Words by DJ Gravy—
Back when New York was a dangerous and cutting edge city, before the homogenization, and when reggae and its byproduct, hip hop, were still getting aquainted, a group of bright kids who went to the esteemed Stuyvesant High School together put a group together called the Skadanks.
The Skadanks were actually the first live reggae band I ever saw in concert back at the famed NYC venue, Wetlands in ’94. They had a strong local following, and had just released their debut LP, Give Thanks on Elektra. Going to their shows back then was a special experience. The mix of Rastas, shottas and hippies created a unique atmosphere, one I’ve never seen recreated. Seeing this white, blonde-haired deejay Rocker T and the respect he got from other artists and the crowd was pretty moving to young kids like me.
Flash back a few more years to ’91, before Snow, the Skadanks got some production courtesy of KRS-One for their debut single “Everybody African,” and filmed a video in Washington Square Park that really captures the look and feel of NYC in those days. While “Everybody African” is definitely not my favorite Skadanks record, (See “Friends,” “911” and “Let Them Be Fed”) it seems to be the only music video they ever put out. Pushing this Afrocentric/Rasta ideology and the fact that, ultimately, everyone IS African is still pretty powerful, but it certainly was back then.
Over the years the Skadanks band (Ricky, Alex, JJ & Cliff) have backed up just about everyone in reggae—they support Supercat on the rare occasion when he performs, and their Cannabis Cup Band band with High Times photographer/drummer Gabe Moses perform at annual events each year like Holland’s annual Cannabis Cup and the Bob Marley and Peter Tosh birthdays at BB King’s. This Monday, April 30th, the band are doing a reunion event with longtime collaborators Jamalski, Ras Droppa, BBC Hi-Fi and more at S.O.B.’s. Hosted by the lovely Pat McKay, it should be an enjoyable trip down memory lane for old-time fans like me and hopefully some newer fans, like you…