Dubmatix's Renegade Riddims

Dubmatix's Renegade Riddims
Dubmatix’s new disc, Renegade Rockers, is without a doubt the most star-studded Canadian reggae album of all time. The guest vocalists on Rockers represent six decades of Jamaican music, from grandfatherly Alton Ellis, whose first record came out in 1959, to contemporary Jamaican-Canadians Ammoye and Raffa Dean. Along the way, the mix incorporates Black Uhuru’s Michael Rose, early dancehall artists Sugar Minott, Linval Thompson and Ranking Joe and digital dancehall stars Pinchers and Wayne Smith. These very special guest stars add significantly to the man born Jesse King’s speaker-rattling electro-dubscapes. Dubmatix’s sound is resolutely modern, but differs greatly from the joyless dancehall styles gaining so much hipster cred. Though assembled by laptop, it remains organic, with a sweetness derived from a lifetime of Jamaican inspiration.

His method was born from a studio accident a few years ago. "The whole concept of everything I’ve done is contained in the fifth track from the first album [Journey To the Center Of the Dub],” says King. "I took a King Tubby sample and dropped it on a house beat. Eventually I yanked the sample out entirely, but that’s what the electro dub that I’ve been creating came from. You can use the same tempo as the roots stuff and just throw a faster beat on it.”

His approach to collaboration with these giants of Jamaican music is also very contemporary, and offers intriguing possibilities to other dance music-based laptop artists. King has always played with local artists wherever he’s toured, and the proposition for Rockers extended the concept. "I thought it would be a cool idea to do a tour, maybe ten shows, and bring one of these [singers] each time we go out. So I called them all, sent them down a bunch of music I was into, and they all agreed. These guys are still really eager to keep doing music.”