Sound System Session

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Truly it is no place for the weak heart… The bass hits your chest. That’s where you hear it, rather than with your ears. They’re under assault from the treble, which is threatening to take your scalp off. Your rib cage resonates alarmingly and your trousers appear to shift around your legs as if in an effort to escape the fearsome roar that is all around. ‘Awesome’. Suddenly everything is still. After the fourth cut is run Shaka plucks the unidentified dubplate from his antiquated deck. ‘Give thanks and praise to His Majesty, Emperor Haile I Selassie, King of Kings, Lord of Lords, Conquering Lion of Judah… and drops the needle onto the next selection….ssshhhtttt-pop-crackk-ssshhhtt, the run-in groove plays a symphony of surface noise before the familiar intro to the beloved ‘Kunte Kinte/Beware Of Your Enemies’ tune… it’s all treble at first, and everyone is holding their breath anticipating the pressure once Shaka drops the bass. Twice he hauls and pulls up before letting the rhythm run for about half a minute. All the while the crowd is screaming its encouragement…’whip them Shaka!’ someone cries. The tune reaches its first chorus and shaka finally lets the weight go, BOOM! The crowd succumb to the beat and abandon their souls to rapture…. This is Jah Shaka, King of the Zulu Tribe in Session.”

Christopher Partridge (2010) Dub in Babylon

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