Reggae and dancehall records produced or released in Boston have been a point of interests for me for quite a while now. Never the main focus of my attention when I go into a record shop, its the local 12″ and 45s on labels like Hot Tip or Mastermind that often catch my eye and end up being irresistible to take home (not just because they’re the cheapest things in the bins) . The appeal is not so much that these records represent a little-known regional dancehall renaissance, or a treasure-trove of forgotten killers, but instead the way that they create (in my mind anyway) an imagined geography of the city–filling spaces on a patchwork of names, sounds and images. The stamps from different record stores and the familiar streets and neighborhoods written on the labels helps to reinforce the feeling of putting together a puzzle with each piece of wax.
There’s not a whole lot written about Jamaican music in Boston (noteworthy exceptions) but it would be great to hear the stories of some more of the artists, producers and the people involved with sound systems like Evertone and Capricorn Hi Fi. Not only would I love to learn more about the scene in my hometown, but also in places like Connecticut, New Jersey, Miami, Montreal, even Washington (whats the story behind Ricky Hillocks’ Tele-Tech imprint for instance).
In the meantime here are two Boston releases that I have enjoyed recently–the first from Danny Tucker, backed by Lloyd Parks and We The People and recorded at Harry J studio in Kingston: “Our Fathers Land” (with dub). This one is taken from Tucker’s Changes LP–one of two releases that I can find info for on Twigze Dee Sounds. The other being a 45 by the name of “Take us Home” which I would love to get my hands on. Next up is a fine example of the hip-hop/ragga crossover stuff that was really big here in the nineties. Dancehall producer/artist Ande C teams up with the all-female rap group C2K for an ode to ‘the Ave’: “Blue Hill“. The flipside of this 12” also features Ande C over the same rhythm with a more dancehall-style cut called “Blue Hill Sexy Girls”. People from the area will pick up on all of the references to places on and around Blue Hill Avenue–something which sets this record apart from most of the local dancehall recordings I’ve heard which tend not to say too much about Boston itself.
Some of the labels that I know of in the area
Zion (20 Hamilton St. Dorchester, MA)
Hot Tip (530 River St. Mattapan, MA)
MJH Records / MJH Music (25 Bailey St. Dorchester, MA)
Mastermind (750 River St. Mattapan, MA)
Juanita (503-b Washington St. Dorchester, MA)
Mukasa Records (Washington St? Boston, MA)
Twigze Dee Sounds (121 Evans St. Dorchester, MA)
This is definitely not an exhaustive list–there are a few more records that are in storage that will add a few names–so I will try to update this page when I find them, and if you read this and know of any more please let me know.