Musical Reggae Ambassador – Sir Coxsonne and the state of sound systems

Clement Seymour Dodd, (born January 26, 1932) affectionately known as Sir Coxsonne was a very influential figure in reggae music until his death in May 2004.  He is credited for developing ska and reggae music dating back to the 1940’s.

Coxsonne started out playing music in his parents’ shop and eventually formulated five competitve sound systems (turntable and amplifier) in Jamaica that would play nightly.  He got some friends such as Lee “Skratch” Perry, U-Roy and Prince Buster, who would become staples in the Jamaican music scene to run these sounds systems as he traveled the US for new music to expose the Jamaican audiences to.

In the late 1960’s Coxsonne created record label Studio One Sound that became the home to many acts synonymous with ska and rocksteady such as Burning Spear, Horace Andy and Sugar Minott.  Coxsonne remained in the music industry until his death a few years ago.  Four days before his fatal heart attack May 5th, 2004, Kingston’s Bretford Road was renamed after the musical genius in a ceremony that celebrated his success as a producer and reggae music pioneer. Since his passing, Coxsonne was awarded the Order of Distinction in the rank of Commandeer for his contributions to Jamaican music on October 15, 2007.

One thing Coxsone along with so many disc jokeys of those times, did was play the song in it’s entirety and sometimes “wheel it back” and play the tune again.  In today’s musical environment of dancehall and hip hop parties, DJs no longer let the track play.  They are more concerned with showing how many tracks they have in their arsenal versus being concerned with party goers getting on the dance floor and enjoying the music.  Also DJs are making themselves too vocal by speaking all over the track and shouting out crews and neighborhoods that take away from the whole point of why we went to the party to begin with —- to dance. The music is supposed to speak for us, not us speak in front of the music.  We, as DJs, are not paying respect to the art form that gives us purpose.  Without the music, we wouldn’t have the pleasure of calling ourselves DJs.

In this video clip, Blacker Dread discusses the state of the sound systems today.


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