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Back To Bassics by JJ Stratford

Since their inception in Jamaica during the 1940s, soundsystems have become an integral part of music culture and instrumental in the birth of reggae, bringing music to the masses in a way dancehalls couldn't. These large mobile discotheques placed high currency on low-end bass and overall volume. Once on the lawn, these often homemade systems would clash with rivals' systems for prizes and ultimately (and more importantly) the audience's respect. That tradition continues to thrive today in England, where UK soundsystems still burn on.

Photography and research by JJ Stratford
With assistance from David J. Weissberg 

 


KILLER WATT
Owner: Gary Shaw
Trivia: Megaman and MC Romeo of So Solid Crew met when they performed on the same Killer Watt carnival soundsytem in 1999.
Music Played: dancehall, dub, 2-step, R&B

 


GLADY WAX
Owner: Gladwin Wright
Year Started: 1973
DJs: Mr. Vinyl Fingers (Glady Wax), The Man from Handsworth (Lumba), Tighten Up Crew, DJ Cello
Music Played: "Wicked ska and roots selections to take you right on to Zion"

 


THE MIDNIGHT EXPRESS 747
DJs: Aston, Lightening and Mickey
Speaker Setup: three speaker setups facing center (10,000kw)
Year Started: 1973
Music Played: reggae, ragga, soul and soca 

 


ONE LOVE
Owner: Steve One Love
DJs: Steve, Dego Rans, and Sratchylus
Year Started: 1986
Speaker Setup: 16 Bass Bins (10,000 kw), 12 double mids with a selection on horns, bullets and tweeters on top section
Music Played: "One Love is predominantly a reggae soundsystem that entertains people and suits any occasion (dancehall, club, house party, private party, street party, etc). One Love is known in the UK as the 'year to year' sound; we also play around 30% soul and R&B remixes—whatever it takes to keep the crowd happy."

 


CONFUSION
Owner: Magic
Year Started: 1984
DJs: Magic, Xdream, Youngscout
Music Played: 1970-80s soul classics, R&B, garage, drum & bass

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