Dub: The Medium Is The Message

In the 1970s and 80s, while Jamaican reggae was becoming just about the most successful music ever to emerge from the African Diaspora, the genre was being transformed at its source in Jamaica’s Kingston slums. “Dub” is a magnificent, jury rigged appropriation of reggae music, a remarkable nexus of technological evolution and cultural paradigm shift. From its origins in the late ’60s, dub led directly to early rap and hip hop, and the post-modern, sample-based DJ culture that has reigned ever since. In this Hip Deep special, Yale ethnomusicologist Michael Veal spins the discs and guides us through the story as dub changes from a re-mix technique into a canon of original material in which the studio itself becomes a creative instrument. We explore the music and legacies of King Tubby–father of the “remix” concept–and Grammy-winner Lee “Scratch” Perry, a Bob Marley mentor and the man responsible for dub’s international rise. Perry’s Afro-Futurism lives on today, in part because it is such a powerful metaphor for the cultural reality of displaced people everywhere.