Champion Sound by Matthew Smith (UK, 2010, 48’)

An historical overview of Jamaican Sound System culture in Coventry, UK, from the 1950s to the 1990s. Includes interviews with local sound system pioneers and celebrities such as Count Spinner, El Paso, Principal, King Baggy HI FI, Jah Baddis, Mackabee Studio, and more, and the voice-over of Pauline Black from the Selectors. LINK TO THE […]

Deep Roots Music by Howard Johnson (UK, 1983, 6 X 50’)

Originally shown in 1984 as a six-part series on Channel 4, Deep Roots Music is an extraordinary documentary on Jamaican music in what many refer to as “the golden era” of reggae. Beautifully filmed and including countless interviews and vintage footages of some of Jamaica’s most iconic musicians, producers and cultural icons, as well as […]

X-Tra Wicked: A History of the Digital B Label by Romain Chiffre (US/JA, 2017, 52’)

A documentary produced by VP records celebrating the life and career of Jamaican reggae and dancehall producer Bobby Digital (1961-2020) whose Digital B record label, established in 1987, has been at the forefront of Jamaican music transformation from organic rhythms to digitally-composed beats, and responsible for some of reggae’s biggest international hits throughout the late […]

Sound Business by Molly Dineen (UK, 1981, 43’)

Originally aired in 1981 and later virtually lost for decades, Sound Business is a UK-produced documentary about two British sound systems, the legendary (and at the time already 18 years-established) Sir Coxsone Outernational and the (then) up-and-coming Lion Charge, both based in SW London. Besides in-depth interviews and session footage, some of the highlights include […]

Musically Mad by Karl Folke and Andreas Weslien (Sweden, 2008, 60’)

An historical overview of Jamaican Sound System culture in Coventry, UK, from the 1950s to the 1990s. Includes interviews with local sound system pioneers and celebrities such as Count Spinner, El Paso, Principal, King Baggy HI FI, Jah Baddis, Mackabee Studio, and more, and the voice-over of Pauline Black from the Selectors. LINK TO THE […]

Babylon by Franco Rosso (UK, 1980, 95’)

British drama film written by Franco Rosso and Martin Stellman (Quadrophenia). Filmed in SE London, it follows the young reggae MC Blue (interpreted by Brinsley Forde of British reggae act Aswad) of the fictional sound system Ital Lion facing personal and family issues as well as systemic racism and police violence, during the days ahead […]

01. Chude-Sokei, Louis. 1997. “Dr. Satan’s Echo Chamber”: Reggae, Technology and the Diaspora Process”. Kingston, Jamaica: Institute of Caribbean Studies, Reggae Studies Unit, University of the West Indies.

Lending an ear to reggae music, ouis Chude-Sokei engages critically with the sonic and the technological as the pivotal dimensions through which rethink and remap contemporary black diasporic formations. Initially presented as the inaugural “Bob Marley Lecture” for the opening of the Institute of Caribbean Studies’ Reggae Studies Unit at the University of the West […]

02. Cooper, Carolyn, ed. 2012. Global Reggae. Kingston: University of the West Indies Press.

These plenary lectures from the “Global Reggae” conference convened at the University of the West Indies, Mona, Jamaica in 2008 eloquently exemplify the breadth and depth of current scholarship on Jamaican popular music. Radiating from the Jamaican centre, these illuminating essays highlight the “glocalization” of reggae – its global dispersal and adaptation in diverse local […]

03. Cooper, Carolyn. 2004. Sound Clash. Jamaican Dancehall Culture at Large. New York: Palgrave Macmillan.

In this provocative study of dancehall culture, Cooper offers a sympathetic account of the philosophy of a wide range of dancehall DJs: Shabba Ranks, Lady Saw, Ninjaman, Capleton, among others. Cooper also demonstrates the ways in which the language of dancehall culture, often devalued as mere ‘noise,’ articulates a complex understanding of the border clashes […]

04. Bradley, Lloyd. 2000. Bass Culture: When Reggae Was King. London: Viking.

Music journalist Lloyd Bradley describes reggae’s origins and development in Jamaica, from ska to rock-steady to dub and then to reggae itself, a local music which conquered the world. There are many extraordinary stories about characters like Prince Buster, King Tubby and Bob Marley. But this is more than a book of music history: it […]

