Eddie Houghton put up an interview with the first soundsystem from India, called Reggae Rajahs up on his Large Up Blog.
When I interviewed Beenie Man for the first time around 2004 I asked him about where he’d traveled to do shows on his recent tours and he answered “to the world and back…imagine me in a stage show in a place like India. It’s crazy because they know the foundation of the music. You got Bombay, reggae music is like the national music, everybody want to be a deejay.” I think he must have been referring to the fact that many Indian folk rhythms gel naturally with Jamaican music (more on that in a future post) because I had just been to India the year before and the only reference point most people I met there had for reggae was “I Like to Move it Move it,” Apache Indian and if you were lucky, Bob Marley. Occasional Bollywood tracks gave a nod to the art of deejaying, but it generally consisted of some stray Nigerian or maybe a dude from the Seychelles getting roped into doing a bad imitation of patois–not bad meaning wicked but bad meaning borderline offensive.
By the time I returned to do a South Asia DJ-tour in 2005, things were already changing fast. Artists like Sean Paul and Nina Sky were making inroads via cable video channels and an influx of tracks by a new generation of UK-based South Asian artists meant that even the Bollywood faux-chatting had been kicked up a notch in credibility. This reverse-colonization shows no signs of stopping. In fact, one of my side-hustles on that 7-city tour was giving DJ workshops in a variety of schools and colleges and a student who attended one of those recently tracked me down to put me in touch with a crew of her friends, who have launched the first proper Jamaican-style soundsystem in India. That crew is called the Reggae Rajahs and what follows is an exclusive interview documenting their progress to date on a mission to reggae-fy the sub-continent.
Check the whole thing over there.