For a long time in Australia, dancehall and reggae music has been ticking over within its largely underground subculture. DJ Ragz is an icon of these genres in Australia, respected for his roles as DJ, radio show producer, youth mentor and Caribbean Assoc of South Australia Chairperson – providing a stronger vision and voice for artists, events and music around the genres born from Jamaica.
DJ Ragz, affectionately known across Australia as ‘Ragz’, has some 20 years under his belt having worked in both the UK and Australia with the likes of Ludacris, Usher, Sean Paul, Tarrus Riley, Demarco and Cecile. He’s also played at events such as Womadelaide, Adelaide Fringe Festival, Adelaide Casino, the Jamaican Music and Food Festival, Dub In The Park, Tour Down Under, Diner En France and many others.
His versatility and passion for reggae and dancehall music spurred him on to collaborate with Dancehall Reggae Australia, launching Australia’s first music chart dedicated to Dancehall Reggae music, compiled from Australian data – called The Australian Top 25 Dancehall Reggae Chart by DJ Ragz (http://www.dancehallreggae.com.au/chart).
Upon talking with DJ Ragz, we learnt of his life growing up in a Jamaican household, his experience with the Jamaican music industry and his vision for supporting and nurturing the future of dancehall/reggae in Australia.
“Growing up in a Jamaican household music was always playing,” he recalls. “My formative years were spent in London where sounds like Saxon, Cavalry Kartel, Java Nuclear and radio stations like Unique, Vibes and Time were some of the leaders at the time in community radio. I grew up listening to Gregory Isaacs, Bob Marley, Dennis Brown, Martel Robinson, U-Roy, Yellow Man, and Frankie Paul through to Ninja Man, Shabba Ranks and Super Cat. With notable UK artists Top Cat, Tubby T, Tafari Tiggy, Sweetie Irie and General Levy making a massive impact on my musical growth as a young man.
“So as a child of the Jamaican diaspora having moved to Australia six years ago and wanting to bring my culture to a new region it’s been an evolution and networking exercise with the likes of dancehallreggae.com.au, the Jamaican Association of Australia, Perth Caribbean Association and Caribbean Associations of Victoria and South Australia.”
How did your vision for the chart come about?
“It came about 18 months ago after a discussion with DJ Wade from dancehallreggae.com.au. I was producing a chart for my radio show, Dancehall and Ting in Adelaide. We discussed the bigger picture and vision of a regional chart covering Australia and New Zealand which put this global genre on the footing it deserves in a professional manner. Australia is a multicultural society and becoming more integrated through mediums like music. There are currently music charts across Australia that pool our genre into the ‘world music’ or general ‘roots’ classifications, we are the only ones with a comprehensive, interactive music chart dedicated to reggae/dancehall, because we feel our genre deserves that space and attention. We know the Australian people want more because of the response we are getting from the masses when we tell them what we’re doing. The likes of Sean Paul, Shabba Ranks and Shaggy have proved that international commercial markets love our genre of music and we want to give the Australian music industry as well as the general public a forum that is connected and representative.
“We want to show the world that reggae dancehall can be a viable genre promoted and packaged in an authentic and professional manner so that people living in this side of the world can get a real flavour of ‘Brand Jamaica’ mixed with ‘Multicultural Australia’ through the music.
“In all honesty, in comparison to other regions of the world, the reggae/dancehall scene is in its infancy here in Australia in terms of stable events, festivals, promotion, radio coverage and credible and professional promoters but things are improving with the likes of the Jamaican Music and Food Festival in Melbourne, Fisherman's Style in Fremantle and Reggae on Sunday in Adelaide.”
In terms of the Australasian dancehall reggae scene, who are some of the Artists making the most impact at the moment?
“One of the most credible artists here is King Ru, aka King RuCL, who was born in Australia to an Australian father and Jamaican mother. Others to mention are SK Simeon, Mista Savona and some very powerful female artists like Nattali Rize, Lisa Viola and Elesia Iimura. Australia is the land of the ‘big live band’ with the likes of Ras Jahknow, Kingfisha, One Planet and T-Rhythm. From New Zealand Katchafire, House of Shem, Sons of Zion flying the reggae flag on this side of the globe. In conjunction with radio and DJ music platforms, we are working to provide a professional platform through news media and the likes of Dancehall Reggae Australia. In addition, we have the backing of Formation Agency who are committed to working with the Australian music industry and media to more deeply connect our genre to the masses here. This is what Australia has needed for a long time, and now we are doing it.”
What do you hope to achieve from this chart?
“In creating this chart, we are hoping to highlight and combine the best of Jamaican-produced reggae/dancehall and the best of Australian and New Zealand-produced bands and artists in the genre. We want to include all elements from the reggae/dancehall diaspora and play our part in what is a global genre, thus featuring acts from Europe, Japan, Africa and the Americas. Even though Australia is probably the furthest from a huge diaspora centre, it still has flavour. Our aim is to connect our genre of music with the Australian people and the Australian music industry, for it to be more easily and readily accessible for people to hear and enjoy. We see greater things for the future of our music in Australia and we’d like to see more of it penetrating the Australian commercial market.”
DJ Ragz compiles the chart from information sources in Australia such as iTunes, DJ and Sound System playlists. DJs can submit playlists and artists submit albums/songs for chart consideration to email@example.com.
See DJ Ragz’s Dancehall Reggae Australia Music Chart here
About Dancehall Reggae Australia
Australia’s most comprehensive, fastest growing music news media website dedicated to Dancehall Reggae music, news and events in Australia.
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