Dancehall Report
Sounds : Killamanjaro, Jah Sound Int., Selassie I Soundcrew & Uphill Sounds
Place : Hof Ter Lo ~ Antwerp ~ Belgium.
Date : 09 - 06 - 2000

After the rather successful start of series of Dancehall events, which featured London's number one discjockey, the renown David 'the Genleman Rudebwoy' Rodigan, Antwerp based recordshop "Doctor Vinyl" - initiator and promoter - engaged one of Jamaica's best and longest running Sound Systems, 'Killamanjaro', to appear at Dr. Vinyl's First Birthday Bash, which took place at 'Hof Ter Lo', Antwerp, Belgium, on Friday 9th June 2000.

Although local sound systems "Selassie I Soundcrew" and "Uphill Sounds" were engaged to start and end Dr. Vinyl's 1st Birthday Bash, it can't be denied that, of course, main guests Jah Sound International from Holland and Jamaica's Killamanjaro were the Sounds that made that some 300 Dancehall fans from Belgium and Holland found their way to Hof Ter Lo. Among the people that were in the house one could find selectors and MC's from Sound Systems like 'Bass Culture', Back To Bass', 'Bong Productions' and - voted "Dutch Champion Sound For The Year 2000" - RUNN Sound, just like everyone else present eager to hear and see one of Jamaica's best known Sounds in action.
But first...Jah Sound International : not just a Sound, but also - as they themselves state - more of an organisation. Jah Sound International, with MC Glamma Willy, have started their Sound in 1989 and meanwhile have supported such artists like Luciano, Culture, Beenie Man, Bounty Killer and Buju Banton during their live performances in Europe. One of Jah Sounds' most memorable moments was playing alongside Soul Bunch at Parkway Upperdeck in Ocho Rios, when they visited Jamaica in 1996. In Jamaica they linked up with several JA based Sounds, which made it possible for Jah Sound to get Sound Systems of international fame, like for example Killamanjaro, Bodyguard and Stone Love, to Europe.

The Jah Sound crew know that they actually can't compete with the aforementioned Sound Systems when it comes to dub plates, although they also have some killer dub plates from Sizzla, Luciano, Merciless, Dennis Brown, Junior Reid and Beres Hammond. However, they are convinced that they are able to bring a wicked performance into a soundclash. "Then it doesn't matter if you lose a clash, 'cause in the end the feeling is right and the people have had a good time." One of the clashes that underlines this statement took place in 1998 at Reggae Geel in Belgium, when Jah Sound was playing alongside Musik Street Twinspin, London's award winning "streetwise" Jamaican crew from the city's northwest area. Although it actually didn't start as a clash, it became a memorable one, with in the end Musik Street Twinspin "kicking Jah Sound in the ass" as Musik Street Twinspin's MC Robbo Ranx afterwards stated.
This brings us to the "Dutch Championship for Sound Systems" that took place at Saturday 29th April 2000 at the LVC in Leiden, The Netherlands. Jah Sound International mainly withdrew from the event because they did not want to throw away their reputation, which they have built for more than a decade by now, as the people present at this event definitely wouldn't have the right background regarding soundclashes. According to Glamma Willy "...the venue wasn't suited for this event, and what's more, some Sounds brought a lot of people in the house only to support them, while other Sounds did not, for whatever reason. Not exactly what one can call a crowd that can be hyped up in a fair musical competition as they only want to see their own Sound win the trophee, no matter what the other Sound Systems do." In the near future Jah Sound are going to clash with one of Germany's best Sound Systems Pow Pow Movement at Rototom Sunsplash in Italy on 8th July 2000. On 4th and 5th August they are playing alongside Bodyguard at Reggae Geel, Belgium, and in Switzerland. Furthermore they have planned gigs alongside Stone Love in October, which will take place in Utrecht, Holland, and Antwerp, Belgium. And also in the last months of 2000 they have planned to go on tour with Anthony B and, later on, Spragga Benz, with both artists performing "live" on the Sound.

Jah Sound International did a nice warm up for Killamanjaro, showcasing their ability to get the people involved "inna di dance". And then... at 11.45pm it was time for the entrance of Freddie Kruger, Killamanjaro's new frontman who has the hard task to keep Jaro on top after the departure of the legendary Ricky Trooper, who has proven to be one of the best mike chatters in the world. However Freddie isn't exactly a rookie in the Sounds business as he has been working under the Jaro flag for more than five years by now, quietly learning his trade, ably backed up by Keith and selector Tony. While Trooper and Harper kept Killamanjaro at the top at numerous global venues, Freddie and his crew were responsible for the Jaro dates in Jamaica. Throughout the years Freddie Kruger has proven that he is readily armed with big speeches, next to the big, hardcore tunes a necessity to turn back and "kill" would-be conquerors in the heat of a soundclash.

Freddie Kruger took the stage for an approximately 4 hours lasting energetic juggling session, which started off with Sanchez performing the Jamaican hymn, immediately followed by a great Junior Reid chant. The extensive set contained a varied selection of styles, tunes and artists. Ranging from Dennis Brown to Bounty Killer, from "Stalag" to "Millenium Bug", from Roots Reggae to R&B to Dancehall to Lovers, from Dubplates to straight hit tunes, thus serving everyone's taste. Freddie even played tunes on request. All of this in front of a mainly delighted and dancing audience. Regarding Freddie's juggling style we can say that it was a really nice juggling effort, but in the end not outstanding or even wicked. Unfortunately, Freddie Kruger and the Jah Sound Crew had to leave immediately after the Jaro set in order to be in time in England for an appearance at the "Music In The Sun Y2K" festival in Sheffield. So, we weren't able to link up and talk to him about that particular aspect of today's Sound System scene of which he once stated in Spectrum Magazine : "Sounds have been compartmentalized in two areas: those who are accepted for their juggling skills, and those who have a murderous history and who are shunned by the jugglers. But we (Jaro) are a wicked jugling sound too !!"

Last words go out to the promoter, Koen "Dr. Vinyl" Colen, who deservedly gets the credits for bringing another enjoyable and entertaining event to Dancehall fans from Antwerp and far beyond. This series of Dancehall gigs will be continued in October 2000, when Stone Love Movement will be the next topnotch Sound System to appear in Antwerp. And then... a real soundclash would be nice !!

Writers: Teacher & Mr. T. ~ Photos: Teacher

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