Haris Pilton meets Joseph Cotton – Mr Classic

Privileged to listen to some early mixes in the making of this master piece, Jah Billah confirms this album opens up a new chapter for Balkan regggae.

Mr. Pilton says:



After two years brand new reggae album is here.

HARIS PILTON meets legendary JOSEPH COTTON aka JAH WALTON on an album called MR CLASSIC. The album includes 14 songs in an old fashion reggae style.

Enjoy

From press release:

MR CLASSIC is the latest album from Joseph Cotton in collaboration with producer Haris Pilton.

Legend Joseph Cotton aka Jah Walton (born Silbert Walton, 1957, St. Ann, Jamaica) is a reggae deejay and singer active since the mid-1970s. He recorded his first song named “Gourmandizer” with Joe Gibbs in 1976, under the name Jah Walton. He then moved to Harry Mudie owner of Moodisc label, recording popular tracks such as “Stay A Yard And Praise God” and “Touch Her Where She Want It Most” (the title track from his debut album).

In the mid-1980s he began recording under the name Joseph Cotton, immediately having success. He reached No.1 in the UK charts with “No Touch The Style”, leading to a television appearance on Channel 4’s Club Mixprogramme in 1987. Several more reggae chart hits followed in the form of “Things Running Slow”, “Pat Ha Fe Cook”, “Tutoring”, “Judge Cotton”, and “What Is This”.

Cotton continued to perform and record into the 1990s, 2000s and the present day. He now lives in France where he performs at venues throughout the country and elsewhere in Europe both solo and in collaboration with other reggae artists

On influence and term DUB

King Tubby’s studio

The term ‘dub’ is now used widely and indiscriminately by producers of dance and ambient music.
More particularly, as the British post-punk producer Adrian Sherwood has commented, ‘everything from hiphop to techno and every other form of music right now has stolen ideas off dub, or incorporated those ideas’.

While there is obvious hyperbole here, the point is nevertheless an important one.
The influence of dub permeates much contemporary electronica, dance, and urban music.
Indeed, there is an increasingly wide range of contemporary music that is explicitly and conspicuously indebted to dub, from the dance-oriented rock of a band like Death in Vegas to the indigenous Moroccan music of Aisha Kandisha’s Jarring Effects, and from the relatively recent work of Primal Scream back to the punk and post-punk music of bands such as The Clash, PIL, Terrorists, Killing Joke, Bad Brains, and even the Welsh-speaking Anhrefn, some of whose album BWRW CWRW (1989) was mixed by the British dub pioneer the Mad Professor.

King Tubby – Playing the mixing desk

The term ‘dub’ evolved out of earlier terminology used in the recording industry in the United States.

This is significant because we will see that the genre has remained fundamentally related to recording technology. Traditionally known as ‘black wax’, ‘soft wax’, ‘slate’ or ‘reference disc’—and in the manufacturing sector as an ‘acetate’—the dub plate was a metal plate with a fine coating of vinyl.

Recorded music would be pressed on to the dub plate, following which a ‘stamper’ or metal master disc would be created in order to produce quantities of vinyl records. The process of transferring the music on to the vinyl-coated metal plate was known as ‘dubbing’—just as adding sound to a film is also known as dubbing. Hence, the terms ‘dub’ and ‘dub plate’ are not solely allied to the genre of ‘dub’.
However, the point is that, with the demand for exclusive, unreleased music in Jamaican sound system culture (in which sound systems competed for audiences by, amongst other things, playing new music), the trade in ‘pre-release’ dub plates grew.
And it is within this culture, hungry for new sounds and ideas, that the genre of ‘dub’ emerged.

The Untamed Imagination of Lee “Scratch” Perry
A Brief History of The Studio As An Instrument: Part 3 – Echoes From The Future


The term dub, in the sense of a musical genre, was, therefore, originally applied to a remixing technique pioneered by Jamaican engineers and producers who were seeking novel and exclusive music (i.e. ‘specials’) for sound system use.
So successful was the technique that it quickly evolved as a relatively inexpensive and creative way of reusing rhythm tracks. Essentially, recording engineers produced tracks on which their efforts were often more evident than those of the original musicians.

Indeed, the mixing desk and even the recording studio itself came to be understood as a musical instrument in that, in a similar way to a jazz musician’s improvisation on a standard tune, the engineer is involved in the reconceptualization of a piece of music.
However, this is a very different type of instrument, in that, as a remixing technique, it is alchemical in its effects. As Jonathon Tankel puts it, ‘remixing is recoding, the reanimation of familiar music by the creation of new sonic textures for different sonic contexts…
The remix recording creates a new artefact from the schemata of previously recorded music.