05.  D’Aquino, Brian. 2021. Black Noise. Tecnologie della Diaspora Sonora. Milano: Meltemi (Italian)

By amplifying the aesthetics and the politics of noise, this book discusses the relation between sound, technology, race and power. Starting from the distinctive sonic signature of Jamaican Popular Music, the result is an ear-to-the-loudspeaker cultural critique, both radical and thorough, addressing the way other epistemologies can disturb a self-serving, Western narrative of modernity. LINK […]

06. D’Aquino, Brian, Henriques, Julian and Vidigal, Leonardo. 2017. “A Popular Culture Research Methodology: Sound System Outernational”. Volume! 13 (2), pp. 163-175,

This paper explores an innovative practice-as-research methodology that brings popular culture practitioners and aficionados together with academic researchers in the shared space of symposia on reggae sound system culture. The organizers describe what made the first two iterations of Sound System Outernational different from the normal academic conference in terms of the range of participants, […]

07. Hebdige, Dick. 1987. Cut’n’Mix: Culture, Identity and Caribbean Music. London: Methuen & Co. Ltd.

Cut’n’Mix tells the story of how sound and sense have been spliced together in music which began in the West Indies but ends up addressing a community stretching across the planet. Dick Hebdige is one of the founding figures of cultural studies and author of the groundbreaking Subculture: The Meaning of Style. In this seminal […]

08. Henriques, Julian. 2003. “Sonic Dominance and the Reggae Sound System Session”. In Bull, Michael and Back, Les (Eds.) Auditory Culture Reader, 1st Edition. eds. Oxford: Berg, pp. 451- 480.

In this seminal piece, Julian Henriques discusses the relationship between different sensorial regimes through the lens of a dancehall session in Jamaica. He describes sonic dominance as the preponderance of the sonic over the visual medium that can be experienced in a Stone Love sound system session. By considering both the ethereal and the material […]

09. Henriques, Julian. 2010. “The Vibrations of Affect and their Propagation on a Night Out on Kingston’s Dancehall Scene”. Body & Society, 16, 1, pp. 57 – 89.

This article proposes that the propagation of vibrations could serve as a better model for understanding the transmission of affect than the flow, circulation or movement of bodies by which it is most often theorized. The vibrations (or idiomatically ‘vibes’) among the sound system audience (or ‘crowd’) on a night out on the dancehall scene […]

10. Henriques, Julian. 2011. Sonic Bodies: Reggae Sound Systems, Performance Techniques and Ways of Knowing, London: Continuum.

In this innovative book Julian Henriques proposes that these dancehall “vibes” are taken literally as the periodic motion of vibrations. He offers an analysis of how a sound system operates – at auditory, corporeal and sociocultural frequencies. Sonic Bodies formulates a fascinating critique of visual dominance and the dualities inherent in ideas of image, text […]

11. Henry, William, and Matthew Worley. 2021. Narratives from Beyond the UK Reggae Bassline: The System is Sound. London

This book explores the history of reggae in modern Britain from the time it emerged as a cultural force in the 1970s. As basslines from Jamaica reverberated across the Atlantic, so they were received and transmitted by the UK’s Afro-Caribbean community. From roots to lovers’ rock, from deejays harnessing the dancehall crowd to dub poets […]

12. Hope, Donna P. 2001. Inna di Dancehall: Popular Culture and the Politics of Identity in Jamaica. Mona: University of the West Indies Press.

This work provides an accessible account of a poorly understood aspect of Jamaican popular culture. It explores the socio-political meanings of Jamaicas dancehall culture. In particular, the book gives an account of the power relations within the dancehall and between the dancehall and the wider Jamaican society. Hope gives the reader an unmatched insiders view […]

13. Jones, Simon, and Paul Pinnock. 2018. Scientists of Sound: Portraits of a UK Reggae Sound System. Birmingham: Bassline Books.

This book provides a snapshot of UK reggae sound system culture during its 1980s heyday. Scientists of Sound is a documentary portrait of one particular sound system from Birmingham. It features a unique collection of photographs and scanned artefacts from the time, including flyers, magazine covers, speaker box designs, circuit diagrams and handwritten lyrics. It […]

14. Katz, David. 2003. Solid Foundation: An Oral History of Reggae. London: Bloomsbury.

For Solid Foundation David Katz has interviewed over 100 reggae artists, from Jamaica, the UK and the US, going back to the earliest pioneers of reggae in the mid-1950s. He has taken over ten years to collect the interviews and it is an extraordinary feat. This is an exhaustive history charting the progression and development […]