Posted online: Apr 02, 2009 at 0002 hrs
: Delhi’s first collective of Reggae artists is sending a big shout out to music lovers
Two weeks ago when Kardinal Offishall was in Delhi everybody expected “Canada’s hip-hop ambassador” to start the show with Dangerous, his hit single with Akon. But Offishall wowed Delhi’s unsuspecting audience with his reggae-dancehall influenced rap. Mohammad Abood, 22, who was in the audience, smiled, the evening was testimony that Delhi was ready for reggae. This evening, head out to the Living Room Café at Hauz Khas Village and sample Roots Reggae, Dancehall, Ragga, Lovers Rock, Ska, Ragga Jungle and Dub Music, courtesy Delhi’s first reggae collective, Reggae India.
Reggae originated in Jamaica in the late 1960s and is characterised by three kinds of drumbeats: One drop, Rockers and Steppers. Reggae lyrics range from love, religion, poverty and social injustice. Abood, along with friends Priyanka Singh, Raghav Dang and Zorawar Shukla, has set up Reggae India, which aims to spread the magic of reggae music and all it’s sub-genres in the country. “We all went to international schools and we’ve been listening to this kind of music. After that, we went our separate ways, to universities abroad and now that we’re back in India, we want to let people here get a taste of all the reggae we’ve been lucky to have heard and watched live abroad,” says Shukla, 24, who along with Dang, 25, has recently returned from university abroad and joined hands with Abood to form the collective.
Singh, one of the rare female DJs in the city, was playing reggae nearly seven years ago at Pluto’s, Vasant Kunj, and although other DJs such as Grenville and Tony played reggae as well, but unlike hip-hop, the music never really caught fire with Delhi’s party crowd.
When I meet them at the venue a day before, they’re fixing the console, using spray paint to splash red, yellow and green over the wood. Thursday evening will see a whole night devoted to reggae, with Jamaican food on the menu but don’t make the mistake of thinking they’ll be playing Sean Paul tracks. “There are several misconceptions about reggae and it’s not just Bob Marley. People enjoy
reggae music without really being able to discover it, we’d like to change that, with events such as these,” says Anisa Nariman, 24, reggae lover and a member of the growing number of people joining the reggae movement. And now is a good time. Gone are the days when a gig meant only rock and metal; in the past two years, electronica has hit the city and DJs are coming out of the woodwork. “Everybody wants to be an electronic DJ now and although it’s good news for the city’s music circuit, the Live music scene suffers. Reggae is about both DJing and Live music,” says Shukla.
Reggae India has some plans up its sleeve and as ambitious as they sound, the collective has worked out a practical way to infuse Delhi’s music scene with a healthy dose of reggae. “We’d like invite reggae lovers, musicians to collaborate with us. Come with a saxophone, a drum kit and you’re on. We’re arranging more outdoor events, reggae is perfect for the summer, with a barbecue and a pool. We’d like to get RJs on popular English music friendly stations such as 95 FM and Meow Radio to play reggae tracks at a particular time slot too,” says Abood. But the first thing they’re working on is their very own track, tentatively titled The New Delhi Bus Stop Rhythm. “Using the traffic jam noises such as horns, general yelling, engine starting sounds, we’re infusing some reggae flavour and with a little mixing, we have a desi reggae tune,” smiles Abood. Bring it on.