The Bass Culture exhibition opened daily from the 25 Oct until Nov 22nd opposite Madame Tussauds (Baker St tube), at the Ambika-P3/ University of Westminster. It included films, talks, DJ’s, live acts + Soundsystems sessions.
The exhibition is staged by Bass Culture Research, a three-year Arts and Humanities Research Council funded project set up to explore the impact of Jamaican music in the UK. The project made headlines last year for its work on The Grime Report, which led to the withdrawal of Form 696, a controversial risk assessment form criticised for being discriminatory and targeting genres such as grime.
Partners of the exhibition include the AHRC, Black Cultural Archives, British Library, SOAS, Goldsmiths, Winkball, University, Urbanimage and Camera Press.
Mykaell Riley, Principal Investigator and Director of the Bass Culture Music Unit at the University of Westminster, said “This is the story of the soundtrack to multiculturalism, a hidden history that is still impacting on new music.”
We recently initiated one of the first comprehensive studies on public attitudes towards grime music. Led by events and distribution company Ticketmaster, and one of the UK’s leading voices in grime, Disrupt The State of Play: Grime Report was made public October 11th 2017. It assesses the impact of the genre on the mainstream, and reveals its growth, challenges, cultural impact, political influence and more.
Read the full report here
Watch the full State of Play: Grime report video, featuring Posty, Ghstly XXVII, Novelist, Skitz Beatz, Leilah ‘Lilz’ Singh, Kieran Yates, Double S, and Bass Culture Research lead Mykaell Riley: Watch
Welcome to the Bass Culture 70/ 50 Conference at Goldsmiths
This event celebrates 50 years of reggae music in the UK and the lasting legacy of the Windrush generation and their children on the sound and look of British culture. It includes contributions from leading authors, photographers, musicians, DJs and reggae record shop owners and will include the screening of interviews, discussions, music, presentations, bookstand and a reggae history walk in New Cross. We will also have music provided by Goldsmiths resident sound system courtesy of Sound System Outernational.
The event is part of the Bass Culture Project led by Mykaell Riley (University of Westminster) which is a three-year AHRC-funded exploration of the impact of Jamaican and Jamaican-influenced music on British culture, covering the period from the mid-1960s to the present day. The research explores the profound ways in which the island’s music remade popular music in Britain – and was fundamental in the emergence of multi-culture in the British city and redefinition of the post-colonial nation. The history, transformation and explosion of reggae music will be showcased through the Bass Culture exhibition taking place from 25thOctober– 23rdNovember 2018 at the Ambika P3 Marylebone Road, NW1 5LS – and will be open to all.
For today we have also developed a Reggae Map of New Crossthat you can follow on Google maps. Itwill give you a sense of where we are and reggae’s rich history in this part of London including photographs, videos and music.
The map can be found on our Twitter @BmruUK
11.00amBass Culture 70/50. Professor Julian Henriques– welcome to Goldsmiths and Mykaell Riley introducingthe day and the significance of reggae’s half century on shaping British culture and will include 4/ short interview segments from the Bass Culture Oral history project.
11.30 –12.20 pm Documenting Reggae History – chaired by Mykaell Riley
Dr Kenny Monrose ethnographer and lecturer in criminology and criminal justice
Dr Simon Jonesand Paul Pinnock (Robbo Dread) Birmingham Soundsytems
12-30pm – 1.20pm Fashion and Flyers – chaired bySara Elharrak
Omolara Obanishola – Fashion lecturer & MA Fashion Cultures: London College of Fashion Victor Romero EvansStix Man.
Break 1.30pm- 2.15pm or Reggae Walking and Reasoning– tour led by Les Backand Lez Henrythrough iconic local places in SE London’s reggae history – Shaka Culture shop, 51 Storm house parties, Eve Studios, the New Cross Fire, Black People’s day of action, Lewisham Way and Moonshot Youth Club.
2.15-3.10pm‘In praise of Black female sound system operators’ chaired by Caspar Melville
Nzinga Soundz (DJ Ade and Junie Rankin) & Pearl Boatswain (Dubplate Pearl).
3.15-4.05pmSound Reasoning: Inside 1980’s Reggae Dancehall Style – chaired by Les Back
Anna Arnone(documentary photographer, author and publisher of ‘Sound Reasoning’ a book of photographs and interview excerpts from her archive) and Jessus James Augustus(Sir Coxsone Outernational Sound System Engineer, Designer and Record Producer, 1979 to 1995) will talk about their experiences and work in the UK Reggae Sound System scene in the 1980’s.
