Sun | Aug 9, 2020

Girls light up Rodigan’s eyes

Published:Saturday | November 9, 2019 | 12:00 AMKimberley Small/Staff Reporter
Lila Ike
Veteran disc jockey David Rodigan (left) speaking with ace selector and sound system operator Delano at the Dubwise launch at Usain Bolt’s Tracks and Records on Thursday.
Bella Blair

It’s a woman’s world. That’s the view of renowned British radio disc jockey David Rodigan.

Last year, when the internationally respected sound clash champion celebrated his 40th anniversary in the music business with Dubwise Jamaica, he opined that In.Digg.Nation songstress Sevana and comedienne-turned-singer Bella Blair were the acts to watch. This year, the prolific BBC personality’s eyes are wider but cast in the same direction – fixed on the rise of reggae’s next leading ladies.

“I believe in seeking and finding new talent, and I see the most incredible new talent coming out of Jamaica. I have to talk about Lila Ike, Sevana, Bella Blair. That’s just three examples of people who’ve really got something to say – and we have to talk about Koffee,” he said during a media launch for Dubwise Jamaica, which has enjoyed a mini-tour across the island. For a finale event tonight, Rodigan, Rory Stone Love and Renaissance Disco will headline Dubwise Jamaica at 82 Lady Musgrave Road, the brand-new Kingston location of Kaya Herb House.

While Sevana and Bella Blair were invited to be featured on BBC Radio 1XTra during Rodigan’s last hunt for new talent, Lila was among the performers gathered in a freshmen’s cypher for the station, along with Shenseea, Leno Banton, and Blvk H3ro.

And then came 19-year-old sensation Koffee. According to Rodigan, her music has been in rotation on UK radio daily, positioning her as his biggest reggae-dancehall act this year.

Rodigan’s attention holds fast to the female singers and singjays because he believes they are making music that could stand the test of time. “I don’t spend my life looking in the rear-view mirror. I believe in the future, and I believe in now,” he said.


Rodigan observes that Jamaica’s infectious sound system culture is thriving around the world, buoyed as much by its pull as its potency.

He challenged the audience to take to YouTube for proof of vibrant sound system events across South America – “in Brazil, Chile, Colombia”. Rodigan described what he has seen for himself, scenes of entire crowds singing along to Tickle Me Once Girl by Dennis Brown – word for word.

“That record was made 50 years ago, but they love it. That’s the power of the music. It doesn’t matter how old the songs are, what matters is how good they are,” he told The Gleaner.

Now, Rodigan carries on with the undying hope that Jamaicans will eventually realise that their indigenous music forms will always have export potential.

“The essence is epitomised by what we’re doing with Dubwise. This is real, authentic reggae music, that has a positive message. Dubwise is not entirely about playing dub music. Dub music is a particular style that grew out of reggae music, because producers started getting creative in the room. We must talk about Lee ‘Scratch’ Perry, Errol ‘E.T.’ Thompson and King Tubby. We saw and heard what they did, and now we have dub dances happening all across Central Europe. We’re talking about major sound systems.”