Diplo shares his Kingston dancehall diaries with Vanity Fair
Diplo, our favorite advocate of a more globally-minded form of dance music, has kept a bit of a running travel log with Vanity Fair over the last eighteen months. In his latest installment, the American producer and DJ steps out into the world of dancehall in Kingston, Jamaica with photographer Shane McCauley. Dancehall, in case you’re unfamiliar, is a “beat-heavy descendant of reggae” as Vanity Fair puts it. Diplo seems to travel back and forth between Jamaica and his home base in LA to work on new music with quite some frequency and he writes to us in his latest photo essay of some of the scene’s more notable intricacies and main characters. Check out some of the photos below and click through to see the full slideshow on Vanity Fair.
“Scene from the infamous Wednesday-night party known as Passa Passa. The gathering happens every Wednesday and has been known to go until eight a.m.”
“From a Sunday night party at Tuff Gong Studios—the studio owned by Bob Marley’s family.”
“It’s a web of producers, promoters, labels, Web sites, and D.J.’s that keeps the music flowing and that navigates hits from the studio to the world market. Creep Chromatic (shown here) is a local D.J. from the Portmore Society that has always been busting new tunes from these artists. In fact, it was Chromatic who pushed “Pon de Floor” from the Major Lazer album cut into being a certified street anthem in 2010, at the Vybz Kartel weekly party, called Vybz Thursdays. These younger D.J.’s like Creep Chromatic are not afraid to introduce new tunes—their finesse at pushing the wave of dancehall trends is remarkable. I’m always taking cues and inspiration from their style.”
“The dancehall parties are still the breaking ground for new music. Before radio, before promos, and before a label has put together a marketing plan, a record can move from the studio this afternoon straight to the party, like at Sunday’s all-day Igloo party at Sugarman’s Beach. With the right ingredients, this tune can become the hype of the weekend—and then move into next week with more momentum. Within a week, everyone on the island knows it; with a video, it can go worldwide with a strong concept—a dance, or new fashion, or slang.”
“Dancehall remains the main cultural export form Jamaica right now, and though it’s probably making less money, it’s having a worldwide impact, with places like Japan, England, and Germany selling out concerts countrywide. The Kingston streets remain the catalyst for the sounds, the trends, and the lingo in this dynamic world, and while the industry keeps shrinking, the business-minded artists keep looking for new ways to reach audiences with sponsorships and YouTube rips—getting the music out at a breakneck pace, all of which continues to influence the rest of the world.”