4.05pm Tea break?
4.30 – 5.30 pm. Bass Culture Today – A living tradition or heritage work?
Chaired by Mykaell Riley?
Asher Senator, Duke Peckings, Aleighcia Scott
Biography of Presenters:
Anna Arnoneis a documentary photojournalist whose work explores themes of community, culture and identity. Anna exhibited her work (including Sound Reasoning and the Italians) in solo and group exhibitions at venues in the UK and abroad. She, along with Lesley Butler, documented the Brixton Festival in the early 1980’s. Anna’s Reggae and Sound work was published mainly in [Black] Echoes although she freelanced for other magazines (she was a regular contributor to City Limits and her work was used by Spare Rib) and organisations. Despite Anna’s work being leading edge it wasn’t embraced by mainstream White arts and media. She became a housing campaigner, retrained, then worked as a Barrister for a decade. Anna recently resumed photography, her passion, marking her return by publishing Sound Reasoning; the book is a compilation of photographic and interview work from her 1980’s Sound System archive. She is currently working on new projects.
Jessus James Augustus has been immersed in Reggae and Sound Systems since his youth growing up in Reading where in 1974 he set up Jah Rockers Sound, which he operated until moving to Brixton and joining Sir Coxsone Outernational Sound in 1979. He became Sir Coxsone’s engineer and designer, responsible for ensuring that the sound was right in every session. Jessus co-founded Sir Coxsone Outernational Music (S.C.O.M.) record label,
co-producing the 1984 classic, Jah Screechy’s, “Walk and Skank”. Jessus was with Sir Coxsone until 1995, working with such Reggae legends as Tenor Fly, Super Cat, Ranking Dread, Earl 16, Sister Nancy, Barrington Levy to name but few as well as UK greats Smiley Culture, Asher Senator, Horseman, Jah Screechy, Bikey Dread, Levi Roots and many others. Jessus is currently a producer and sound engineer at JJ’s Studio in Clapham South London and he continues to work with artists like Jah Screechy.
Victor Romero Evans aka Supavicbegan his career in the 1970s and has worked extensively on stage, screen, radio and as a recording artist. Victor has had notable success in the British Reggae charts scoring No.1 hits which include the anthemic Lovers Rock hit ‘At The Club’ and in 1983 he was signed by Epic Records. Victor was a founder member of the Black Theatre Co-operative and appeared in many of the company’s productions. He has appeared in West End shows toured the UK, Toronto and Miami with the hit musical The Harder They Come. Victor is also a founder member of the acting troupe ‘The Posse’ formed in the early 1990’s and has recently performed in the critically acclaimed show the ‘Lovers Rock Monologues’ , The show, penned by Victor, celebrates the 70s and 80s, golden years of Lovers Rock.
Dr William ‘Lez’ Henry was a Deejay during the 1980s and performed as Lezlee Lyrix on SE London sound systems and recorded for Greensleeves, Music of Life and also his own Ghetto-Tone label. He made the transition from the lyric book to the ethnographic fieldnote book and completed a PhD in sociology on 80s reggae lyrics as the hidden voice of black London. This was published in 2006 as his book ‘What the Deejay Said: A Critique from the Street!’ He is the author of numerous books and is one of the most insightful public commentators on issues of race and racism. He is Associate Professor in the School of Law and Criminology at the University of West London.
Dr Simon Jones
Simon Jones is senior lecturer in Information Systems at Middlesex University. He has written on popular music, youth culture, information technology and ethics, and is the author of “Black Culture, White Youth” and “Scientists of Sound”. He has worked as a publicist in the reggae music industry, and has lectured at various universities in the USA.
Omolara Obanishola is a London based lecturer and course leader within the subject of Fashion and Contextual studies, with a background in photography, styling, set design, art direction and fashion retail. More recently she has focused her attention to academic research covering fashion education, youth cultures and the creative industries. Currently undertaking an MA at London College of Fashion her thesis examines how fashion and dress within the lovers’ rock scene may have been a symbolic mediator to social and political oppression.
Paul Pinnock aka Robbo Dreadwas a founding member of ‘Scientist sound system’ and a major figure in Birmingham’s sound system culture for over 35 years.
