The history of Sound Systems

Hand crafted sound system by Ahmed Dubijad

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The word sound system is used very liberally these days – usually in the context of a PA system, however in the context of Jamaican popular culture, a sound system is a group of disc jockeys, engineers and MCs playing reggae music on a large stack of hand made speakers. The system is visually imposing as well as tuned to be extremely bass heavy while maintaining clarity in the sound.

Soundsystem culture first came about in 1950s Jamaica with the earliest sound systems playing mainly US rhythm and blues as well as uptempo ska. These were sound boxes built by DJs and promoters and played records to a crowd in the street, Over the years and with West Indian mass migration to the UK, the phenomenon was also transported to the UK. Starting first in London and moving to other major cities in the UK eg Bristol and Birmingham, sound system culture began to flourish touring the UK at carnivals and dancehalls.

Soundsystem culture is also credited with the birth of hip hop in the 1970s.  MCs such as Kool Herc used reggae sound system culture to promote breakdance culture.

Over the years and with large scale music festivals, sound system culture has grown into a global phenomenon and has given birth to other EDM genres such as Drum n Bass, Jungle, Dubstep etc..

In 2015, the first reggae soundsystem in the middle east, the Deep Crates Soundsystem was handbuilt by Ahmed Dubijad, a Dubai based reggae enthusiast.

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