IRD toasts hip hop


IRD toasts hip hop

Wednesday, May 27, 2020

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JAMAICA'S connection with American hip hop will be the main focus of International Reggae Day (IRD), celebrated on July 1, according to conceptualiser/producer Andrea Davis.

“Each year we highlight different chapters of our music legacy and salute individuals, institutions, and milestones important to the growth and internationalisation of Jamaica's music culture,” Davis told the Jamaica Observer yesterday.

“And this year, the theme is 'From Jamrock to Hip Hop', and we will highlight Jamaica and its connection with the hip hop culture. We will salute Jamaicans and others who have been instrumental in the growth of hip hop worldwide,” she continued.

IRD will laud the contribution of rap stars as well as Jamaican deejays. This year's list of honorees comprises Jamaican Kool Herc, Biggie Smalls, Heavy D, Busta Rhymes, Pepper (from the rap duo Salt and Pepper), The Fugees, Super Cat, Shinehead, Beenie Man, and Bounty Killer.

Kool Herc (given name Clive Campbell) is credited as the founder of hip hop. He migrated from Kingston with his family to the Bronx in New York City at age 12.

In the 1970s, Kool Herc began experimenting with the instrumental portion of songs which emphasised the drum beat — the break — and switched from one break to another.

Using the same two-turntable set-up of Jamaican sound system selectors, he played two copies of the same record to lengthen the break which helped give birth to hip hop.

Biggie Smalls, Busta Rhymes, Pepper, and Heavy D all have Jamaican roots. Smalls, 24, was shot and killed in Los Angeles in 1997, while Manchester-born Heavy D, 44, died of a pulmonary embolism in 2011.

The 24-hour virtual party will include a mixture of live performances, deejay/selectors, panel discussions, and media specials.

“It's part of the Jamaican story. We want to acknowledge and celebrate the influence of the Jamaican culture,” said Davis, who added that discussions will be streamed live on IRD social media pages from Kingston, Nassau, New York City, Miami, Los Angeles, Honolulu, Toronto, London, Berlin, Bali, Lagos, Nairobi, Beijing, San Salvador, and Mexico City.

“In London we will be examining the impact of Marcus Garvey on reggae music, while in New York the discussion will be centred around 'From Jamrock to Hip Hop',” she said.

One of Jamaica's seven National Heroes, Garvey, was a Pan African, publisher, journalist, and entrepreneur. He was the founder and first president-general of the Universal Negro Improvement Association. Garvey, 52, died in England in June 1940.

Davis, who started IRD in 1994, said there is still time for media and interested brands to participate in this year's celebration.

Fans can support the event by logging on and playing Jamaican music as well as posting their favourite songs using #thisismyreggae.

Now you can read the Jamaica Observer ePaper anytime, anywhere. The Jamaica Observer ePaper is available to you at home or at work, and is the same edition as the printed copy available at




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