His love for reggae music and sound systems steamed from his youth and his youth club days at Claremont road in Birmingham. It was when he met one of his mentors in 1979, Lloyd George Blake, he got to work with some of the best reggae artists on the planet, including Dennis Brown, Gregory Isaacs, Sugar Minott, Black Uhuru , Culture, U Roy , Prince Lincoln and the Royal Rasses. He has been a promoter and a community activist for many years and he’s devotion to youth work continuous.
Dr Kenny Monrose is an Ethnographer and Lecturer in Criminology & Criminal Justice. He holds a PhD in Sociology from the Department of Sociology at the University of Essex. Dr Monrose is the author of Black men in Britain: A portrait of the Post Windrush generation, due for publication in 2018. He is a founder member of The Rappademix, performing arts collective.
Nzinga Soundz, June Reid and Ade Rosenior-Patten – Women in Sound
Nzinga Soundz was established in the early ‘80’s by DJ Ade (Lynda Rosenior-Patten) and Junie Rankin (June Reid) and has become one of the UK’s longest running, all women sound systems. Their music selection is wide ranging spanning Reggae, Soul, Soca, African, Latin and Jazz.
In addition to concerts, corporate, private and community events, the sound have supported many artists which include; The Mighty Diamonds and Burning Spear.
The sound has played at events across the UK as well as Gambia and Barbados.
In 1989 DJ Ade and Junie Rankin established and hosted a popular community radio show on SLR Radio which featured interviews with Reggae artists including Ziggy Marley, and Augustus Pablo.The duo have contributed to panel discussions and supported events on the theme of women’s contribution to the sound system movement.
They have presented and contributed at a number of Reggae conferences, including The Reggae Research network, Bass Culture, “Let’s Play Vinyl” at (Goldsmiths University); “Rockers, Soul Heads & Lovers, Sound Systems Back in the Day and “Reggae Innovation and Sound System Culture” (Birmingham City University) in April 2018.
Dubplate Pearl This West London born DJ grew up in Shepherds Bush and now lives in East Dulwich. She was Musically influenced by parents who listened to jazz, soul, calypso, pop and reggae. She is part of Camberwell Connection with Mr Swing Easy and has monthly shows on Balamii Radio. Her firstwarm up set with Bushmaster Sound System (of Shepherds Bush) at a dance in Hammersmith in May 2010 lead to a spiral of appearances, recent events being, Women of the Ghetto Project at CSOA La Strada and Sally Brown Rude Pub in Rome, Italy.
Duke Peckings Price is an award winning reggae record producer and along with his brother Chris Peckings, runs the well-known Peckings Records shop of Askew Road, Shepherd’s Bush, London, which was established by their father George Price in 1960. The brothers have been running the record store for over 20 years. In 2004 the brothers launched their own Peckings reggae label, which has released a number of hit songs including Bitty McLean’s Walk Away From Love, Heaven in Her Eyes and Put The Stereo On by Gappy Ranks.
Asher Senator of South London started deejaying at the age of 14 at house parties and then on the Buchanan Sound Systemalong with his sparring partner Smiley Culture. Together they went on to deejay on sounds such as Black Harmony and Frontline before joining Sir Coxsone Outernational and most famously Saxon Studio International in the early to mid 80’s. In 1985 he headlined in the first part of a clash series with deejays from Jamaica and England contesting each other. He is one of the founders for the MC scene of breaking through in reggae with lyrics with the English accent. The first volume of JA To UK Clash featured Asher and Johnny Ringo. His album Born To Chat, was released In 1986.
Asher is now author of the book Smiley and Me’ and CEO of a mulitimedia and mentoring charity for young people called Code 7”.
Photo by Vernon St Hilaire. Capital Letters signing contacts at the Shepherds Bush Greensleeves shop 1978. Chris Cracknell & Chris Sedgwick (right). Courtesy of Greensleeves Records.
A pair of reggae-focused daytime events will bring together the Arts and Humanities Research Council-funded Reggae Research Network and Bass Culture Research projects.
Day 2 of Reggae Futures is being organised by Bass Culture Research. We will mark the mid-way point of our research with a series of presentations from individuals that demonstrate the grassroots energy and activity within the subject area. Beyond the academic community amateurs, fans and artists are busy writing books, making films, organising personal archives. It’s an exciting period and it suggests that Reggae Futures are bright. The day will also include discussions on women in Bass Culture, and on the economics of Bass Culture.
Thursday Nov 2nd @ Senate House, London
Friday Nov 3rd @ Regent St Cinema, London
• Sunday November 19th 2017. 11 – 2pm
• Upstairs at the Ritzy in Brixton
• Free. Booking required.
• For more information and to register click here