The Central American nation formerly known as British Honduras celebrates independence twice in September. First on September 10th — St. George’s Caye Day —a holiday commemorating the 1798 battle that saw the ragtag Baymen defeat the heavily armed Spanish. And then there is Sept. 21, when Belize celebrates its independence from British rule, first earned in 1981, with its annual Carnival parade. Collectively, these two days and the weeks surrounding them make up what’s known as the September Celebrations — Belize’s festival time.
For a musical perspective on Belize Carnival, we reached out to longtime LargeUp family DJ Rampage Global and his Rampage Sound Global massive. Rampage — long-time DJ for Ms. Lauryn Hill, and an integral part of the Dubwise movement — founded RSG as a youth in Belize and has grown it into an international platform since relocating to the U.S. With Rampage Sound’s newest member, DJ Enroute, on the decks, RSG assembled this mix featuring patriotic anthems, all-time Belize classics, and a few modern soca tracks to round out the Carnival vibes.
Listen/download Enroute and Rampage’s September Celebration mix here, read up on the September Celebrations here, and read on below for our interview with Rampage and Enroute.
Carnivals go on for months but internationally speaking they usually only get to “claim” a week or a weekend. Why does Belize get a whole month?
Rampage Global: September is a major milestone for our nation, Belize. The 10th of September is recognized as a day of victory, from the war against the Spaniards. At the time, The Baymen (Belizeans) had to go to battle to keep the land, this battle took place on St. George’s Caye. Spaniards came with guns, Baymen had pocunu boi sticks and machetes, and won. This happened in 1798. In addition, we gained independence on September 21st, 1981 from English colonial rule.
Carnival as I know it is a one-day celebration/road march in Belize. As a youth, groups from across Belize would come out in numbers to compete. Best costumes, road march group, things of that nature. Sound systems would string up, all frequency thumping through the streets. Bringing out all ages, and walks of life. Calypso plays a big part of our culture. From the days of Lord Rahburn, Calypso Rose and other icons in Belizean music, and culture. Carnival is one of the many events on the calendar for September.
What are the origins of Rampage Sound Global?
Rampage Global: Sound system culture has been, and still is, a big part of Belizean culture. I was always fascinated by it, and it found me. I grew up around legendary sounds coming out of Belize — Stone Jam, Unity Sound, Belizean Movements, Stereomatic, Lindy D, Bones & JrJ, Presi D. These were the lethal sounds as I was growing up. I came up under Lindy D and Stone Jam. I learned the skill from them both, and from being around the scene. I wanted to form my own army, that was my gold from dem time.
I worked in Stone Jam’s record store throughout high school, doing everything from customer service to stocking shelves, and also being able to practice. He gave me a break one Friday to play on an official radio show. He had a show on KREM, Belize’s independent radio station. It was a big deal for me, playing live, having the entire nation hear say that a youth is out here with a future.
From that point until now, my mother supported what I envisioned, and I departed to live in the U.S. with her to “make the dream.” I attended, and became a part of the Scratch Academy NYC staff, learning, teaching, performing all over the U.S. That allowed me to open up to different genres, and cultures. I met Yos, Dj Fatfingaz and Micro Don in NYC. We formed what is now known to the world as Rampage Sound Global.
How long has DJ Enroute been a part of the crew, and how did you connect?
Rampage Global: I met Enroute in a very unique sort of way. He is family now. He is of Belizean roots, not to mention his versatile, youthful yet disciplined approach to the artform. I was scouting for a youth to run things, and Jah have a way of making things work out in time. He has been a part of the Global sound station for two years now.
Rampage Global: Punta, brukdown, calypso, soca. Enroute and I collectively put it together, From my end, more of an insight or the order. The first track being our national anthem, it continues through patriotic anthems, the diverse music of Belize, and soca representing for the carnival element of celebration.
The first track that comes in after the National Anthem is from Calypso Rose. What do you know about this song? What’s her connection to Belize?
Rampage Global: Calypso Rose is originally from Trinidad & Tobago. As a child we would go see her perform live in the parks. She is an icon for many in the Caribbean. She help bring attention to Belize, Belizeans and our culture through her music. I see her as one of us. Over the years I’ve observed the respect between Belize and T&T culture. Which is good. Something all Caribbean, and world nations should do.
Towards the end of the mix you move from patriotic Belizean songs to current soca out of Trinidad? What was the idea? What are the connections between Belize and Trinidad?
Rampage Global: Soca is huge in Belize. Greater than our own music, and culture to date. Soca music is the driving frequency behind road march, and fete. We dedicate that portion to the true bacchanalist.
You are currently based in L.A. Talk a little about the Belizean community and culture in LA/California? Where can people find a slice of Belize in LA?
DJ Enroute: The Belizean culture in Los Angeles is pretty big. You can get a little slice of the Belizean community in a three-mile radius of Western and Exposition, where there are a lot of local restaurants.
What’s next for Rampage Sound Global? Will you be in Belize this year for the celebrations?
Rampage Global:Stay tuned, no secrets until all is fact.
Catch DJ Rampage Global on tour with Ms, Lauryn Hill and Nas this September and October. Go to @RampageSoundGlobal (IG) for updates, events, mixtapes, and more from DJ Rampage Global and DJ Enroute.