Versions, Dubs and Riddims: Dub and the Transient Dynamics of Jamaican Music

Thomas Vendryes Ecole Normale Supérieure de Cachan (France)

Abstract Dub emerged in Jamaica in the early 1970s, and, for a decade, it became a prolific and intensely innovative dimension of Jamaican popular music. Yet, during the mid1980s, while dub flourished at the international level, influencing popular music in general, the genre of dub declined in popularity in Jamaica. How could this musical innovation, so evidently associated with Jamaica, expand and develop internationally while at the same time decline in Jamaica itself? In this paper, I explore the modalities and evolution of Jamaican music production and consumption. Through a description of the Jamaican music industry context, with reference to individual artists’ paths and a summary of Jamaican dub production, I show that even as the Jamaican music milieu was highly favorable to the emergence of dub, dub proliferated as a genre only by developing ties to a diaspora of international audiences and practitioners.
Keywords: production studies, Jamaican popular music, history of dub, audio-engineer, riddim, performance mixing


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