Tonight the dub drops in Hong Kong, as my new night - with MC Loki Dolo - begins at Midnight & Co. DIGITAL DUB will explore the vast expanses of the dub/reggae universe, with a focus on modern sounds and styles. For your listening pleasure here’s a 2-hour live promo mix, up on both Soundcloud and Mixcloud. This will be a bi-weekly event, first and third Thursdays of each month, so if you are in Hong Kong you have no excuse not to check out proper dub and reggae music - this IS NOT dubstep or bass, though there will be plenty of diverse influences throughout the night!
Asia-Afrika Soundsystem and Tuff Stuff Gang combine forces on TUFFDUB, a hard-hitting re-envisioned mixtape of classic dub/reggae gems. With LionRock as selector, Ras Muhamad’s voice emerges from the dubby wobbles to speak clearly and triumphantly about the street life both past and present. Representing Indonesia, Tuff Stuff Gang has put together a powerful Asian dub statement that is on par with the upbeat offerings from India’s Reggae Rajahs. This 30+ minute mix is available for stream and download from Soundcloud, chock-full of big artists like Alborosie, U-Roy, King Tubby, Sly & The Revolutionaries, Lee “Scratch” Perry, Alpha & Omega, and Scientist. Or to be cliche, it’s “a who’s who” of Jamaican dub with some modern influences as well!
BOOM! The Groove Thief (that’s me!) *finally* releases a new proper 30-minute dub/reggae DJ mix in an effort to increase ear-satisfaction around the world. Featuring big tracks covering roots to digital to funky/electro to deep bass, with plenty of Asian-influences, “The Groove Thief Meets Wu Xia For Dim Sum” criss-crosses the reggae stratosphere.
Wu Xia translates to “armed hero” - one who has apparently found himself venturing into the depths of Jamaican-influenced music. Dim Sum, meanwhile, is delicious traditional Cantonese food. I was fortunately able to meet the former for the latter, and this is what ensued:
Reggae classics include cuts from The Observers, Tapper Zukie, and my own mashup/remix of Mickey Simpson w/ a riddim from Fira. The musical themes are all appropriate: Mungo’s Hi Fi and Pupajim examine social issues, Solo Banton and Stylo G get their brag on, Backbeat Soundsystem fuel the party, Lutan Fyah takes the law into his own hands, and Roots Manuva and Alpha Steppa investigate some low-end dub theory. I found correlations between tracks that might not appear together in a live show but work well in a fine-tuned DJ mix. A lot of late nights went into this, so I hope you enjoy it - and please share!
Aram Scaram / Citizen Sound is a passionate dub advocate, mixing and producing some wicked tunes. I was tipped off about the track “Seasons Change,” which is a smooth slightly digital upbeat summer-time reggae jam with Melodic & Jahdan Blakkamoore, but the true gem here is the fresh beast-of-a-reggae-and-dub-mix* Sucka For The High Grade which just magically appeared on Mixcloud. The mix starts heavy, gets a little funky, meanders through Mungo’s Hi FI territory, basses up, and then ends on some classic vibes. Great stuff, as are the latest two riddims “Sound Man” and “I Know A Little Sound.” Much more on Soundcloud.
Heavy Hong Kong brought the bass this Friday, featuring UK headliner RSD, to celebrate their Sixth Anniversary Party at Backstage Live in Lan Kwai Fong. The jazz club’s stage and DJ booth allowed a nice variety of performances, with the music covering the whole range of reggae, dub, bass and the accelerated boom of steppers. Although the night seemed to build-up a bit more slowly than the crowd might have hoped for, every artist turned in an enthusiastic performance. A few technical glitches aside, the night progressed well from opener DJ Dragon’s 7” bass assault, with local MCs Rahyym RayShizzle and Loki Dolo trading verses over some dub loops towards the end of the set, into a solid set of live reggae by Sensi Lion. The local five-piece’s Cantonese vocals, thick bass and skillful trumpet combined to keep the largest crowd of the night more than satisfied, especially with their energetic finale. Next came Hope One, Lamma Island’s resident beat-maker, who explored roots, digital, steppas, and dub reggae, including his own productions and others from Dub Temple Records.
All the artists tested the Heavy Hong Kong sound system’s lower-end, but RSD pushed it the most, with the headliner twisting and mutating his way through an extremely fluid mix of face-tingling multi-genre bass music. He maintained a definite reggae bent, yet also stepped into other styles and influences to craft an engaging set. Multi-talented Blood Dunza finished the night off with his dub/bass sound that has him, as founder and long-time Heavy Hong Kong promoter, at the forefront of the Hong Kong bass movement.
The crowd at times seemed a bit unsure of whether roots, steppas, or simply bass itself was their preferred sub-genre, but the DJs wisely worked them all into their sets to keep everyone satisfied. This March 18th show, along with The Bug & Daddy Freddy at XXX on March 10, has definitely started the year off well for all things bass in Hong Kong, with more greatness coming up next week: a Sessions HK dub/reggae show on Thursday night at Golden Stupa and then Heavy Hong Kong returns with V.I.V.E.K bringing dubstep to XXX:
South Africa’s 7FT Soundsystem take the digital-dub ethos and meld it into something truly magical. Their mantra of “reggae for robots + dub for droids” doesn’t quite do justice to their excellent blend of well-crafted riddims, dubplates, and remixes - though this would tear it up in C3PO & RJD2’s favorite cantina. A prime example is their most recent mix, Live on the High Grade Show, which features only their riddims in a smooth-and-sublimely crafted upbeat jaunt through all facets of the digital dancehall. Seriously, this is some impressive stuff - and I listen to a fair bit of dub/reggae as you might have noticed by now if you are a regular reader. Some other fresh 7FT goodies are included as well: an excellent U-Roy refix and another mixtape.
Sinden throws together a frantic and varied mini-mix for the Annie Mac show on BBC Radio 1. From disco to electro to house to hip-hop to funk to … whew - all that and more in this 5-minute mix. This is how to cover a lot of musical territory in a little time. Is every mix perfect? Perhaps not, but this vibe works well, and rather than resorting to mashups to fit in so many styles, Sinden wisely picks tracks that flow together well regardless of genre. Good stuff, and a lot of classic sounds packed in here, stream or d/l:
Dan Greenpeace & DJ Yoda. If that deadly duo provokes excitement, then you’re going to love this post (as well as the presumed near-future followup). If not, well, you’re about to do some learning:
As eclectic hip-hop maestros, Greenpeace & Yoda combined on the iconic Unthugged series of mixtapes and a simply ridiculous Essential Mix. Now the third installment, Unthugged 3-D, is apparently about to become a reality, and to celebrate the build-up and deserved hype amongst true hip-hop heads, Greenpeace is dropping a nod to a classic Yoda mixtape (as in it was really a cassette tape): Piano Breaks 2. Yes, this is hop-hop featuring pianos, mixed thoughtfully and playfully, bringing the heat and nice beats while keeping it light. Originally from the man Dan Greenpeace himself, and available for stream and d/l:
If you need the history, and you undoubtedly do if you don’t already have it, here’s plenty of Unthuggery, as well as Dan Greenpeace’s recent posts on the topic: