When two sounds go to war: David Rodigan details his life as a sound clash King - - Mixmag

When two sounds go to war: David Rodigan details his life as a sound clash King

Read an exclusive extract from Rodigan's new book

  • Words: David Rodigan | Images: Gobinder Jhitta, Frantzesco Kangaris, Jamaican.com
  • 13 April 2017
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Ricky left the dance and the revered owner of the Killamanjaro system, Noel ‘Papa Jaro’ Harper, apologised to me and said he had tried to stop Ricky as soon as he started talking about race. Mr Harper, who founded the sound in 1969, naming it after Africa’s highest mountain, is a veteran of clashes over many decades, and he knew that tactic wasn’t going to work.

Years later I got to know Ricky better. When he wasn’t doing that nonsense he was a great selector. He said to me that I didn’t realise how tough it was for him. I was a white man from England, and if I lost a clash I could go back home undamaged because people would know I was first
and foremost a radio DJ. He asked me to consider his position. If he lost and returned to Jamaica as a black man playing on the legendary Killamanjaro sound, he would be taunted with: “Bwoy, you let white man beat you?” He said it was much harder for him. “Yeah, but you didn’t have to do that,” I said.

A couple of weeks later we had a rematch called ‘Come to Settle a Score’ in Fulham Town Hall in London. It was another epic struggle and was eventually declared a draw. I pulled a wicked dubplate on Ricky recorded for me by the dancehall artist of the moment, Red Rat, who had a huge hit called ‘Wrigleys’, which was another jokey song about dental cleanliness. The dub was customised and I told my opponent, “Trooper, don’t chew on my name like Wrigleys!” It ripped the town hall apart.

Rodigan: My Life In Reggae by David Rodigan with Ian Burrell is out now, published by Constable

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