It is prima facie evidence of [Walter] Benjamin’s contention that
“to an ever greater degree the work of art reproduced becomes the work of art designed for reproducibility” .

Text from:

King Tubby meets the Upsetter at the grass roots of dub: Some thoughts on the early history and influence of dub reggae

Christopher Partridge, 2008.
Popular Music History

On reggae and hip-hop

DJ Kool Herc: ‘When I extended the break, people were ecstatic, because that was the best part of the record to dance to.’

DJ Kool Herc, the chief architect of hip-hop, was born Clive Campbell in Kingston, Jamaica. At the age of twelve, in the winter of 1967, Campbell moved to Bronx, New York. The year he migrated to America, sound-system culture in Jamaica had a ubiquitous presence in Kingston’s lower-class neighbourhoods.
As a twelve-year-old preteen now living in the Bronx, Campbell already possessed a persistent reggae and sound-system consciousness having experienced the innovative music of
Prince Buster, the Skatalites, Don Drummond, and dancehall deejay U-Roy.

At eighteen, Campbell attempted to recreate the Jamaican dancehall experience in the Bronx by spinning the latest Jamaican reggae records at neighbourhood parties, but his young African-American audience was not feeling the reggae beat and did not comprehend the Jamaican patois rhymes of sound-system MCs known as toasters.
As DJ Kool Herc, Campbell shifted to playing funk records, but his reggae background caused him to favour funk with heavy-weight bass lines and lively percussive drumming. Kool Herc’s record selections were transmitted through hi-fi stereo equipment that spoke with the same awesome power and sonic quality of a roots Jamaican sound system.
The selector, as a deejay is called on a reggae sound system, though using one turntable-the norm during the ’60s and ’70s- was still capable of altering the arrangement of a tune spinning off a record on the turntable platter. The selector skillfully inflicted a completely different sound context on a roots reggae recording by manipulating the controls on the sound system’s amplifier to briefly remove the bass on a tune, accentuate the singing of the song’s vocalist, and highlight the harmony of trumpet, saxophone, and trombone. The selector would create tension in a live remix by bringing back the bass booming like a compact implosion.
By the ’70s, the selector had the ability to vary the sonic texture of the recording by creatively deploying reverb and echo chamber to repeat the sweetest elements of a vocal or horn solo and as a special sound effect that dramatized certain aspects of the recording with a live feel.

American Electronic Music Owes It All to People of Color



Kool Herc’s approach to creating something fresh from pre ­recorded funk on vinyl was different because he used two turnta­bles. But his approach was similar in that he shared the same objec­tive as the selector, which was to do a live remix of the record to heighten the entertainment of his audience. He extended the intox­icating rhythmic feel of percussive conga, bongo, or trap drums sizzling the break of records like Mandrill’s “Fencewalk,” the Incredible Bongo Band’s “Apache,” and the live version of James Brown’s “Give It Up, Turn It Loose” by playing the same record on two turntables using a sound mixer to seamlessly prolong the per­cussive breakbeats.

Herc pioneered the innovative use of two turntables and a sound mixer as active instruments that became more than passive facilitators, more than just pieces of electronic equipment that merely played what was recorded on vinyl.

Invention Hot Spot: Birth of Hip-Hop in the Bronx, New York, in the 1970s


These electronic instruments were now used to rearrange pre­recorded music to suit the immediate needs of the disco and the dance floor. When DJ Kool Herc rocked a block party, dispatching African­ American funk with the overwhelming sonic power of a reggae sound system, no other deejay dared to compete.

Kool Herc’s party flyer



Text from:
Dubwise : reasoning from the reggae underground
Chapter: Raggamuffin Rap: The Interconnections of Reggae and Hip-Hop
Author:
Klive Walker, 2005.

On the many faces of Rasta: Nyabinghi Order

Michael Barnett in his 2005 essay “The many faces of Rasta: Doctrinal Diversity within the Rastafari Movement” gives description of main branches of Rastafari: Twelve tribes of Israel, BoboShante and Nyabinghi Order.
First part of the chapter on Nyabinghi Order also goes into the origins of Rastafari dreadlocks:

The Nyahbinghi Order

This Mansion is the oldest of the previously mentioned in that it has its roots strongly connected to those of the vintage Rastafari.

The Nyahbinghi order is generally regarded as the most orthodox mansion within the broader Rasta movement and is variously known as the House of Nyabinghi, Theocracy Reign Ancient Order of Nyahbinghi, the Theocratic Government of Rastafari, Haile Selassie I, and even the Theocratic assembly.

