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Brixton and music
For years, Brixton (located in southeast London) has been somewhat of a refugee camp for displaced musicians of African descent. Fela Kuti's old stomping ground in the '60s, Brixton has since become ground zero for the rebirth of Afrobeat, the pan-African crossbreed of funk, jazz and tribal rhythm that Kuti pioneered after returning home to Nigeria. Long-time Fela collaborator Dele Sosimi also set up shop here after leaving Nigeria while the Shrine, a regular session of live and DJ-spun Afrobeat, makes its home at the legendary Fridge club on Brixton Road.
Current British hip-hop sensation Roots Manuva is from the Brix. So are the Stereo MCs. But take a walk around the neighborhood when it’s at its loudest and most distinct—while the open-air markets are doing business—and the sound you will notice, above all else, is reggae. Home of the UK's largest Caribbean population, Brixton is naturally the headquarters of Britain's surprisingly large reggae contingent. While its contributions to the reggae charts might not be that memorable, the dub reggae that's been coming out of here in the last two decades is simply the best dub that's come from anywhere during this time span. Granted, most people know that Senegal-born Mad Professor and his Ariwa Sounds studio and record label are based out of Brixton, but Brixton's dub certainly doesn't end there.
It was in the streets of Brixton that I first heard, from a street vendor, a dark, primal sound that my friend Jay and I came to call "evil dub". A few weeks later, at a music festival in Brighton, I found out the source of the sound I had become infatuated with: The Jah Shaka Sound System. Never had I felt music vibrate so deeply within my body. The bass-heavy sounds were felt physically as much as they were heard. I went to the festival to see James Brown, Lee Perry, and the Souls of Mischief, but what I remember distinctly is one thing: trying to get high off of shitty weed while feeling that bass rumble in my chest. Jah Shaka is considerably less known in America, but not because his recordings don't translate as well when amplified through a less-impressive sound system, although that is certainly the case. The Jamaican-born Shaka is unknown here because you can't find his records. There are three, though, that I have found on this side of the pond, so these will be discussed in detail.
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