Zulu Warrior, Dub Extremist
January 24, 2008 7:09 AM   Subscribe

Jah Shaka, self-styled Zulu Warrior, has run one of London's top reggae sound systems for nearly 40 years. Playing rare dubs on a hand built, awesomely loud sound, creating earthquaking bass and exorcising tops. Shaka stuck with the conscious Rastafarian message through a lean 1980s, while most of his contemporaries turned to dancehall and ragga. He was rewarded in the 90s with a new following and countless musicians and producers claiming him as an inspiration. Despite burning his hands in a fire and having his equipment stolen and being nearly 60, he is still playing, inna king david style.
posted by criticalbill (18 comments total) 26 users marked this as a favorite

 
Wow. That's a fuckload of links.
posted by LordSludge at 7:16 AM on January 24, 2008


My God, it's full of links.
posted by deadmessenger at 7:17 AM on January 24, 2008 [2 favorites]


It's links, all the way down.
posted by cashman at 7:30 AM on January 24, 2008 [2 favorites]


Oh my god, it's like you vomited links all over the front page:p
posted by hadjiboy at 8:08 AM on January 24, 2008


rewind!
posted by the_very_hungry_caterpillar at 8:15 AM on January 24, 2008 [1 favorite]


http://www.google.com/search?q=Jah+Shaka
posted by smackfu at 8:24 AM on January 24, 2008 [2 favorites]


I attended the Notting Hill street festival back around 1999. Buncha flatbeds pounding awesomely loud music into the narrow streets; everyone drinking Red Stripe. I'll bet he was there.
posted by ZenMasterThis at 8:30 AM on January 24, 2008


As a much younger Fool, I went to see Jak Shaka with people who at the time seemed rather old and knowledgeable about many things my quiet rural upbringing had not hinted at.

It was something of an eye-opener.

I couldn't see clearly across the room (which I think was called the Mandela Hall) for the dense clouds of sweet smoke and the crowd contained a mix of subcultures, many of which I had never even encountered face to face. What they had in common was a certain reverence towards the slight figure delicately handling his precious vinyl.

The sound system at times seemed to be the real star, towering over us all and Jah's role then was simply interceding to this monster, ensuring an unending supply of bass that seemed to penetrate to the marrow. I swear, there were speakers in that sound system that appeared to be repurposed fog horns.

I'm very happy to hear he's still at it.
posted by Busy Old Fool at 8:37 AM on January 24, 2008


New school: Lemon D and Dillinja
posted by PeterMcDermott at 8:55 AM on January 24, 2008


Only new school relative to Jah Shaka, those guys have been around for like 12 years already.

Nice post BTW.
posted by pascal at 9:09 AM on January 24, 2008


Always seemed a shame that (in the early 90s at least) Shaka, Mad Professor, Scientist and the like all got pushed into a particularly badly thought of student dub ghetto. I only saw the Shaka sound system a couple of times, but it was never less than an experience. I still dig out a couple of his LPs from time to time too. Like 95% of dub it can plod on monotonously (without artificial consciousness enhancing) for 40 minutes only to suddenly reach a short burst of absolutely sublime, apparently-improvised beauty. Lovely stuff.
posted by bifter at 9:23 AM on January 24, 2008


I have a pile of links about Saxon I was planning to make an FPP of at some point, also referencing Babylon. Link there is to a mini-site about the film which isn't in the FPP (AFAICT). Thanks criticalbill.
posted by Abiezer at 12:55 PM on January 24, 2008


Yessss! Utterly brilliant post. Made even better by the fact that I've had something similar on the backburner without the time to do it...

Shaka is The Don. A friend of mine used to design flyers for Culture Promotions (Shaka's promoters - last but one flyer at the bottom of the first link & the last 4 links of the post) in the early 90's and so I got to Shaka dances a lot more than I would have been able to afford back then. So many good memories...and his sound system is just so well built & set up...

At a 3-day party in Brighton's Stanmer Park he was the sole performer in the second marquee for a whole day. I met Chris Eubank enjoying the sounds but the best comment was from my friend Paul who was the drummer with the Dennis Bovell Dub Band (playing that day with Linton Kwesi Johnson) - 'Y'know, every dread respc' Shaka because he is the Don an' ting but man, his sound is so heavy it never lets you go. I gotta try and walk away just to think.'

Last time I saw Shaka was a relatively short 3-hour set on the last day of Bestival on the Isle of White at the end of the summer. Unfortunately the logistics of getting his sound to the island meant that he had to use the stage PA but it was so good to hear him.

I think the reason that his sound got a bit sidelined was because he always stuck to his roots and played conscious sounds which were the main thing back when he started but as time went by the main sound got more Digital & then Ragga.

Nominated for Best. MeFi. Post. Ever.
posted by i_cola at 1:55 PM on January 24, 2008


I enjoyed this FPP, thank you.

Props to Peter McD for bigging up the legendary Valve Sound System, as well.
posted by First Post at 2:27 PM on January 24, 2008


Where's my speaker porn? I want to see the speakers!!
posted by flaterik at 3:51 PM on January 24, 2008 [1 favorite]


I own 60 plus Dub albums and I never heard of this guy!! Agh!!

There goes my next paycheck.

THANKS!!
posted by black8 at 6:50 PM on January 24, 2008


I too want to see the speakerporn and hand-built system. (But the musical links are awesome, too.)
posted by loquacious at 7:20 PM on January 24, 2008


Man, great post!
posted by humannaire at 12:51 PM on January 27, 2008


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