The term Nyahbinghi according to Campbell came from the anti -colonialist movement of Kigezi in Uganda which called for death to Black and white oppressors.

The University of the West Indies Report, details that on the 7th December 1935 the Jamaica Times published an account of the Nyahbinghi Order in Ethiopia and the Congo.
According to this account in the Times, the Ethiopian Emperor was head of the Nyahbinghi Order, the purpose of which was to overthrow the white (Italian) domination of Ethiopia, by racial war.

According to the University Report the term Nyahbingi came to mean in Jamaica, for many Rastafari, death to Black and white oppressors.
Those who were in accord with this ideology quickly adopted the title, Nyah-men (alternatively spelt as Niyamen).

What is clear from the University Report is that Leonard Howell’s followers at Pinnacle were perceived by the researchers to be the most prone to violence of all the Rastas in Jamaica; they further argue that from 1933 Howell had been preaching violence, thus they surmise that it was mainly Howell’s followers who adopted the name, Nyahmen, and who appropriated a countenance that was consistent with the name.

Howell’s followers are also credited by the University Report to have been the first dreadlocked Rastamen (locksmen) in the history of the
movement, appearing on the scene with the second installation of the Pinnacle camp in 1943.
However, according to Chevannes , the first dreadlocked Rastamen were those of the Youth Black Faith movement, who took on this appearance in about 1 947. In weighing both accounts this researcher proposes that there is validity in both, on the basis that it is highly possible that both the Youth Black faith Movement and the Howellites were inspired by the Mau Mau who spearheaded the revolt against the British colonial powers in Kenya.
This perspective takes into account that much of the early history of Rastafari is derived from oral testimonies and is thus subject to distortion, as Chevannes so astutely points out.


However, while Ras Boanerges (Bongo Wato), one of the founders of the Youth Black Faith has given testimony that his organization was the first to start wearing dreadlocks, this writer feels that there are too many accounts of Howellites who used to stand guard over the second installation of the pinnacle camp, having dreadlocks, to be discounted.
What we do know is that by the early 1950s the wearing of dreadlocks starts to become visible among the Jamaican Rastafarian community and this very noticeably coincides with the prominence of
the Mau Mau in Kenya.

Was this merely a coincidence?


From:

The many faces of Rasta: Doctrinal Diversity within the Rastafari Movement
By: Michael Barnett
Source: Caribbean Quarterly, Vol. 51, No. 2 (June 2005)



The Sharpest and The Sickest – STEP – Jah Billah Rmx

On sound and fear

Sound is often understood as generally having a privileged role in the production and modulation of fear, activating instinctive responses, triggering an evolutionary functional nervousness.
The power of sound to instill dread was well known to the heavily outnumbered Maroons, the tribal nation turned guerrilla fighters who claimed a number of astounding victories in their asymmetric conflict with the English colonialists in Jamaica during the
late eighteenth century.
The abeng, a fashioned cow horn, had two uses: by slave holders to call the slaves to the cane fields and a “traditional form of communication among the communities, warning them and sending messages across difficult terrain.”

The Maroons used the  abeng in tandem with their other special techniques—drum communication, the ambush, and camouflage—in order to outwit the British: “They embedded themselves in leaves and vines and melted into the surrounding bushes. The
British repeatedly walked into clearings where their surroundings would suddenly come
alive and close in on them.”

The abeng, as a system of communication, produced signals “reproducing the pitch and rhythmic patterns of a fairly small vocabulary of Twi words, from their mother language, in most cases called Kromantin (Maroon spelling) after the Ghanaian port from which many slave ancestors were shipped.”

Sentries stationed outside the villages would  use the different pitches to communicate the British approach, the extent of the weapons they carried, and their path. But the abeng also had another affective function: to scare the British with its “hideous and terrible” dislocated tones, sometimes managing to repel the invaders with sound itself. Gradually, as the British learned to assign a cause to its shrieking, high- pitched sound, their terror of Maroon ambush only intensified.

Found in 1738: Bad Vibrations, from:
SONIC WARFARE Sound, Affect, and the Ecology of Fear, by Steve Goodman.
Massachusetts Institute of Technology. 2010.

On Bob Marley’s Lambs Bread

“A Jamaican scientist is recreating a ‘supreme’ marijuana that was smoked by Bob Marley in the 1970s before it was wiped out the following decade during the American war on drugs.

