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88Nine Radio Milwaukee

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Dancehall Goes Digital

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Sound Travels this week has been charting the evolution of Jamaican dancehall in steps; first we heard the early cats, then we had the second wave of toasters from the late 70's and early 80's and today we continue on into the 80's and catch some cuts that I'd call digital dancehall. What makes it digital? Well it was really all about the technology, and the introduction of synthesizers and beat machines that would take dancehall into a new dimension.

It was actually Kassav,' an Antillean band that first brought synths to the caribbean, introducing the whole area to what was possible on the new MIDI-driven technologies, being the first in the Caribbean to record digitally. In Jamaica, experimentaion on Casio MT-40's had already started the shift, and you can hear it on Horace Ferguson's "Sensi Addict" and on Conroy Smith's "Dangerous," you can hear the drum machine getting an early workout on riddims.

Horace Ferguson "Sensi Addict"

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Conroy Smith "Dangerous"

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Of course it was none other than the legendary King Tubby who brought it all together in a crystalizing moment working the digital sound to perfection with Wayne Smith on the crucial tune "Under Mi Sleng Teng." From there, I hit you with a couple of other big tunes from some of those digital days.

Wayne Smith "Under Mi Sleng Teng"

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Cutty Ranks "A Who Seh Me Dun"

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