Wha Gwaan: Listen to Afropop Worldwide’s NYC Reggae History Lesson

Words by Emily Shapiro—

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Afropop Worldwide, the long-running syndicated radio program and online magazine dedicated to highlighting the contributions of Africa and the African Diaspora to music and culture, yesterday ran an hour-long program about the history of Jamaican music in New York City.

Produced by Afropop’s Saxon Baird, the segment featured guests like producer Lloyd “Bullwackie” Barnes, DJ Jeremy Freeman aka Scratch Famous of Deadly Dragon Sound, and our bredrin, artist Screechy Dan, discussing how widespread migration and cultural phenomena like gang culture influenced the production of reggae music in NYC from its early stages in the 1970’s Bronx through the 1980s. In the ’80s, big-name artists like Barrington Levy came to studios like Philip Smart’s HC&F (in Freeport, Long Island, just outside of the city) to record some of their biggest tunes, while Barnes, meanwhile, cultivated a unique, distinctly New York reggae sound on his Bronx record label Wackies.

It’s a great story, whether you’re a New Yorker or not. Listen below, stay tuned to the always informative Afropop Worldwide, and check out some of our own features delving into the history of Jamaican music in NYC here, here and here.