Waterhouse Vibes                    

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Waterhouse has contributed so much to Jamaica's rich musical landscape, that any history about modern Jamaican music would not be complete without mention of Waterhouse. If, as it is often said that, “Trench Town is the root of reggae music,” then Waterhouse must be the strongest branch of that tree. It is from the fertile ground of Waterhouse where a lot of great innovation of the music took place.


The 1970s (Early Beginnings: The Golden Years)
During the 1970s there was a musical explosion, the likes of which was never before seen (and perhaps was only seen again in the 1980s). This explosion saw the emergence of the new innovation on Jamaica's musical landscape; a new genre came to prominence. The name of this new sound was “dub;” which was primarily adding new effects (fading and delaying) as integral parts of the remix/version. The architect that laid the foundation and set the ground rules of this new experiment that was later popularized as ‘dub’ music was Osbourne “King Tubby” Ruddock.

King Tubby was a radio technician who repaired amplifiers and fixed sound-systems. He later built his own sound-system, King Tubby’s Hi-Fi; and eventually established his own studio on Drumalie Ave., in the Waterhouse area, in the early seventies. By the mid-seventies, his innovation became an integral part of popular music. Ruddock became an engineer who was in high demand. He worked with the likes of producers like Lee ‘Striker’ Perry; and singers such as  John Holt, Delroy Wilson, Johnny Clarke, Cornell Campbell, Linval Thompson, and other great hit-makers of the time; who all relied on King Tubby’s (and came to Waterhouse) for this innovative sound. By the late seventies, however, King Tubby’s own hands-on involvement with remixing began to slacken, as he turned attention instead to training up and coming engineers and producers, and began to make an addition to his studio. Prince (later King) Jammy and Scientist were two of his more successful apprentices.

Black Uhuru
Another high point of Waterhouse contribution to the musical landscape that’s worth highlighting is the rise to international prominence of the legendary group Black Uhuru. The group (whose composition has been through a number of members), established themselves in the 1970s, with their debut album Love Crisis which was produced by King Jammys in 1977.   As the 1980s beckoned, roots-reggae were running out of steam; music was becoming more commercial and record companies demanded a fresh approach to production. The drum and bass team of Sly Dunbar and Robbie Shakespeare had the talent and ideas, to lead that transformation. After launching the Taxi label they worked with several top-flight reggae acts, among them was Black Uhuru. Sly and Robbie became the driving force behind this group from Waterhouse that by then was marketed by Island Records, the same company that helped to break Bob Marley’s music internationally. Sly and Robbie helped to fashion the group’s raw, and edgy sound which yielded a number of hits (like Shine Eye Gal, General Penitentiary, Plastic Smile, Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner and later the mega-hit, Solidarity, which earned them ( Jamaica’s and reggae’s first) Grammy award.

The 1980s (The Dancehall Explosion) 
Lloyd Prince Jammy James would later help to pioneer another format that would be called ‘dancehall’. This format was a more computer-generated beat; utilizing a rhythm originally discovered on a Casio Rhythm Box, and was popularized with Jammy’s 1985 production of Wayne’s Smith’s “Under Mi Sleng Teng” (a rhythm that was co-composed by Wayne Smith and musician Noel Davey on an inexpensive Casio keyboard and literally transformed the music scene in Jamaica); ushering in yet another defining stage of the development of popular music (that once again came out of the fertile bowels of the Waterhouse community). 
The Sleng-Teng rhythm, with its infectious beat, became one of the most predominant features of the dancehall format for the next decade. It ushered in a new set of rhythms, and launched a new set of stars into orbit; among them were Wayne Smith, Junior Reid, Half Pint, Admiral Bailey, Shabba Ranks all homegrown talents from the wider community. It encouraged the birth of a new generation of both producers and sound system as well; and once again, it all started in Waterhouse.    With the furor that “dub” created, during the seventies, a similar explosion re-occurred. Once again the emergence of a new musical genre came out of the fertile bowels of the Waterhouse community. The popular genre we now call 'dancehall' was actually innovated in Waterhouse. During the 1980s, Jammy’s Waterhouse studio was the place to be. Jammys worked with and mentored some of the dancehall's biggest artistes. He was the most successful producer of the genre’s digital age. Lloyd “King Jammy” James was awarded an Order of Distinction by the Jamaican government in 2006 for his outstanding contribution to music.

EPICENTRE of DUB and DIGITAL MUSIC (The Modern Era)     

Following the recent revelation by that the EDM genre is a product of Jamaica; the article traced the origins of EDM music to the late great Jamaican engineer-producer-selector, King Tubby. The article further outlines that EDM DJs who dissect and otherwise manipulate their tracks while playing live are following an innovation established by King Tubby. EDM music is currently estimated as being worth billions. However, there are no notable Jamaican artistes who practice the genre, aside from collaborations with Major Lazer, or Busy signal’s Bumaye, Damion Marley’s Mek It Bun Dem, and a few others, are some of the efforts featuring Jamaican artistes (but all produced by foreigners).
EDM is unquestionably Jamaican in its origin, and Waterhouse without any doubt is the epicenter of that creative energy. King Tubby originated the concept of the remix (by eliminating the vocal and instrumental segments and leaving only a thunderous, drum-and-bass line which he embellished with echo and reverb effects). This became known as dub music, and with it the associated production techniques a new way of song composition was established; and therefore all early example of EDM, such as house music, ambient, trance synthpop, drum and bass, and techno can trace their origins in the musical laboratory (of King Tubby) in Waterhouse community.


EDM also borrows from digital dancehall, which is among the first EDM in the mid-1980s, and once again Waterhouse became the epicenter of the electronic music revolution when Noel Davy, along with Wayne Smith (and later King Jammy) reintroduced the preset sample of a song on a Casio keyboard to the world as digital dancehall music. This jump-started the digital age of Jamaican music.  All genres that fall under the EDM category (such as dubstep, grime, trap drill, garage, techno, house, reggaeton, zimdancehall, qwaito, and ambient) are progenies of dub and dancehall, both of which emerged from the fertile ground of the Waterhouse community.  

It is this music tradition that we celebrate, showcasing the best in Jamaican rude boy music, reggae, and dub music.  Welcome and enjoy the vibes! You can also check us out at YouTube  


Don't Stop   Musicing!