The 1980’s remains one of the most under-heralded periods of the Jamaica’s musical history. Despite the fact that the decade saw the introduction of the digital production, fast-paced MC’s, and aggressive attitudes that would do much to define the path taken by nation’s music over the next two decades, the 80’s themselves are something of a lost period, neither organic enough for fans of roots reggae nor able to provide the gleaming electronic rush that is the currency of modern dancehall. Hopefully, Beth Lesser’s newest book, “Rub-a-Dub Style: The Roots of Modern Dancehall,” will do something to bring this period to greater attention. Certainly few writers are better positioned to do so; Lesser is not only the the author of three previously published books on reggae/dancehall [“Dancehall: The Rise of Jamaican Dancehall Culture,” “The Legend of Sugar Minott & Youth Production,” and “King Jammy,” the latter coauthored by Steve Barrow], but also a talented photographer whose pictures offer a window into the musical life of 1980’s Jamaica. Fascinatingly, Lesser has taken the uncommon approach of making the entire text of the book available as a free download, a gift in honor of the people of Jamaica and their culture. Starting May 30th, the download will be available from her website. The book will also be available from Amazon and other E-Book venders for the price of one dollar.
An excerpt of the book can be read here.
To get a taste of Beth’s taste in Dancehall, check out this playlist of her top 10 dancehall essentials (from Largeup.com)
All photos were taken by Beth Lesser.
– Sam Backer