In 1985 vocalist Wayne Smith and producer Prince Jammy revolutionized reggae music with Under Me Sleng Teng, the first fully computerized riddim. From then on nothing was to be the same on the Jamaican music scene.
The genre digital reggae is usually referring to reggae produced in the mid 80’s to the early 90’s, and this genre has had much exposure during the last couple of years. Several great, and often obscure, titles have been reissued by labels such as Dub Store Records and DigiKiller. You have to have a heavy wallet if you want the original 7” instead.
Luckily enough there are a number of producers, musicians and artists that have been inspired by digital reggae and produce their own material with a contemporary touch, often with devastating bass lines.
One such outfit is Scotland’s Mungo’s Hi Fi, a soundsystem that now follow up on their 2008 album Soundsystem Champions with Forward Ever.
On this 16 track set they have invited 14 guest vocalists – mainly from Europe – to showcase their skills on dub-infused bass heavy riddims. Sometimes in a ska style, such as the versatile Soom T’s jazzy Bad Bad Boy, or the dubstep wobbling Dem No Like It where Omar Perry handles the microphone.
Forward Ever also includes classic riddims. The Sugar Minott dubplate Scrubadub Style is based on his tune Dancehall Style and revitalizes the Heavenless riddim.
Mr. Williamz rides another relick. This one is the Diseases riddim. He chats on technology improvements and how it has affected the music business.
With this fascinating and forward-thinking set Mungo’s Hi Fi shows how digital reggae sounds in the 21st century.
Forward Ever is available as CD, 2xLP and digital download.