In the early 80’s, slightly behind the UK and US, digital keyboards and especially drum machines hit Jamaica. As is so often the case, these new instruments spawned a new sound.
This new style took some of the sounds of reggae but dropped much of the warm roots flavours that had been dominant for more than a decade in favour of a much more raw stripped down sound. The rhythms dropped the syncopation that had been prevalent in favour of an older five stroke afro-cuban rhythm style similar to “la clave”. Dancehall was born.
The new sound also used the reggae technique of having different singers releasing tracks on the same backing track or riddim. This promoted the riddim as DJ’s or ‘Selectors’ played more than one track on the same riddim at once.
The Stalag and Sleng Teng were Key early riddims and have stood the test of time to become classics. Subsequent artists such as Tiger, Supercat,Yellowman and Cutty Ranks soon became superstars as this new infectious sound hit the shores of Britain and the US.
Many of these early digital Dancehall tracks are highly sought after by collectors and the style has gone down in history as a turning point in Reggae music.