Amid mangos, lychees and other jackfruit, Dr Machel Emanuel has planted a field of cannabis plants measuring dozens of square meters in his lab in the botanical garden of the Biology Department at the University of the West Indies in Kingston.

His specialty: landrace cannabis, which grew naturally in Jamaica before it disappeared as a result of human intervention.”

From: Lost variety of ganja smoked by Bob Marley before it was wiped out during war on drugs is being recreated by expert who wants Jamaica to market marijuana ‘like Champagne in France 
Image source: AFP/Getty Images

Jah Billah – Holy Dub ft. All Your Favorites

Jah Billah dubs Holy Mountain, hottest tune right now ushering a new era of dub music. Track featuring All Your Favorites: DJ Khaled, Buju Banton, Sizzla, Mavado, 070 Shake and late and great Billie Boyo.

On African music and transculturation

African music forms and rhythms that emerged in the Americas constituted a beat that has “always threaded back to Africa.”

In the words of the Caribbean poet, Edward Kamau Brathwaite, the middle passage created “bridges of sound” that carried memories of Africa to the Americas, music that echoed down the generations from “Harlem” to “Havana.”

Individual islands in the Caribbean and the mainland diasporic slave communities in the Americas shared the basic rhythms (and some instruments) derived from Africa. But these were fused with the instruments and rhythms of the cultures with which African slaves interacted, a process that the Cuban ethnomusicologist Frederick Ortiz termed “transculturation.”

Trinidadian calypso and parang, and the samba and son rhythms in Cuba (son was a modified, more refined version of rumba which became popular in the second half of the nine- teenth century) combined the structure and elements of Spanish canción (song) and Spanish guitar with African rhythm and percussion instruments.

Son, samba, rumba, and other Latin and African-Caribbean dances influenced salsa. In the Southern U.S., the European fife and drum convey some of the rural music that has the most authentic African rhythms.

The fife and drum are also the basis of Jonkanoo music in Jamaica (Jonkanoo is a Jamaican Christmas tradition, incorporating African traditions going back to the days of slavery).
This incorporation of European instruments and music forms demonstrates how Africans in the diaspora subverted the dominant culture and asserted positive African identities. Slaves played for their master and learnt European instruments and rhythms but these became syncretized into popular folk music (defined as played with acoustic
instruments). Jamaican mento draws on the fife and drum of Jonkanoo, Pocomania (an African-Christian revivalist cult) and church music, the European quadrille, and slave work songs passed through the generations.

Musical forms in different parts of the diaspora have also retained purer African elements where percussion instruments and call-and-response vocals predominate. Examples here include rumba in Cuba, Rastafarian Nyabhingi in Jamaica, and the Kongo and Yoruba music found in African-derived religious sects such as Kumina in Jamaica,
Shango in Trinidad, Haitian Voodoo, and Cuban Santeria. Such music was performed “beyond the ken” of whites during slavery and continues to be associated with peasant or urban working-class cultures.

From:

Barbara Bush (2006) African Echoes, Modern Fusions: Caribbean Music,
Identity and Resistance in the African Diaspora, Music Reference Services Quarterly.

Image source:  Nyabinghi Drum Circle with Wolf

On Emperor Haile Sellassie I as the Living God

The doctrine that Ras Tafari known to the world as the Emperor Haile Sellassie I of Ethiopia, is the Living God, was developed by several persons independently.

Of these Mr. Leonard P. Howell is genuinely regarded as being the first to preach the divinity of Ras Tafari in Kingston. Howell is said to have fought against King Prempeh of Ashanti (1896), and claimed to speak an African language.

‘The Promised Key’, a basic Ras Tafari text, published in Accra, Ghana around 1930, shows clear evidence of Jamaican authorship. (Jamaica Times 28th May 1938).

Howell also spent several years in the north-eastern U.S., where he came into contact with black and white racism.

Another early preacher was Mr. Joseph Nathaniel Hibbert. Mr. Hibbert was born in Jamaica in 1894, but went with his adopted father to Costa Rica in 1911, returning to Jamaica in 1931. In Costa Rica Mr. Hibbert had leased 28 acres, which he put in bananas. In 1924 he had joined the Ancient Mystic Order of Ethiopia, a Masonic society the constitution of which was revised in 1888, and which became incorporated in 1928 in Panama. Mr. Hibbert became a Master Mason of this Order, and, returning to Jamaica, began to preach Haile Sellassie as the King of Kings, the returned Messiah and the Redeemer of Israel.

