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Raggamuffin Reggae and the Golden Age

Hip hop and dancehall have always been cousins- the legendary Bronx-based Cool Herc was famously a Jamaican immigrant, and although it took hip hop’s massive US popularity to make rapping explode worldwide, DJ’s were clearing toasting over dubwise beats for years beforehand. Yet despite these links, the two genres have had divergent histories- sometimes existing in close sync, and sometimes having relatively little to do with each other. In the past year or so, dancehall has come back “in” with a new generation of US rappers (the question of whether this “influence” is a matter of style or substance is an argument for another time), a development which has in turn provoked a look back to a previous era of crossover- namely the early 90’s “raggamuffin” stylings that (primarily) flowed through New York’s multi-ethnic communities.

A longtime fan of this particular era, Wayne Marshal (who has worked with Afropop on several Hip Deep Programs) teamed up with fellow musicologist Pacey Foster to drop a comprehensive mixtape of the style. And because they are, you know, into the writing about music side of things as well, the duo has published two separate articles about the project. The first, in Cluster magazine, discusses the relationship between dancehall and rap in further detail, picking apart the soundscape carnivalesque of the genre’s early party-rocking styles. The second goes into detail about the exact composition of the mix- not to mention linking to all sorts of related content elsewhere (including our recent program on Jamaica in NYC).

OR, if all this writing is too much? You can jump right into the mix.

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