forget about those, especially its positive message, then we're in trouble. In more recent times we've seen changes in Jamaica and traditionalists say that the music isn't what it was. If you look at Mavado, Vybz Kartel and Popcaan, it's another world of street music. But recently we've seen artists like Protoje, Chronixx and Jah9, who know the music, are out to make a difference, and are clearly part of reggae's heritage."

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