Dubspot is proud to present Roots & Future - a special month-long video series celebrating the pioneers, innovators, and torch-bearers of Jamaican music. In the fourth and final installment, we interview Kingston-based dancehall group Ward 21. In case you’ve missed the previous videos in the series, check out interviews with Gabrie Selassie, Zion I Kings, Kamal Evans, and of course, A Profile of Addis Pablo, and A Day with Lee “Scratch” Perry.
Since the late 1960s, the small island nation of Jamaica has maintained one of the world’s most vibrant music scenes, sparked various musical styles and revolutions (reggae, ska, dub, and dancehall to name a few), and introduced new recording and production techniques to the world. Without question, Jamaican music and culture continues to influence a wide variety of musical genres around the globe.
In the fourth and final installment of Roots & Future video series, Matt Shadetek caught up Ward 21, the world renowned Kingston-based dancehall group consisting of vocalists and producers Andre “Suku” Gray, Kunley McCarthy, and Mark “Mean Dog” Henry. They group came together in the late 1990s under the tutelage of legendary music producer King Jammy, who recognized their talent and gave them a platform to express themselves musically. Ward 21 went on to create dancehall hits and riddims including “Badda Badda”, “Da Joint”, and “Volume” and blazing singles like “Haters”, “Rhyme”, “No Apologies”, and “Judgement Day”. Today, they mentor the fledgling Bada Bada Gang (consisting of rising artists Tifa, Natalie Storm, Timberlee, DeeWunn, Point-O, CK, and Marcy Chin) and continue to release innovative dancehall reggae music.
In this video interview, Ward 21 members Suku and Kunley discuss their early beginnings, getting their start at King Jammy’s studio, and learning by watching. They also talk about experimenting with sounds and lyrics, creating unique riddims and songs, and consciously trying not to sound like everybody else. In addition, they talk about bringing new voices to the dancehall world, working with female artists, “electronic dancehall”, and they also offer some advice for young, up and coming producers.