Soundsystem legend Jah Shaka has died.
A regular here in Bristol and at the legendary Teachings In Dubs Sound system Clashes, the lost of Jah Shaka will be greatly missed. The system pioneer was born in Jamaica, part of the post-Windrush wave of Caribbean immigration which so enriched this country. Based in South East London, he melded the Rastifarian term for God with the legendary Zulu leader to become Jah Shaka, spearheading one of the city’s most popular sound systems.
A by-word in cultural excellence, Jah Shaka paid supreme attention to sound, giving his system a boost that others lacked. Tapping directly into Jamaican culture, he also looked to the UK, becoming a focal point for African-Caribbean communities in London and beyond.
A key player in bass culture, Jah Shaka featured in seminal 1980 film Babylon, and stayed true to the spiritual elements inherent within dub and roots reggae even as Jamaican music strayed towards the more lavish colours of dancehall and ragga.
An inspirational figure, his influence – both direct, and more subtle – arguably changed the face of British music. Grime pioneer Wiley, for example, recalled sitting outside a Shaka dance in the 80s, feeling the Earth rumble under his feet.
Countless producers, DJs, and MCs worked with Jah Shaka over the years, testimony to his spirit, and his ability to draw the best out of those around him.
News of Jah Shaka’s passing was confirmed by a number of sources.
Peter D Rose from Smith & Mighty & More Rockers said: “Was an honour to tour with him around Japan as More Rockers in 1997. Truly an end of an ERA”.
Peter will be doing a tribute show on Ujima, watch this space for more information
Jumpin’ Jack Frost added: “The king of Kings has left us. The greatest soundman that ever lived.”
Farewell, Jah Shaka – enjoy your next journey.
Jah Shaka with Peter D Rose & Rob Smith – More Rockers