Sekkle and Cease! on hip-hop dancehall - New Sasco track part of '80s, '90s return
Curtis Campbell, Gleaner Writer
Deejay Agent Sasco is part of the wave of contemporary dancehall recording artistes who are now releasing 1990s-inspired music. According to the lyrical Assassin (the previous and alternative name under which he performs), he always wanted artistes to revert to the type of music created in that era of Jamaican popular music.
In the same throwback vein, deejay Aidonia has done '80s dancehall style, which sees him toasting on the rhythm to Yellowman's I'm Getting Married, produced by the late Henry 'Junjo' Lawes. Reggae artiste Iba MaHr recently released the single called Diamond Sox, which lauds old-school fashion. Other artistes such as Busy Signal, Shaka Pow and Mr Vegas have also recently released projects which go back to rhythms and delivery patterns of the 1980s and 1990s.
Sekkle and Cease, Agent Sasco's effort, is featured on Jah Snowcone's 'Nuh Fraid' rhythm, a remake of the classic 'Sleng Teng', which is credited as being the first fully computerised rhythm in Jamaican music. It was produced through the collaborative effort of the late Wayne Smith, Noel Davey and producer Lloyd 'King Jammy' James, the initial set of songs on the rhythm released in 1985.
Sasco premiered the old-school-inspired music video for Sekkle and Cease at Renaissance's 25th anniversary celebrations, held at Mas Camp, National Stadium, last Saturday. In the video, Agent Sasco and a number of dancers dress in old-school fashion, such as diamond socks, Clarks shoes, mesh merinos and shirts buttoned up to the neck.
The deejay, born two years before 'Sleng Teng' was released commercially, told The Gleaner that revisiting the past should be dancehall's future. "Mi get a old-school rhythm and I wanted to write to the whole vibe of that rhythm and that theme. So I went back to my 1982 brain," he said.
According to Agent Sasco, who five years ago released History Book on the rhythm to Supercat's Boops, he is one of the artistes who complained that at one point Jamaican producers were releasing too many productions which were heavily influenced by hip hop. Therefore, he welcomes the recent dancehall trend towards revisiting the 1980s and 1990s.
"Back to the basics. A long time mi a tell dem fi dweet. Because when they were trying to swing the business the hip-hop way I told them leave the hip-hop thing. It's good to fuse music, but we need to get back to the foundations and fundamentals and it's good to see so many fresh acts going back to the fundamentals," Sasco said.
He further encouraged more acts to work on their delivery on old-school rhythms, pointing out that he has an advantage because he was born in the '80s.
"I have a unique advantage in this industry because I grew up in the '80s with the '80s flow. It's not something that I just started. I grew up doing that type of music, so I am naturally better at old-school pattern, even though I am a new-generation artiste. And I am very comfortable on old-school beats," Agent Sasco told The Gleaner.
Late last year he released another old-school flavour track, Mix Up, produced by Grammy award-winning artiste/producer Shaggy on his Ranch Entertainment label. The song is featured on the 'Heavenless' rhythm, which has had different iterations. Among them are a King Jammys production in the early 1980s (Pinchers' For Your Eyes Only and Cocoa Tea's Crying Time on that set), as well as Dennis Brown's Your Love Gotta Hold On Me, the title track of his 1984 album, and Icho Candy's Captain Selassie, also from the early 1980s.
The 'Heavenless' rhythm harks back to the 1960s, with The Skatalites.
Producers such as DJ Frass, Cashflow Records, Big Ship Records, Head Concussion and Washroom Entertainment have released old-school-inspired work in recent times. Among their rhythms are the 'Gwaan Bad' (which samples the 'Bruk Out'), 'School Bag', 'Pepper', 'Whine and Kotch' (featuring J Capri and Charly Blacks) and the 'Bomba'.
Agent Sasco is also making progress internationally, having been featured recently on Kanye West's Yeezus album. The deejay is also featured on a new track with veteran American rapper Raekwon, titled Soundboy Kill It.