Coughing up fire

Summer 1988

Looks at soundsystem dances, where young black men - and sometimes women - ‘toast’ live lyrics over recorded music: generally reggae, but sometimes also including soul, rap and hip-hop. The soundsystems are run by groups and different individuals have different functions - Operator, MC, Selector - while different groups battle it out in competitions. The superimposed lyrics are often highly political and the atmosphere of the dances can be dangerous, with many participants carrying knives. Although traditionally a very male phenomenon, women have been attracted by different musical genres such as soul, and some women MCs have begun to perform.

Please note that the images in this article have been removed by request of the copyright holder.

PDF of article:

Subscribers to New Formations can access this article for free. If you are already a subscriber please login to your account to read the article.

Subscribe to New Formations

Please note that due to EU VAT charges on digital products, the final price may be slightly different depending on the EU country in which your billing address is located.
New Formations 5 cover