This was at Benoah District, St. Andrew, from whence he moved to Kingston to find Howell already preaching Ras Tafari as God at the Redemption Market.  Mr. H. Archibald Dunkley is another man who may claim to have brought the doctrine to Jamaica. Mr. Dunkley was a Jamaican seaman on the Atlantic Fruit Company’s boats, and finally quit the sea on the 8th December 1930, when he landed at Port Antonio off the s.S. St. Mary. Coining to Kingston, Dunkley studied the Bible for two-and-a half years on his own, to determine whether Haile Sellassie was the Messiah whom Garvey had prophesied. Ezekiel 30, I Timothy 6, Revelation 17 and 19 and Isaiah 43 finally convinced him.

In 1933 Dunkley opened his Mission, preaching Ras Tafari as the King of Kings, the Root of David, the Son of the Living God, but not the Father Himself. Other early preachers include Robert Hinds, who joined Howell, and Altamont Read who turned his following over to one Mr. Johnson when he became Mr. N. W. Manley’s bodyguard about 1940.

Found in: HISTORY OF THE MOVEMENT, from:
The Rastafari Movement In Kingston, Jamaica. PART 1
Authors: M. G. SMITH, ROY AUGIER and REX NETTLEFORD
Source: Caribbean Quarterly, Vol. 13, No. 3 (September 1967)

Image source: Colin Edward Murray Art

On One-drop

This unique drumbeat can be found in all genres of post-1960 Jamaican popular music, but, when used in this relatively slow and relaxed style of reggae, it provides a significant challenge to performers unfamiliar with Jamaican popular music. During my first attempts to play over this drumbeat, there was a constant urge to count the third-beat emphasis of the kick drum and side-stick as the first beat of the measure. The absence of the rhythmic anchor, normally provided by the kick drum on the first beat of the measure in most European and North American rock/pop music, was initially disconcerting.

Although the one-drop employs the hi-hat, to maintain the motion of the beat during the course of the measure, it is often performed with rubato, forcing the other rhythm section players to establish a timing reference from a rhythmic cycle that can be measured in bars.
The unique nature of this drumbeat demands that the performers in the rhythm section collectively share the responsibility of establishing and maintaining rhythmic motion and stability. It is in this context that the challenge of playing competent reggae guitar becomes most evident.

Found in: Jamaican Rhythmic Perception, from:
Ray Hitchins (2013) Rhythm, Sound and Movement: The Guitarist as Participant-Observer in Jamaica’s Studio Culture, Ethnomusicology Forum.

On Haile Selassie as God and King

“I know that the Jamaicans are here because of our king,” Daniel Wogu, an eighteen-year-old student and Shashemene inhabitant working toward acceptance in a medical program, told me. “They believe that he is sent from God to save them or make the black people free from slavery. They have their own history,” he continued. “As I have learned
from Ethiopian history, they say that our king went to their country to visit and there were some unexpected happenings. There was rainfall or something. They say then that this proves that Haile Selassie is not actually a man, but is God.”

Henock Mahari, an Ethiopian reggae musician born and raised in Addis Ababa, the city where he still lives and works, said something similar: “He was once in Jamaica and it hadn’t rained, and then it did rain. They accepted him as a God because of this miracle. They see him as a messiah and call Ethiopia their Promised Land and leave their home to come here and finish their life here.”

In a general discussion with my hundred-strong English language class at the Afrika Beza College, a female student told me that “Jamaican people live in Shashemene and they like Ethiopian people very much because Haile Selassie went to their town and at that time there is no rain. When Haile Selassie got there, there was rain. So, after that day, Jamaican people like Ethiopia very much.”

Shemelis Safa, a high school teacher in the town, had a similar explanation for why Rastafari move to Shashemene:
As I know, Haile Selassie went to Jamaica. It was very dry and they needed rain. Unfortunately, when this king arrived in Jamaica, the rain came. There started a superstition, a belief—“oh this is a good person,” they said. Their famous singer Bob Marley and other leaders told the people that the King is a very nice king and Ethiopia is very nice, so they associate the king with their religion. . . . Haile Selassie is from the Solomonic dynasty and they consider Haile Selassie God, so they respect him more than the people in Ethiopia.
We Ethiopians saw Haile Selassie as a king—a man who made many mistakes and did some good things.

Found in The Miracle Story, from Chapter:
Christianity and the King, Marriage and Marijuana.
Book Title: Visions of Zion: Ethiopians and Rastafari in the Search for the Promised Land
by Erin C. MacLeod. NYU Press. (2014)
Image source: African Kings and Queens and world Kings and Queens in forum Deshret at EgyptSearch Forums.