Doing things the Digital way

Observer senior writer

Sunday, February 25, 2018

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While serving an apprenticeship at the studio of producer Lloyd “King Jammys” James in the late 1980s, engineer Bobby “Bobby Digital” Dixon felt it was the right time for him to branch out on his own.

“I learn enough by dat time fi sey, 'if yuh can do it fi Tom, yuh can do it fi yuhself',” he told the Jamaica Observer.

Dixon's timing was spot on. He had a stellar 13-year run as a producer going into 2000 with Da Real Thing, Sizzla's outstanding, hit-laden album.

During that time Dixon produced a number of hit songs by Shabba Ranks ( Peenie Peenie, Just Reality, Live Blanket and Wicked In A Bed), Cocoa Tea and Admiral Tibet ( Serious Times), Garnet Silk ( It's Growing), Sizzla ( Black Woman and Child) and Morgan Heritage Don't Haffi Dread (song and album).

This month VP Records released a double compact disc reflecting on that golden period. This evening Dixon will be honoured by the Jamaica Reggae Industry Association during its annual awards show at Courtleigh Auditorium in St Andrew.

“I feel proud 'bout everything. Over the years yuh try to be better than before an' maintain a sound what grown on people. Di greatest thing is when a man hear yuh song an' can identify it same time…him jus' sey 'a Bobby song dat',” he said.

Dixon, who is in his mid-50s, thrived in the 1990s, which many music insiders consider the golden age of dancehall. The genre birthed a flood of creative artistes, producers and impresarios who attracted major labels from the United States.

The years he worked at James' Waterhouse complex served Dixon well. He credits Jammy's steady guiding hand for his evolution from a “technician who coulda do a thing” to a meticulous engineer and producer.

Self-taught, Dixon hails from Olympic Gardens, which borders Waterhouse. He got the link with James in the early 1980s when the latter's studio was the hottest spot in dancehall — a hit factory where the genre's biggest names recorded.

Many of the hits James produced back then has Dixon's touch on them. He was the engineer for Frankie Paul's I Know The Score and Sara, Pinchers Denise; and Admiral Bailey Jump Up.

Quick to point out that he is not against technology, Dixon is unapologetic about his preference for recording the old-school way.

“Nowadays artiste talk to much 'bout 'send mi di file'. Mi not into dat…mi like work with people face to face in a studio so wi can feel di energy,” he said. “Dat way, mi can say, 'yuh can do dat better' if it necessary.”

Dixon's breakthrough as a producer came with Shabba Ranks, whom he first met at James' studio. He has production credits on the deejay's As Raw As Ever which won the Grammy Award for Best Reggae Album in 1992.

He rates Shabba among the best artistes he has worked with.

“Dem man deh exceptionally great; dedicated. Him not leaving the studio until him get things right,” he said.

Over 20 music industry personalities will be honoured during this evening's ceremony.




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