Monthly Archives: January 2015

Wheel It Up: History of the Rewind

words: Laurent Fintoni

When the DJ stops the music and spins the song back, energy shoots through the crowd and Jamaican sound echoes across genres


Jamaican sound is the heartbeat of modern music. Of the many practices to emerge from sound system culture and take hold across music genres, one remains most arousing and the most maligned: the rewind.

For the uninitiated, the rewind is the act of stopping a song—generally playing on a vinyl record or, in more recent years, on a CD—bringing it back to the start, and playing it again. In Jamaica, rewinds are normally performed by selectors in response to crowd demand. You may have heard a hip-hop or dance music DJ do the same thing.

Some rewinds are smooth, the record stopping by use of the turntable’s start/stop button, while others are a little rougher, the needle hurtling across the vinyl’s grooves as a hand frantically spins the record back.

I love rewinds. A good rewind is that rare thing in life: a product of the moment. If the timing is right, a rewind will bring excitement to the dancefloor, a celebration of the music being played, an energy charge for the place and the people.

Unfortunately rewinds are also subject to abuse, with performers misreading the crowd, indulging in rewinds for their own satisfaction. As such, rewinds can be hated too; some find them obnoxious due to how they interrupt the flow of the music or seem to be a mere celebration of the performer’s musical ego, an attempt at trying to fake excitement.

And it’s not just fans either, plenty of performers, DJs and critics also find rewinds to be borderline. It’s this dichotomy that has led the rewind to become one of the most interesting and divisive sound system practices. Yet, despite a growing body of work on Jamaican music, the rewind remains largely untouched by historical thinking. Most critics mention it simply as a tool the selector has in his bag for the dance (aka the party).

I went looking for the roots of the rewind, an attempt to trace its history. Along the way I realized that, after forty years, not only is it still intrinsic to so much sound system, electronic and dance music performance, it’s also a truly democratic musical practice. The rewind allows the audience to have a conversation with the performer. It is the great equalizer, ensuring the discourse of music does not flow just one way.

But where did the rewind originate? And how did evolve? Let’s take it from the top.

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Top Ten Releases of 2014

ALBUMS:

  • OBFWild

OBF’s first studio album has been long awaited by stepper fans around Europe, and it does not disappoint. True to OBF’s reputation, “Wild” is an intense trip into some of the darker and heavier sides of digital dub, and features both legends and the new generation of MCs.

  • Chronixx The Dread and Terrible Project

With his debut LP, Chronixx offers a powerful and conscious LP in true ‘reggae revival’ style.

  • Mungo’s HiFiSerious Time

Mungo’s HiFI confirm their place in the spotlight with Serious Time, a third albums that fully exemplifies their “forward thinking reggae music” ethos.

  • Tuff Scout All StarsTuff Scout Inna London Dub

A heavy dub tour of London courtesy of the Tuff Scout All Stars.

  • Dub DynastyThundering Mantis

Dub Dynasty (aka Alpha & Omega + Alpha Steppa) takes UK Dub to new heights.

  • Black RootsGhetto Feel

The legendary outfit Black Roots return with “Ghetto Feel”: a conscious, horns-filled LP

  • Addis PabloIn My Father’s House

While this remains a hommage to the legendary Augustus Pablo, Addis Pablo doesn’t stay in his father’s shadow. Instead, this album is a showcase of his own sound and mesmerizing talent for the melodica.

  • Midnite – Ride Tru

Although incredibly prolific, each one of Midnite’s albums are works of art: conscious, spiritual, and deeply infused with Rastafarian thought. This one is no exception.

  • DJ VadimThe Dubcatcher

Dj Vadim is mostly known for his work with hip-hop, but with ‘The Dubcatcher’ he proves that Dub and Reggae are no strangers to him.

  • Tour de ForceBattle Cry

The first album from Brooklyn’s heavyweight sound system is a tour de force (pardon the pun), perfectly blending dubstep and bass music with the dub and reggae roots traditions.

SINGLES & EPs:

  • Specialist Moss Feat. MR WilliamzDub Style EP 12″

  • BenidubReconquering Lion feat. Vivian Jackson (Echotronix) 10″

  • Iron Dubz80s Fashion Vol 1 EP 10″

  • Danny RedRasta We Rasta (Youths & Truths) 12″

  • Pablo MosesReady Aim Fire (Repress on ‘Rebirth Records’) 7″

  • GroundationJuggernaut/Fa’ward (Repress on ‘Reggae Archive Records’) 12″

  • Junior KhadaffyRampers Music (Repress on ‘Stereo Uprising’) 7″

  • Don FeJericho (Steppas Records) 12″

  • Moa AnbessaWatch Dem feat. Prince David (Moa Anbessa Italy) 12″

  • Prince JamoHercules (Zion Gate Music) 12″

AF