Words by DJ Gravy, Photos by Anthony Andrada and Kevin Ornelas
I’ve been seeing The Roots for a long time. The first time was in ’95 at The Knitting Factory. Since then they’ve become, well… The Roots. And just as I thought a dope Caribbean music and lifestyle channel would be great on Okayplayer, for years I’ve envisioned dancehall artists on stage with The Roots. I even hit up the music booker at the Fallon show about it. As many musical acts as the band backs up (just about everyone), few Jamaican or reggae artists have been among them, save for a handful like Jimmy Cliff and Toots. It may be extra ironic as almost half of the group have Jamaican, well, roots.
Last night, LargeUp got to bring my vision to fruition by inviting some of dancehall’s most legendary artists to sit in with the Roots as part of the annual Okayplayer Holiday Party. Rahzel started things off and went right into some West Indian bad-boy talk about BK, Queens and White Plains Road, followed by a re-enactment of the Bangarang riddim with some ill dancehall beatboxing. (Those who’ve caught the Roots with Rahzel in NYC before have possibly seen a similar routine). The Godfather of Noise then brought Shaggy out, which literally sent the crowd wild. Mr. Lover Lover brought his right-hand man Rayvon on for some combination tunes like “Angel” and “It Wasn’t Me,” then Patra (!!!) came out and did “Romantic Call,” while Red Fox and Mr. Easy joined in with some serious heat. All in all, it was some live jugglin the likes of which many in the crowd had probably never seen.
Black Thought thanked LargeUp for coming through with the all-star reggae lineup and after the show I did notice DJ Questlove spinning more dancehall records than I’d ever heard him play before. Coincidence, I think not! (Oh, and look out for video of this historic event here soon.)